Brock applauds government support of students amid COVID-19 response

A $9 billion aid package announced by the federal government is welcome news to Brock University and its nearly 20,000 students.

The Government of Canada launched the Canada Emergency Student Benefit Wednesday, which will give students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit $1,250 per month from May to August or $1,750 per month if they’re supporting someone or living with a disability.

Brock President Gervan Fearon said the new initiative will assist and support students in continuing and sustaining their education and their career preparations at university.

“These are challenging times for students and all Canadians and it shows government is responding,” said Fearon. “Today’s students are our future, and this innovative federal program is an investment in the talent and capacity of students that will return very important dividends and contribute to the prosperity of all Canadians.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the future of Canada’s economy relies on opportunities and support provided to Canadian students today.

“To promote a sustainable economic recovery, we need a strong workforce and good job opportunities for young people. That means giving them the support they need to continue their studies and encouraging them to serve their communities. Together, we will get through this difficult time,” he said.

In addition to the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit, the government has also announced:

  • A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying.
  • The Canada Student Loans Program is also being enhanced by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to students from $210 to $350 in 2020-21.
  • Expansion of existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities.
  • Doubling of the Canada Student Grants to $6,000 for all eligible full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21.
  • For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.
  • Extension of expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants.
  • Restrictions being lifted that prohibit international students from working more than 20 hours per week if they work in health care, critical infrastructure or the supply of food.
  • The Government of Ontario has also announced that students won’t have to make payments on their Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans until Sept. 30, and no interest will be charged for the six months leading up to the resumption of payments.

Bilal Khan, President of the Brock University Students’ Union applauded the steps taken by the federal and provincial governments.

“The package announced Wednesday is sizeable and comprehensive and addresses some of the gaps in supports announced previously,” he said. “The benefits will provide much-needed relief to students and recent graduates affected by the pandemic. The announcement was crucial in ensuring our students feel supported, remain engaged and hopeful about the future, particularly those graduating this summer and looking to enter the workforce.

Brock’s Graduate Students’ Association President Christopher Yendt said the announcements have been a step in the right direction.

“The GSA is thankful to see that our advocacy efforts, as well as those from our provincial and federal associations have highlighted the need for increased supports for graduate students during this disruption,” he said. “While the programs announced will provide some immediate relief for graduate students struggling to survive, more can be done to support some of our most vulnerable, including international students not eligible for the CESB. The GSA will continue to advocate and call upon all levels of government to address these concerns.”

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