Parliament Passes Bill Providing for Canada Emergency Student Benefit

May 1, 2020

On April 29, 2020, Bill C-15: An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019) passed its third reading in Parliament. The Bill would create a new benefit for post-secondary students, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). Bill C-15 has been sent to the Senate and is expected to receive Royal Assent on May 1.

The purpose and key features of the CESB are as follows:

  • The purpose of the CESB is to provide income support to post-secondary students who will experience financial hardship over the Summer due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
  • Eligible students would receive a flat-payment benefit of $312.50 per week, or $500 per week for eligible students with dependents or with permanent disabilities. The CESB is payable in four-week installments (i.e. $1,250 or $2,000 respectively).
  • The CESB would be available from May through August 2020. We anticipate the four-week installments will broadly align with these four months.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act or a protected person under Section 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. International students are not eligible for the CESB, and
  • Have been enrolled in a post-secondary educational program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate, at any time between December 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020, or have graduated from secondary school in 2020 and applied for and intends to enroll in such a program that is scheduled to begin before February 1, 2021. Bill C-15 also provides for eligibility if the applicant is a member of a class of persons that is prescribed by regulation; no such regulations have been announced, and
  • For reasons related to COVID-19 and whether as an employee or in self-employment, be unable to work, seeking work and unable to find it, or working but being paid less than the specified amount (expected to be $1,000 (before taxes)), during the four-week period for which applicant applies for the CESB, and
  • Not receive income from employment or self-employment of more than the specified amount, Employment Insurance benefits, allowances or the CERB during the four-week period for which the applicant applies for the CESB.

Changes from Previous Announcement

Bill C-15 provides for certain changes to the Government’s April 22 News Release and accompanying Backgrounder. Changes include (i) the CESB payment for students caring for dependents or those with a disability has increased from $437.50 to $500 per week, and (ii) the federal government will make available to eligible students’ information about employment opportunities through a government-managed job posting system.

Applying for the CESB

The CESB will be delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency. Applicants whose eligibility is on the basis that they are seeking work, whether as an employee or in self-employment, but are unable to find it must, in their application, attest to the fact that they are seeking work. Applicants can apply at any time before September 30, 2020.

Further details of the application process are still in development and will be released shortly.

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