Mr. Speaker, as I recommence, I would just like to wish everyone a great afternoon.
On the motion that the opposition brought forward on this opposition day, its main objective, as I stated prior, is to paralyze the government at a time when the entire Government of Canada, and frankly, all Canadians, are focused on keeping Canadians safe and healthy.
Simply put, the opposition cannot establish a committee looking into government corruption and at the same time claim it still has confidence in the government. We cannot have committees finding public servants in contempt without even providing them the opportunity to explain why they made lawful redactions to a small number of items within more than 5,000 documents released to the Standing Committee on Finance.
We cannot turn our committees into partisan tools to force private citizens to release personal information. Where does this end? We cannot have the Conservatives drowning the government in document requests with arbitrary deadlines designed to be impossible to meet, forcing public servants to drop their work on supporting Canadians during this pandemic.
I want to take a few moments to talk about the extraordinary work done by the public service these past few months. I think we can all agree that in these extraordinary times, no Canadian should have to worry about paying their bills, rent or putting food on the table, including those wonderful residents in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.
Our government is unwavering in our commitment to support Canadians, our health care system and our economy. Allow me to outline and highlight some of the measures our government has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been our focus, the government's focus, and our sole focus. This is where our efforts and time have gone to helping Canadians from coast to coast to coast. This is what Canadians elected us to do, what they expect us to do, and this is what we will continue to do.
Our government created the Canada emergency response benefit, CERB, to keep Canadians safe by encouraging them to stay home and help flatten the curve. As businesses closed, we knew we needed to respond quickly to support Canadians, and we did. Since March 15, nearly nine million people have received CERB. This is how families avoid financial crisis while keeping our economy afloat.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult for Canadians and their families, and frankly, these individuals are our friends, our neighbours and for some of us our family members. Even though employment is on the rise and many Canadians have returned to a full work schedule, others are still facing job insecurity or struggling to make ends meet.
As COVID-19 cases increase across the country, our government's priority is to ensure all Canadians have the resources they need to weather the second wave of the crisis. To continue support for Canadians while promoting economic recovery, we introduced further measures that encourage people to return to work and help those who have work but may still need some support due to COVID-19.
These measures include flexibilities to the EI program that will allow more Canadians to qualify and receive a minimum of $500 per week for at least 26 weeks; an EI premium rate freeze for the next two years for our small businesses, which will benefit employees and employers as it prevents the rise of EI premiums during a period of economic recovery; and the Canada recovery benefit for self-employed workers and workers not eligible for EI. Over 600,000 Canadians to date have applied and are now receiving the Canada recovery benefit. They are not alone and we will not leave them alone; we have their backs.
Other measures include the Canada recovery sickness benefit for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19, as well as the Canada recovery caregiving benefit for eligible Canadians who have been unable to work because they need to care for a child or family member. Combined, these measures will help to ensure the health and safety of Canadians while protecting the businesses where they work.
Let me now turn to support for students. Shortly after the CERB was created, we followed up with the Canada emergency student benefit. With many young Canadians facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of COVID-19, whether having recently graduated and looking forward to starting their career, or still in school and counting on summer employment to pay tuition, our government had their backs. The CESB supported students and recent graduates who are not covered by the CERB in order to ensure they could continue their studies and pay their tuition. I am proud to report that over 700,000 students were assisted by the CESB.
From May to August 2020, the CESB provided a payment to eligible students of $1,250 for each four-week period, or $2,000 for each four-week period if one had dependants or a disability. We also helped students gain valuable work experience and serve their communities by making temporary changes to expand the Canada summer jobs program, which employs 70,000 young people each year in quality jobs in our communities.
We did not stop there. The government also introduced further measures to benefit students. This includes a six-month, interest-free payment moratorium on Canada student loans or Canada apprentice loans for all students, including graduate students.
Canada student grants were doubled for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students. In addition, the Government of Canada increased existing distinctions-based support for first nations, Inuit and Métis nation students pursuing post-secondary education. We extended expiring federal grant research scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships.
These supports have helped young Canadians get through this crisis and have helped play a central role in ensuring Canada emerges from these challenges stronger than ever.
Just as our young people are key to our future, we owe our elders, our seniors a great debt for everything they have done in our past. They have sacrificed much to build this great country.
Many Canadian seniors have faced significant health, economic and social challenges due to COVID-19, isolation being among the most that I hear of from my seniors. They built our country and they have needed our help. Our government took action to provide seniors with greater financial security and gave them the help they needed during this crisis: issuing a one-time tax repayment of $300 for those who are eligible for the old age security pension; a further $200 for those who are eligible for the GIS or the allowance for the survivor, worth $500 for seniors who receive both; supporting new community-based projects to improve the quality of life of seniors and reduce social isolation through the new horizons for seniors program; ensuring the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive the benefits they depend on by temporarily extending GIS allowance payments if their 2019 income information has not been assessed.
As we go through this unprecedented challenge, our government will continue to be there for seniors, and not only seniors but Canadians living with disabilities.
I encourage all Canadians to file their taxes so they can receive the benefits and credits they deserve, including our seniors.
There is support for Canadian seniors living with disabilities. We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular.
From the beginning, we have taken a disability inclusive approach to our emergency response to ensure Canadians with disabilities get the support they need. We announced a one-time payment of $600 for persons with disabilities to address these expenses. This payment will go to valid disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependants with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians who we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities. We are confident that this measure along with the other investments will greatly benefit Canadians with disabilities across the country.
We all benefit when everyone can participate equally in our economy and our society. We as a government have long stated that diversity is our strength, but I would argue that inclusivity is even more important.
This is just a snapshot of the hard work our government has done to support Canadians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives want to formalize their inquisition through a so-called—