Apr 22, 2020  By John Hyde

Important Updates to Emergency Financial Aid Programs

Through a series of recent announcements, the Canadian government has elaborated upon the eligibility criteria and application process for two of its most important federal aid programs: the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The government has also announced additional support for small businesses that are struggling to pay rent, the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, the details of which will be released soon.


Applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will open on April 27, through the Canada Revenue Agency’s website. Applicants who are not registered for the CRA’s My Business Account portal, will be able to apply for the subsidy program using a separate online application form.

Important note: A separate application is required for each CRA payroll account (RP).

90 percent of applications are estimated to be processed by May 5, according to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.

The government has also launched an important tool for employers to measure how much they will obtain through the federal wage subsidy program: the online subsidy calculator, which can be accessed using the following link:


Expansions on eligibility:

If an employer qualifies for CEWS for one claim period, it will automatically qualify for the following claim period.

As an example, if a company does not meet the 30% reduction in revenue for period 2 (using either of the calculations described below) but has met the 15% reduction for period 1, because the employer qualified for period 1, it automatically qualifies for the following claim period. In order to qualify for period 3 however, the employer must meet the eligibility criteria (30% reduction in revenue) for the current or previous period (period 2). The reduction is calculated by comparing revenue in March, April and May 2020, with either:

  • The revenue earned in the corresponding month in 2019; or
  • The average of the revenue earned in January and February, 2020.

The same method of comparison must be used for all claim periods. If an employer chooses to rely upon the average of the revenue earned in January and February for the March 2020 eligibility period, it must use this method of comparison for the April and May eligibility periods, as well. For further clarity, please review the chart below, which was obtained from the federal government’s website:

Period dates

Baseline revenue

Eligibility period revenue

Required reduction

Mar 15, 2020 to
Apr 11, 202
- Mar 2019, or
- Average of Jan and Feb 2020

Mar 2020


Apr 12, 2020 to
May 9, 2020
- Apr 2019, or
- Average of Jan and Feb 2020

Apr 2020


May 10, 2020 to
Jun 6, 2020
- May 2019, or
- Average of Jan and Feb 2020

May 2020



Employers are cautioned against using fraudulent accounting methods, in order to qualify for the wage subsidy program. Companies will be required to repay any amounts received by way of fraud and, may face harsher penalties such as fines or imprisonment. A penalty equal to 25% of the subsidy value will be owed to the CRA, where it is found that a company artificially reduced its revenue for the purposes of applying for the wage subsidy.

Employers should keep well-documented records of revenue and remuneration paid to employees, including supporting calculations for each claim period.


The federal government has expanded access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, taking into account seasonal and part-time workers and, workers who have exhausted their EI benefits as of December 29, 2019.

CERB is now available to working Canadians whose monthly income does not surpass $1,000. However, it should be noted that, laid off employees who are rehired by their employers on account of the 75% wage subsidy program and, receive retroactive pay from March 15, will be required to repay their CERB benefits for that period, if their income surpasses $1000. For further clarity, below is the new eligibility criteria obtained from the federal government’s website:

CERB is available to workers who:

  • Reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
  • Have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their EI regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Have not earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self- employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the first four-week claiming period;
  • Have not earned more than $1000 in employment and/or self- employment incomefor the entire four-week benefit period of subsequent claims;
  • Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Have not quit their job voluntarily.


Pay boost for essential workers

The Canadian government is working with provinces and territories to provide a pay boost for “essential workers” earning up to $2,500 per month. The definition of “essential workers” remains to be determined, however it will include food supply, front-line workers and key services in the retail sector. Further details, including how the top-up benefit will be distributed, will be announced in the days to come.

Commercial rent relief

The Canadian government has announced a new commercial rent relief program: the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). The financial aid will be provided in partnership with provinces and territories and, will be available to businesses that have suffered most as a result of COVID-19. The eligibility criteria and application process will be announced soon. The program is in its very nascent stages of development, however it will be applied retroactively to the months of April, May and June 2020. CECRA is designed to provide loans to commercial property owners who are willing to lower or waive rent for small businesses over the eligibility period.

If you have any questions related to the various government financial aid programs that may be available to you, please do not hesitate to contact Hyde HR Law for expert advice.

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