The Government of Canada is providing students with one-time payments of up to $5,000 for volunteering in COVID-19 pandemic related programs, depending on the number of hours worked.
It will allow post-secondary students and recent graduates to gain work experience while contributing to their communities.
For every 100 hours worked, a student will receive $1,000 — this is the minimum payment that can be received.
While the money is meant to help pay off tuition, it can actually assist with any necessary expenses.
“Students can use this for whatever expenses they have. Whether that’s tuition, rent, phone bills… it can cover those expenses,” Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, told Daily Hive.
The government is directing interested students to the new “I Want to Help” information portal where they can connect with coronavirus-focused charities and not-for-profits that could use their help.
The service grant will be administered by WE Charity, an international organization that will screen, train, and match applicants with opportunities and distribute the grants.
Since the launch earlier on Thursday, over 3,000 applications have been submitted, with over 23,000 opportunities available.
“Based on over 3,000 applications within five hours of launching, this tells me there is a tremendous opportunity for this service,” Chagger said. “We want not-for-profits to submit so we can pair them up with students. And we want students to visit the portal so they can be able to give back and contribute in a meaningful way.”
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Chagger hopes the service grant will encourage behaviours that can help heal communities.
“Students are a source of strength in the country and can help build back better and more inclusive communities. We want to help build morale and promote them as they do this work.”
The volunteer opportunities are wide in scope, depending on the needs of the not-for-profits and charities. It can be anything from teaching others to code, assisting with communications for the organization’s social media platforms, being part of the Big Brother Big Sister program, or delivering groceries to vulnerable populations.
According to Chagger, there is also no cut off on how many students the service will help and is “demand-based.”
In order to qualify for the service grant, participants must be 30 years old or younger and be either a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or student with refugee status.
The applicant must also be enrolled in college or university during a 2020 semester or have graduated no earlier than December 19.
They can also be studying abroad and not currently residing in Canada.
Interested volunteers must register by August 21 at the latest, and completed applications for the grant have to be submitted no later than November 6.
Participants are only able to count hours volunteered between June 25 and October 31 of this year.
On Thursday, Trudeau also announced the creation of 10,000 new job placements for young people aged 15 to 30 through the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Chagger said that the additional jobs were created after the program provided 76,000 jobs for students.
In April, the federal government announced a $9 billion plan to help Canadian students.
At the time, they launched the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), a program that gives students $1,250 a month from May to August and $1,750 each month if the student takes care of someone else or has a disability.
It’s important to note that all of these assistance programs are stackable for students, meaning they can be on the CESB and have the student service grant or apply for the summer job program at the same time.
For Chagger, it’s important for students to have a financial incentive and to feel like they can go back to school in the fall feeling fully supported.