Last April, with COVID ramping up, the federal government increased support to the youth employment strategy by expanding the Canada Summer Jobs program to improve flexibility for employers and students. Instead of providing up to 75% funding for summer employment, grants could now cover up to 100%. Rather than a minimum 12-week term, roles could now be as short as 6. Grants could be coupled more easily with other funding opportunities. Jobs could be full or part-time. Timelines were extended and funding could be used through to February 2021 instead of the usual at the end of August. Finally, youth no longer needed to be returning to school in order to qualify. These changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Grant program opened up new possibilities and opportunities for youth employment. As an employment facilitator at Camosun College, many of my students' opportunities for co-op placements, practicums, part-time employment and apprenticeships have been put in limbo as a result of COVID. To help connect employers with funding, I resolved to bang the CSJ drum with our employers and I've been excited to get on the phone to let them know to apply!
With job development as part of my mandate, I set a target of helping twelve “for-profit” employers from the four constituencies in Greater Victoria area to get their applications together. A quick scan of our online job board confirmed my recollections that CSJ funded positions were only a very small percentage and mainly not-for-profit organizations. Unfortunately, these organizations were also the most affected by COVID-19 lockdown measures including recreation/life skills programs, and art galleries and theatre companies - those with the least opportunity to take advantage of the added flexibility.
I called the Members of Parliament in each of the South Island ridings to find out what the competition is like. I heard back from the office of Randall Garrison, MP of the Esquimalt/Westshore/Sooke constituency. That office can approve up to 5 applications. If each of the ridings has a population-based quota, my estimate is that there are about 18-20 possible grants available for local employers on Southern Vancouver Island.
Optimistically, I will support 12 for-profit companies to apply this year, and I have reached out to Chambers, union halls, and all eligible employers (not-for-profit and for-profit) in our database through an e-newsletter. I took the opportunity to promote it to the employers that wished me a Happy New Year as well. I look forward to what the next week or two will bring - how many job descriptions and mentoring programs I will help draft, and ultimately, how many of those twelve applications will be approved.