While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program on April 8 and announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit on April 22, the initial exclusion of many students from the government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has left many questioning where to obtain funding to deal with the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government, the province, UBC and the wider community have made funding available to students who may be facing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ubyssey has outlined some of the financial aid that’s available below.
In order to be eligible for CERB, you must meet the following criteria, as specified by the Government of Canada’s webpage on the fund:
- “Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.”
You can apply for the benefit here.
CERB provides income support of $500 a week for 16 weeks.
Employment Insurance (EI) is also available, but regular and sickness claims filed after March 15 will be processed through CERB. Other benefits through EI including maternity and parental benefits and caregiving benefits can be applied for here.
On April 6, Trudeau announced that the government is looking at changes to the CERB to benefit students.
Following that announcement, he has announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program to allow small businesses to hire student workers.
Some changes include an increasing wage subsidy so 100 per cent of the minimum wage is covered and extended employment end date to February 28, 2021. The announcement also allows employers to hire part-time staff and alter their job activities to support essential workers.
On April 22, Trudeau announced the creation of Canada Emergency Student Benefit that aims towards students and new graduates not eligible for CERB. Eligible students will be able to claim $1,250 per month and students with dependents or disabilities will be able to claim $1,750 per month.
He also announced the creation of up to 116,000 jobs, placements and training opportunities for students this summer and an expansion of financial assistance for students going into the fall.
The province announced $3.5 million in funding for domestic students impacted by the pandemic on April 2.
This funding is intended to supplement the federal funding and can be accessed to help students pay for living expenses, food, travel and supplies students need to study remotely.
Students can access this fund by contacting email@example.com.
Notably, this fund only applies to domestic students, but AMS VP External Cristina Ilnitchi tweeted that funding is in the works for international students.
In addition, the province announced $1.5 million in funding for Indigenous students to supplement the already-existing Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund. Students can contact their enrolment services advisor to access the fund.
“Our government is increasing emergency financial assistance for Indigenous students to ensure they have the necessary funds to focus on staying [healthy], meeting their educational goals and finishing their semester,” said the BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Melanie Mark in a press release.
On April 3, UBC President Santa Ono announced the creation of the President’s Emergency Student Fund.
“The President’s Emergency Student Fund (for students in Vancouver) … [is] expressly designed to support our students who are having financial difficulty due to COVID-19 or other unforeseen circumstances,” wrote Matthew Ramsey, the UBC Vancouver media relations director of university affairs.
Money for this fund has been raised in many ways, including crowd-funding. The university surpassed its initial goal of 10,000 and is now looking to raise 25,000.
“It’s important to note that these funds are a first step and are in addition to existing supports funded centrally through the university,” Ramsey wrote.
UBC’s central funding model usually provides $170,000 in emergency assistance to students annually, but the university has added $573,000 to that and is “prepared to adjust again should that be required.”
Currently, emergency bursary funding across both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses totals $983,000, with $410,000 of that coming from the province.
Ramsey said that students should speak to an enrolment services advisor for how to access the emergency funding.
Student group funding
While the AMS currently has no supporting fund, they have a guide for COVID-19 support, along with housing, health and transit advice for students.
For graduate students, the Graduate Student Society (GSS) has the Graduate Student Financial Aid (GSFA), a fund that students can apply to if they’re facing financial hardship.
According to the GSS website, the fund covers a “wide range of expenses directly arising from unforeseen circumstances,” including rent, living expenses, prescription medication not covered by other insurance, moving expenses and more.
But GSS President Nicolas Romualdi said this is “more limited in funding.”
“We are working closely with the administration to identify needs and address them as fast as possible, so the landscape of support, financial and otherwise is changing very rapidly, almost on a daily basis. Due to this, I would encourage Graduate Students who are unsure if support exists for their particular needs to contact firstname.lastname@example.org,” Romualdi wrote in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey.
“Our Support Specialists can direct students in the right direction and support them through application processes.”
The Indigenous committee also has a fund to help Indigenous students dealing with financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Indigenous students can apply for this by emailing email@example.com with an explanation of their situation, a specific dollar amount they’re looking for and their student ID.
As of April 3, the committee is taking second calls for emergency funding, according to a Facebook post.
Students organized the COVID-19 Coming Together (Vancouver) Facebook page and GoFundMe, in order to provide funding to community members looking for immediate relief funding, until government funding comes through.
- “Student-organized COVID-19 Coming Together group looks to support isolated Vancouverites and beyond”
Funding ranges from $25 to $100 per person.
Other community funding includes the Downtown East Side Response — donations to which will support the DTES SRO Collaborative, Friends of Carnegie Community Action Project, Overdose Prevention Site, Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society and more. As of 10 a.m. on April 5, the fund has raised over $100,000.
Additionally, the Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19 provides funding of $150 to Black community members in mainly the Metro-Vancouver area on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Do you know of any other funds students can access? Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will keep updating this list.