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Dan-in-Ottawa

Ottawa's new plan

After some delay, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced more information about the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, this week.

The new proposal will require the recall of Parliament before it can be implemented.

The CEWS program is intended to provide financial assistance to Canada’s business community which is facing significant economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

CEWS will subsidize workers' wages at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 earned by employees, representing a benefit of up to $847 per week.

This program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6.

In order to qualify, an employer must:

“suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30% in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019.”

Any new business created after this time frame does not qualify, although details may change.

There is no limit to the size of the employer that is eligible, and non-profit organizations will also qualify.

Only public sector employers will not qualify.

Any eligible employer accessing this wage subsidy will have it based on the wages paid to employees.

Although employers are expected to demonstrate they will attempt to pay the remaining 25% of the wages, it is not required to access the program.

It is unclear how the government will define an attempt to pay the 25% wage top up.

For those that qualify for CEWS, and make application for the program, it is expected that there will be a six-week delay before the subsidy will be available.

The application process for CEWS is also currently unavailable at this time.

My thoughts? 

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has stated that for some business with small margins, there could be a massive loss of jobs without ever reaching the loss of 30% of gross revenue — a fair point.

I am concerned that new businesses, of which we have many in our region, do not at present qualify for the program.

This is something I hope will change.

The six-week timeframe is also a challenge given that all public information indicates our current public health restrictions are not expected to change over the next six weeks.

This means that many businesses will lack the cash flow to hire staff and take advantage of this program.

My remaining concern: businesses best able to wait the six weeks, and are minimally impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and can take advantage of this program, are not necessarily the businesses that most need the assistance.

My question this week:

  • Do you think the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will provide the support for those businesses most in need?

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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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