OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that students and recent graduates who have seen their education and job prospects hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit as of Friday. He also used his daily address to encourage struggling rural small businesses to reach out to their regional economic development agency for help.

Similar to how the CERB application process was rolled out, students are being asked to submit their applications for the new benefit program over four days, depending on the month of their birth.

Under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, eligible applicants will receive $1,250 a month from May to August. For those who have a disability, or are taking care of someone else, they will receive $2,000, which is equal to the amount received by those eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The $9 billion aid package for students passed Parliament during the last round of emergency sittings. Another is slated for Wednesday afternoon.

Trudeau encouraged those who haven’t already signed up for an account through the Canada Revenue Agency to do so in advance, so that funds might reach them quicker.

During a Parliament Hill press conference, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough pointed to a new webpage that spells out who is eligible and what information will be needed to apply. 

The benefit is being offered to students between May and August, and in addition to students and new graduates, Canadians studying abroad and high school students who are set to enter post-secondary in the fall can apply.

In order to apply, students must be “actively looking” for a job, and applicants are being pointed in the direction of the federal job bank as a place to look for potential opportunities.

The government estimates approximately one million students could be able to receive this monthly benefit.

Qualtrough said that applicants can expect their payments within three to five business days once deemed eligible, if they are set up for direct deposit.

“This money will not have to be paid back. Just like the CERB, students can make up to $1,000 over the four-week period for which they are applying,” she said. 


As well, the government has expanded on last month’s promises of nearly $1 billion in emergency aid to regional development agencies.

At the time, the government promised $962 million to help smaller firms with funds through their regional development agencies and to help small businesses in rural areas access aid.

Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly said, when initially announced, the objective was protecting “Main Streets.”

On Wednesday, Trudeau encouraged struggling small businesses that do not qualify for any of the pre-announced federal COVID-19 assistance plans to get in touch with their area’s agency.

The funding is now up for grabs, Joly announced on Wednesday, through what’s being called the “Regional Relief and Recovery Fund” aimed to help small or remote businesses such as those in the manufacturing, technology, and tourism sectors.

“The idea is to make sure that we can offer enough flexibility and be adapted to regional realities. The agencies are close to the ground, have their eyes and ears close to the ground and are there to help,” Joly said Wednesday. 

The funds will flow through the six regional development agencies and includes a focus on businesses in rural and remote areas. The money has been divided up as follows:

  • $110 million for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA);
  • $211 million for the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED);
  • $34.3 million for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor);
  • $252.4 million for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario);
  • $49.5 million for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor); and
  • $304.2 million for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD).

“These organizations understand the economic realities and specific challenges facing both your region, and your business. They can help you with your most pressing needs, whether it's covering costs or keeping your employees,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau also provided some updated numbers on existing aid plans.

He said that more than half a million small businesses have received a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account, which is offering loans of up to $40,000.

As well, more than 120,000 employers have been approved to receive the 75 per cent wage subsidy, seeing nearly two million workers set to be kept or brought back on the payroll.

“Our government has been laying the groundwork for our economic recovery. And we know that key to our collective success is maintaining the connection between employer and employee,” Trudeau said.