cerb students

CERB doesn't include many students but that could all soon change

CERB doesn't include many students currently, but a Masters student at the University of Toronto and his colleagues are setting out to change that — and they're doing it one signature at a time.

As a quick recap, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides Canadians that have lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic with $2,000 a month for four months.

CERB doesn't, however, cover future job loss — which means that students whose jobs or summer internship have been cancelled won't receive any financial assistance.

Speaking to Freshdaily, President of the Munk Public Policy Student Association Alex Gold-Apel said that he quickly realized there was a crucial "gap" in the CERB.

"Many students and recent graduates will not have made five thousand dollars in the last year," Gold-Apel said. "The work is very seasonal, it's part-time, it's low wage."

The result? Many Canadian students don't meet the financial requirements for the CERB — despite needing the money to pay for textbooks, living expenses, and tuition.

In response, Gold-Apel and a group of students launched a "Don't Forget Students" petition, which has already amassed more than 10,000 signatures in less than 72 hours.

The petition aims to ensure that all Canadian students receive the financial security that they need, regardless of prior income or work experience in the last year.

And it seems that Ottawa is listening; on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that more government support will be made available for "young people as they come out of university."

The Prime Minister implied that the support could be either through direct financial aid, or through changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program — particularly in the agriculture and fishing sector.

Still, Gold-Apel believes that there's more work to be done.

"There's jobs that do require a certain particular level of skill," he said, "and I think that to suggest that students and graduates who have no background in agriculture would be able to go and start doing those jobs is a bit naïve."

Gold-Apel also pointed out that some students — such as those that are immunocompromised — will be unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if the government does introduce more jobs.

"We're really just hoping for some sort of universal benefit that benefits all students and recent graduates," he said.

Hopefully, Trudeau delivers that.

Lead photo by

Can Pac Swire

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