Thank you. No problem.
My apologies, especially to the interpreters in the booth.
Students may actually end up making even less than $10 an hour. The grant will be calculated using 100-hour thresholds and will be rounded down. Students need to work a full 100 hours to get any money at all. If they work more than 100 hours, but less than 200, they are providing free labour for the additional hours. It is also ironic that the federal government has brought in regulations under the Canada Labour Code to restrict the use of unpaid internships, yet it is expecting students to work unpaid hours under the student service grant program.
Paying students to carry out volunteer work means that they are no longer volunteers. Simply calling them volunteers will not protect the government or the organizations employing them from violating provincial labour standards. PSAC agrees that students need support during this very difficult time. What they don’t need is a program that shortchanges them for their labour.
The government could have organized the program to pay students to work for non-profit agencies and charities, carrying out duties that volunteers could not do, or to perform work that would not be done due to a shortage of volunteers. They could have been paid at least minimum wage for their work, but ideally a wage more closely aligned to the type of work they would be performing, and they could be paid for all their work. For that matter, why introduce a grant program that emphasizes volunteer experience as opposed to job experience? The government could have taken immediate action to bolster existing summer student employment programs, including the federal student work experience program.
Finally—and let me conclude—if the government had either used existing programs or asked the public service to set up a new student work and payment plan, it would have avoided the conflict of interest issues that have come to light since the WE Charity announcement, and it would have been able to deliver both pay and work experience to students.