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On April 1, the Government of Canada provided updates on support measures included in its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. 

In a press conference, Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, provided further details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which will provide 75-per-cent of each employee’s salary for all businesses — regardless of size — who have lost a minimum of 30 per cent of their gross revenue based on a year-over-year comparison of revenues. Businesses will have to reapply on a monthly basis. The subsidy, which will be backdated to March 15, will cover up to three months and will be on the first $58,700 earned — allowing for up to $847 a week.

Morneau noted there will be processes put in place for those businesses that can’t use the year-over-year model to demonstrate their revenue loss (e.g. start-ups).

“For a business that just started up in the last year, we’re working on how to deal with that,” Morneau explained. “We’re in an unprecedented situation; we’re coming up with programs that, in a regular time period, might take a year or a couple of years to develop, over the course of a week…We’ll get the administrative details out as rapidly as possible.”

Businesses will be able to apply for the subsidy through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) portal “soon” and funds are expected to be available in “approximately six weeks.”

“We’re working hard to make sure we have a way for people to get money if they’re finding that they just don’t have any resources as a result of COVID-19 and that’s our Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). We’ll have that system up and running over the course of the next week, so people can actually get access to funds,” said Morneau. “We’re also putting in place a Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. [This] allows companies to make sure they can bring their employees back on staff and [ensures] they get a wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent of pre-crisis wages, up to $847. This is not just for companies, it’s for non-profits [and other] organizations that have seen a significant decrease in their revenue because of this crisis. And finally, for businesses, small and large, we’re finding a way to ensure they can have credit through this very challenging time.” 

It was also announced that Canadians will be able to apply for CERB as of April 6,at canada.ca/coronavirus. The CERB will support Canadians who have lost their income because of COVID-19 by providing $2,000 a month for up to four months.

“From the beginning, we’ve been committed to supporting all Canadians who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. “No one should have to worry about paying their rent or mortgage or supporting their families. The design of the CERB is being kept as simple as possible to make it quick and easy to access for all Canadian workers.”

In an effort to ensure Canadians receive the money they’re entitled to as quickly as possible, the CERB is being jointly administered by Service Canada and the CRA.

All eligible workers, whether or not they’re eligible for Employment Insurance, will apply through a simplified application process. Applications will be accepted starting April 6, 2020. There’s no waiting period and direct-deposit payments will be delivered within three business days of applicants being eligible to receive it. Cheques will be distributed within 10 days.

Those eligible for the CERB include: 

  • workers, including those who are self-employed, who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support
  • workers who lost their employment, as well as workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work

“We know we need to bridge our way through this,” added Morneau. “We’ll be there to support people in this crisis. We’re going to continue to consider the next steps that we might need to take as this crisis unfolds and we’ll be open to new measures appropriate to the challenges that we face, because we’re going to have Canadians’ backs during this time of crisis.”

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