COVID-19 Update: Canada Emergency Student Benefit – last updated May 14 2020

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provides financial support to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.

This benefit is for students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI).

This benefit will provide eligible students with a payment of $1,250 for a 4-week period for up to 16 weeks.  Students who are disabled or have a qualified dependent (a child 11 years old or younger completely dependent on the student or student’s spouse  or a person with a disability who is completely dependent on the student or the student’s spouse) will receive payments of $2,000 for each four-week period.

Students who qualify for the first four-week period can start applying on May 15, 2020. Students will have until September 30, 2020 to apply for the CESB.

The CESB is taxable although tax will not be deducted at source. Recipient will be issued a T4A slip for the amounts received and will be required to report the amount on their 2020 tax return.

 Who Can Apply?

The benefit is available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.  Students who have not applied, received, or otherwise qualify for the CERB or EI are eligible to apply for the CESB.  In addition, students must meet one of the following:

  • The student is enrolled in a post-secondary educational program (at least 12 weeks in duration) that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate;
  • The student has completed or ended their post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later; or
  • The student has completed or expects to complete high school, or received, or expect to receive their high school equivalency in 2020 and has applied for a post-secondary educational program that starts before February 1, 2021.

Note that the educational program can be in Canada or abroad.

The student will be required to attest to one of the following:

  • The student is unable to work due to COVID-19;
  • The student is looking for, but cannot find work due to COVID-19;
  • The student is currently working during the COVID-19 pandemic, but his or her income from employment and self-employment has been $1,000 or less (before taxes) during the 4-week period for which they are applying for.

Eligibility Periods

The number of eligibility periods you can apply for and the total amount you can receive, depends on whether you are a graduating or post-secondary student, or a graduating high school student.  The four eligibility periods are as follows:

May 10, to June 6, 2020, June 7 to July 4, 2020, July 5 to August 1, 2020 and August 2 to August 29, 2020.

Each eligibility period is a 4-week period with a specific start and end date. When the student applies, he or she will receive a payment for the specific eligibility period that they applied for.

A student can only apply for one eligibility period at a time. If their situation continues, the student must re-apply for another 4-week eligibility period.

Post-Secondary Students

Eligible post-secondary students, post-secondary graduates, and students who have recently left their post-graduate studies can qualify for all four periods.

Graduating High School Students

The CESB is only available to eligible students who:

  • completed or expect to complete high school, or received, or expect to receive their high school equivalency in 2020; and
  • applied for a post-secondary educational program that starts before February 1, 2021

Students who have completed (or expect to complete) high school or equivalency between January 1 to May 9, 2020 can apply for all four periods.  Students who have completed high school between May 10 and June 6, 2020 can apply for three periods, commencing with the June 7 to July 4, 2020 period.  Students who will complete high school after June 6, 2020 and before 2021 can apply for the benefit for the last two periods.

How to Apply

Applications for the CESB are to be done through the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) My Account Webpage through the following link:

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/account-individuals.html

The above link can also be used to set up My Account.  It is recommended that the student have a copy of their most recently filed tax return with them when they apply.

Alternatively, the application can be made through the automated toll-free lines at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.  The student applicant will need their social insurance number and postal code in order to verify their identity.

Due to the expected number of applications, the CRA has set up specific days for you to apply based in the month one was born, as follows:

  • Those born in January, February and March are to apply on Mondays
  • Those born in April, May and June are to apply on Tuesdays
  • Those born in July, August and September are to apply on Wednesdays
  • Those born in October, November and December are to apply on Thursdays
  • Those born in any month can apply on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

The government has stated that recipients will receive their CESB faster if the recipient has set up direct deposit with CRA.  If the recipient is already receiving benefits or tax refunds from the government by direct deposit, then the CESB will be paid to that bank account.  For those individuals that have not yet set up direct deposit, instructions can be found at the following website:

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/direct-deposit.htm

Reapplying for Subsequent Eligibility Periods

If a student’s employment situation has not changed at the conclusion of an eligibility period, they must reapply to continue to receive the CESB.  Note that if the student is able to work, they must eb actively looking for a job to continue to be eligible for the CESB.

Return or Repay CESB

A recipient of the CESB may want to return or repay the CESB if they are able to find work and are earning more than $1,000 (before taxes) during an eligibility period that they have applied for or had applied for the CERB but later realized that they were not eligible.

If a recipient still has the original CERB cheque it can be mailed back to the CRA.  If the original cheque had been cashed or if the recipient was paid by direct deposit, the recipient can issue a personal cheque and mail it to the CRA. The cheque is to be made payable to “Receiver General for Canada”.  The cheque should indicate that it is for “Repayment of CESB” and contain the recipient’s Social Insurance Number (SIN) or your Temporary Tax Number (TTN).

The above are to be mailed to:

Revenue Processing – Repayment of CESB
Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 0C1

Verifying the Student’s Eligibility

The CRA will verify the student’s eligibility to receive the CESB after they have applied. The CRA may ask the student to provide supporting documents to confirm their eligibility at a later date. If the CRA finds that the student was not eligible, the student will be contacted to make arrangements to repay any amounts they may owe.

Disclaimer:  The COVID-19 Canadian tax policies in the above article are changing rapidly as the governments introduce new measures. Certain details have yet to be published. We will aim to update them as soon as they are available.