WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government announced it is launching a Summer Student Recovery Plan, a wage subsidy program that will support high school and post-secondary students who work in the private and non-profit sectors.

Premier Brian Pallister made the announcement at a news conference on Friday, where he reflected on his past summer employment, including working as labourer, referee, and the Emergency Measures Organization.

Under the new program, up to $120 million is available for employers to access a $7 per hour wage subsidy, up to a maximum of $5,000 per student, according to the province. The program is open to Manitoba students aged 15 to 29, with an employment period from May 1 to Sept. 4

“The new wage subsidy program will support our students and connect them to summer jobs that help pay for their studies and also provide the opportunity to gain valuable work experience,” the premier said.

“Students can help businesses adapt their workplaces for social distancing as work resumes and this new wage subsidy program will help offset staffing costs in this challenging time.”

The government will subsidize employers to hire up to five summer students, and reimbursement will be given at the end of the summer with proof of the students’ wages.

The province noted students have to be put into jobs that can be worked under current public health orders and can adapt to any recommendations over the summer. It said for the first two weeks, employers who don’t qualify for federal support programs will be given priority.

“While we work toward carefully re-opening our economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, more opportunities will be available for students as the summer progresses,” said Pallister.

“Our students need the support and experience, and the Summer Student Recovery Plan will help stimulate our economy and move Manitoba forward.”

The province is also deferring payments on student loans to help post-secondary students who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.