Thank you kindly, Mr. Chair, and thank you to my committee colleagues.
At the outset of this appearance I'll extend the regrets of Ministers Morneau and Fortier, who were unable to join us here today, so you'll have to put up with me, I'm afraid.
Before I begin my prepared remarks, I want to offer an acknowledgement of the tragedies my home province of Nova Scotia has recently undergone. We've seen an unprecedented mass murder of innocent residents of our province and citizens of our country in recent weeks, and overnight we learned of the downing of a helicopter taking part in a NATO training exercise that to date has claimed the life of at least one resident of my province serving in the armed forces. To those families who are grieving, please note that our thoughts are with you during this time of extraordinary difficulty. Though we may not be able to mourn together, we have never been more together in some ways.
With that, Mr. Chair, I'd like to begin by thanking my committee colleagues for all their work during these unprecedented times, and I'd like to thank you for the invitation to join you at committee today.
Our government has been working very quickly on developing and implementing policies and programs to support Canadians impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We've rapidly rolled out historic measures for both workers and businesses, for families and young people and seniors. We continue to fine-tune some of those measures to respond to the concerns and needs of Canadians that reveal themselves as the facts change on the ground.
Over the past number of weeks, we've announced a series of broad economy-wide supports as part of Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan. I'm very pleased to be here today to provide members of this committee with the government's third biweekly report on our COVID-19 economic response.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canada's economy. Extraordinary measures are required to respond to these challenging times. That's why the government has put in place Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan. This plan is the largest and most rapidly deployed peacetime investment in the history of our country. To help stabilize the economy, our plan is providing $146 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses and more than $85 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax and customs duty payment deferrals.
I can't stress enough how important these actions are for supporting Canadian households and businesses through this economic shock. The measures we've been able to roll out include the Canada emergency response benefit, which is currently supporting millions of Canadians who have had to stop working as a result of this pandemic. As of Monday, more than seven million Canadians have applied to the CERB. I want to commend in particular the members of our public service for their incredible work in processing applications and rapidly getting money into the hands of Canadians who have suffered an interruption to their income.
In addition, the CERB was extended to seasonal workers who have exhausted their regular EI benefits and are unable to find a job due to the market conditions that have been caused by COVID-19.
Last week we also unveiled our $9-billion plan to specifically help students and recent graduates get through the next few months. Because of COVID-19, there aren't as many jobs available this summer for students as there appeared to be just a few short months ago. Without a job, it can be hard to pay for tuition as well as the day-to-day essentials. Therefore, we proposed the Canada emergency student benefit, which would give students $1,250 a month from May to August, with even more support for students with dependents or those living with disabilities.
At the same time, we're creating and extending up to 116,000 jobs and other opportunities for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now or that are on the front line of our pandemic. If students want to volunteer to help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, they could be eligible for a grant through the new Canada student service grant of between $1,000 and $5,000.
To help protect jobs and help businesses that are significantly impacted by this crisis keep their workers, we introduced the Canada emergency wage subsidy. This subsidy provides a 75% wage subsidy, up to $847 a week per employee, to employers who have been significantly impacted by this pandemic. Applications opened just this week, and on the very first day 44,000 applicants submitted applications.
We're also making sure that small businesses get the support they need. They are, after all, the heart of so many of our communities across Canada, and we're taking targeted action to make sure they can weather this crisis. The Canada emergency business account, CEBA, is providing small businesses with interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with 25% of that amount being forgivable. This money is helping small businesses stay strong throughout this crisis. To date, almost half a million applications have been approved, totalling more than $18 billion in support for Canada's small businesses.
We know that some small businesses have been significantly impacted. Some even had to temporarily close for public health reasons. Last week we announced the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program to help the hardest-hit businesses in Canada with a 75% lower rent for small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. This program provides qualifying property owners with a 50% forgivable loan, in exchange for their providing a rent reduction of at least 75% to tenants who pay less than $50,000 a month in rent or who have been forced to close because of COVID-19 or had their revenues drop by at least 70%.
We've taken these actions because we know that supporting Canadian workers and Canadian businesses throughout this crisis means our economy is going to be well positioned to rebound quickly when the time is right.
We need to make sure that workers in all corners of the country are getting the support they need. Communities across Canada rely on businesses staying strong throughout this crisis. That's why we are investing $675 million to give small and medium-sized businesses financing support through Canada's regional development agencies, like ACOA in my home region of Atlantic Canada. Nowhere is the need for small businesses to provide jobs, goods and services clearer than in rural communities like the ones that I represent, so we're also making investments in the community futures programs to help small businesses survive this period of difficulty.
We know that workers in our western provinces and Newfoundland have been suffering with the global shocks to oil prices as well. We introduced two new programs that will create jobs while making significant investments in keeping our environment clean: cleaning up orphaned wells and reducing carbon pollution.
We know that the cancellations of summer festivals and sporting events has left many of our artists without chances to perform and athletes without opportunities to play. This is why we have created the COVID-19 emergency support fund for cultural, heritage and support organizations. It will provide $500 million to address the financial needs of organizations in these sectors so that they can continue to support artists and athletes.
In this unprecedented time, we will continue to carefully monitor all developments related to COVID-19. We are going to work hard to ensure that businesses get the support they need and that families can stay afloat. The measures that our government is putting in place are there to help as many Canadians as possible as quickly as possible. We all know that life during the pandemic continues to evolve. The immediate needs of Canadians are and will remain our priority.
Thank you for your time and for the work you are doing on behalf of all Canadians. These are difficult times, but we can and we will get through them together.
Thank you so much. I look forward to handling any questions you may have.