On April 22, the Federal Government announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), a program that will provide some relief to those students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). While this new program addresses some of the gaps in eligibility for the CERB, it provides markedly less financial support to students.
While the CERB provides up to $2000 a month for individuals, the CESB will only provide up to $1250 a month. However, students in our communities are paying the same bills as every other Canadian – rent, cell phone, groceries, electricity and more. Further, this financial assistance will be retroactive to May 1 – meaning that it will not be available until sometime later in May and many people in our community who have been waiting for assistance for several weeks will be forced to continue to wait longer.
COVID-19 is causing economic and social problems that Vancouver has never faced before. Now more than ever we need a comprehensive, universally accessible, relief program that is open to all Canadians so they can continue to put food on their tables and support their families. I’m sure you have heard from many of your constituents during this time – we are all nervous about an uncertain future and everybody is in need of immediate relief.
The federal government also announced the creation of 76,000 jobs for students. Outside of this pandemic, this is a great opportunity for young people looking to gain experience and support themselves financially. However, with cuts being made to transit, it is unclear how students are going to be able to safely get to these new jobs.
The Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College (SUVCC) continues to call on the Federal Government to expand access to the CERB for all Canadians. Your student constituents and their families need the Federal government to be bold and follow the lead of other countries in introducing a universal relief program. This would cut down on bureaucratic administration and get much need financial support in the hands of all who need it now – not in the weeks or months to come.
The BCFS and your Students’ Union have been calling on the Federal Government to expand access to the CERB for all Canadians. A copy of the letter sent to the Prime Minister can be viewed here. Letters have also been sent to Local MPs.