Prime Minister Trudeau announced a $9 billion package of new measures aimed at helping young people, particularly post-secondary students. On May 1, 2020, the government passed legislation to enact the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The CESB is intended to support certain post-secondary students if they are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Eligible students can receive $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependents* or disability**, for a maximum of $2,000 per month. The CESB is available for four months, from May 2020 to August 2020, and students will be able to apply until Sept. 30, 2020.
*A student with a dependent is someone who has at least one child under the age of 12 or a person with a disability who is wholly dependent on them or their spouse or partner.
**A student with a disability must attest to having an impairment, such as a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment, or a functional limitation that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders their “full and equal participation in society.”
The benefit will be available to:
- Students, of any age, including those who are studying abroad, if the student is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
- International students, temporary workers who have a social insurance number (SIN) beginning with “9,” and non-resident students with international tax numbers, are not eligible.
- Three categories of students:
- current students enrolled in a post-secondary program (at an institution on the government’s list of designated schools) leading towards a degree, diploma, or certificate,
- students who have recently graduated or left school as of December 2019 (or later). Also, high school students who have either completed or are expected to complete, highschool in 2020 and have applied for a post-secondary educational program that begins before Feb. 1, 2021. High school students who have quit school without graduating are not eligible., and
- prospective students who graduated between June 7 and Dec. 31, 2020, and have applied for post-secondary studies and who plan to enroll if accepted, are only eligible to receive two months of the CESB (July and August). Those who complete high school before June 7, 2020, are eligible to apply for the period that starts after their graduation.
If you complete high school:
- before June 7, 2020, your high school completion date must be before the start of the first eligibility period you are applying for, or
- after June 7, 2020, you can only apply for 2 eligibility periods, starting from the July 5 to August 1 eligibility period.
Note that students are not eligible for the CESB if they are receiving either the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance benefits for the same four-week period.
Students may qualify for the CESB if they are:
- Unable to work,
- Are seeking work but are unable to find it (and must attest to the fact that they are seeking work in their application), or
- Are working but are paid less than a minimum threshold, for reasons related to COVID-19, during the four-week period for which they are applying for the benefit.
When applying, a student must attest that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are either unable to work, they are seeking work but are unable to find it, or that they are working but are unable to make more than $1,000 over the four-week period for which they are applying.
Students who are able to work but simply aren’t able to find employment right now must continue to actively look for a job to be eligible to receive the CESB. As the summer progresses, if the student still can’t find work due to COVID-19 (or earns under $1,000), they can re-apply for each future successive CESB period for which they’re eligible.
If a student who has received the CESB is later deemed to be ineligible they will need to repay the CESB which can be done through the CRA My Account.
How to Apply:
Students can apply for the CESB through the CRA’s My Account and are encouraged to choose the direct deposit payment option for quick payment. Students who have never filed a tax return must call the CRA to register their SIN. Students who want to avoid calling, and want to apply online need to file a 2019 (or 2018) tax return, have it assessed, and then register for a CRA My Account.
The CESB is taxable and students will receive a T4A reporting the total amounts they received to use when filing their 2020 tax returns. The amount of tax payable on the CESB will depend on the student’s total 2020 income, as well as various personal tax credits, including the (enhanced) basic personal amount and the tuition tax credit, among others.
Each eligibility period is a 4-week period with a specific start and end date. When you apply, you will receive a payment for the specific eligibility period you applied for. You can only apply for one eligibility period at a time. If your situation continues, you must re-apply for another 4-week eligibility period.
Eligibility periods for post-secondary students:
- May 10 to June 6, 2020
- June 7 to July 4, 2020
- July 5 to August 1, 2020
- August 2 to August 29, 2020
Eligibility periods for highschool students based on when you will expect to graduate:
- January 1 to May 9, 2020
- May 10 to June 6, 2020
- June 7 to December 31, 2020
Students and recent graduates who have seen their education and job prospects hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are able to apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit as of Friday, May 15, 2020. Visit the Canada website to apply.