Government of Canada introduces legislation to support students in need

News release

April 29, 2020            Ottawa, Ontario            Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada continues to take direct action to support Canadian workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing support to those who need it most.

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, introduced legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which would provide income support to post-secondary students who lost work opportunities due to COVID-19.

Through the CESB, currently being considered by Parliament, students who are not receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit would receive $1,250 per month for up to four months (May-August 2020). Students with disabilities, students with dependents would receive an additional $750. The CESB would be available to:

  • students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate;

  • students who ended their studies or graduated no earlier than December 2019;

  • high-school graduates who have applied for and will be joining post-secondary programs in the coming months; and

  • Canadian students studying abroad meeting one of the above criteria.

The Government of Canada is working to get money quickly into the pockets of Canadians who need it most.  Students who have been unable to find employment or self-employment due to COVID-19 during the four week period for which they are applying for the CESB would be able to do so starting in May. Details will be available soon.

The CESB is a key element of the Government of Canada’s $9 billion framework to support post-secondary students and recent graduates. Comprehensive measures, including more student grants and expanded student and youth programming will help students, job seekers and youth looking for service opportunities through these extraordinary times.


“The priority of our government during this COVID-19 pandemic is to provide support quickly to those who need it most. Canada’s students face a unique set of challenges, and the legislation introduced today brings us one big step closer to helping them. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit would help approximately one million eligible students pay their bills and stay connected to the labour market.”

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

These are uncertain times for everyone, including young Canadians. Our government recognizes that our role – now more than ever – is to do everything we can to support our youth, who are concerned about their own futures, the well-being of their communities, and of their loved ones. These programs provide an array of opportunities to youth, to help them grow and to contribute as they have so much to offer."

- The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

"Canadian students are facing unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19. From interruptions in their studies to reduced employment and development opportunities, they are facing an uphill battle. Delivering benefits to Canadians is at the core of the Canada Revenue Agency’s business. I am proud of the CRA’s work on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which is sending financial assistance to millions of Canadians. I am confident in the CRA’s ability to deliver this important measure to equip students to address the unexpected circumstances they are grappling with as a result of this pandemic.”

– The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue

Quick facts

  • The CESB represents an investment of $5.2 billion and is expected to reach approximately one million students.

  • The CESB complements the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $146 billion in support to Canadians and businesses through these unprecedented times.

  • Already-announced measures aimed at helping students include the doubling of student grant amounts and a raised cap on student loans for the upcoming school year. A six-month, interest-free moratorium on student loan repayment is already in effect.

Associated links


For media enquiries, please contact:

Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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