Student volunteers at Pan Am Games get OSAP break


Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid announced the initiative Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy: Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities)

Students are finally getting a break, an OSAP break that is.

Ontario post-secondary students who volunteer in the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games should expect to put in full-time hours in exchange for getting special consideration when it comes to their OSAP loans.

“It’s going to be a great one-time experience for this generation,” said Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid in a teleconference Friday.

The $1.9-million initiative will give students the chance to get involved without worrying about finding paid work to meet their loan requirement, says Duguid.

To be eligible for OSAP funding, students are expected to work during the summer but new and returning student volunteers will have this requirement waived.

New graduates will also get a break. Volunteering for the game will double the grace period for the start of the loan repayments to one year.

In order to qualify for the OSAP break, student volunteers for the Pan Am Games will need to complete 12 out of 18 shifts between July 10-26, 2015. Volunteers for the Parapan Am Games have to complete six out of eight shifts between August 7-14, 2015. Volunteers will also need to participate in training sessions leading up the event.

“There will be a very stringent record kept of the hours [volunteers] put in,” Duguid said, adding that students should expect to work long shifts. “When you volunteer at the games, you’re volunteering to work pretty close to full time.”

For some, the offer isn’t enough to get them involved. “If I was paying rent and didn’t have a job at the time, I would consider it,” says first year nutrition student Dareen Haidar. “It’s just not a cause I’m really interested in.”

Haidar is currently on OSAP and lives at home. She says although for some students volunteering at the Games would be a unique experience, she feels the initiative is a “desperate” attempt to get volunteers.

The games will require up to 20,000 volunteers who will tackle jobs such as helping out at sporting events, handing out tickets, and some volunteers may work with athletes.

Duguid says he hopes the OSAP break will be incentive enough to recruit up to 4,500 student volunteers.

Recruitment will start in mid-April.

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