Campbellton-Dalhousie MLA Guy Arseneault is concerned that students are one of the groups of people falling through the cracks as we continue to deal with the impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on New Brunswickers.
The Opposition Liberal post-secondary education critic is hearing from many students and parents who are concerned about whether students will be able to access summer employment or post-graduation employment.
“Students rely on summer employment to help pay for their studies and in some cases, it gives them the work weeks they need to qualify for Employment Insurance benefits. If those jobs are not available, there is a real risk that many students may not be able to continue in their educational programs.
The situation has also created stress for those graduating this year who still face expenses like the cost of food and rent even though their post-graduate jobs may have disappeared.
Arseneault is hoping that the provincial government will soon provide more information on what type of help students can expect. Students appear to be excluded from the provincial aid package that’s being offered for the first time today. “I know that governments at all levels are dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many decisions that have to be taken. I hope this issue is on the government’s radar. This appears to be a group that falls through the cracks in terms of financial aid. And government needs to ensure students don’t fall through the tracks at this time.
“If the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labor could share the government’s plan to address these issues, it would be of great comfort to students and parents alike. There are many unanswered questions. Will students who can’t work qualify for financial support? Will there be jobs available that can be done remotely with social distancing? The sooner people have answers to questions such as these, the better. I would encourage the Minister to provide an update as to where things stand”.
Arseneault is also suggesting that the minister work closely with and consult student leaders on their immediate needs and what the province can do to help.
“We need a safety net that catches everyone,” Arseneault said. “A lot of our MLAs have been fielding calls on this topic, and we encourage the government to come forward with some sort of assistance sooner rather than later.”