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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


This is a very tough time for students and recent graduates. The student unemployment rate in Canada currently stands at 16.8 per cent, according to the latest jobs data from Statistics Canada.

Part-time jobs are scarce and very few full-time positions are being offered as we work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Naturally, this is a disappointing time for recent graduates eager to embark on the next stage of their life or those hoping to fund their post-secondary education through summer employment. 

Parents and students rely on summer jobs to help pay for school, living expenses and build their resume. In recent weeks, the government has announced financial assistance programs for students and work experience opportunities that can be added to a resume. The House of Commons passed the $9-billion aid package on Wednesday.

Let’s break them down.

1. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is available through Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for students who don’t qualify for the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Students and recent graduates can receive $1,250 via the CESB from May through August 2020.

If you are a student caring for someone with a disability or caring for someone impacted by COVID-19, you are also entitled to a top up for a total of $1,750 per month. You must currently be enrolled to attend school in September or scheduled to graduate this spring. If you are working but earning less than $1,000 per month you will still be eligible. 

2. The Canada Student Service Grant is a perfect way for student to gain work experience while helping out during the pandemic. Students who volunteer throughout the summer to help fight COVID-19 are eligible for grants between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on how many hours are worked. Plus, there are opportunities to increase these grants for students with permanent disabilities or students with dependents. 

3. The government also highlighted a key change to the Canada Student Loan Program for 2020-21 by waiving student loan payments. A six-month interest-free moratorium is in place until the end of September. There is nothing to apply for here just stop making payments.

4.The Canada Summer Jobs Program will provide employers with a wage subsidy to cover the local minimum wage. Students can apply through the job bank website This is a win-win for students who are willing and want to work and for employers who might not otherwise be in a position to hire this summer.

Like many benefits being offered by the government, these too will likely be taxable. But given how little most students make, plus the tuition tax credits they are entitled to, some can earn close to $20,000 and not have to be concerned about paying taxes.

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