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Some business owners’ wages may be covered by COVID-19 subsidy program, CFIB says

Click to play video 'Canadian businesses can start applying on Monday for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy' Canadian businesses can start applying on Monday for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is meant to help companies pay up to 75% of employee wages for several months. But as Aaron McArthur reports, not all businesses will qualify. – Apr 26, 2020

As the federal government begins accepting applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to soften the economic blow of the COVID-19 outbreak, many business owners wonder if their own wages are covered.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that is the top question raised on its toll-free help line, which has been getting about 800 calls per day on average.

READ MORE: Almost 10K businesses apply for wage subsidy as applications open

The CFIB says individual employers are among the people who may be eligible for the CEWS that began taking applications Monday but they must have been paid as an employee of a corporation prior to March 15.

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In that case, the business would be able to qualify for a government subsidy of 75 per cent of the owner’s salary, if it also meets the program’s other criteria.

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Click to play video 'Applications now open for Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program' Applications now open for Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program
Applications now open for Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program – Apr 27, 2020

But the CFIB says business owners who pay themselves in dividends wouldn’t be included in the wage subsidy program, and won’t be eligible if they changed the legal structure of the business since March 15.

The national lobby group says it has been working with Canada Revenue Agency to get more answers and will provide advice to all business owners, regardless of whether they are able to pay for a CFIB membership.