The Canadian Federation of Students is urging the federal government to include college and university students in COVID-19 relief plans.
The advocacy group represents over 500,000 students across the country and says their constituents have been overlooked in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CFS says most post-secondary students haven’t worked during the school year and some are in contract jobs that expire at the end of April. With the winter semester wrapping up, many students are only now heading out into an extremely tight job market.
According to the CERB criteria released last week, people who are not currently employed and therefore don’t lose any income because of COVID-19 aren’t eligible for the $2,000 per month benefit.
“Students are a unique working population. The current eligibility criteria for the CERB does not take into account the specific challenges students are facing and will be facing this summer given the current crisis,” said Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson of the CFS. “Students depend on summer jobs not only to pay for rent, groceries and other living expenses, but also to save up for the coming school year. They will not be able to do that this summer.”
The CFS is calling on the government to either include post-secondary students in updated CERB criteria or create a new benefit to meet their needs.
“As Canadians continue to follow social distancing measures, the federal government must guarantee all students are eligible to receive $500 a week if they cannot find employment, either through the CERB or through the creation of a similar benefit for all post-secondary students,” a CFS news release says.
The CFS website has an online #DONTFORGETSTUDENTS petition along with links to email, tweet or call local MPs.