On July 17, 2020, the Canadian federal government announced proposed changes and amendments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) intended to make the program more accessible to employers who may not have been eligible for support under the program as it was initially designed, and to provide more specific support to employers as they return their workers to the workplace. Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, was introduced on July 20, 2020, which is intended to implement the government’s planned changes to the CEWS, and other supports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes to CEWS
As currently drafted, Bill C-20 would:
- Extend the CEWS until November 21, 2020, and provide the ability to further extend the CEWS to December 31, 2020 by regulation;
- Make the wage subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30%;
- Provide a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers by utilizing a revised calculation of the wage subsidy for the fifth and subsequent qualifying periods;
- Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic, by taking a wider view of an employer’s revenue reduction over a 6 month period of time;
- Address certain technical issues identified by stakeholders to help the CEWS run more efficiently.
Disability support payment
Bill C-20 will also make changes to various pieces of legislation, including the Pension Act, to authorize the disclosure of information for the purpose of the administration of a program to provide a one-time payment to persons with disabilities for reasons related to COVID-19. Similar changes will also be made to the Income Tax Act to facilitate this payment.
Extension of time limits
Bill C-20 also seeks to enact Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19), in order to address the need for flexibility in relation to certain time limits established by legislation that have been difficult or impossible to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This would suspend certain court proceeding time limitations by a maximum of 6 months, and would provide ministers with the temporary ability to suspend or extend certain time limits by a maximum of 6 months.
Bill C-20 is has been through its first reading in Parliament. We are carefully reviewing the details of the legislation, and will provide a more fulsome analysis of its terms in the coming days.
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