Green Party calls for a clear plan to help students left high and dry by the WE scandal

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May speaks with media at Press Conference in Thunder Bay
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May speaks with media at Press Conference in Thunder Bay

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is calling for immediate action to help students in the wake of the WE scandal. Shifting the almost $1 billion earmarked for the canceled Canada Student Service Grant program to the existing Canada Summer Jobs program is the obvious choice.

“The whole premise of the Canada Student Service Grant was problematic,” said Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) Green Party critic for employment and workforce development. “To get the full $5000, students would need to volunteer 500 hours, that’s $10/hr, which is less than the minimum wage in any province. Students would not gain any EI eligible hours or have this de facto employment recognized next spring if there is another wave of the pandemic and a need for further financial relief programs.

“And why introduce a program that required a whole new bureaucracy to operate? It would make far more sense to allocate the funding to the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program and ensure that the funding goes to nonprofits to hire students,” continued Manly. “The CSJ program is over-subscribed and there are organizations across Canada that either didn’t receive funding or received funding for fewer positions or fewer weeks than requested.”

Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts said: “I remain baffled that the Liberal cabinet and their advisors did not recognize the obvious problems in this decision. I am glad to know that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner will be investigating. Canadians deserve answers and accountability from their government.”

“We are in the middle of a global pandemic and a climate emergency and the government needs to remain focused,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “The other opposition parties are all over this scandal but we have yet to hear them provide any solid solutions on what to do now that WE has dropped the contract.

“There are thousands of Canadian students who need jobs and thousands of Canadian charities and nonprofits which are dealing with a decline in revenue and an increase in demand in services that could benefit from students working with them. Organizations that applied through WE should be allowed to move their application to Canada Summer Jobs.”