In response to the disruption caused by COVID-19 Federal Relief programs are being developed and delivered at an unprecedented rate. Today’s post contains a few updates to the programs designed to help Canadian employers and employees.

Reminder for Employees to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefits

You may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if you have stopped working for COVID-19 related reasons. Beginning this week, the federal government began accepting applications for the CERB and applicants are already seeing payments delivered under the program. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has asked individuals to apply by birth month (with those born in October, November or December to apply today) but applicants born in any month may apply tomorrow (Friday) and over the weekend. More information on eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on the CRA website.

There are still gaps in the CERB program. While our government has committed to closing the gaps and have extended the summer student jobs program, many students who were offered summer work from an employer outside the federal summer jobs program and can no longer start work due to COVID-19 are not yet eligible for CERB. If you need help but are not eligible for CERB, contact your local member of federal parliament to ask about how assistance can be provided to you.

Update for Employers on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Earlier this month, the federal government announced details of the planned wage subsidy which would see employers receive up to $847 per week per employee so that they could continue to retain and pay employees during this period of decreased revenue.

In order to be eligible, initially, the Government announced it would require employers to show that they have suffered a 30% loss of revenue compared to the same month last year (ie, a 30% drop in revenue compared to March 2020).

Yesterday afternoon, Ministers Morneau, Ng, and Bains announced that the proposed eligibility criteria will change. Because the economic impact of COVID-19 was not felt until mid-March, the new eligibility criteria will now allow employers to receive the subsidy if they have only a 15% decrease in revenue in March 2020. For months thereafter, the employer will still need to show a 30% decrease in revenue. The government has also changed how the decrease in revenue will be calculated. When showing the loss, the employer will have the choice of comparing their current revenue to their revenue in the same month last year (ie, May 2020 vs. May 2019) or they may now compare their current revenue to their average earnings in January and February of 2020 (ie, May 2020 vs [January 2020 + February 2020]/2). More detail on the proposed program can be found on the CRA website.

It is important for employers to know that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is still in development. It will need to be debated in legislature and our minority government will need the support of opposition or third party Members of Parliament to pass it into law. As a key element of Canada’s Economic Response Plan, we expect the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to be finalized this month and our team is following the developments in its eligibility criteria closely.

No matter how big or small the matter, we are always accessible to all of our clients, placing their financial realities and long-term interests first and foremost. Lorrie PorMana Khami, and from our Employment and Labour Department are available to assist with any questions you may have about workplace matters relating to COVID-19.