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Students are demanding to be included in the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

Man with laptop

Post-secondary students, who largely aren’t working during the school year or work contract jobs that will end at the end of April, are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which is meant to protect those losing income because of COVID-19.

The federal government released eligibility criteria for the CERB last week and specified that those who are not currently employed and do not lose income because of COVID-19 are not eligible to receive the $2,000 a month benefit. This will largely affect students who have started seeking summer employment as the winter semester is wrapping up.

As Canadians continue to follow social distancing measures, the federal government must guarantee all students are eligible to receive $500 per week if they cannot find employment, either through the CERB or through the creation of a similar benefit for all post-secondary students. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, The Canadian Federation of Students urges the federal government to include all students in their Emergency Response Plan.

“Because of skyrocketing tuition fees and the rise of the cost of living, more than 2 million students in Canada were already in a dire financial situation. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated this. On top of tuition fees, students also need to pay for rent, groceries and other necessities, for which they usually rely on summer employment. With non-essential businesses across the country shutting down to fight the virus, we hear from students every day who tell us they have lost their jobs, summer internships, and employment offers. In addition, graduating students are entering a job market where 4.5 million people have already been laid off.”

“Your government has told students that you have heard our pleas, that you are listening, and that more help is on the way. On Wednesday, April 8th, you announced the expansion of the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program. While a welcome first step to address the financial uncertainty students and recent graduates are facing, your government estimates the CSJ will only create 70,000 jobs. Yet, there are millions of students and recent graduates in Canada who have lost their income or employment opportunities. Furthermore, not all students are eligible for the CSJ due to eligibility restrictions, most notably students over 30 and international students.”

“By introducing CERB, the government has acknowledged that subsidizing employment alone will not meaningfully mitigate the devastation that this economic crisis is causing workers and businesses across Canada. It is clear that students and recent graduates are also in need of income support right now. We continue to believe that the only way to ensure that no one is left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic is by making all students and recent graduates eligible for the CERB.”

More information can be found here