CEWS eligibility criteria

This is the new CEWS eligibility criteria in Canada

Now that the federal government has made some amendments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, many businesses who were previously ineligible (or just hesitant) are wondering if they should apply.

The answer is, for many, yes.

Through the CEWS — which was previously open to individuals and non-tax-exempt corporations, non-profit organizations and registered charities, and certain tax-exempt entities like agriculture organizations — the Canadian government covers 75 per cent of wages for a business to help them continue operating and keep employees on the payroll if possible amid the health crisis. 

Some considered the previous criteria a little restrictive, particularly the requirement that a business must have experienced at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue due to the pandemic — especially as things begin to open up in provinces across the country and businesses start to earn a bit of money again, but aren't fully back on their feet yet.

But, along with extending the window of the CEWS three more months to August 29, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a number of updates to the aid package today to help more establishments receive funding.

Immediately (and retroactively, back to March), a slew of groups will be newly eligible for the CEWS, including:

  • registered journalistic organizations
  • registered Canadian amateur athletic organizations (such as Hockey Canada, etc.)
  • tax-exempt Indigenous-owned corporations and partnerships, including Indigenous governments and eligible employers
  • non-public colleges and schools, including driving, language, and arts schools (such as Canada's National Ballet School, etc.)
  • partnerships with non-eligible members, as long as the non-eligible members are not majority owners

Morneau also said that there will likely be greater flexibility for employers to use the money to rehire seasonal and other workers that may not have been regular staff members earlier this year, but are "nonetheless important to operations," while Trudeau said the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold will likewise be re-assessed, as "needing a decline shouldn’t be a barrier to growth" as businesses reopen.

Both are encouraging business owners to take advantage of the program in order to help workers transition from relying on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to getting back to regular work and pay through CEWS.

"We hope that you apply to this program and rehire your workers," Morneau said in a press briefing on Friday.

"While much remains unknown, there's one thing that I do know: workers drive our economy. By making sure that they have jobs to go back to, we're making sure that Canada stands ready to recover."

Lead photo by

Toa Heftiba/Unsplash


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