Canada’s federal government has directed a $9 billion support package for students who are facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, the number of post-secondary working students, age 15 to 29, dropped by 28% from February 2020.
The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is aimed at to help students continue their studies, secure, and retain summer employment, pay their bills and save tuition for the fall.
But how exactly is the $9 billion being distributed? And who has access to this new program once it is passed?
What is the CESB?
The benefit ensures that $1,250 is given per month to students from May through August and $1,750 for students with dependents and those with disabilities.
The CESB is will reach approximately one million students.
Who is eligible?
The program is available for students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate, as well as for students who graduated no earlier than December 2019.
It is also available for high-school graduates who have applied for and will be joining post-secondary programs in the coming months and any Canadian students studying abroad who meet one of the criteria already mentioned.
But students must prove that they are seeking work in order to receive financial assistance.
When can students apply?
The Government of Canada said they are “working to get money quickly into the pockets of Canadians who need it most.”
Students who have been unable to find employment or self-employment due to COVID-19 during the four week period for which they are applying for the CESB would be able to do so when applications open in May through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
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Expanding student loans
The Student Loan Program, which already helps more than 700,000 students, will be expanded to reach 760,000 students at an estimated cost of approximately $1.9 billion over two years starting in 2020-21.
“Due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, students may be unable to secure and retain summer employment, and save for school in the fall. As a result, many students are worried about their ability to manage tuition fees and the cost of books for the next school year,” the government says.
Students will now be eligible for greater amounts of financial aid, including doubling the non-repayable Canada Student Grants for full and part-time students, as well as for students with disabilities and students with dependents, in the coming academic year.
What job opportunities are available
The Canadian government is changing the Canada Summer Jobs Program by including increased wage subsidies, expanded eligibility and “new flexibilities” for employers, to ensure that the program can support 70,000 job placements in 2020-21.
The government is also putting forth $80 million for the Student Work Placement Program to support up to 20,000 post-secondary students across Canada in obtaining paid work experience related to their field of study.
And, there will be $15 million for the Supports for Student Learning Program to serve an additional 14,700 youth through support to complete high school and transition to post-secondary education in order to “help ensure that vulnerable children and youth do not become further marginalized as a result of COVID-19.”
There is also $40 million being allocated to the Innovation, Science and Economic Development to support Mitacs create 5,000 new job placements.
The Business/Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) will also create a further 5,000 to 10,000 new student placements, by reorienting existing federal support and building online tools.
And to encourage students to participate in the pandemic response, the government will launch a new national service initiative to recognize students’ contributions to the COVID-19 efforts, with the new Canada Student Service Grant which will provide up to $5,000 to support student’s post-secondary education costs in the fall.
Funding for grad students
In order to support post-doctoral fellows, $291.6 million will be made available to support 40,000 student researchers through the federal granting councils.
Funding would support a one-semester extension for eligible students whose research scholarships or fellowships end between March and August, and who intend to continue their studies.
It would also provide a 3-month extension in funding for holders of federal research grants to support eligible trainees and staff paid out of these awards. These extensions cannot be combined with other income supports.
Another, $7.5 million will be made available to support student and post-doctoral research placements within the National Research Council.
The Government of Canada will remove the restriction that allows international students to work only a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.
This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.