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Open Letter to the Government of Canada: New COVID-19 Support for Students Shouldn't Exclude Those Attending Private Career Colleges

April 27, 2020

Blog — Open Letter to the Government of Canada: New COVID-19 Support for Students Shouldn't Exclude Those Attending Private Career Colleges

3 min read

Heather Payne

CEO & Founder

Juno College

One of the best things about attending Juno is that you’re never “just a number.”

Because we’re a small school and a tight knit community, we get the chance to really get to know our students. We are there to celebrate through the good times, like new jobs and promotions and weddings and babies, and we’re also there to support our students and alumni through the hard times. Hard times like right now.

I’ve been watching Trudeau’s briefings for weeks, waiting for news about a Canada Emergency Response Benefit-like program for students. Last week, the announcement came. I want to thank the government for the support measures announced last week, designed to ensure Canada’s students don’t slip through the cracks. According to the details released so far, eligible postsecondary students will receive $1250 a month from May to August (more if you have a dependent or a disability). Additionally, 76,000 jobs are being created for young people. In total, it's a $9 billion package for students and new graduates.

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) fills a much needed gap left by CERB for Canada’s future leaders, and I was excited to hear about the 76,000 jobs being created for young people - it seems like a true win-win. However, after connecting with Jeremy Shaki, the CEO of Lighthouse Labs, I became concerned that Private Career College (PCC) students - Juno’s students, Lighthouse’s students - will be exempt from these new measures. It’s why Jeremy and I have joined together to urge the government not to leave Private Career College students behind. Read the letter we submitted to the government here.

Historically, students of Private Career Colleges have been excluded from government funds benefiting those attending public universities or colleges. In addition, much of the funding for the 76,000 new jobs will be funnelled through the promising Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) program. Unfortunately, when the program was created, eligibility was limited to students at publicly funded Canadian post-secondary institutions, meaning this support will not be available to our market-ready graduates.

As a result, more than 175,000 students from Canadian private colleges across the country may be left behind due to CESB criteria.

Private Career Colleges deliver career-specific, outcome-based programs in hundreds of essential skilled fields in a manner that is characteristically responsive to employer demand. Canada’s PCCs inject into the job market an especially high number of graduates in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. These industries are catalysts for development, and will play an especially important role in reshaping our economy over the coming years. As two of the largest software development private career colleges in the country, Lighthouse Labs and Juno College of Technology have taught over 50,000 Canadians to code and graduated over 3,000 developers into high-paying technology jobs.

The fact that our programs and courses prepare Canadians for today’s most in-demand jobs through training that is, above all else, flexible, is why Private Career Colleges will be critical to our country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. But for PCCs to play this role, our students need to be supported with the same programs available to other students. A two-tier and unequal system where only College and University students receive benefits would be unfair and unjust.

We urge the government to:

  • Ensure CESB is available to all students
  • Expand eligibility for Student Work Placement Program to include private career colleges

I deeply appreciate the government’s work during this unprecedented time, and I look forward to working together to ensure that Canada’s students - at all institutions - can continue to build their futures, and Canada’s, all together.

Click here to read the entire letter that Juno and Lighthouse Labs submitted to the government.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you’re a Canadian Bootcamp or Private Career College student or recent graduate, this survey can help give you a voice. Please note “Other” when asked in which postsecondary program you were enrolled.

Click here to complete the survey

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