Feds expected to unveil more emergency aid for students, young Canadians


OTTAWA — The federal government is expected to announce today more significant financial support for students and other young Canadians struggling to stay afloat and find jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new measures are intended to target support at young people who have fallen through the cracks of other emergency financial assistance.

Some students, for instance, have complained that they don’t qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

It provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks to Canadians who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and had an income of at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months — criteria that doesn’t apply to many students.

Today’s measures are in addition to some steps the federal government has already taken to specifically help young people weather the health crisis.

It has put a six-month, interest-free moratorium on student loan repayments.

It has also bolstered the Canada Summer Jobs program in a bid to encourage employers to hire young workers for essential jobs.

Employers this year will receive a subsidy of up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each youth employee — up from the usual wage subsidy of 50 per cent.

The government has also expanded the program to include part-time workers and extended the this year’s employment period to the end of February 2021.

As well, the government has provided $20 million to support young entrepreneurs who are facing challenges due to the pandemic.

Today’s announcement of additional financial assistance comes as the federal government is poised to release Friday its fiscal update for February — including a deficit number that is bound to look positively microscopic compared to the red ink the government has been piling up since mid-March when the pandemic forced the economy to a virtual standstill.

As of Tuesday, Ottawa has shovelled $107 billion into financial assistance for individuals, employers and hard-hit groups and sectors of the economy. It has also committed $85 billion in loans and tax deferrals.