On July 17, the federal government announced proposed changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) that would broaden the reach of the program and provide better targeted support so that more workers can return to their jobs quickly as the economy restarts.
Highlights of the proposed changes include:
- Extending CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.
- Making the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30 per cent and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30-per-cent revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers, while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold.
- Introducing a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
- Providing certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have had under the previous rules.
In order to implement the measures included in the July 17 announcement, the Government of Canada needs to introduce legislation to be considered by Parliament.
CEWS was put in place for an initial 12-week period from March 15 to June 6, 2020, providing a 75-per-cent wage subsidy to eligible employers. On May 15, the Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, announced that the Government of Canada would extend the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. The latest proposed changes would further extend the program until November 21, 2020, with the intent to provide further support until December 19, 2020.