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Tax PlanningUpdates to Federal Government Subsidies


This article was reviewed by Chris Singer, CFP®.

Updates to COVID-19 Emergency Wage Subsidies

With efforts to get financial aid out to Canadians as quickly as possible, the federal government has admitted on-going revisions will need to be made as issues become apparent. As a result, Prime Minister Trudeau announced another change to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS) for employers yesterday.

There will be three eligible periods for claiming the CEWS. For the first eligible period only (March 15 to April 11, 2020), businesses will qualify if they have experienced a 15% (not 30%) drop in arms-length revenues using one of two different calculation methods:

  1. Comparing current month to the same month for the previous year (e.g. March 2020 compared to March 2019, April 2020 compared to April 2019, etc.)
  2. Using an average of January & February 2020 revenues compared to the current period

*Important: Employers must use the same comparison method for ALL periods, they are not inter-changeable.

In addition, charities and non-profits normally receiving government funding (e.g. grants, etc.) can now choose to exclude that funding when calculating the drop in revenues if desired.

There are still unaddressed concerns regarding employees such as GIG workers, home care workers, or those working 10 hours per week or less, who have lost income due to COVID-19 but do not meet the criteria to receive the CERB of $2,000 per month. Trudeau promised there will be an announcement soon related to income assistance for these individuals.

Seniors and Students

In recent days, both seniors and students have been vocal about needing additional supports due to lost income since they typically do not qualify for EI Benefits or the CERB. Trudeau promised assistance for seniors will be announced shortly, however good news for students was announced yesterday. Temporary changes will be made to the Canada Summer Jobs program in order to encourage businesses to employ more young people:

  • A wage subsidy of up to 100% (capped at provincial minimum wage) for employees aged 15 to 30 years (they don’t have to be students)
  • Allowing employers to hire on a part-time basis (less than 30 hours per week) while still qualifying for the wage subsidy, especially if hiring youth to support essential services such as delivering food or other essential goods
  • An extension of the employment end date to February 28, 2021 (normally the Summer Jobs program ends when school resumes in the fall), and a start date as early as May 11, 2020

In addition, a six-month “freeze” on Canada Student Loans interest charges was previously announced last month.