$9B in new COVID-19 funding for students: Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)

$9B in new COVID-19 funding for students: Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)

OTTAWA—Students and new graduates who were anxious about their employment prospects, summer jobs, and financial status that were hampered by the ongoing COVID pandemic will soon be able to claim a new Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced this benefit as part of a $9 billion package comprised of new measures aimed at helping young people.

“COVID-19 has meant that there aren’t as many jobs out there for students, and without a job, it can be hard to pay for tuition or the day-to-day basics. You might normally have turned to your parents for help, but right now mom and dad are stretched, too,” Trudeau said. 

Through the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), the Government will ensure that students have the support they need in the face of COVID-19 – even if they are not covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

This benefit would provide $1,250 per month from May through August for eligible students, and $1,750 for students with dependents or permanent disabilities.

College and university students currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 are eligible.

As well, working students earning less than $1,000 per month can apply.

Salma Zahid, a Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre, in a phone interview, reiterated the government’s support to many young Canadians who were counting on summer jobs or new careers in order to make ends meet.

 “We recognize that many young Canadians are facing an unprecedented challenge, and we are doing whatever it takes to help Canadians through these challenging times. Young Canadians will play a central role in ensuring that Canada emerges from COVID-19 stronger than ever,” Salma Zahid, MP for Scarborough Centre, added.

The federal government is also:

  •  Creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or that are on the frontlines of this pandemic which could include contact tracing or helping on farms.
  • Investing $291.6 million to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for three or four months to keep research projects and placements going, including postdoctoral fellowships.
  • Broadening eligibility for financial assistance and raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
  • Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight to go towards their fall tuition.  This grant will provide up to $5,000 for a student’s education in the fall, for students who work in national service positions through organizations within their community.
  • Through the CSSG, students can develop their skills and give back to their communities during these challenging times.
  • Providing $75.2 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation students; and
  • Doubling the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents are also being doubled. 

Employers who hire summer students can apply for a subsidy of up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial hourly minimum wage. This is aimed at helping create up to 70,000 jobs for Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30, and giving them work experience and an income, the government says.

Previously in March, the National Student Loans Service Centre paused student loan repayments for six months, until September 30, 2020, interest-free.

“As you are building your future, thinking about how to contribute, about starting a family or career, all of a sudden you’re faced with a massive crisis… These measures will help you get through this so that you can build that career and the future that you’ve been looking forward to, that we’ve been looking forward to for you,” Trudeau said.

Prime Minister Trudeau also adds, “On the other side of this, when the economy comes roaring back, you will define our path forward.”

Post-secondary students from Niagara College Canada taken in early March 2020 (Photo credit: N. Guardiann)