OTTAWA -- Senators were recalled to Ottawa on Friday, where after several hours of deliberation they passed the federal government’s $9-billion suite of student-focused COVID-19 supports, the third piece of emergency legislation since the pandemic shut down regular parliamentary sittings.

Bill C-15 -- “An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefit” -- passed the Senate late Friday after Senators spent the day debating the proposals and questioning Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough on the measures within the legislation.

With the new measures now law, the benefit programs can begin to be implemented. Qualtrough has said the target for applications being open is mid-May.

The House of Commons met on Wednesday to study the legislative package, which passed after the opposition parties negotiated a boost to the proposed emergency benefit for students.

Under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, eligible post-secondary students and recent graduates who have seen their education and job prospects hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic 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).

Also included in the federal government’s promises to students and young people impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic:

  • an additional 76,000 jobs in sectors that need help or are on the front line;
  • millions in new spending to extend scholarships, grants, and fellowships as well as doubling the Canada Student Grant program;  and,
  • a new Canada Student Service Grant that would see young people receive up to $5,000 towards their fall tuition if they volunteer in a sector needing assistance on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the boosted emergency benefit for students with disabilities or dependents, was an agreement that all applicants for the benefit be directed to a federal job bank to encourage those out of work to look for a summer job.