Students can apply for emergency benefit on Friday: PM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Monday, May 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS-Justin Tang

By Rachel Aiello, CTV

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that students and recent graduates who have seen their education and job prospects hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit as of Friday.

He’s encouraging those who haven’t already signed up for an account through the Canada Revenue Agency to do so in advance, so that funds might reach them quicker.

Under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, eligible applicants will receive $1,250 a month from May to August. For those who have a disability, or are taking care of someone else, they will receive $2,000, which is equal to the amount received by those eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The $9 billion aid package for students passed Parliament during the last round of emergency sittings. Another is slated for Wednesday afternoon.

REGIONAL, RURAL BUSINESS PLAN 

As well, this afternoon the government is set to expand on last month’s promises of nearly $1 billion in emergency aid to regional development agencies.

At the time, the government promised $962 million to help smaller firms with funds through their regional development agencies and to help small businesses in rural areas access aid.

Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly said, when initially announced, the objective was protecting “Main Streets,” but little detail has been provided since then explaining how this funding would be allocated.

Trudeau said Wednesday that funding will flow through the six regional development agencies and include a focus on businesses in rural and remote areas. He encouraged struggling small businesses that do not qualify for any of the pre-announced federal COVID-19 assistance plans to get in touch with their area’s agency.

“These organizations understand the economic realities and specific challenges facing both your region, and your business. They can help you with your most pressing needs, whether it's covering costs or keeping your employees,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau also provided some updated numbers on existing aid plans.

He said that more than half a million small businesses have received a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account, which is offering loans of up to $40,000.

As well, more than 120,000 employers have been approved to receive the 75 per cent wage subsidy, seeing nearly two million workers set to be kept or brought back on the payroll.

“Our government has been laying the groundwork for our economic recovery. And we know that key to our collective success is maintaining the connection between employer and employee,” Trudeau said. 

TALKS UNDERWAY TO EXTEND BORDER CLOSURE 

It has been two months since Trudeau’s first Rideau Cottage address. At that time, the advice to Canadians was to avoid all non-essential travel but the Canada-U.S. border remained open.

Now, sources have confirmed to CTV News that talks are underway to extend the restrictions prohibiting all non-essential travel across the border for the second time.

This comes as Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that the severity of the outbreak in the United States means Americans “present a risk to Canada.”

Trudeau has vowed to move with caution when it comes to any eventual loosening of travel restrictions. 

Last month, Canada and the United States agreed to greed to extend the current closure for at least another month, which is set to expire on May 21.

Now, as parts of both countries begin gradually reopening, federal officials are in discussion with Homeland Security to establish an agreement on pushing off the loosening of cross-border travel restrictions for another month, to June 21.

The agreement, as it stands, exempts the flow of trade and commerce, as well as vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border.

While agreement on an extension is not guaranteed, last week Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the discussions around keeping travel restrictions in place have remained “very neighbourly.”

With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer  

 

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