After two months of waiting for the Canada Student Service Grant portal to open, students are disappointed to learn that they will be unlikely to receive the full grant, will not be able to count their hours retroactively, and are not eligible if they are an international student or over 30.

While the program was announced in April, it took two months for the government to announce the details and open the application process. Because of the delay, students looking to receive the $5,000 grant would have to volunteer an average of 27.8 hours per week until October 31 to receive the full amount, which will not be possible for many students. For those who have already been volunteering since April, they will not be able to claim those hours towards the grant. Also, students over 30 and international students are ineligible.

“This is yet another example of the problems with the patchwork approach to financial aid that the Federal Government has taken during the pandemic,” said Nicole Brayiannis, National Deputy Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Since the beginning of this crisis, students and their solidarity partners have called for a universal benefit that includes international students and doesn’t leave anyone behind.”

International students, who make up nearly 30% of the post-secondary student population in Canada, have been largely left behind as they are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, the Canada Summer Jobs program, and now the Canada Student Service Grant.

“The federal government continues to show that despite the fact that international students contribute billions of dollars to the economy each year, they are deemed not worthy of the same support as their domestic counterparts,” said Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson of the CFS. “International students have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and are in an especially vulnerable situation. There has been a complete lack of empathy and care afforded to them throughout this crisis.”

The Canadian Federation of Students continues to demand that the federal government implement a universal benefit for all students and is asking provinces to work with the federal government to immediately reduce tuition fees for all students in Canada and move towards a fully publicly-funded, high-quality system of post-secondary education that will help pull the country out of this unprecedented crisis.