Canada Recovery Benefit ends for students after one year of financial support

Courtesy of Riddhi Jani

As of October 24, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) was discontinued, despite over 800,00 Canadians still relying on its financial aid coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CRB was created by the Government of Canada last fall to provide bi-weekly payments to support those whose employment was directly impacted as a result of the pandemic. Recipients had to have not qualified for Employment Insurance (EI), and had to have been actively looking for work while collecting their benefits.

During its active period, the CRB provided over $27 billion to over two million Canadians across the country. 

A Department of Finance official tells Excalibur that the economy has, according to them, recovered “100 per cent of the jobs lost due to the COVID-19 recession” — with that, they contend that the government will be adapting the measures taken to financially support Canadians. 

“To support workers — including working students — affected by new lockdown situations in the future, the government is proposing to launch the new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit. This new benefit would provide income support to workers who are unable to work due to specific government-imposed public health lockdown scenarios.”

The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit plan was released to the public shortly after the announcement of the CRB ending. This benefit, however, will not become available to Canadians until May of 2022. 

Emilly Renaud, national coordinator for Canada Without Poverty, an adovacational agency addressing poverty at a federal level, notes that while COVID-19 most definitely exacerbated the federal poverty and employment crisis, its roots were made long before the lockdowns. 

“Even before the pandemic there was a full-time employment crisis where many people, especially recent immigrants and racialized individuals, were working various part-time jobs just to get by. Things may be open again and capacity may be increasing, but many businesses still have reduced hours, which means there is less work to go around. So, just because there are more waitresses, gigs, and customer service jobs, it does not mean all those jobs are offering the same volume of shifts as before the pandemic.”

When looking to the future of student financial stressors, the Department of Finance writes: “In order to support students through the final stages of the pandemic, the government has extended the doubling of upfront Canada Student Grants until July 2023 to provide low-income students with up to $6,000 per year, reducing barriers to education for these students.” 

They also state that through the government’s suspension of federal student repayment loans until 2023, 1.5 million students will have ample time to enter the job market. 

Renaud, however, notes that those who were hit the hardest financially as a result of the pandemic were those already struggling in poverty, or at the poverty line. 

“Not only did they face job losses and were often excluded from pandemic relief benefits, but faced barriers in getting vaccines and had higher rates of infections. The government failed to serve our most marginalized and vulnerable people.”

Renaud says that the CRB was a “good benefit” to aid in individual income while hours of work were being cut back — but the cutting of this benefit may now have detrimental effects for those who have yet to fully cover. 

“CRB is being cut before our economy has fully recovered and returned, and it is only going to hurt low-income workers that just last year we celebrated as essential.”

About the Author

By Sarah Garofalo

Editor-in-Chief

editor@excal.on.ca

Sarah is in her fourth year of Film Studies at York University. She is passionate about using writing as a tool to educate herself and introduce others to hidden stories and new ideas. In the future, she hopes to continue her studies in film and merge it with her love of writing and journalism. You can always find Sarah sketching, painting or endlessly watching films while waiting to get back into movie theatres.

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Jim

over 800,00 Canadians?
800,000 out of 14 million is almost 8% of Canada’s employment

Stephen

C R B and fed disability should the same limited to a Max of $1,100/ month for a single person and reduce 50 cents for the person other income over $200/ month this would be much better plus a program to provide housing for $550 / month every one getting a check should have volunteer 20 hrs / week