Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Deputy Prime Minister.
I am pleased to participate today in this debate on Bill C-15, an act respecting Canada emergency student benefits. We are here to discuss how we can best support Canada's students.
For over six weeks, Canadians have been adapting to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting our country and the entire world.
In order to support Canadians during this crisis, our government has taken significant action and implemented Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan, which provides $146 billion in support.
A key element of this plan is the Canada emergency response benefit, created to support Canadian workers facing unemployment due to COVID-19. The benefit is now providing eligible workers with temporary income support of $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
When we launched the benefit on April 6, some Canadian workers expressed concerns about eligibility. We listened, and on April 15 we made it more inclusive. Now workers, including the self-employed, can earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the benefit. The benefit also applies to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefit payments and are unable to start working again because of COVID-19.
To give the House a sense of the scope of this effort, public servants have now processed over 10.15 million applications to date under the Canada emergency response benefit. This figure is a reflection of the real need of Canadians during this time and of our public service's dedication to our country.
We know that more support is needed for Canadians. Young people are facing a serious set of challenges in this difficult time, be it interrupted studies, reduced work opportunities or disruptions to summer co-op or internship plans.
Many Canadian post-secondary students are wondering how they will be able to pay their tuition, buy groceries and cover their rent if they cannot find a summer job.
It is estimated that over a million post-secondary students may not be eligible for the Canada emergency response benefit.
Students are a valuable part of our communities and are ready to bring innovative solutions and a helping hand to our workforce in response to COVID-19.
Last week the Prime Minister mentioned Felix, a recent engineering grad from Carleton University. Felix has experience working on communication satellites, and a few weeks ago he talked to a local manufacturer about what they could do in the fight against COVID-19. Now they have started designing and creating reusable face shields for front-line workers.
Felix is not the only one stepping up. Young people from all over Canada are pitching in and doing their part.
This proposed legislation before us is how we are supporting them in turn. If approved, this framework would provide financial relief to students during the important summer months through a temporary income support benefit worth approximately $5.2 billion. I will focus on the largest piece of this framework, which is the Canada emergency student benefit.
Last week our government announced a four-month Canada emergency student benefit. Students who are not receiving the CERB and meet the criteria for this new benefit will be able to apply to receive $1,250 per month between May and August. Students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants would receive an additional $750 per month, for a total of $2,000 a month.
Students will be able to work part time and still receive the benefit, which is part of our effort to keep Canadians connected with the labour market.
Like the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency student benefit will not have to be repaid.
The CESB would be available to students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma or certificate, or who ended their studies no earlier than December 2019. This means that students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program or who just recently ended their post-secondary studies would be eligible. It would also be available to high school graduates who will be joining post-secondary education programs in the coming months.
The Canada emergency student benefit will also be accessible to both current CEGEP students and those who recently completed their CEGEP studies and plan to go back to school in the fall.
Our government has also committed over $75 million to enhance the assistance offered to first nations, Inuit and Métis students.
Students would be able to begin applying for the CESB in May via a simple online form on the CRA website under My Account.
Finally, I would like to highlight what our government is doing to address the concerns of students with disabilities during this pandemic. We recognize that some groups are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this crisis. For some Canadians with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services and health care.
We know that students with disabilities as well as students with dependants could have additional expenses during this public health crisis. As such, Canadian students with disabilities and students with dependants would be eligible to receive an extra $750 per month on top of the basic CESB benefit.
The uncertainty may feel overwhelming for many students, but in Canada we look out for each other. We value education, service and hard work. These measures will help Canadian students get through these difficult times so they can build their career and future they have been working so hard for.
Putting forward this legislation is a key step in our delivery of support for students. I thank all the members of Parliament who are providing feedback and bringing forth the thoughts and concerns of their constituents.
The passage of this bill is a key step in the government's offer of assistance to students. I thank all members who gave feedback and shared their constituents' ideas and concerns.
May is fast approaching and students are counting on us to help them get through these trying times.
Together, as members of Parliament, we have the opportunity to support Canada's students in a way that will be felt for years to come. On the other side, when the economy comes back, they will define our path forward, a path toward a better, more equal society.