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How to Apply for CESB & CERB

If you’re worried about the economy, your job, or finances in general, you’re not alone. The current situation has created a lot of uncertainty and, even though we don’t know how everything will shake out, the federal government is stepping up to protect the finances of young people affected by measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Understanding where to find financial aid can help you manage any concerns you have right now.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is available as of May 15 to post-secondary students and recent high-school and post-secondary grads who either can’t find work because of COVID-19 or will make less than $1,000 (before taxes) in the four-week period in which they apply. The benefit is available from May through August. There is no age restriction on applying. 

Students are eligible for the CESB if they are:
  • A citizen of Canada;
  • Registered under the Indian Act;
  • A permanent resident;
  • A protected person (as recognized by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada).

This benefit is for those who are not receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI). International students, temporary workers whose Social Insurance Number starts with “9”, and non-resident students with international tax numbers are not eligible for the CESB.

Eligible students will receive

  • $1,250 for each 4-week period OR
  • $2,000 for each 4-week period, if they have dependants or a disability.
You need to apply for the benefit within a specified window of time. You can find out when you can apply here.

To get your payments, you’ll need to

  • Set up an account with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you’ve filed taxes before, you already have an account. If not, give them a call at 1-800-959-8281. You’ll need your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to get your account set up. It’s normal to be put on hold, so find something fun or relaxing to do while you wait. 
  • Set up direct deposit. It’ll take 3 days to get your payments through direct deposit. If you opt to get your cheques by mail, make sure your CRA account mailing address is up to date.
  • Apply for the benefit when you become eligible. You can find out when you can apply here. Apply through your CRA Account or over the phone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. You'll need your SIN number if you apply over the phone. All the details are here.
  • Remember to re-apply. You’ll need to re-apply for every four-week period, so set a reminder to keep applying to get your payments. You need to be looking for work to qualify for the CESB, so keep a record of your job search.

All applications for this benefit need to be submitted before September 30, 2020. Set a reminder now to make sure you don’t forget.

For all the information, check out the government website here.


The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to any resident of Canada who is 15 and older and has stopped working because of measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. People who qualify for regular Employment Insurance (EI) or sickness benefits, or who have exhausted their EI regular or fishing benefits from December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 might also be eligible. 

To be eligible for CERB, you must: 

  • Have made at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to applying AND
  • Not have made more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim.

Eligible people will receive $500 per week for up to 16 weeks. The benefit is available from March 15 to October 3. All applications for the benefit must be filed by December 2, 2020. 

The CERB is administered by both Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You cannot apply through both agencies. You can find out which service to use here

Tips for students:

  • If you were working part-time and lost your job because of COVID-19, you’re eligible for the CERB, so long as you meet the other eligibility criteria. 
  • Student loans and bursaries do not count towards the $1,000 income cut off or the $5,000 income requirement.
  • If you’re in an apprenticeship program, receiving funding through the EI Program, and lost your job because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for CERB, but you could be eligible to continue receiving your EI benefits.

Check out the government breakdown of all the questions you might have here.