Canada launches student grant program, earmarks $40M for 5,000 internships

PM also pledges tens of thousands of job placements

Ottawa is officially launching its Canada Student Service Grant after initially unveiling the program in April.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday (June 25) the federal government was also earmarking $40 million to create 5,000 Mitacs internships for students left with fewer job opportunities amid the pandemic.

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Mitacs is a non-profit that operates training and research programs for masters and PhD students, however, the new initiative will see eligibility expand to undergrads and to those in professional programs including law, medicine and business.

Details on the Canada Student Service Grant remained sparse after the initial April announcement, beyond the fact the initiative would target students who volunteer to address COVID-19-related issues.

Those summer volunteers would be eligible for $1,000-5,000, depending on how many hours they work.

Graduate students would be able to tap into $291 million in extended scholarships, fellowships and grants.

Trudeau also pledged to create 10,000 job placements for students 15-30 years old and another 20,000 jobs for students in sectors where demand is high.

The grants announced in April were part of a $9-billion package that included the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, worth $1,250 per month between May and August.

That benefit goes up to $1,750 a month for students with disabilities or for those who have to care for someone else.

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit can be applied to current students as well as those who graduated stretching back to December 2019.

Meanwhile, media reports this week have detailed a letter from 19 former parliamentarians and government officials urging Ottawa to a consider a legal opinion arguing the justice minister has the authority to intervene in the ongoing Meng Wanzhou extradition case.

Meng, a top executive with China’s Hauwei Technology Co. Ltd., was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 following an extradition request from the U.S.

Shortly thereafter, Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were arrested in China in what is widely seen as a retaliatory measure.

The two men face espionage charges.

Beijing has repeatedly hinted that Spavor and Kovrig would be freed if Ottawa intervened in Meng’s extradition case.

While Trudeau would not comment on the legal argument made in the letter, he said he deeply disagreed with the position of the former parliamentarians urging the justice minister to consider intervening in the Meng case at this point.

“I respect these individuals but they’re wrong in their approach,” he said, adding the country’s independent justice system must play out according to typical processes.

The prime minister cautioned against any such deal-making, stating it would create a precedent in which foreign actors would see they can exert political pressure on Ottawa by detaining random Canadians who travel overseas.

Trudeau said the government would explore a range of options to bring Kovrig and Spavor home.

“We need to demonstrate that we have an independent judiciary and we will continue to respect that independent judiciary regardless of the pressure put on us by foreign governments,” he said.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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