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Confusion, frustration abound as feds weigh options for $900M student program

Last Updated Jul 9, 2020 at 4:08 pm EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on July 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Anxious students and non-profit groups say they’re confused and frustrated as they wait to hear what will happen to the $900-million volunteering program previously administered by the WE Charity.

The government says it is working on what to do with the Canada Student Services Grant program after its agreement with the WE organization was cancelled last week amid controversy over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s connections to the Toronto-based group.

Several non-profits seeking volunteers under the grant program say they and their volunteers are waiting for answers, including whether the program is going to go ahead and the students they have already taken on will be paid the promised honorarium for their time.

The grant program promises to pay students up to $5,000 for their post-secondary educations if they volunteer the maximum 500 hours.

Michelle Porter of the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission in Halifax says the charity has put on hold plans to take on 10 more students after already employing five, none of whom know whether they will receive their promised funds.

Emily Fern of the St. Andrew’s Community Outreach and Support Program in Whitby, Ont., says she has grown frustrated as students have been reaching out but she does not know whether she can take them through the program despite the organization’s dire need for help.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press