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Coronavirus: University of Regina student emergency fund suffering as applications increase

Dr. Vianne Timmons is the seventh president for the University of Regina.
Dr. Vianne Timmons is the seventh president for the University of Regina. Mark Taylor / Canadian Press

The University of Regina is asking the public for help after losing one of the main funding sources for their Student Emergency Fund.

Every spring, the university’s Prairie Kitchen Party raises money for the fund. The May 9 event was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic as social distancing becomes the norm.

“We give out over $40,000 a year in emergency bursaries and we’re down now to $300,” said University of Regina President and Vice Chancellor Vianne Timmons.

“We need to get out there to try and get it rebuilt.  We know now that students are in real jeopardy without summer jobs.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan school divisions to share distance learning plans

Timmons said typically, many of the program’s applicants are single mothers.

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“Right now they’re not working and they’re trying to get through their studies. And they’re home with their kids. It’s a real challenge for many of our single moms.”

But she added that she anticipates many more will now also be facing hardship.

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The university has received over 20 applications for emergency funding since March 16.

“There are so many young people who are going to be challenged financially during this pandemic, so it’s up to us to provide support.”

READ MORE: Federal government recommends First Nations suspend spring elections during coronavirus pandemic

The Government of Canada’s recently-introduced Emergency Response Benefit promises up to $2,000 for four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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But Timmons said that some who pay towards their own education may not meet the minimum $5,000 income thresholds needed to qualify for the support, which is also only available to Canadian residents.

“We have lots of international students here that work in retail in Regina. And, we have local kids – students in Regina who depend on summer employment to help pay their tuition and they’re not gonna be able to do that. Tuition alone is $7,000.”

READ MORE: Long wait times for grocery pickup frustrating Saskatchewan residents amid COVID-19

As for how much Timmons is hoping to raise, she says she’s seeing six figures — as long as the city she’s come to love over the past decade rises to the occasion.

“Even $200 can buy some groceries. It doesn’t have to be a huge donation. We know the community can step up and will step up and we’re looking forward to hearing from them.

You can donate to the fund online here.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.