Legislation providing $9 billion in assistance to students who saw their summer employment prospects dry up due to the COVID-19 crisis — which was adopted at second readings and at all stages in the House of Commons tonight and sent to the Senate — says applicants must "attest to the fact that they are seeking work."
The bill also says that the government will make information available about employment opportunities through a government-managed job posting system.
A small group of MPs debated the bill in the House of Commons this evening.
Under the new program, students would be eligible for $1,250 a month from May through August.
The benefit is available also to students who have jobs but are making less than $1,000 a month.
Earlier today, the House adopted two motions with elements that appear to address some concerns voiced by opposition parties.
The government's initial plan was to provide a payment of $1,750 to students caring for dependents or those with a disability. One of today's motions provided an additional $250 monthly top-up, something the NDP had been pushing for.
That means students in that category will receive $2,000 a month — the same amount offered by the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), which provides assistance to Canadians who lost their incomes due to the global pandemic.
Matching students with employers
The government is also taking steps to match students with employers who need to fill labour gaps.
Conservatives had warned that the aid package could create a disincentive for students to look for summer work at a time when some essential sectors, such as agriculture, agri-food and fish processing, are facing labour shortages.
Today's motion said there will be new financial incentives and support measures to connect Canadians, particularly students and youth, with various available jobs "to ensure regional economic stability and food production during this crisis."
The motion also says the government will deliver the assistance in a way that "meets their objective while encouraging employment in all circumstances."
Under the legislation, the program will undergo a "comprehensive" parliamentary review by Sept. 30, 2021 — something else the Conservatives had been seeking.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the suite of benefits last week in response to critics claiming that too many young people were being left out of other pandemic support programs.
The student aid bill was provided in advance to opposition parties on the weekend; negotiations on potential changes have taken place over the last several days.