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Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy portal ‘now open,’ Vaughan MP reminds residents

If your business is impacted by COVID-19, check to see if you qualify to apply
April 30, 2020
Dina Al-Shibeeb

Francesco Sorbara, Liberal MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge reminded people on Monday, April 27 that the “Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy portal is now open.”

Sorbara, who is also parliamentary secretary to the minister of national revenue, has previously urged his constituents to reach out to him as Canada rolls out its subsidies to affected businesses and people who have lost their jobs.

“Our #Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy portal is now open to accepting applications for all Canadian businesses impacted by #COVID19,” he tweeted.

Canadian employers whose business have been affected by COVID-19, may be eligible for a subsidy of 75 per cent of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

This wage subsidy will enable the employers to rehire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, help prevent further job losses, and better position you to resume normal operations following the crisis.

However, there are still companies out there that don’t qualify, one small business owner argues.

Yehuda Goldberg, owner of the Brothers Butcher Shoppe in Vaughan, who has previously said that he doesn’t qualify for any of the government relief programs, says these roll outs are mainly beneficial for big businesses and not for “small, niche” ones like his.

“There are so many caveats,” Goldberg said. “There are so many different stipulations.”

On top of that, it's hard to find a full-time butcher.

“I need a full-time butcher, but no one wants to work,” he said. Before COVID-19, Goldberg hired two full-time employees but they no longer want to work.

So far, he is hiring three part-time workers: two students and one retiree. He said some people aren’t willing to work full time, because they are receiving more monthly income through the government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if they work part time.

Before, he was paying $15 an hour to vacuum pack meat, but “I can’t afford paying $18 or $20,” he said, describing a whole new problem arising.

Through CERB, eligible workers who have lost their regular income due to COVID-19 receive a taxable benefit of $2,000 every four weeks, or $500 per week. This amounts to $14.29 per hour -- less than Goldberg is offering -- for a full-time employee working 35 hours each week.

But part-time workers who earn up to $1,000 per month are also allowed to collect CERB.

At $15 an hour, Goldberg's part-time employee can only work a maximum of 66 hours per month (roughly 16.5 hours each week) to qualify for the benefit. Should the employee work these hours and receive CERB, they stand to make about $2,990 every four weeks (or $747.50 per week). The combined income equates to $45.30 an hour for 16.5 hours of part-time work each week.

Without CERB, a full-time worker would have to be paid $21.36 per hour for 35 hours each week to earn the same weekly wage as a part-time employee receiving the benefit.