Announced Changes to the CEWS Program
On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced updates to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”). The announcement included the following details:
- The program will be extended to August 29, 2020 – this is an extension from the original 12 weeks to 24 weeks.
- The program will be expanded to include additional eligible entities retroactive to April 11, 2020 (the commencement of the CEWS program). The additional prescribed entities are as follows:
a. Partnerships with One or More Non-Eligible Members;
b. Indigenous Government-Owned Businesses;
c. Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations;
d. Registered Journalism Organizations; and
e. Non-public Educational and Training Institutions – such as private colleges and private schools.
- The calculation of “Baseline remuneration” will be amended to allow for the inclusion of employees who may have been on parental, disability or unpaid leave from January 1 to March 15, 2020. Employers will now be able to calculate baseline remuneration on an employee-by-employee basis for either the period of January 1 to March 15, 2020 or March 1 to May 31, 2019.
Potential Future Changes to the CEWS Program
In addition to the above, the Government of Canada announced that they would be consulting with key business and labour representatives on further adjustments to the program, including potential reductions to the 30% revenue decline threshold.
Walsh King Assistance
Chris Reimer, senior manager in our assurance group, is coordinating our CEWS task force.
Chris and our team have assisted several clients in successfully applying for and receiving funds under the CEWS program. The Government has accelerated payments to be paid under this program and we are now seeing our clients receiving payment within a few days of their application.
If you require any assistance or if you have made an application but have not yet received funds, please contact us.
There are numerous technical issues within the rules. We would be happy to assist in the application process.
CEWS Program Description
- Applications are now being accepted and processed.
- The subsidy is based on wages paid. The maximum subsidy of $847 per week per employee is based on wages of $1,129 per week.
- There is no subsidy in respect of wage amounts in excess of $1,129 per week.
- There are six qualifying periods.
- If an employer meets the technical requirements for period one, it will automatically qualify for period two.
- Similarly, if an employer meets the technical requirements for period two, it will automatically qualify for period three.
- In general terms, to qualify for period one, March 2020 revenue must be at least 15% less than March 2019.
- For periods two and three, to qualify, the April and May revenue must be at least 30% lower than the same months in 2019.
- There is also an alternate calculation based on revenue declines since January and February 2020.
- Employers can separately apply for the 10% wage subsidy set out in Bill C-13. The subsidy received under that program will reduce the subsidy under the 75% program.
The following is a general overview of these rules.
1.0 ELIGIBLE EMPLOYERS
Most employers are eligible.
2.0 REVENUE THRESHOLD
Each employer’s situation will differ. While the general requirements are a 15% revenue drop in March and a 30% revenue drop in April, May, June and/or July, the technical rules are more nuanced. Please contact us for a more detailed explanation of these rules.
3.0 ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES
A subsidy is only available in respect of eligible employees.
To be eligible, an employee must be employed in Canada and have received wages during the relevant qualifying period. An employee who has received no remuneration for 14 or more days in the period ceases to be eligible. An employee on paid leave will be eligible.
4.0 SUBSIDY AMOUNT
The CEWS will provide employers with a subsidy for any eligible employee based on eligible remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020 equal to the greater of:
- 75% of the remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per eligible employee; and
- The lesser of:
a) The amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and
b) 75% of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration.
An employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration is the average weekly remuneration that the employee received between January 1 and March 15, 2020 or between March 1 and May 31, 2019, excluding any seven-day period in which the employee did not receive remuneration.
5.0 REFUND OF PAYROLL CONTRIBUTIONS
If an employee is on paid leave, the employer may claim a refund of the employer portion of Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan premiums.
Please note that this benefit does not apply to employees who are working and receiving remuneration for that work. In this case, the ordinary rules will apply.
In all cases, the required premiums must be paid on time as part of the normal payroll remittances.
6.0 APPLYING FOR CEWS BENEFITS
The most efficient way to apply for the program is through CRA’s “My Business Account” by the employer. If an employer has not already obtained a My Business Account, this should be done now. If you need any assistance with this, please contact us.
7.0 SIGNIFICANT PENALTIES FOR ABUSE
The rules will impose significant penalties on any employer who has intentionally or fraudulently abused the process. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure accuracy of all applications.
The Government has the right to identify every employer who applies for the subsidy.
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