You might be wondering what is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS) all about? It is an important question because many business owners are suffering right now due to COVID-19. They want to remain open and keep their staff employed, but many do not understand the specifics of this program that is supposed to help them. Let’s provide some clarity to this program.
What is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS)?
It is a wage subsidy program for businesses whose revenues have been negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The amount of the wage subsidy is 75% of employees wages for a 12 week period from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020. The purpose of the subsidy is to rehire previously laid off workers as a result of Covid-19 to prevent further job losses and put businesses in a better position to recover after the crisis passes. For more information, go to the Government of Canada’s website.
Canada Wage Emergency Subsidy Program (CEWS): Who is Eligible?
In a nutshell you eligible for this Government of Canada program if you are an employer who has experienced a reduction in revenue and had a CRA payroll account on March 15, 2020. The Government of Canada’s website has a list of eligible employers but the only ineligible employers appear to be public institutions such as municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals.
You Must Also Have an Eligible Reduction
Besides being an eligible employer, you must also have an eligible wage reduction. What is that? You are basically comparing your normal monthly revenue with the the 3 months affected by Covid-19 (March 2020, April 2020, May 2020). However, there are 2 choices to choose from to use as your normal monthly revenue. (This refers to pre-coronavirus revenue.)
Option 1 is to use your revenue from the corresponding month of the previous year. This means you would use March 2019 as your normal revenue period and compare it with March 2020 and there should be a revenue drop of at least 15% to be eligible for that period. You would then use April 2019 and compare with April 2020 and there should be a revenue drop of 30% to be eligible for that period. Finally, you would use May 2019 and compare with May 2020 and there should be a revenue drop of 30% to be eligible for that period.
Option 2 is that you take the average monthly revenue for January and February 2020 and compare this with March 2020, April 2020, and May 2020. You would be eligible for subsidy for a particular month if there is a reduction in revenue of at least 15% in March, 30% in April, and 30% in May.
Here’s is a warning, however. Whatever option of comparing revenue you choose, you have to stick to using that option when calculating the revenue reduction of each month. You cannot switch between options.
Who are Eligible Employees for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program ?
They are employees hired by you and who have not been paid by you for less than 14 consecutive days. Employees whom you have laid off can become eligible if you rehire and retroactively pay them. You must do this before you can include them in your calculation of the wage subsidy.
How to Calculate the Wage Subsidy?
At the Government of Canada’s website, there is an Excel spreadsheet and a calculator to help you calculate this amount. It is based on the following information below:
- the number and type of eligible employees you have, and
- the amount and type of pay in respect of a period they received before and during the crisis
Note: There is no limit on the total subsidy amount that an eligible employer may claim.
How to Apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program?
The government’s website shows 3 ways you can apply below:
- Most businesses may apply using My Business Account
- Business representatives may apply using Represent a Client
Note: Only representatives authorized at Level 2 or 3 will be able to apply
- If neither are an option for you, use the Web Forms application with your web access code. If you do not have a web access code, you will need to provide the date of registration or the total income tax reported in box 22 of the most recent original 2018 tax year submitted T4 summary.
When Will you Get Paid?
The government’s website says that you can get paid within 10 days of applying if you have direct deposit. If you are getting paid by cheque, this will take a bit longer.
Also of note, the Canada Wage Subsidy is taxable and therefore you will have include it on your tax return as taxable income.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program may appear to be a complicated and detailed program to apply for. However, it could be very beneficial as it helps you cover most of your employees’ wages for a 3 month period. One benefit is that you can get money fairly quickly once you apply. It is something that businesses in Canada should seriously look into. Because it could make the difference between staying open and closing for good.
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