COVID-19 Update – Applications Open for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

April 27, 2020

In his daily address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided an update on the Federal Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) program.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program

As discussed in previous bulletins,  the CEWS is a wage assistance program through which the Federal Government covers up to 75% of an employee’s wages, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week, for eligible businesses.  The subsidy is retroactive to March 15, 2020, and covers a period of up to twelve (12) weeks, until June 6, 2020.

Today (April 27, 2020) is the first day that applications can be submitted, and, as stated by the Prime Minister during his press conference, approximately 10,000 businesses applied in the opening hours of the new program.  An online calculator launched last week to guide businesses in preparing applications has been viewed over 300,000 times.

Wages for Essential Workers

In her press conference today, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland briefly touched on the topic of wage top-ups for essential workers, stating:

“We are working with the provinces and territories to ensure that if you’re an essential worker, your salary will reflect the incredible work that you’re accomplishing every day.”

This appears to be a reference to the Federal Government’s April 17, 2020 announcement to work with the provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top up to the salaries of low-income essential workers (described as those who earn less than $2,500 per month) deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.  It is unclear which workers will be deemed “essential workers”, and such determination may ultimately end up being worked out on a province-by-province (or territory-by-territory) basis.

For now, and as per the Federal Government’s April 17 announcement, it is expected that “essential workers” will ultimately include those on the front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or those providing essential retail services to Canadians.

Further details concerning this new program can be found here.

B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers

Specific to British Columbia, the Provincial Government announced late last week that the B.C. Emergency Response Benefit for Workers, a one-time tax-free $1,000 payment, can be applied for starting on May 1, 2020.

Further details concerning eligibility requirements and the application process can be found here.

Today’s COVID-19 bulletin covers the opening of applications for the CEWS, an update on wages for essential workers, and details on the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers.

To read the April 27, 2020, information bulletin, please see the link below:

COVID-19 Update – April 27, 2020


For questions on any information contained in today’s bulletin, please feel free to reach out to a member of our firm.

All our previous COVID-19 information bulletins can be found on Roper Greyell’s COVID-19 resource page.