Ally Lecky was surprised when she learned she wasn’t covered by the Canadian government’s COVID-19 emergency benefit.
Last summer, the fourth-year Queen’s University physical education student worked two serving jobs. She made over $5,000, so she assumed she would qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). But because she hasn’t lost her current source of income — just her upcoming summer job prospects, with most restaurants and bars only serving take-out — she doesn’t qualify.
“[Students] are a financially vulnerable population,” Lecky told HuffPost Canada. “We are also the future of Canada and jobs and things like that. So I was surprised that we weren’t involved.”
Lecky is taking more courses in the fall. She was planning to get a physical education-related job regardless, since her course load would be lighter, but now worries that all of her peers will also be looking for jobs, so it’ll be harder to find one in her field.
“As a student population, I think we’re all a little concerned about how we’re going to pay for tuition … [and] just the cost of living,” Lecky said. “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to afford tuition come September.”
Applications for the CERB opened Monday. The $2,000 per month benefit is available to Canadians who stopped working because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, most current students, as well as recent graduates who might have had prospective summer employment cancelled — but were not already working — do not qualify for the CERB.
The federal government suspended student loan repayment and interest accrual until Sept. 30, although graduating students already have a six-month grace period where interest doesn’t accrue before they have to start paying back their loans.
“This is an issue that we are very, very aware of,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday. “From modifications to the Canada Summer Job program to looking at direct support for...