The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s jobs this year as lockdowns forced the closure of many businesses and the retooling of many others to cope with the way things were moving forward. But those with jobs were not the only ones affected, as those who were in the midst of trying to find employment were also greatly impacted by the goings-on around the province and across the country.
Those finishing school for the summer – or graduating and moving to the world of employment – had faced a significant barrier, as many employers were either not hiring, or they were competing with those who had lost their employment.
Luckily, there was help from the federal government as they once again ran the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, helping provide 80,000 employment opportunities across the country in not-for-profit organizations, and with public and private sector employers.
The program is set to run again in 2021, this time, with 120,000 employment opportunities, an increase of 50 per cent, across all three sectors.
Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis welcomed the expansion, noting he’s personally always enjoyed working with students.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s a great opportunity for young Canadians to get paid work experience. That’s what I like. It’s good for the youth and in our community, and it helps employers, and it’s good for the economy [at large] as well as the local economy,” said Louis. “In so many instances, you need experience to enter a workforce, so this gives them (youth) a safe environment in their local community, probably with people that they know, to get that experience [and] to get paid. And it gets their foot in the door, and that’s a big thing again that helps the employers subsidize and give people opportunities to share their own experience and grow their business.
“Ultimately, it’s helping our local economy. You can see these jobs staying in our own economy, and locally it makes a big difference.”
Louis says within the Kitchener-Conestoga area, more than 150 jobs were provided – about 130 within the townships, many of them in Woolwich. He says about $600,000 worth of funding was provided to employers who gave jobs to youth in the region.
Through CSJ, those aged 15 to 30 are provided with paid job opportunities while helping to provide key community services in regions across the country.
Employers are provided a subsidy up to 75 per cent of the provincial minimum wage, while not-for-profit employers are provided a 100 per cent subsidy.
Looking towards the 2021 program, Louis says he hopes with the increase in jobs and already having navigated through a pandemic, more jobs will be supported and exist for interested youth.
“What 2020 has taught us is that we have to treat things in the shorter term we can’t predict as far as we thought we could. Last year I think it was more disruptive because it seemed like the program had started to be subscribed [to] before the pandemic hit, so we had to make some adjustments on the fly. This year we’ve got that full year ahead, some experience of how things worked, so I hope that serves Canada and the government, and my office we can figure out – and employers can figure out – a way that we can maximize the benefits this year. I hope that this year [there] will be less hiccups, because we were going in knowing that we’ve done a pandemic,” Louis added.
Employers interested in participating in the program are now able to apply. Applications for all employers will be accepted until Jan. 29, 2021.
Those who may have questions about the program are encouraged by Louis to reach out to him at his office and have a discussion on their needs and how best they may fit into the program.
Employment under the program will end by Feb. 26, 2022.