CEWS Update – July 2020

Written by Shelley Ricketts on Jul. 21, 2020

On July 17, 2020, the Government of Canada announced proposed changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to allow greater access to the program by employers. 

While the proposed changes loosen eligibility requirements, there is added complexity, most significantly on how benefits are calculated for qualifying periods beginning after July 4, 2020. 

The New Qualifying periods in the extension period are as follows:

New Qualifying PeriodCurrent Reference PeriodPrior Reference Period
4June 7 – July 4, 2020June 2020June 2019
5July 5 – August 1, 2020July 2020July 2019
6August 2 – August 29, 2020August 2020August 2019
7August 30 – Sept 26, 2020September 2020September 2019
8September 27 – October 24October 2020October 2019
9October 25 – November 21November 2020November 2019

The revenue test rules remain unchanged for period 4, however for periods 5 through 9 there is a new benefit calculation that includes four new concepts:

  • Base percentage
  • Revenue reduction percentage
  • Top-up percentage
  • Top-up revenue reduction percentage

The new formula for calculating the CEWS benefit available to employers is meant to increase the number of employers who are eligible for CEWS while at the same time reducing the amount of CEWS benefit available to employers that have not experienced very significant (i.e. 50% or greater) reductions in revenue.  

While the calculation changes in period 5 and 6 could have significant impact to employers who have not seen significant revenue reductions (i.e. over 70%), a safe harbour rule applies to ensure that employers have access to a CEWS rate that is at least equal to what they would have been eligible for in periods 1 through 4. 

The CEWS benefits available to employers are also being phased out over the new qualifying periods with more significant reductions in periods 7, 8 and 9.   Employers would receive a maximum weekly CEWS benefit of $847 per employee in period 7, $734 per employee in period 8 and $508 per employee in period 9.  Employers who have not experienced a revenue decrease of at least 50% would be entitled to a maximum benefit of $565, $452 and $226 for those same periods.

While the revenue test changes are the most significant amendments, there are other changes as well that impact the subsidy employers are eligible for, some key ones summarized below:

  • For qualifying periods beginning after July 4, 2020 any employee with eligible remuneration during a qualifying period is deemed to be an eligible employee.  Previously, employees without remuneration for 14 or more consecutive days in a qualifying period were excluded
  • Baseline remuneration will be amended for non-arms length employees to permit an employer to elect to use the period from March 1 – May 31, 2019 to calculate baseline remuneration for the original CEWS qualifying periods.  For period 4, employers also have the option to calculate baseline remuneration from March 1, 2019 – June 30, 2019.  For all other periods, the employer will either use January 1, 2020 to March 15, 2020 or can elect to use the period July 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 to calculate baseline remuneration.
  • The January/February prior reference period rules clarify that employers may elect to use this separately for the qualifying periods ending on our before July 4, 2020 and the qualifying periods beginning after July 4, 2020. 

While the extension of the CEWS program is welcome news for the business community, the amendments for the CEWS program add considerable complexity and risk for employers.  There are a number of calculations and various factors to consider and significant penalties can apply where an employer receives CEWS but is ultimately found not to be eligible.  We recommend that employers should work with their accounting professional for assistance in determining their eligibility, understanding how to apply and having the appropriate documentation to prepare for a review by the CRA.

If you would like more information or have any questions, feel free to contact us at 780.466.6204, or click here to send us an email with the subject “CEWS Proposal Request” and one of our professionals will be in contact shortly.

Shelley Ricketts

Cloud Accounting Manager

Shelley completed her NAIT Accelerated Accounting Certification in 2001 and is also a Certified Quickbooks ProAdvisor (QBO Advanced Certification and QB Desktop Certification).

Along with many years of public accounting experience, Shelley was a self-employed contractor providing bookkeeping services and software training for 20 years and gained invaluable experience and exposure to a wide range of industries. She knows what it means to be a business owner and to be passionate about what you do.

Shelley has been with KWB for a long time! Starting out as a contractor in January 2011, she took a leap of faith and joined the team full time in October 2018 as their newly appointed Cloud Accounting Manager. She wears a lot of hats in this role but her favourite space is finding and supporting cloud based solutions for business owners that make their lives easier!

Shelley has two wonderful, witty sons who take pleasure in the fact they get to call her ‘shorty’. She also has the cutest little Frenchie named “Mango” who excels at being a couch potato as well as providing endless entertainment in the midst of Zoom meetings.

Outside of work, Shelley loves to spend time camping, hiking and just getting out into nature. She also is passionate about horses (she owns 3!) and enjoys trail riding and getting out into the mountains when she can.

Shelley's Contact Information

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