The rules and issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve and information changes consistently. Please take note of when our content was written and always go to the sources we’ve provided for the most current guidance.

If you’re a post-secondary student or recent post-secondary or high-school graduate, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) may provide you up to $2,000 a month in financial support.  

We know that this article is quite long. We tried to pull as much useful information as possible from the Government of Canada websites. We wrote the article on May 14, 2020, the day before the benefit launched. It is possible that this content will continue to change. Find the most up to date info on the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

So, here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking of applying to the CESB: 

How much are the benefits & for how long?  

If you qualify for the benefit, you will receive one of two amounts: 

  • $1,250 for each four-week period 
  • OR, $2,000 for each four-week period, if you have dependents or a disability 

The benefit is available for a maximum of 16 weeks, in four eligibility periods: 

  • May 10-June 6, 2020 
  • June 7-July 4, 2020 
  • July 5-August 1, 2020 
  • August 2-August 29, 2020 

Who is eligible?  

The benefit of $1,250 per four-week period is available to you if all of the following are true: 

  • One of the following applies: 
    • You are unable to work due to COVID-19. 
    • You are looking for but cannot find work due to COVID-19. 
    • You are currently working during the COVID-19 pandemic, but your income from employment and self-employment has been $1000 or less (before taxes) during the 4-week period you are applying for.  
  • You did not apply, receive, nor qualify, for the CERB or EI benefits for the same eligibility period. 
  • You are one of the following: 
    • A Canadian citizen 
    • A registered Indian 
    • A permanent resident 
    • A protected person (an individual recognized by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as a person in need of protection) 
  • You are studying in Canada or abroad. 
  • One of the following applies: 
    • You are enrolled in a post-secondary educational program of at least 12 weeks in duration, that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate. 
      • Check whether your institution is recognized as a designated or certified educational institution. 
      • Some indigenous institutions are also recognized by the province. 
    • You completed or ended your post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later. 
    • You completed or expect to complete high school, or received, or expect to receive your high school equivalency in 2020 and have applied for a post-secondary educational program that starts before February 1, 2021. 

If you meet one of following conditions, you may also be eligible for an extra $750 per four-week period (this brings your total to $2,000): 

  • You have a disability as defined for this benefit. 
  • You have at least one child under the age of 12, or other dependents. 

You can find out more about what is considered a disability and who can be claimed as a dependent on the Government of Canada who can apply page

When to apply:   

Applications open on May 15, 2020 at 6am EST (that’s 3am PST).  

You can only apply for one eligibility period at a time. If your situation continues and you are still eligible for the benefit, you must re-apply for future 4-week eligibility periods. 

What to do ahead of time: 

  • Ensure you’re currently registered with the CRA. 
    • If you’ve never filed taxes before, call 1-800-959-8281 to register your Social Insurance Number (SIN) with the CRA. 
  • Ensure you’re set up with direct deposit. Direct deposit payments take three business days whereas cheques take about ten. 
    • Update your direct deposit information through CRA My Account
    • Or have your financial institution update your direct deposit information with the CRA. 
  • Determine your first eligibility period using their when to apply tool (the tool is no longer available) 

How to apply:   

Note, applications do not open until May 15, 2020 at 6am EST (that’s 3am PST). Once applications are open, here’s what you’ll need to do.  

You will need: 

  • Your SIN 
  • Your postal code 
  • Your CRA My Account login (if you’re applying online) 

How you can apply: 

  • Through the CRA My Account portal 
  • Or, by calling the automated toll-free line: 
    • at 1-800-959-2019  
    • or 1-800-959-2041 

Online and phone services are available 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are both closed daily between 3a.m.-6a.m. EST (that’s 12a.m.-3a.m. PST) for maintenance.   

It is possible that the site and phone lines will be overwhelmed, especially in the first few days. If you encounter error messages related to volumes, please keep trying. You may also have better luck in off-peak hours.  

How long do I have to wait?  

  • Once you’ve been approved, there is no waiting period for the benefit to kick in:  
    • If you signed up for direct deposit, you should get your payment in 3 business days.  
    • If you’re not signed up for direct deposit, you should get your payment in about 10 business days.  

What else to know:  

  • The CRA will verify your eligibility to receive the CESB after you’ve applied (they may ask you to provide supporting documents).  
    • If you are subsequently determined to be ineligible for the benefit, you must repay it. 
  • The benefit is taxable, but tax is not deducted at the source.  This means you will be expected to report the CESB payments as income on next year’s income tax return. (You will receive a T4A slip.) 
  • If you have questions about the CESB you can call 1-833-966-2099  
    • This line is for questions only, not for applications. 
    • You can call Monday-Friday (except public holidays) from 9am-9pm. 

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Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.  

Where do we fit in? 

Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation. 

About Consumer Protection BC: 

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at