Saskatchewan

Sask. students feeling summer employment crunch due to COVID-19

Post-secondary students are nearly finished with their winter semester. For many of them, that means it's time to start searching for summer employment. 

University of Regina's depleted emergency fund calls for donations while students search for jobs

Post-secondary students are nearly finished with their winter semester. For many, that means it's time to start searching for summer employment. 

That task is one of many commonplace activities that have been drastically impacted by to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"The search has been pretty difficult," said third-year University of Regina political studies major Katarina Ewert. "If you go on like, [job search website] Indeed, there are so many people hiring in Regina for waitressing jobs, but now all that's been shut down. So that was my plan, but it's not doable at the moment."  

Ewert said she's been able to secure provincial government employment in the past as a summer student. She has applied this year, too, but she's not sure there will be as many seasonal jobs available.

"They're usually around $17 per hour to start with, so you can make all your money during the summer and live on that for the rest of the year," she said.

Some students may not qualify for pandemic benefits

Ewert knows she's not alone in her struggle. 

"All over Canada you can go on social media and see people in the same situation, not knowing if they're going to be hired, if they qualify for EI, because they probably wouldn't if they hadn't worked, if you even qualify for the emergency response benefit," she said, citing minimum income amounts to qualify for federal help. "If you haven't been working, you can't qualify."
Katarina Ewert is a third-year Polical Science major at University of Regina, and she's concerned about her summer job prospects amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (submitted by Katarina Ewert)

She said that while it's nice to see governments deferring payments for student loans, that's not helpful for people like her who are still in the midst of their studies. 

University of Regina calls for donations to emergency fund

Meanwhile, the University of Regina is calling for donations to its emergency fund, which awards bursaries to students for housing, food security, technology, medical care, necessary travel or unforseen circumstances. The school also offers emergency loans, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic it's highlighting the bursary program. 

The university's interim president and vice chancellor, Thomas Chase, said the bursary fund normally awards $90,000 to students annually. Right now, it's seeing three times the amount of daily applications it normally sees. 

"So it's a tough time. All available funds to date have been depleted. We're relying on the generosity of our communities both inside the university — faculty and staff — and outside, to help our students in this time of need," he said.
Thomas Chase is the Interim President and Vice-Chancellor at University of Regina. (CBC)

Chase said the fund is dealing with the added difficulty of being unable to host its usual fundraiser events due to restrictions around the pandemic, so it's asking people to donate online at urgiving.ca/emergency.

Many internships maintained

Chase said the university knows its students are facing hardship around summer employment. 

"There's no question. One group that we would think of immediately is people who work in restaurants, many of whom are students," Chase said. "That's a terrific blow, and that's just one group."

He said many of the school's partners in co-op work experience programs and internships 'have maintained what they've been able to do,' but that there are exceptions such as education student-interns, who will not be able to work in a classroom while the province's classes are out indefinitely. 

"It's kind of happening on a case-by-case and employer-by-employer basis," he said. 

About the Author

Tory Gillis

Journalist

Tory Gillis began work as a journalist with CBC Saskatchewan in 2012. You can hear her deliver the afternoon news on weekdays on CBC Radio One in Saskatchewan. She has also worked as a reporter, and as an associate producer on CBC Saskatchewan's radio shows, The Morning Edition, Bluesky and The Afternoon Edition.

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