What It Means for Canadian Businesses
To help businesses keep and return workers to their payroll through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, proposed the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. This would provide a 75-per-cent wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
This wage subsidy aims to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis. While the Government has designed the proposed wage subsidy to provide generous and timely financial support to employers, it was done with the expectation that employers will do their part by using the subsidy in a manner that supports the health and well-being of their employees.
Eligible employers would include individuals, taxable corporations, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers as well as non-profit organizations and registered charities.
Public bodies would not be eligible for this subsidy. Public bodies include municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals.
This subsidy would be available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 30 per cent of their revenue (see Eligible Periods). In applying for the subsidy, employers would be required to attest to the decline in revenue.
An employer's revenue for this purpose would be its revenue from its business carried on in Canada earned from arm's-length sources. Revenue would be calculated using the employer's normal accounting method, and would exclude revenues from extraordinary items and amounts on account of capital.
For non-profits and charities, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their specific circumstances.
Amount of Subsidy
The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020 would be the greater of:
- 75 per cent of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and
- the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee's pre-crisis weekly remuneration, whichever is less.
Further guidance with respect to how to define pre-crisis weekly remuneration for a given employee will be provided in the coming days.
In effect, employers may be eligible for a subsidy of up to 100 per cent of the first 75 per cent of pre-crisis wages or salaries of existing employees. These employers would be expected where possible to maintain existing employees' pre-crisis employment earnings.
Employers will also be eligible for a subsidy of up to 75 per cent of salaries and wages paid to new employees.
Eligible remuneration may include salary, wages, and other remuneration. These are amounts for which employers would generally be required to withhold or deduct amounts to remit to the Receiver General on account of the employee's income tax obligation. However, it does not include severance pay, or items such as stock option benefits or the personal use of a corporate vehicle.
A special rule will apply to employees that do not deal at arm's length with the employer. The subsidy amount for such employees will be limited to the eligible remuneration paid in any pay period between March 15 and June 6, 2020, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee's pre-crisis weekly remuneration.
There would be no overall limit on the subsidy amount that an eligible employer may claim.
Employers must make their best effort to top-up employees' salaries to bring them to pre-crisis levels.
Eligibility would generally be determined by the change in an eligible employer's monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the calendar month in which the period began. The amount of wage subsidy (provided under the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
) received by the employer in a given month would be ignored for the purpose of measuring year-over-year changes in monthly revenues.
- For example, if revenues in March 2020 were down 50 per cent compared to March 2019, the employer would be allowed to claim the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (as calculated above) on remuneration paid between March 15 and April 11, 2020.
The table below outlines each claiming period and the period in which it has a decline in revenue of 30 per cent or more.