Kenora MP Eric Melillo is working to stand up for students who are unable to find work due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation and Ontario’s State of Emergency.

After returning to the House of Commons earlier this week, Melillo participated in a debate on the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide financial support for students who have been unable to find work as a result of the pandemic.

Melillo delivered a ten minute speech in favour of the benefit, arguing that the federal government needs to support students who are without work through no fault of their own. He added that he was surprised to see students left off of the original CERB’s eligibility.

“Conservatives know that no government benefit can replace the experience of having a job. Simply put, we believe that everyone who is able to work should do so. But we also recognize that, in some areas, there are simply no jobs to be had.”

Melillo says he and his Conservative Opposition have also fought for several amendments to improve financial supports, including a requirement that students who apply for CERB would be connected to the federal Job Bank at the same time.

“This will ensure that available jobs are filled first, and that students don’t miss out on potential job opportunities,” said Melillo, calling the amendment “a win-win for students looking for work and employers who are looking for staff.”

Melillo notes that some of the biggest job-creators in the Kenora riding are tourism operators, who may not be able to open this summer. But there is a great opportunity for students to work in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, which are both experiencing labour shortages.

“No student or new grad wants to have a months-long gap in their resume where they could have been gaining valuable work experience,” he stressed. “I know I would not have wanted that, and I may not be standing here today if that were the case.”

The federal government's COVID-19 Emergency Response Benefit Program offers individual Canadians $2,000 over a four week period, up to a maximum of 16 weeks or four pay periods.

The CERB pays a monthly $2,000 payment to workers who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for employment insurance. Any Canadian who has stopped working for a 14-day period due to COVID-19 can qualify for the new benefit, which cover a period of up to 16 weeks.

That includes wage earners, contract workers, or self-employed individuals; those who’ve had to stay home without pay to self-isolate or care for loved ones; and anyone else who hasn’t been permanently laid off, but has stopped receiving paycheques.

Those born in January, February and March can apply Monday, people born in April, May and June can apply Tuesday, those born in July, August or September can apply Wednesday and applications are accepted Thursday from people born in October, November and December. Friday, Saturday and Sunday applications are open to anyone.

After you apply, the CRA says you should get your payment in three business days, if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should receive payment in roughly 10 business days.

The benefits are taxable, and payments will need to be reported on next year’s tax filing. Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau anticipates the wage benefit will cost the government $24 billion.

You are able to apply online through the Canada Revenue Agency, or by-phone by calling 1-800-959-8281.

For more information:
CERB eligibility expanded