CESB vs CERB: What’s the difference and are international students in Canada eligible for both?

CERB for international students
A woman in a mask walks in the financial district in Toronto, Ontario on March 24, 2020. Source: Geoff Robins/AFP

International students in Canada — many of whom have lost their part-time jobs due to the pandemic — want to know which financial aid packages they are eligible for. Is it the CESB or CERB for international students? Or both?

The most recent announcement was about the CESB (Canada Emergency Student Benefit), but it will not benefit international students in Canada.

CERB for international students

The Justin Trudeau-led government has announced both CERB and CESB financial aid packages, but eligible international students only qualify for CERB. Source: Dave Chan / AFP

According to CTVNews, the office of employment minister Carla Qualtrough has clarified that the CESB will only be available for Canadians studying in Canada or Canadian citizens who are completing their post-secondary degrees abroad.

The CERB, on the other hand — which stands for Canada Emergency Response Benefit — is one financial aid package that international students in Canada will be able to benefit from.

According to the government website, the CERB is eligible for those residing in Canada who is over 15 years old, had to stop working because of reasons related to COVID-19, earned at least CA$5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application, and who have not voluntarily quit their jobs.

Not all international students are happy about being left out of the CESB as they don’t qualify for the CERB.

However, there are those who have acknowledged the financial assistance and are glad to receive it in the form of the CERB.

Karanveer Singh, a former international student in Canada now on a work permit, told Tribune India that eligible international students can receive temporary income support for up to 16 weeks through the CERB and praised their responsiveness in helping those affected by the pandemic.

CERB for international students

The Canadian government is offering some of the most generous support packages for international students. Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images via AFP

He said, “Information regarding all help is being regularly updated on the government’s website. Even if a person fails to clear the eligibility criterion for one or two reasons, the help is not denied.”

The government has also temporarily removed working restrictions to allow international students to work for a maximum 20 hours a week while classes are in session, as long as they work in essential services such as healthcare or food supply.

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