Students can earn up to $5,000 this summer for volunteer service

The federal government launched a program today aimed at encouraging students to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19 — more than two months after first announcing it and just in time for those who haven't been able to find a summer job.

Eligible students can receive grants of between $1,000 to $5,000, depending on hours completed

The Canada student service grant is supposed to give eligible students between $1,000 and $5,000 to support the costs of post-secondary education in the fall. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The federal government launched a new program today aimed at encouraging students to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19 — more than two months after first announcing it, and just in time for those who haven't been able to find a summer job.

Post-secondary students will be eligible to earn up to $5,000 this summer through a new volunteer service grant.

The grant is available for a range of volunteer work, including mask making, tutoring, researching animal behaviour and designing exercise programs for seniors.

"Students are facing unique challenges this summer due to the pandemic. At the same time, many are wondering how they can help in the fight against COVID-19," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa this morning.

"So, today, we're launching the new Canada student service grant, which will allow post-secondary students and recent grads to gain valuable experience while also contributing to their communities."

The grant will be worth between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the number of hours completed. For every 100 hours worked, a student is eligible for $1,000, which means someone must volunteer 500 hours to receive the full grant.

The program opens today and runs until Oct. 31, 2020. Only students and recent graduates 30 years old and younger can enrol.

To qualify, an individual must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a recognized post-secondary education program in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, or must have completed post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later.

Back in April, Trudeau announced the creation of the Canada student service grant — a way of giving students who can't find summer jobs a chance to earn some money while volunteering in "national service" activities related to fighting the pandemic.

The grant program was part of a multi-pronged, $9 billion investment by the federal government to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on young people.

Ever since, students and organizations that rely on volunteers have been anxiously awaiting details, worried that the window for their summer activities was rapidly narrowing.

'I want to help' placement platform

Today's launch of the "I want to help" online platform provides details on the grant. Some of the organizations looking for volunteers include Scouts Canada, Girl Guides of Canada, WE Charity, the Tim Horton Children's Foundation and Rotary Canada.

There are now about 23,000 job placements on the platform, and non-profits can continue to add their placements up to Aug. 21.

The grants will be paid out in one-time lump sums after completion of the work. Asked if the money might come too late to help some students pay tuition, a spokesperson for Youth Minister Bardish Chagger said the program is just one in a suite of financial supports for students.

Students are also eligible for a monthly $1,250 emergency benefit, which climbs to $2,000 if the student has a dependent or a disability.

A joint statement from Conservative employment critic Dan Albas and Conservative youth critic Raquel Dancho points out that the program is arriving nearly two months after students finished classes. 

"Months ago, Conservatives called on the government to increase funding for the Canada Summer Jobs program and to create a program to match students with jobs in the agriculture sector. While we are pleased that the Liberal government has finally listened, once again they have been slow to act," the statement reads.

"We are already two months into summer – every day the Liberals delay support or refuse to fix their programs, Canadians fall through the cracks. Conservatives will continue to advocate relentlessly for all Canadians left behind by Trudeau and his Liberal government."

With files from The Canadian Press

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