Government and WE Charity breakup won’t affect Burns Lake students

Local students weren’t set to participate in the program, says teacher

In the past, LDSS students have participated in several WE charity-organized events like the WE Day excursion and the WE Walk for Water, under the guidance of teacher Patti Dube. (Lakes District News file photo)

The provincial government and WE charity parting ways on the Canada Student Service Grant won’t affect students in Burns Lake, according to their teacher Patti Dubé.

Dubé, who has worked with and supported student participation in the several WE Charity events over the years, told Lakes District News that she had already refused to participate in the program.

“The government program that they were offering for the students was like a summer job basically, where I had to get 75 to 100 students to participate in volunteering for the summer and then they would actually pay me money to get these kids to participate,” she said adding that she refused to do that.

“It was just odd for me that I would get paid money for a job that I already do and so I told them I won’t be doing that.”

Moreover, the program mandated 75 to 100 students to participate to be eligible for the Canada Student Service Grant program.

“It is impossible for me to get 75 to 100 students out of Burns Lake to volunteer when most of them already have jobs. So it was more of a big city thing and that’s also why I turned it down,” said Dubey.

The Canada Student Service Grant was announced by the provincial government in partnership with WE Charity. Under this program, students were set to receive grants, a total of around $900 million, in exchange for volunteer work in the effort against COVID-19. Students would’ve received a $1,000-to-$5,000 grant based on the number of hours they worked.

WE Charity would also have been paid at least $19.5 million as a third party to administer the program.

However, in a statement, Youth Minister Bardish Chagger informed the public that WE Charity and the federal government were parting ways and that it was a mutually-agreed upon decision.

We Charity had already launched the program on June 25, approached schools and students and had seen over 35,000 applications just withing its first week according to the statement. They would however no longer participate in disbursing the grants through this program.

The decision to part ways came after the federal government came under fire for awarding the organization with a sole-source contract to manage the $912-million program.

WE’s several events have definitely been a big boost for local students in Burns Lake in the past.

“It has just been a great way for our students to have a focus,” said Dubé.

A number of questions still remain unanswered — Would the federal government go ahead with disbursing the grant without WE Charity? Would WE Charity continue to work with communities and schools? — answers to which are expected to unfold in the coming days.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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