As he announced yet another emergency financial aid package yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his decision not to create a universal benefit that would ensure no Canadians affected by COVID-19 fall through the cracks.

Trudeau says his government’s approach has been to try to target its emergency financial assistance in stages to those who need it most, rather than to everyone at once, including those who don’t need it.

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His focus for specific help yesterday was students, announcing a $9-billion suite of programs for students whose education and job prospects are disrupted by the novel coronavirus. They’re aimed at people who are not eligible for the $500-a-week Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, which is for people who have lost jobs.

The new Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which Trudeau conceded will require Parliament’s approval, will pay $1,250 monthly to Canadian and permanent resident post-secondary students and graduates to make up for lost work and cut hours. This benefit is to be available from May to August 2020.

The amount can increase to $1,750 for students with disabilities or who care for others. Students who volunteer on COVID-19 response efforts will be rewarded through bursaries of up to $5,000 towards their educations in the fall.

To help students continue their studies when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, the federal government is doubling the Canada Student Grants for eligible full-time and part-time students.

Source: Canadian Press