The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is a wage subsidy program offered until June 2021 to qualifying employers who have seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19. CEWS is meant to prevent more job losses by helping you keep your employees on payroll, enabling you to re-hire workers, and facilitating a return to normal operations. If you qualify for CEWS, you will receive a percentage of your employees’ pay subsidized based on your revenue loss.
Most recent update: On March 3 2021, government announced that the CEWS rate will remain at 75% between March 14 and June 5, 2021 (period 14-period 16) and that businesses will be able to use 2019 revenue numbers in their 2021 revenue drop calculations. On February 24, 2021 government proposed draft legislation to change the revenue drop calculation for Period 11 to allow applicants to use their revenue drop percentage from Period 9. This must pass through legislation before coming into effect.
See our CEWS timeline of events for all the wage subsidy updates.
How the program is administered: CEWS is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on a period-by-period basis, with each period spanning 4 weeks (this is referred to as a CEWS Claim Period). Below is a current schedule of CEWS Claim Periods:
|CEWS Claim Periods|
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Period 4||Period 5||Period 6||Period 7||Period 8||Period 9||Period 10|
|Mar 15-Apr 11, 2020||Apr 12 to May 9, 2020||May 10 to Jun 6, 2020||Jun 7 to Jul 4, 2020||Jul 5 to Aug 1, 2020||Aug 2 to Aug 29, 2020||Aug 30 to Sep 26, 2020||Sep 27 to Oct 24, 2020||Oct 25 to Nov 21, 2020||Nov 22 to Dec 19, 2020|
Amount businesses can receive: There is no maximum dollar amount a business can receive from the program; however, there is a limit on the amount of subsidy you can receive for a single employee’s weekly wages. This limit changes depending on the claim period. For more details, please see the eligibility requirements below.
Program duration: March 15, 2020 to June 2021
Application deadline: The later of January 31, 2021 or 180 days after the end of the claim period.
Eligibility criteria: Nearly all businesses are eligible for the wage subsidy. To be eligible, your business must:
- Have a CRA Business Number issued before March 15 or a third-party payroll provider who submits your payroll to CRA;
- Have employees on payroll who receive a T4 slip (includes new hires); and
- Meet the revenue loss requirement for each claim period.
Please see the eligibility requirements below for more details.
How to calculate: Each claim period you apply for has its own calculation. Please see the eligibility requirements below for more details. For a quick estimate of your CEWS you will need to determine your CEWS rate and multiply it by your eligible employee wages to determine the maximum CEWS amount ($) that your business is eligible for.
CEWS rate (%) x (Maximum weekly benefit per employee x Number of employees) = CEWS ($)
|Stay informed! The Federal Government has extended the wage subsidy through June 2021. We expect to hear more details soon on the changes to the program, including how it will gradually decline between December and June. We will inform all CFIB members when these details become available. If you’re not a CFIB member and would like to receive the CEWS updates by email, please subscribe to our email list.|
1. You had a CRA payroll account on or before March 15, 2020
Alternatively, you may still qualify if:
- Your business uses a third-party payroll provider; or
- you acquired assets (such as a business) during the qualifying period (or before that) that were:
- Of fair market value,
- Used by the seller in the course of a business in Canada, and
- Not purchased to increase your CEWS
2. You are an eligible employer
You are an eligible employer if you are listed in any of the columns below:
|Not exempt from income tax
||Exempt from income tax:
3. You experienced a revenue drop during a CEWS Claim Period
To calculate your revenue drop, you must:
1. Determine your revenues for the applicable period(s) (see CEWS calculation)
2. Calculate your revenue reduction by choosing one of the following options:
- General approach: compare your business eligible revenue for the claim period month in 2020 you are applying for with your eligible business revenue for the same month in 2019; OR
- Alternative approach: compare your business eligible revenue for the claim period month in 2020 you are applying for with your average eligible business revenue for the months of January and February 2020.
Note: if you choose the Alternative Approach, you will need to file an election. Please see the FAQ for more information.
|Revenue Drop calculation for Periods 1-4||GENERAL APPROACH
Same month from 2019
Avg of Jan and Feb 2020*
|Revenue Drop calculation for Base % for Periods 5-9||GENERAL APPROACH
Claim month or Prior month
Same month 2019
Claim month or Prior month
Avg of Jan and Feb 2020*
|Revenue reduction for Top-up % for periods 5 to 7||Avg of 3 prior months to the claim period 2020
Avg of the same 3 months in 2019
|Avg of 3 prior months to the claim period 2020
Avg of Jan and Feb 2020*
|Revenue reduction for Top-up % for periods 8-10||Avg of 3 prior months to the claim period 2020
Avg of the same 3 months in 2019
|Avg of 3 prior months to the claim period 2020
Avg of Jan and Feb 2020*
|Revenue drop calculation for period 11||GENERAL APPROACH
December 2020 over December 2019
December 2020 or November 2020
|Revenue drop calculation for period 12||GENERAL APPROACH
January 2021 over January 2020
January 2021 or December 2020
|Revenue drop calculation for period 13||GENERAL APPROACH
February 2021 over February 2020
February 2021 or January 2021
|From periods 8-10, all of the 4 calculations in this table can be used to calculate revenues.|
|After period 10, only the revenue reduction for the base % will be used for the top up calculation.|
|*Average of Jan and Feb 2020 can reflect operational days by equating to = 0.5 (Jan and Feb 2020 Revenues) X (60 / # days operational in Jan and Feb 2020)|
Important: You must use the same approach for periods 1 to 4; however, in period 5 you may choose to switch the approach you use. The approach you use for period 5 must then be used from periods 5-10. Should you decide to change your approach at any other time, you will need to amend previous applications to reflect the change. Once your revenue reduction is calculated for each period, use the table below to determine if you meet the required monthly revenue loss.
March 15-April 11
|Periods 2 - 4:
April 12-July 4
|Periods 5 - 10:
July 5 – December 19
|Periods 11 - 16:
December 20-June 2021
|What monthly revenue loss is required?||15%||30%||Any revenue reduction||TBD|
4. You have eligible employees during any CEWS Claim Period
An eligible employee must:
- Be employed in Canada; and
- For periods 1-4, have not gone 14 or more consecutive days without pay. This rule does not apply for Claim Period 5 and onwards.
The eligible employees described below can be included in your subsidy if they are/were:
- Laid off: eligible if you pay them retroactively in order to include them in the application for the CEWS claim period for which their pay was earned. Please note payroll penalties and interest may apply and that this may affect the eligibility of an employee’s participation in any income support programs such as CERB/CRB/EI.
- Hired after March 15th:
- Arm’s-length: eligible if they are being paid within the CEWS claim period.
- Non-arm’s-length: not eligible to be included in the CEWS.
- On a work-sharing agreement during the CEWS claim period: eligible after asking each participating employee what they are receiving from EI-workshare and subtracting this amount from your CEWS claim.
- On an EI leave from July 1, 2019 to March 15, 2020:
- For claim periods 5 and onwards, if an employee was on EI from July 1, 2019 to March 15, 2020, they can be included in your subsidy claim by averaging their wage from the 90 days prior to their leave date and using this as their Pre-crisis pay period/Baseline Remuneration period.
- Non-arm’s-length: eligible to be included in your subsidy claim if they have an average weekly wage (also known as Pre-crisis pay or Baseline Remuneration) within any of the Baseline Remuneration periods below:
|Baseline remuneration periods||Periods 1-3||Period 4||Periods 5-10|
If the employee meets the above eligibility requirements you will have to determine whether your employee is at arm’s length, and whether they are on leave with pay, as the subsidy is calculated differently for each situation. Please see the below FAQ for more details.
What information do I need to calculate my CEWS?
Once you have determined that you meet the eligibility criteria, you can start calculating each period’s subsidy. Each claim period you apply for will have its own calculation. To maximize your CEWS, you must determine:
- Which of your revenues are eligible for the CEWS
- Your preferred accounting method (to be used for all periods) to reflect your impacted revenues:
- Cash method- You can choose to show your revenue number by recording income as it is received and expenses as they are paid
- Accrual method - recording income and expenses when they are billed earned
- Your preferred approach to reflect your impacted revenues:
- General approach – Compare the claim month’s revenues from 2020 over the revenues from the same month last year (2019)
- Alternative approach – Compare the claim month’s revenues over the average revenues from Jan and Feb 2020
- Which periods will you deem eligible. This will be based on the wages paid to eligible employees.
There is no maximum on the total amount of subsidy you receive, however, there is a limit on the amount of subsidy per employee. The maximum wages you can claim per employee is $1129/week.
What should I prepare for my application for the wage subsidy (CEWS)?
Before using the calculator, you should prepare and have on hand the following:
- A direct deposit set up with CRA.
- Updated financial accounts for the last year and the current year. Determine what indicators prove that you deserve the subsidy. We strongly recommend that you consult your accountant for this step.
- Updated gross payroll information for each of your subsidy eligible employees.
- The amount of EI premiums and CPP contributions that you have paid on behalf of those employees.
- The amount you have deducted by using the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for employees (if applicable).
- The amount that you have received from ESDC's Work-Sharing program to pay your employees (if applicable).
- Calculate your subsidy amount using the CEWS calculator.
How do I calculate my gross revenue drop for the CEWS?
A revenue drop is the percentage of gross revenues lost in a month in comparison to a pre-COVID-19 reference period (known as a prior reference period).
To calculate your gross revenues, you can choose between two accounting methods. You can choose to record your income as it is received and expenses as they are paid (Cash method) or you can choose to record income and expenses when they are billed (Accrual method). Once you have chosen your preferred accounting method, you will have to continue to use that same accounting method for all periods from 1 to 10. You can change from one accounting method to the other, but you will then have to change the accounting methods for all previous applications as well so you are best to choose one method and stick with it for all your CEWS applications.
To calculate your amount of revenue drop you will need to choose between the General approach (compares revenue of current month to same month in 2019) or the Alternative approach (compares revenue of current month to average revenue in January and February of 2020). See below for more details.
Whatever approach you use, you will have to continue to use that same approach for Periods 1 to 4. The only time you will be allowed to switch your approach from one to the other will be in Period 5, after which you will have to use that same approach for the rest of the CEWS periods.
As you can see, there are more calculations to make in the new periods. This is because the New CEWS percentage consists of a base CEWS percentage and a top-up CEWS percentage (if applicable).
Any revenue drop will make you eligible for the new base CEWS percentage and is based on a 1-month revenue comparison. A revenue drop of 50% or more will make you eligible for the Top-up CEWS percentage.
For periods 5-7: the top-up is based on a 3-month average revenue comparison.
For period 8 onwards: the top-up is calculated based on the revenue reduction of the claim month.
Both the Base CEWS percentage and the Top-up CEWS percentage are comprised of a revenue drop calculation that is multiplied by a specific amount set by the government called a multiplier. See Table 1.
Base %=(Base multiplier) X (Base revenue drop)
Top-up%=(Top-up multiplier) X (Top-up revenue drop - 50%)
Table 1: Subsidy multipliers by claim period
|Base subsidy multiplier by period|
|Period||5 and 6||7||8||9||10||11|
|Dates||July 5 - Aug 29||Aug 30 - Sept 26||Sept 27 - Oct 24||Oct 25 - Nov 21||Nov 22 - Dec 19||Dec 20 – Jan 17|
|Base subsidy multiplier||1.2||1.0||0.8||0.8||0.8||0.8|
|Top-up subsidy multiplier||1.25||1.75|
When determining the amount of subsidy for which you are eligible, start with calculating the top-up CEWS rate for each period.
For periods 5-7: if you have a revenue drop of less than 50% on average over the 3 previous months, you do not qualify for the top-up CEWS.
For period 8 onwards: the top-up will be based on the revenue reduction amount of the claim month.
Once you determine which approach works best for your business you can add both your base CEWS revenue drop percentage and top-up CEWS revenue drop percentage (which will be zero if your revenue drop is less than 50%) to determine your new CEWS percentage.
If you are in Period 5 or 6 you can use the Safe Harbour Rule to use the greater of the old or new revenue reduction percentage in your CEWS. To decide which is likely more beneficial for your business, compare your new CEWS percentage with the old CEWS percentage. If your revenue reduction is greater or equal to 30 % using the old calculations AND your new CEWS percentage (the sum of Base% + Top-up%) is less or equal to 75% for the claim period, then use the old CEWS calculations. This table shows the CEWS periods and the months with which you are comparing your revenues.
Within the old CEWS rules, there is an option called the Deeming rule which allows businesses to apply for CEWS without needing to show CRA proof of having met a revenue drop in the current claim period if they qualified in the previous claim period. This rule can only be applied for the first 4 CEWS periods. It is important to note that even if you are deemed eligible for a period, you must apply for every period in order to receive funding.
This Deeming rule evolves in Period 5 and onwards as it was integrated into the revenue drop test. Instead of automatically qualifying for a future period, a business can elect to use their current OR prior month’s revenue to compare with the previous year to determine which would provide them with the highest amount of subsidy.
How do I determine which employees’ wages are eligible for the CEWS?
Eligible employees must be employed in Canada to be eligible for the wage subsidy. In addition, for periods 1 to 4 only, they cannot be without pay for 14 or more consecutive days within a CEWS period. This rule no longer applies from period 5 onwards.
You will then have to determine whether the employee is arm’s length or non-arm’s length (usually family members/owners), and if they are on a paid leave of absence or not. This chart may be helpful in navigating the complexities of which types of wage subsidy calculations apply in each circumstance.
How do I calculate my Baseline Remuneration (Pre-crisis pay) for the CEWS?
Note: for period 7 onwards, the baseline remuneration (pre-crisis) pay is only required for employees who are on leave with pay, and employees who are non-arm's length.
The baseline remuneration is the average wage paid from a selected period prior to COVID-19. As shown below.
|Periods 1-3||Period 4||Periods 5-10|
|Baseline Remuneration Periods||Jan 1-Mar 15, 2020, or
Mar 1-May 31, 2019
|Jan 1-Mar 15, 2020,
Mar 1-May 31, 2019, or
Mar1-June 30, 2019
|Jan 1- Mar 15, 2020, or
Jul 1-Dec 31, 2019
To maximize your employee’s Baseline Remuneration, you will need to determine which baseline period gives your employee the greatest average wage. Although it adds work to your calculations, we do recommend that you use the best baseline remuneration period for each employee depending on their CEWS period. To do this:
- Total all the remuneration paid to the employee during the selected Baseline Remuneration period.
- Divide the total pay by the number of days in the selected baseline period, subtracting all days within any period of 7 or more consecutive days the employee was not paid for
- Multiply the result by 7 to get the average weekly Baseline Remuneration.
These steps can be expressed using this equation.
What is the safe harbour rule with the CEWS?
The safe harbour rule allows businesses who would have been eligible for the 75% wage subsidy under the old CEWS rules, to still get a minimum of 75% under the new rules for periods 5 and 6 only.
So, an eligible employer with a revenue reduction of 30% or more in periods 5 and 6 will receive at least a 75% subsidy, or possibly more under the new rules if their revenue reduction is very high.
Can independent contractor wages or employee dividends be used for the new CEWS?
No, unfortunately this was not changed in the new rules. Eligible remuneration still needs to be recorded on a T4.
I have multiple affiliated and/or amalgamated businesses or entities. Can I apply for the CEWS for each one?
The CEWS is being processed at the payroll program (RP) account level, but an exception is being made for certain affiliated businesses or entities. Some affiliated and/or amalgamated businesses or entities will be able to consolidate or unconsolidate their revenues.
Do I have to use the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers (TWSE) as well as the wage subsidy (CEWS)?
The CRA says businesses can choose to use the 10% TWSE or not. If they do choose to receive the TWSE, then they must declare it on their CEWS application.
If they do not choose to take advantage of it or are not eligible to the TWSE, then they can elect to input "0" in the area where it needs to be declared in the CEWS application.
All businesses eligible for the TWSE will have to fill out a PD27 form for their T4Summaries to be processed.
My business is new. Is there a prior referencing period alternative to Jan/Feb that I can use for the CEWS?
No, unfortunately there are no alternative prior referencing periods alternative to Jan/Feb.
If a corporation who is an eligible employer amalgamates or winds-up after March 15, can its successor claim or continue to claim CEWS on its behalf?
In the new rules a business is allowed to elect to amalgamate with a predecessor as long as the main purpose of the amalgamation was not to cause the new corporation to qualify for the CEWS or increase their amount of the CEWS. These new rules will backdate to April 11, 2020 and allow a business to use their amalgamated corporation to calculate a benchmark revenue for the revenue decline test.
Do I have to pay the portion of the salary not covered by the CEWS?
For Periods 1-10, all employers would be expected to at least make and provide proof of their best efforts to top up salaries to 100%. While topping up an employee’s salary is not a requirement for the CEWS, the business should take Provincial Employment Standards and common law practices into consideration before reducing their employees’ wages. Your province may see a reduction of wage as a constructive dismissal if not managed properly.
What if I am not eligible for the wage subsidy (CEWS)?
- Use the 10% wage subsidy. Using the 10% wage subsidy will reduce the amount you will be able to receive from the wage subsidy.
- Try applying for the wage subsidy anyways. This is no promise that you will receive the wage, but exceptions may be made if proper evidence is demonstrated. When the portal is available, be ready by having:
- Your financial books/ledgers/journals up to date
- Proof based on your finances to show that your business did have a decrease in cashflow/revenue/gross revenue
- Determine your payroll (i.e. this could be by requesting your T4Sum from CRA)
- Appeal the decision by filing an objection after having received your notice of determination
How does the new CEWS affect employees at arms length?
The definition for arm's length can be found on CRA's website.
Simply put, a person at arm's length does not have a blood, trust or controlling relationship with the business entity. Persons not at arm's length can be more simply viewed as family, significant others, partnerships, or businesses where one partner has controlling interest/voting shares.
For example, an owner's daughter works for a business. She would be a "related person" not at arm's length. Whether the daughter's salary could be subsidized would depend on how her pay and decision making is structured within the business.
- Arm's length - Should the daughter be paid a salary reflected on a T4 and T4Sum, the business entity could subsidize her wage like other employees
- Not arm's length - Should the daughter not be considered an employee under CRA employer/employee rules, the business entity would not be able to subsidize her wage
- Should the daughter be hired after March 15th and given a salary that can be reflected on a T4 and T4Sum her wage would not be eligible for the subsidy. This would seem like the controlling partnership/family is creating a wage to subsidize.
I made a mistake in my application. Can I fix or amend it?
Changes to previous wage subsidy claims can be made either though My Business Account or Represent a Client. If you applied using the web form application, you will need to call the CRA’s Business Enquiries Line at 1-800-959-5525.
The deadline to make adjustments, or to increase the amount of your claim is 180 days after the end of the claim period. After the deadline you will be able to cancel or reduce the amount of your claim by calling the CRA’s Business Enquiries Line at 1-800-959-5525.
What are the 125.7 CEWS Program Rules Elections?
These elections are CRA’s way of confirming if you are calculating your CEWS revenues differently from the revenues that you regularly submit to CRA.
If in your CEWS application, you chose to change your revenues in one (or more) of the below ways please ensure to check “Yes.” correctly in your CEWS elections. If you have not made any changes to your revenue, then please select no in your CEWS elections.
|a joint election, along with each other member of the group that prepares consolidated financial statements, under paragraph 125.7(4)(a) of the Income Tax Act (revenue determined on a non-consolidated basis for members of the employer's group)||Did you combine/separate your financial statements with other entities?|
|a joint election, along with each other member of the affiliated group, under paragraph 125.7(4)(b) of the Income Tax Act (revenue determined on a consolidated basis for the employer's group)|
|an election under paragraph 125.7(4)(c) of the Income Tax Act (joint venture election)||Is the entity a joint venture (by 2+ parties) and has its own revenues that are being used separately from the other parties?|
|a joint election, along with each person or partnership with which the employer does not deal at arm's length and from whom the employer earns all or substantially all of its qualifying revenue under paragraph 125.7(4)(d) of the Income Tax Act (non-arm's length revenue)||Is the revenue received in majority (CRA says 90%), from a non-arm’s length source?|
|an election under paragraph 125.7(4)(e) (i) of the Income Tax Act (cash method)
an election under paragraph 125.7(4)(e) (ii) of the Income Tax Act (accrual method) NEW
|Did you switch your accounting method?
|an election under subparagraph (b)(ii) of the definition "prior reference period" in subsection 125.7(1) of the Income Tax Act (prior reference period election)||Did you use the alternative approach (avg of Jan/Feb)?|
|an election under subparagraph (a)(ii) or (b)(ii) of the definition "qualifying revenue" in subsection 125.7(1) of the Income Tax Act (election by registered charity or not-for-profit to exclude government funding)||Are you a registered charity or non-for profit who decided to exclude government funding?|
|an election under paragraph 125.7 (1)(b) of the definition “baseline remuneration” of the Income Tax Act (baseline remuneration period election) NEW||Did you use a new baseline remuneration periods?
|A joint election between eligible entity and the seller of an asset, an election under paragraph 125.7 (4.1) (e) of the Income Tax Act (Asset sales). NEW - accountant recommended.||If you acquired a business or part of a business during the qualifying period (or before that) and it was:
You can use the sellers revenue attributable to the purchased assets in calculating your CERS revenue Drop.
What is CFIB advocating for on CEWS?
What we have achieved:
What we're pushing for:
- Simplify the wage subsidy and ensure business owners and their family members working in the business can have some of their dividend income covered.
- Include new firms and those who got a CRA Business Number after March 15th.
CFIB members get one-on-one advice from our business counsellors, exclusive access to helpful webinars, weekly email updates, and a voice in the support measures we push for from the government.
CFIB members: Get in touch today.
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