In addition to offering free and confidential support, advice, and representation at the university level, we represent and advance key areas of interest of Saint Mary’s students in cooperation with our two external advocacy groups; Students Nova Scotia (SNS) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). This page is another way for us at SMUSA to hear how Saint Mary’s students perceive student issues on a rotating basis so that we can best advocate for YOU. While our advocacy priorities may change throughout the year, our mission will always be to make education more affordable, accessible, innovative, and student-driven.

Breaking Down the CERB and CESB


  • The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit is a taxable benefit of $2,000 every four weeks ($500 a week) for up to 16 weeks for persons who have lost their job due to COVID-19 or who are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits or persons who have exhausted their regular EI benefits or EI fishing benefits between December 29, 2019, and October 3, 2020. 
  • In order to apply for the CERB, you must be a resident of Canada who is at least 15 years of age.
  • Persons applying for the CERB must have had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of the application 
  • In order to qualify persons must not have quit their job voluntarily. 
  • When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week period for which you are trying to claim the CERB.
  • When submitting subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim.
  • Renewal of payment is not automatic, you must reapply every 4 weeks.


  • The Canadian Emergency Student Benefit is a benefit that provides support to students who do not qualify for the CERB or employment insurance and are not able to work due to COVID-19.
  • This benefit provides $1,250 per month for students and $2,000 a month for students with dependents or students with disabilities.
  • This benefit is available for the months of May to August 2020.



  • The Canada Student Service Grant is a chance for students to gain valuable work experience while helping their communities during COVID-19. For students who choose to do national service, the CSSG will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Benefits

Are international students eligible for these benefits?

International students are eligible for the CERB if they meet the other criteria. International students are not eligible for the CESB at this time, but we are continuing to advocate with our federal and provincial partners to get more support for international students.

I lost my part-time job as a student, am I eligible?

Yes. You are eligible if you lost your part-time job as a student.

I am already receiving Employment Insurance, do I apply for the CERB?

No. You cannot receive both benefits.

Does the minimum $5,000 income have to have been earned in Canada?

No, the income does not have to have been earned in Canada, but you need to reside in Canada. 

How long do I have to wait until I receive my CERB payments?

You will receive your payment within 10 days of your application. 

I stopped working due to COVID-19 but as a student I receive scholarships and bursaries, am I still eligible?

Yes. You are still eligible for these benefits even if you have received scholarships or bursaries, so long as you meet the criteria.

Does the money I receive through student loans, scholarships, and bursaries count towards the $5,000 minimum income needed?

No. The money you receive through student loans, scholarships, and bursaries does NOT count towards the $5,000 minimum income needed.

Am I eligible for the CERB if I am also receiving disability benefits?

Yes. You are still eligible for CERB if you are also receiving disability benefits, granted you stopped working due to COVID-19.

If I am still working but have seen reduced hours due to COVID-19, am I eligible?

Yes, as long as you have not made more than $1,000 for 14 or more consecutive days during the period you are attempting to claim the CERB. 

How SMUSA is Advocating for YOU


When COVID-19 restrictions first came into place, we knew that this would have a significant impact on students and our abilities to pay for groceries, rent, or even tuition.

Alongside the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and Students Nova Scotia, we worked to create policy proposals to be brought forward to the provincial and federal governments. Fortunately, we have seen the creation of the CERB and CESB, but we know there is more to do! We’re continuing to work for you to make sure that you can get through the coming months.

Additional Links

More Info on the CERB/ CESB

Visit the Government of Canada’s website for more information on the Emergency Benefits.

Learn More About CASA

Visit the website of our federal advocacy partner, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

Learn More About SNS

Visit the website of our provincial advocacy partner, Students Nova Scotia.

Questions, Feedback, or Concerns?

Have any additional questions, comments, or concerns about these benefits? Want to give feedback about our advocacy priorities? Contact Sam or Bryn!

Samantha Graham

Samantha Graham

Vice President External

E: [email protected]
T: 902-449-1550

Bryn de Chastelain

Bryn de Chastelain

President & CEO

E: [email protected]
T: 416-420-6866