The federal government has unveiled $9 billion in funding for post-secondary students, including a new emergency student benefit for those who are struggling to find a job due to COVID-19.
The Canada Emergency Student Benefit will give eligible students $1,250 a month for May to August, or $1,750 for those taking care of someone or who have a disability, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during his morning news conference on Wednesday (April 22).
Students who have a job, but are only making up to $1,000 a month, will also be eligible.
“As young people what you’re going through matters,” he said. “We want to make sure that you will be OK.”
The program is expected to be rolled out in coming weeks. The payments will be retroactive to May 1.
Student grants will be doubled for the coming academic year, the prime minister added. Those who are volunteering will also have access to funds.
Trudeau said the government will also be creating 76,000 new jobs, specifically for post-secondary students, within sectors that “need an extra hand” or are contributing directly to the battle against COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the Canadian Federation of Students – which represents 500,000 students across the country – called on the federal government to help students who they said have been overlooked in the Canada Emergency Responde Benefit rollout.
In order to be eligible for the CERB, a person has to have earned at least $5,000 within the year prior.
“Students depend on summer jobs not only to pay for rent, groceries and other living expenses, but also to save up for the coming school year,” the federation’s chairperson, Sofia Descalzi, said at the time. “They will not be able to do that this summer.”
The B.C. government announced $3.5 million in emergency funding in early April, to help cover living expenses, food, travel and portable computers for students who are not already able to study remotely.