Open Letter to Minister Landry: Changes to SEED Program (Student Employment Experience Development)

May 6, 2016

Hon. Francine Landry
Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB
E3B 5H1

Dear Minister Landry:

I am writing to express concern over how the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program has been restructured.

In addition to providing students with summer work and job experience, SEED previously had the objective of supporting non-profit community organizations and voluntary groups to deliver their summer program and services. This included the 50 student positions for museums your Department had previously provided through the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture under the Priority Employment Program (PEP) component of SEED.

The program is no longer structured in any way to meet the twin objectives of providing students with summer work and supporting non-profit community organizations. In fact, PEP has been cancelled and the private sector is now eligible for SEED funds, creating unfair competition for non-profits who are generally unable to top up the minimum wage provided by the program. This has put the summer programming and services of many non-profits in jeopardy.

For students, the on-line information about how SEED works is unclear and many do not understand the process. Some students assume they are eligible to apply for jobs funded by your Department after they have submitted their application to SEED. Others assume that being put on the waiting list is meaningful in some way.

Further complicating the matter, it would seem that a certain number of positions had been reserved for high school and community college students, but that these were to be released in a second wave of approvals, following approval of university students who finish their school term earlier. If that is the case, there should be different dates for those groups of students to apply to SEED to avoid confusion.

I will be meeting with your Assistant Deputy Minister to discuss these concerns on Thursday.

Yours truly

David Coon
Leader, Green Party
MLA Fredericton-South