Government extends CERB to international students and foreign workers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government quietly extended Canada Emergency Response Benefit to international students and temporary foreign workers – a move that could cost taxpayers up to an additional $8 billion.

While not making an official announcement, the Government of Canada’s official CERB Questions and Answers web page[1] now says “temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the Benefit if they meet the other eligibility requirements.”

Update 12:40PM PDT: Since the publication of this article, the statement “temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the Benefit if they meet the other eligibility requirements.” has been removed from the web page. Here’s a screen capture we took before it was taken down

“International students, please note! You can collect CERB if you meet the eligibility criteria,” Hedy Fry, Liberal Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, tweeted on Monday[2]

Canada is home to approximately half-a-million international students and a similar number of temporary foreign workers, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada statistics[3]Calculated based on IRCC statistics obtained from Open Data Portal

At $2,000 per month for four months, extending CERB to non-citizens could cost Canadian taxpayers up to $8 billion.

The news was met with anger by residents of Vancouver, where international students can often be seen flaunting their wealth by driving around in luxury sports cars[4] and buying mansions in Vancouver’s tony Westside neighbourhoods[5]

“I already feel Canadian schools have given up on [local students] because they make more money off foreign students,” Vancouver resident Jenny Lee said. “Why should Canadian taxpayers subsidize foreign students’ lavish lifestyles?”

International students have become a lucrative business for many Canadian universities and colleges, as foreign students pay more than triple the tuition of a domestic student.

“Trudeau should use that money to fund more places for Canadian students at universities,” Lee added.

“International students are supposed to have enough funds to cover their living and tuition expenses without working in Canada – that’s one of the requirements for the study Visa,” Fellow BC-resident Wilson Osifo who hails from the west African nation of Benin said. “The fact that international students can work part time is a privilege and not a right. So what extra benefits are they still looking for?”

References   [ + ]

3. Calculated based on IRCC statistics obtained from Open Data Portal

16 Responses to Government extends CERB to international students and foreign workers

  1. rdtx2005 says:

    Where is this referenced in the FAQ according to your references? I don’t see anything that says “temporary foreign workers and international students”

    • ThinkPol says:

      Update 12:40PM PDT: Since the publication of this article, the statement “temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the Benefit if they meet the other eligibility requirements.” has been removed from the web page. Please find above a screen capture we took before it was taken down.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    The cost on paper could be 8 billion, but this generation will NEVER be able or required to pay off this massive deficit being run. We will pay for it however, through a devalued currency, ever-increasing taxes and fewer and fewer dollars left to spend on personal choices. The cure is far more costly than the disease.

  3. Justin Hamilton says:

    Just because they removed the explicit mention of foreign students doesn’t mean they won’t get it.

    I can believe this government. So ridiculous to hand money out to foreigners.

  4. ss3456 says:

    So, I guess the retired and not unemployed are paying the bills for these international students?

    From indisputable evidence, some nation has been openly encouraging their ‘exported’ students/residents to be connected with their cultural and loyal to the motherland perpetually… taking financial advantage of the host country at the same time.

  5. Tzyrah says:

    So disabled Canadians not on Federal disability will continue to the only ones unremembered with our PM’s tossing billions and billions at others including people who are foreign students?

    Could someone please find a way for him to remember Canadians are suffering. Everything costs more and in some provinces – maybe all of them disability already wasn’t enough for rent and the increasingly luxurious line item of food.

    I didn’t think our PM could fail more and I was better off just thinking he was done distributing money in ways which make no economic sense but to come behind those who are neither PR nor citizens is just proof of his total lack of a clue

  6. MountainMadness says:

    To the others who commented here. Not all international students are overly wealthy. Thats akin to saying all Canadians who can send there children to university are wealthy. A lot are from poorer countries with families throwing entire life savings towards their children having a better life. When I say families I am not just talking about money earned by the parents either.
    With long hours working on university degrees, low chances of finding part time work and over the top university fees. Many are finding the struggle real. They can not just pack up and fly home to their families at the moment. The families themselves are facing job cuts, loss of income and many come from countries without the health services available in Canada. Not to mention from countries that have been harder hot than Canada. There are a lot of students struggling to put food on the table.
    The coronavirus is not a them versus us scenario. Its a worldwide issue and calls for compassion not hate for your fellow humans. Wherever they may have originated from.

    • Connor Whelan says:

      International student are supposed be self sufficient in funding. They wouldn’t be here if the couldn’t afford it. They have the option of returning to their home countries until the crisis ends or classes have resumed in some fashion. Universities have become addicted to high foreign tuition. We should not be financing international students period. As for compassion, compassion like charity, begins at home. Canada cannot be a lifeboat to all peoples. It is on the verge of capsizing as it is. There are enough ‘convenient Canadians’ as it is, that use their Canadian passports as a fail safe in the event of crises in their own countries. Witness the thousands that have had to be flown back to Canada from China and elsewhere at tax payers expense already.

    • ss3456 says:


      “There are a lot of students struggling to put food on the table.”
      This is a totally ridiculous line. Unfortunately you believe in it and copied / pasted here.

      If you are the first party as an international student yourself, please understand the facts:

      The university is the service provider, the international students are the clients. Designed as part of the learning and living experience, the eligible international students are given opportunities to work up to 20 hours per week.

      I echo the previous poster stated: “International student are supposed be self sufficient in funding.”

      The fact that some of the students might have worked beyond their limit of 20 hours, perhaps minority, however they have become dependent on the work income. That is not a situation that the host country should be holding the responsibility to fix the problem.

      You wrote: “… calls for compassion not hate for your fellow humans….”
      On the issue of international students in Canada receiving CERB, it is a question of inappropriate offerings by the federal government. The measure should be withdrawn and the international students should return the received fund. Your introduction of ‘hate’ might run the risk of instigating dangerous emotions.

  7. Tony D says:

    After reading the comments, it seems that most ‘Canadians’ don’t get how Canada earns money.

    Canada’s BIGGEST industries are Immigration and International students. Without this industry Canada would be a VERY POOR country!

    • R. K. N. says:

      That is utterly untrue. What a a hilariously stupid thing to say.

    • ss3456 says:

      Pretty amusing… but lack of creativity.

      It seems, propaganda machine, immigrant agents and ‘birth tourism’ promoters have been singing the same old tune.

  8. armelle loewen says:

    all i know is there is a lot of people taking advantage of the free so called money .when the smoke clears .
    the people and company’s that are working will be hit with the cost of this pandemic and anyone on it that is already receiving benefits for the people that are partying and drinking more then ever because of this free money.
    they said they have to pay it back but how do you get money from someone already getting a free ride . i wish they would get back to food stamps.
    so that they cant waste it on there substances
    i have worked hard all my life and i will never get to retire because of of all the free loaders in this country. and more coming in everyday.
    when refugees come into canada
    they are covered by our government for 2 years all expenses payed by the tax payers. there housing, medical, prescriptions, eye glasses educationist. i cant afford a Canada company winter jacket but i see a lot of refugees wearing them. Canada should just change its logo too land of the free loaders.Not land of the free .as the as the people who work every day still have to pay the tax man so that we can say everything that i have was earned not given and i can hold my head high.
    to all the people who cry poor me get off your butts and get a job and contribute to this country.
    Not expect a free ride .

  9. armelle 1967 says:

    have a nice day

  10. Suggesting Otherwise says:

    I hope that people are aware that many international students work and pay taxes, and should be able to access benefits from the taxes they pay. Many come to Canada through scholarship, and the stereotype of the ‘wealthy international student’ has only served to hide the complexity of this population that has literally subsidized post-secondary education for Canadians for decades! No one in our communities should fall through the cracks because some are more privileged to have citizenship than others, it’s shameful to suggest otherwise.

  11. International Student Perspective says:

    What most Canadians don’t get is that the international students who are wealthy will not be able to qualify for CERB.

    CERB requires foreign students to have had a job earning them $5,000 last year, to have lost their job due to COVID, or be under unemployment benefits.

    The students that do receive this benefit have been working, paying tax, and paying tuition that is 6 TIMES the tuition for domestic students.

    Canada without its international students would not have affordable education. Most university programs rely on accepting a quota of foreign students to keep their programs running.

    Even then, the wealthy students that are able to flaunt their wealth and buy an expensive property have had to pay their share with the 20% foreign-buyers tax ($1M for a $5M house). This has far outpayed the measly $2,000 that is given by the Canadian government even if they don’t need it.

    All in all, only the foreign students that require assistance and meet the criteria will be able to receive the CERB payments. The rich students do not need and will not qualify for this program.

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