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COVID-19 Benefits for Businesses in Canada


The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected many individuals and their businesses, as they could not carry out their regular work because of the lockdown. To help individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus, the Government of Canada came up with several benefits for individuals and businesses. Citizens of different nations faced financial problems after the outbreak of the virus.  

To revive businesses and curtail layoffs, the government announced initiatives to encourage re-hiring employees. Whereas other initiatives aimed at creating new job opportunities. These benefits are available for eligible workers and employers across Canada who have been affected by the pandemic.

There is a range of benefits and temporary provisions that the government has introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can gain some insight about these and see if you can avail of any of them.

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy or CEWS

The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy is a support program that helps businesses to retain their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government covers the portion of any eligible employee’s wages. This subsidy will enable an employer to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease you back into normal operations.

As an employer, you can apply to receive this subsidy if you had a payroll account on March 15, 2020, and you have experienced a drop in your revenue. Those without a payroll account received several exceptions.

Upon eligibility, you can apply for the available claim periods, with certain changes introduced from claim period 5 to 9. It is important that you check employer eligibility, employee eligibility, and other important factors based on the claim period you are applying for as there can be a significant difference between the claim periods 1-4 and 5-9.

Before applying, figure out the type of subsidy that your employees will qualify for. There are several factors that you need to consider to determine the eligibility of your employees. You also need to know their salaries. There can also be a difference in the employee eligibility between claim periods 1-4 and 5-9.

After you have done everything mentioned above, you can calculate your subsidy amount. This provision is available on the official CRA website. The calculator will automatically apply the best subsidy rate for you (for claim periods 5-9). Finally, you can apply for the CEWS benefit and expect to receive a payment within 3 to 5 business days. If you want to apply again for later claim periods, you need to send another CEWS application.

The Work Sharing Program

The Canadian Government has introduced special measures and also extended the maximum duration of the Work Sharing Program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for the employers affected by the COVID-19.

The WS or Work-Sharing Program gives income support to employees when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The WS program provides EI (Employment Insurance) Benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours and agree to share their work while their employer recovers.

The program benefits employers, allowing them to retain experienced workers and avoiding recruiting and training of new employees. Likewise, employees benefit from prolonged employment. They get to keep their jobs while maintaining their work skills. The WS is an agreement between the employer, employee, and the Government of Canada.

This program features a WS Unit in which a group of employees with similar job roles collectively agree to reduce their work hours by the same percentage. This should be between 10 to 60% percent on average and even for this program, there are conditions regarding the eligibility of employee and employer.

The government has also aimed to create new job opportunities for the youth. Around 116,000 placements, job opportunities and other training programs have been created. This helps students to find employment and learn skills over this period.

The Canada Summer Jobs Program and the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy aim at giving young Canadians vivid paid opportunities. An initiative that makes them ready for work life. The temporary changes introduced recently in the Summer Jobs Program benefitted employers. These programs are no longer accepting applications. Other such programs include:

  • Student Work Placement Program
  • Mitacs
  • Business + High Education Roundtable

Canada Extends of Lay-off Period

In response to the COVID-19, it also extended certain temporary layoff periods to six months. Before this extension, a worker could be laid off for 3 months or 6 months if there was a recall date provided. After this period, the layoff turns into a termination.

This extension of lay-off periods gives greater protection to federally regulated workplaces and provides employers more time to recall employees laid off because of COVID-19. The temporary extension was applicable until 30th September 2020.

The duration of the employee’s lay-off continues to count towards their continuity of employment. This means it will factor into the calculations for their termination pay and severance pay. These are a few steps by the Canadian government to revive individuals and businesses in the pandemic. You can avail of these benefits if you qualify for these programs.

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