The information stated here is believed to be accurate at April 17, 2020. The program details may change at any time. Readers should check for updates, and obtain advice from their professional advisors about their particular situations.
In the month up to April 15, the federal government received six million requests for financial help from Canadians who have lost all of their employment or self-employment income due to COVID-19, and in particular the business shut downs imposed to delay the spread of the virus.
Until April 5, Canadians could really only apply for Employment Insurance (EI), and 2.5 million people did. On Monday, April 6, the website opened for applications. The CERB website received close to 3.5 million claims. According to the government, most of those claimants have received their initial funds (for four or eight weeks), while hundreds of thousands of applications are still to be processed.
Landlords who have tenants with outstanding rent arrears may want to inquire politely if the tenants have applied for and received their CERB money, and encourage the payment of the rent from that money. As the government has said, the money is intended to make sure people can buy groceries and pay their rent.
On April 15, the government announced that the CERB will be expanded to include part-time and seasonal workers, although the details of that relief are as yet unknown. People who have lost part of their incomes may also be included, presumably with a partial payment.
On April 11, Parliament passed Bill C-14, creating the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). CEWS will give eligible employers a 100% subsidy of the first 75% of pre-crisis wages paid to their employees (up to a maximum benefit of $847/week per employee). Pre-crisis wages include taxable benefits such as a housing subsidy for site staff. Employer paid EI and CPP will also be subsidized.
Eligible employers include corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships which have experienced a significant drop in revenue since March 15, or in subsequent periods as shown in the table below.
Revenue Loss Threshold
March 15 – April 11
April 12 – May 9
May 10 – June 6
Revenue loss can be based on the same period in 2019 OR an average of January and February 2020. Revenue losses can be calculated using either the cash basis or the accrual basis, but not both.
The wage subsidy will be included in a business’s taxable income, but the wages paid will be considered an expense as usual.
The federal government launched an interest-free loan program for eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations of up to $40,000. If the loan is paid back by the end of 2022, $10,000 of the loan will be forgiven. The program is meant to help companies cover payroll in the interim before the new wage subsidy program is operational.
Changes were recently announced to make this program more available.