Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) & Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) (Updated May 14, 2020)

 In Employment Law

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many students have lost their summer job opportunities. To make matters worse, these same students do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

On April 22, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), specifically targeted to help post-secondary students who have been affected by COVID-19. This program is available to those students who would not otherwise qualify for the CERB. On April 29, $9 billion was pledged to help students across the country amidst the crisis.

Applications for the CESB open Friday, May 15 at 6 a.m. ET — but if you haven’t ever filed a Canadian tax return, you have to register with the CRA ahead of applying. The government announced that the government web page will direct applicants to apply on a specific day depending on their birth month.

Click here for the government CESB page which outlines the details of the program.

Applicants must first apply for the four-week period between May 10 to June 6 and they’ll have to re-apply for each of the remaining four-week periods until the end of August. The deadline for all CESB applications is Sept. 30, 2020.


Students are eligible to apply for the CESB if the student was earning less than $1,000 per month between May and August 2020 and one of the following criteria is met:

  • They were enrolled in in a post-secondary institution in 2020;
  • They graduated in December 2019; or
  • They are commencing post-secondary education in September 2020.

Support Available

The new Canada Emergency Student Benefit would provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the CERB. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.

The new CESB will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall. Student grants for low and middle income families will be doubled by the Canadian Government for the 2020-21 school year.

Other Government Initiatives

In addition to these programs, Parliament has announced that it will expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months. Some other efforts of Parliament to aid students include doubling the Canada Student Grants and broaden eligibility for student financial assistance.

We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Samuel Zakhour, Articling Student, in writing this blog post. If you would like further information on this topic, please contact Nigel McKechnie.   Nigel can be reached at 613-369-0382 or at

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