CEWS program seeks feedback - Retail Council of Canada
Advocacy | Coronavirus | Finance & Taxation

CEWS program seeks feedback

May 28, 2020

In addition to extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) by an additional 12 weeks, the Government launched a consultation process to seek information and feedback from businesses of all sizes on how the CEWS program can be adapted to save as many Canadian jobs as possible. All adjustments to the program, including the 30% revenue reduction threshold, are aimed to maximize employment, ensure the CEWS reflects the immediate needs of your business, and support the post-crisis economic recovery. All retailers are encouraged to participate in this consultation:

The consultations will close on June 5, 2020.

RCC perspective on CEWS consultation

The federal government has issued a consultation document on the next phase of CEWS (the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), to help refine the program post-June 6, 2020 on through to August 29, 2020 and potentially longer. The phrasing of the consultation is a bit awkward but it is important to provide retailers’ input.

In essence, the government is trying to evolve the program to one more appropriate to a recovery period. This will likely mean getting rid of the hard line that currently exists at the 30% revenue reduction threshold and to build a ramp back toward higher revenue levels that would still provide a wage subsidy (though probably at reduced levels the closer one gets to full recovery).

Other issues that the federal government is trying to determine include:

  • The duration of the program and whether that will vary by the situation of particular businesses?
  • Should this continue to be measured in one-month blocks or be more related to overall revenue loss?
  • Should there be several different levels of support (i.e., tranches) or could they make it into a smooth ramp with diminishing support the closer one’s revenue climbs toward pre-COVID-19 levels?
  • Would the two successive months deeming rule apply in the context of a ramp?

This is an important exercise, in which RCC is engaged with Finance officials and other policymakers and in principle we support a ramp approach in preference to a hard line at >30% revenue loss but it will be very useful to have a broad member perspective on these issues.