Today, Canada’s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced the government’s proposed legislative changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as part of a bill that will be debated next week when the House of Commons sits. Some details:
1. The CEWS will be extended until December 19;
2. Will include employers with a revenue decline of less than 30% and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This is meant to help many struggling employers with less than a 30% 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% revenue decline threshold; and,
3. Will introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This is meant to help employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
“Expanding the revenue loss eligibility criteria and timeline for the wage subsidy is the first step towards economic recovery as businesses re-open,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
“Eventually Canada needs to wind down subsidies. Many Canadians will still need assistance. Reforming the EI system to include a strong reskilling and upskilling component will provide this support. Many jobs that Canadian’s held are not coming back including travel, retail, restaurants, and other small businesses. It is time we pivot and commit to infrastructure – transportation, energy, resources – and workforce investments, collaborating with educational institutions across the province to instigate economic activity. Investing in reskilling, upskilling, retraining, and education are necessary post-COVID.”
Businesses also need the immediate approval of Bill C-17 to enable greater flexibility for businesses (many of which are not-for-profits) who use third-party payroll providers to qualify, as well as companies that acquired other businesses earlier in 2020, and had an increase in consolidated revenue for the months prior to the COVID-19 crisis as a result. Bill C-17 would also temporarily relax certain statutory regulatory and legal time limits that are difficult or impossible to meet as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We hope employers will take advantage of the CEWS to add to their workforce. It is pivotal for our economy and to remove the dependency on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).”