A member of parliament from Windsor-Essex wants Prime Minister to switch funding from WE Charity to a federal summer students job program. 

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse made these comments Wednesday amidst an investigation into Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau about the WE Charity student grant program over their failure to recuse themselves from cabinet discussions of the program, given the close ties between their families and WE Charity.

Last month, Trudeau announced a new Canada Student Service Grant program that was to be administered by WE Charity at a cost of $900 million. 

But WE’s involvement in the grant program has since blown up into a major scandal for the government and WE has stepped back from participating. 

During a press conference in Windsor-Essex Wednesday, Masse said if the government put two thirds of the money awarded to WE to the federal Canada Summer Jobs program, they could have supported more students.  

The program allocates funding across the country to support student positions at various non-profits and private organizations. 

Masse said that typically the funding allocated to the program isn’t enough to meet the demand, meaning some organizations who apply don’t end up getting student placements. 

Local MP wants Trudeau to put WE Charity funding into federal summer job program
Prime Minister will appear before the House finance committee to answer questions about their roles in bringing WE Charity in to run the student grant program. (Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press)

And this year was no different — Masse said Windsor West received 484 requests for funding for student jobs and that he could only approve 300. 

This means that nearly 200 student positions were not able to be funded. 

CBC News has reached out to the minister responsible for the Canada Summer Jobs program, but has not yet heard back. 

“The prime minister could fix this tomorrow, he could fix it tomorrow,” Masse said. “[Prime Minister Trudeau] could say ‘we made a mistake, I have ethics breaches being investigated but by the way we’ll use the public service tool to get more students employment right now and more charities [the] support they need right now by funding this program.'”  

Masse said due to COVID-19 the program has been extended to February and because of this, he’d like to see the government put more funding into the program. 

He said on July 7, the NDP sent the Prime Minister a letter that asks them to fund more student positions. 

UWindsor student says job market is difficult to break into 

University of Windsor undergraduate student Vivien Szoczei said students increasingly need jobs these days to pay for their academic fees. 

Szoczei said she was temporarily laid off from her job when the pandemic hit and that she tried finding a second job to support herself in March. 

Though she didn’t apply for summer work this year, she said she’s seen her peers struggle through it and that she knows how essential it is to have work as a student. 

Local MP wants Trudeau to put WE Charity funding into federal summer job program
University of Windsor undergraduate student Vivien Szoczei said students increasingly rely on employment to pay off their academic fees and provide them with strong experience. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

“It has become more important for students to have opportunities ever since Ontario changed its Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) distribution,” she said, adding that before the amount of money she got through OSAP would be enough to fund her academic finances, but following the cuts she didn’t have enough to cover her full tuition. 

Not only that, but she said jobs help provide students with employment experience and could help launch their careers.

“We need to keep going with programs that have already proven to be helpful,” Szoczei said.  

“It’s always important to give more and more opportunities to young people because they are the ones who are starting out in life and they are the ones who are going to be future employees and I think that they need to start somewhere.” 

On Thursday, Trudeau and Katie Telford, his chief of staff, will appear before the House finance committee to answer questions about their roles in bringing WE Charity in to run the student grant program.

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