Majority of students excluded from CERB

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The majority of students are being excluded from receiving the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which supplements lost income due to the coronavirus. In order for students to qualify, they must have made a minimum of $5,000 working throughout the last 12 months. Students who only worked during the summer do not qualify for this benefit.

(Jordan Gill/CBC)

COVID-19 has lead to job and income losses across the country. Many are concerned about rent, bill payments and food security and have begun stockpiling resources.

Numerous benefits have been announced to support Canadians who are in need, such as increasing GST payments, Canada Child Benefit payments, and the creation of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. These benefits are intended to provide support to those who need it most. Students, on the other hand, are being left out.

Various MPs said in late March that students who earned $5000 last year would qualify for the benefit. They have since clarified that that income must be earned throughout the year and not during the summer.

Some students live at home but many are independent or have dependants of their own, meaning many children and student parents are being left in the dark. Without food or rent security, and exam season coming up, it is a stressful time for these students.

“We are working to try and include all students,” Wayne Long, MP Saint John-Rothesay, said. “Immediate concern [are the] people who don’t have enough to eat.”

Long expressed his support for students in need and said he was advocating for change.

Students who have relied on student loans to pay rent and summer jobs to pay rent when out of class will be excluded.

“But hopefully that changes,” Long said. “we are advocating for change and we are working on a fix.”

The Government of Canada website states that students are not eligible just because they planned on working this summer.

“The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19. If you are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.” The website says. “For example if you are a student who had a job last year and were planning on working this summer you do not qualify for the benefit.”

It does not seem to take into account the many students who live independently or who cannot move in with their parents. This has the potential to put many students, and their children, on the street or without food.

Long recommended paying close attention to his Facebook page, which will be updated with the most recent information on this topic.

University providing temporary support to students

Students who have demonstrated financial need can apply through UNB for a one-time bursary of up to $1,000. This will help students make ends meet in the short-term.

The UNB-SRC recently added $10,000 to this fund to help even more students. They outlined the requirements and application process in an email, listed below.

Requirements:
🔸 Any UNB student registered for the Winter 2020 semester may apply. –Graduate/Undergraduate/ Domestic/International/Full or Part-time
🔸 Bursaries will be awarded to assist with travel and living costs (rent/utilities/groceries) according to available funds (up to a maximum value of $1,000 per student) and student’s demonstrated financial need.

Application Process:
🔸Submit a completed application/budget: https://bit.ly/2Ja90zt
🔸Schedule an appointment with a Financial Aid Counsellor by sending an email to: finaidsj@unb.causing the subject line “Urgent COVID Aid”.  You will either be contacted by email directly by a Financial Aid staff member, or you will be offered a telephone appointment with as little delay as possible.