Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): Financial Help For Students During COVID-19

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): Financial Help For Students During COVID-19

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 7, 2021

As more and more businesses are forced to shut their doors and millions of Canadian workers losing their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has been focusing on providing economic relief to these demographics. But in addition to these demographics, students are also suffering financially due to the health crisis. 

The summer months are fast approaching, the season where students typically use their time off school to get part-time jobs, largely to help cover the cost of post-secondary education or to pay for other large expenses. Unfortunately, most opportunities are likely lost. Many cities across Canada have already cancelled city-run summer camps, and many others are on the fence about what to do about them. 

That leaves students with few options in terms of using their downtime in the summer to accumulate funds that they otherwise would have put to good use. 

But in addition to that, many post-secondary students also work part-time throughout the year to keep up with financial responsibilities. Unfortunately, the number of working post-secondary students between the ages of 15 and 29 years decreased by 28% in March 2020 from the month before. 

Thankfully, the government is stepping in once again to financially help students in their time of need. In addition to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), Trudeau’s government is also putting out an economic aid package for students.

Let’s get into a little more detail about what this package entails and how students can apply for financial assistance due to COVID-19.

What Is The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)?

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is a financial assistance program developed by the federal government to provide economic aid to post-secondary students. More specifically, it is made available to students who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Employment Insurance (EI), or who cannot work because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Students who qualify will be able to receive $1,250 per month or $1,750 per month to those who have disabilities or dependents. The benefit will become available in May and will be provided until August 2020. 

There will also be about $291 million provided to extend scholarships, grants, and fellowships to help student researchers and graduate students continue the work they have been doing up until now. These extensions will be either three or four months, depending on the exact funding type.

Further, the benefit will also dedicate $75 million to boost support for First Nations, Metis Nation, and Inuit students.

In total, the government is pledging approximately $9 billion for this fund.

This benefit applies to those who are:

  • Current post-secondary students
  • Plan to attend a post-secondary institution in September
  • Recently graduated 

Even those who are still able to work but earning no more than $1,000 may be eligible to collect on this benefit. Payments will be provided through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

More details will be made available soon from the federal government. 

Canada Student Service Grant

Students who are volunteering to combat COVID-19 may also be financially compensated through the Canada Student Service Grant. This grant will provide between $1,000 to $5,000 to eligible students, depending on the number of hours they dedicate. 

This new initiative is designed to recognize the contributions that students make to the fight against the pandemic. The funds provided will go towards post-secondary education tuition costs this fall.

More details will be announced over the coming weeks regarding eligibility, funding available under the grant, and how to apply.

Changes To The Canada Summer Jobs Program

The Canada Summer Jobs program will see some temporary changes in response to COVID-19 and the economic impact it is having on students. In addition to the financial help that the CESB will provide, the government is also promising that it will create roughly 76,000 jobs for young individuals through this program. 

The changes to this program will help small businesses hire and retain the employees required to carry out operations, and include:

  • Increase in wage subsidies
  • Permission for employers to make changes to their projects to support essential services
  • Permission for employers to hire employees on a part-time basis

Not only will these changes help young adults maintain work and save money for tuition, but they will also benefit the businesses employing them.

Final Thoughts

These are difficult, unprecedented times, and any help that students can get is certainly welcomed. Fortunately, the Canadian government has not forgotten about post-secondary students and the economic difficulties that they are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And programs like the CESB, among others, will hopefully help students fill financial voids that they may be experiencing.


Rating of 3/5 based on 13 votes.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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