Government Assistance Programs for Business

The 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)


The updates include the following:

Extended until November 21, 2020. Eligible employers who had any drop in revenue can now qualify for the wage subsidy, starting with claim periods that began July 5.

Expanded Eligibility

A wider range of employers can now qualify including:

  • Sole proprietorships and taxable corporations
  • Certain Indigenous government-owned corporations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Partnerships consisting of 50% or more eligible employers
  • Registered charities

Accessible Base Subsidy: 

All eligible employers who’ve experienced a revenue drop can now qualify for a base subsidy. Your subsidy amount is based on your revenue drop.

Top-up Subsidy

Employers who are especially hard-hit can qualify for a top-up of up to 25%.


You can calculate your revenue drop in different ways, and choose the way that works best for your situation.


To provide certainty as you make business decisions, you can calculate your base subsidy using your revenue drop in the current period or the previous period – whichever is greater. Also, if your revenue drop is 30% or more in Periods 5 and 6 (July – August) you are entitled to a CEWS rate of at least 75% – what you’d get under the previous CEWS rules – or potentially even more if you qualify for a higher rate under the new rules.

As a Canadian employer whose business has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to August 29, 2020. This wage subsidy will enable you to re-hire 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.

What’s the CEWS?
The CEWS will provide a subsidy to “enable employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and to keep those who are already on the payroll.” The benefit is equal to 75% of “eligible remuneration” paid by “eligible employers” for up to three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

What is an eligible employer?
Eligible employers include individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships whose partners are eligible employers, non‑profit organizations, and registered charities. Employers would have to attest that their monthly revenues have dropped by at least 15% in the month of March 2o20, and a revenue decrease of at least 30% in the months of April or May 2020, compared to the same month(s) in 2019, or the average of January and February of 2020. If a business qualifies for the month of March (15% decrease) then they will automatically qualify for the month of April, regardless of their revenue decrease. They will, however, have to demonstrate a decrease of 30% or more to qualify for the month of May.

Please note that public bodies, such as municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals, don’t qualify.

How do you measure a revenue decrease?
To qualify for one of the three eligible periods, revenues must have decreased by 15% or more in March and 30% or more during the months of April and May. If you qualify/claim the CEWS for the month of March (having at least a 15% decline in revenues) you will automatically qualify for the subsidy in April, regardless if you have a decrease of 30% or more in revenues. You will, however, have to have at least a 30% decline in revenues for the month of May to qualify for that period.

The first eligible period is for remuneration paid from March 15 to April 11 and the relative reference period is revenues from March 2020 over March 2019 or the average revenues from January and February 2020. The second period is for remuneration paid from April 12 to May 9, with a measurement period for revenue of April 2020 over April 2019 or the average revenues from January and February 2020. The final period for remuneration runs from May 10 through June 6, with the third revenue measurement period being May 2020 over May 2019 or the average revenues from January and February 2020. It is important to note that the comparison method you choose to use for the first period in which you apply must be followed for all subsequent periods, so you must decide if you are going to use the month to month comparison or the month to an average of Jan/Feb 2020 comparison to calcite your revenue loss.

The revenue used to determine if there has been a decrease of 30% or more (15% or more in the month of March) includes amounts from business carried on in Canada that are earned from arm’s-length sources; extraordinary items and revenue arising from the sale of capital assets are excluded. Revenue would be calculated using the employer’s normal accounting method.

For non-profits and charities, the government said it would continue to consult with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their specific circumstances.

Before you apply, you must calculate your subsidy amount first using this calculator.

What is eligible remuneration?
Eligible remuneration includes salary, wages, and other remuneration but does not include items such as severance pay, employee stock option benefits or the personal use of an employer’s vehicle.

How much is the subsidy worth?
The subsidy is generally equal to 75% of the amount of eligible remuneration actually paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; however, employers may be entitled to a subsidy of up to 75% of pre-crisis wages of existing employees (if, for example, wages or hours have been reduced), up to the actual amount paid, with the same maximum of $847 per week for each employee. Employers may also claim the CEWS for eligible remuneration paid to new employees. Employers can retroactively pay their employees back to March 15 and claim the subsidy, but if the employee claimed and received EI or CERB benefits during the time they will be retroactively paid for, they will be required to pay the government back the money from the benefit they received.

Is the benefit taxable?
The CEWS is considered government assistance and will be included in the employer’s income and taxed in the year it’s received.

How do you apply?
Eligible employers will be able to apply for the CEWS through the CRA’s My Business Account portal, the Represent a Client Portal, as well as a web-based application. Employers must keep records demonstrating their reduction in revenues and remuneration paid to employees.

The government warned employers that if they don’t meet the eligibility requirements of the CEWS or fail to pay their employees accordingly, the employer would be required to repay amounts received under the CEWS. In addition, penalties may apply in cases of fraudulent claims and anti-abuse rules will be introduced to ensure that the CEWS is not inappropriately obtained. The penalties would apply to individuals, employers or business administrators who provide “false or misleading information to obtain access to this benefit or who misuse any funds obtained under the program.” The penalties could include fines or possible imprisonment.

Interaction with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit
An employer would not be eligible to claim the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for remuneration paid to an employee in a week that falls within a 4-week period for which the employee is eligible for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

Employers who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would still be able to furlough employees who will receive up to $2,000 a month.

Government Assistance

The usual treatment of tax credits and other benefits provided by the government would apply. As a consequence, the wage subsidy received by an employer would be considered government assistance and be included in the employer’s taxable income.

Assistance received under either wage subsidy would reduce the amount of remuneration expenses eligible for other federal tax credits calculated on the same remuneration.

10% Wage Subsidy

What about the Temporary Wage Subsidy (10%)?
This program remains unchanged. Under the TWS, an “eligible employer” can claim an amount equal to 10% of the remuneration paid between March 18, 2020 and June 19, 2020. If no remuneration was paid to employees during this period, then no subsidy is available. The maximum amount of the subsidy is $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. There is no required drop in revenues needed to qualify for the TWS.

Eligible employers that qualify for the TWS include individuals (sole-proprietors), certain partnerships, non-profit organizations, charities and certain Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs). A CCPC is essentially a private corporation whose shares are not listed on a stock exchange, and that is owned and controlled by Canadian residents. Large CCPCs that have taxable capital of more than $15 million among their associated corporations in the previous year won’t qualify for the TWS.

Employers are only eligible if they had a payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020.

The TWS is calculated manually and the employer can choose to reduce its payroll income tax remittances to the CRA by the amount of the TWS. Although the TWS is based on remuneration paid to employees between March 18 and June 19, there is no deadline for claiming the TWS (through reduced income-tax remittances.) In other words, if the amount of the TWS exceeds the income tax that the employer would normally have to remit up to June 19, 2020, the employer can continue to reduce subsequent income tax remittances to claim remaining TWS after this date.

Just like the CEWS, the TWS is taxable and will be included in the employer’s income and taxed in the year it is received.

Can you claim both the 75% CEWS and 10% TWS?
Sort of. Some employers will be eligible for both the 75% CEWS and the 10% TWS. The government has stated that any benefit from the TWS paid in a specific period will reduce the amount available to be claimed under the 75% CEWS for that same period.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

**UPDATED** Eligibility Requirements as of June 26:

Businesses eligible for CEBA now include:

  • Owner-operated small businesses that do not have a payroll
  • Sole proprietors receiving business income directly
  • Family-owned corporations renumerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll
  • Must be able to demonstrate having eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1,500,000 in 2020

The Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced.

The Canada Emergency Business Account is an interest-free loan of $40,000 for qualifying businesses. Up to $10,000 of that amount will be eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022.

To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019.

For applicants who paid $20,000 or less in total payroll in 2019, the applicant must have a Canadian Revenue Agency business number and filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.

Once applications are open, your application will be reviewed for eligibility, and submitted to the Federal Government for funding. This entire process will take up to seven business days from the date of your submission. Upon approval, you’ll receive a confirmation email from your bank where the application was submitted, and the total loan will be deposited into your existing Business Operating Account.

The $40,000 loan is interest-free. A quarter of the loan (up to $10,000) is eligible for complete forgiveness if (up to) $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. If the loan cannot be repaid by December 31, 2022, it can be converted into a 3-year term loan charging an interest rate of 5%.

The loan is interest-free until December 31, 2022. Furthermore, no principal repayments are required during this period (unless you are seeking to repay 75% to qualify for the 25% forgiveness feature).

If you choose to extend the loan beyond this date, the interest of 5% applies during the extension period. We will provide you with more information on interest payments during the extension period once the program is in place. While no principal repayments are required until December 31, 2025, it is always good practice to make steady instalment payments to match the incoming cash flows from your business operations.


Application Requirements:

  • 2019 Business T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid Slip
  • Canada Revenue Agency Business Number (BN) (15 characters) as reported under the field of “Employer’s account number”

Here are some quick links for applications with participating banks. Please select the bank in which your business already banks with:

🏦 TD:
🏦 RBC:
🏦 BMO:
🏦 Scotiabank:
🏦 NBC:
🏦 Credit Union (local):

Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF)

**Applications Now Closed**

The RRRF provides small to medium-sized businesses and organizations owners who have been impacted by COVID-19 with a repayable loan. 

The RRRF provides funding to support businesses or organizations that have either: 

  • Applied for other federal relief measures and have not been able to secure funds; or
  • Accessed COVID-19 relief measures and continue to experience hardship.
  • Businesses in sectors that are critical to the resilience and survival of Atlantic Canada’s economy, such as advanced manufacturing, ocean industries, clean growth technology, and tourism, may be given priority.

General Details:

  • Maximum loan of $40,000.
  • 0% interest until December 31, 2022.
  • No principal payments until December 31, 2022.
  • Principal repayments can be voluntarily made at any time without penalty.
  • 25% up to a maximum of $10,000 in loan forgiveness is available, provided the outstanding balance is paid back by December 31, 2022.
  • If any part of the balance is not paid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a term loan effective January 1, 2023.
  • The full balance must be repaid no later than December 31, 2025. 


  • Small and medium enterprises are defined as having less than 500 employees and annual sales revenue of less than $20 million, and produce goods and services for the market economy, regardless of their business structure (e.g. sole proprietorships, social enterprises, cooperatives, etc.).
  • The applicant has attempted to access other relief federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and was ineligible or rejected.
  • The business or organization must have been viable as of March 1, 2020. 
  • The Borrower had a payroll below $1.5 million in its 2019 fiscal year.
  • Established before March 1, 2020.
  • Must have been adversely impacted because of the COVID-19.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The LEEFF provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.

This fund allows Canada’s largest businesses, their employees, and their suppliers to remain active and position them for a rapid economic recovery.

Businesses must fillout an online enquiry form before applying. The form can be found by clicking here.

Click here for the LEEFF fact sheet.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

The CECRA provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

The fund offers unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners that allows them to:

  • Reduce the rent owned by their impacted small business tenants.
  • Meet operating expenses on commercial properties.

Businesses who participated in the original provincial rent deferral program, please see below on how you can combine the provincial rent deferral program and the federal programs: 

  • Deferred rent is eligible for CECRA payment.
  • This will reduce the deferred rent to 25% of what would otherwise be due with this 25% amount to be amortized over the remaining term of the Lease (a 75% reduction) where a rent deferral is in place. 
  • The landlord, through their bank, receives 50% of the rent upfront to be applied to mortgage payments or other landlord costs. 

The two programs work together and allow for lower payments immediately. 

If the tenant chose not to pursue a rent deferral or could not get agreement from their landlord on deferral, CECRA is still beneficial to tenants and landlords without a deferral. It is beneficial because it allows you to pay only 25% of your rent for April, May and June and has the federal government and the province paying 50% of your rent, while the landlord forgoes about 25% of your rent. It does require the landlords’ agreement to forgo this rent.

The deadline to apply is September 30, 2020. 

Small Business Loan Guarantee Program

Changes to the Province of Nova Scotia’s Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

The BCAP will support access to financing for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions.

Through this program, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will provide $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support at market rates to businesses with viable business models whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted. By working in close cooperation with financial institutions, this program will fill gaps in market access and leverage additional lending by private sector institutions

Businesses seeking support through BCAP should contact the financial institutions with whom they have a pre-existing relationship, so that the financial institutions may assess the client’s financial request. If the needs of the client exceed the level of support the financial institution is able to provide, the financial institution will work alongside BDC or EDC to access additional resources the Government has made available under BCAP.

For Existing BDC Clients 

    • May be eligible for a 6-month principal postponement of all existing debts as well as a working capital supplement
    • The working capital is a short term back end loaded loan with principal deferment for the first 12 months 
    • The amount of this financing provided is based on a detailed projection or forecast identifying the “carrying costs” or “burn rate” of the business operation for the upcoming 12-24 months.

 For New BDC Clients 

New clients are also eligible for the working capital supplement under the same terms and conditions stated above with additional information required about the business, which would include, but are not limited to the most recent three years of year-end financial statements, interim financial statements, and projections and/or cash flow forecasts to determine eligible amounts.

*Please note, standard credit criteria applies. Businesses must be financially viable prior to the pandemic to qualify. 

For loans under $100,000, you can apply online now. For loans over $100,000, please contact our local BDC branch.

BDC Webinar for business, available here

Productivity Innovation Voucher Program 

NSBI is taking applications for the Productivity Innovation Program. The program helps small and medium sized companies access direct assistance to help make their business more productive and innovative.

The program helps businesses find expertise within post-secondary institutions to:

  • Improve productivity
  • Develop a new product, service, or process; and
  • Create growth

Deferred Business Taxes

  • The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 15 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post-assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
  • The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
  • The Federal government announced GST and HST taxes and duties on imports deferred will be deferred until June.

Commercial Rent Deferral Program

To support small and medium-sized businesses, landlords are encouraged to defer rent payments from their commercial tenants for 3 months, spreading the deferred rent amount over the rest of the lease term.

If you’re deferring rent because your tenant’s business is closed due to the Health Protection Act order, you could be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent.

To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program, Rental deferral agreements must be in place by April 1 and you must register your intent with the Department of Business by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3, by emailing: [email protected] the following:

  • landlord’s legal name
  • for each deferral agreement:
    • business’s legal name
    • business’s address
    • total dollar amount of rent being deferred for the period of 1 April to 30 June 2020

By April 30, 2020, the landlord must submit an application to the Province of Nova Scotia’s Department of Business which will include an application form and a copy of the deferral agreement. Each landlord will be contacted directly by the Department.

We continue to ask landlords and retail and commercial tenants to work together to find a solution that works for both sides.

For more information read the COVID-19 Rent Deferral Support Program guidelines (PDF 188 kB).

You can use one of these forms to document the deferral agreement with your tenant.

Additional Provincial Supports for Small Businesses

The provincial government has announced several initiatives to address cash flow and access to credit for small and medium sized businesses in Nova Scotia:

  • Payment deferrals until June 30 on all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
  • Fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums, will be deferred.  A list of applicable fees will be posted online.
  • Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through 15 provincial Credit Unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30.
  • All Registry of Joint Stock Company (RJSC) renewals due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020.  Name reservations, sole proprietorship and partnership registrations and annual renewals can be completed online at Counter service is not available at this time.  Drop boxes are in place at Access Nova Scotia Centre locations in Sydney to receive RJSC deliveries and will be delivered to the Maritime Centre for processing. During this period, scanned copies of originally signed documents or digitally signed documents where the digital signature information is clearly readable when the document is printed, will be accepted.  These scanned or digitally signed documents may be submitted via email to [email protected] The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has issued updated information concerning the client identification rules, as well as taking affidavits and oaths with non-face-to-face means that you will have to consider.  That information can be found at

Employer Assessment Tool

The Employer Assessment tool has proved to be a popular resource for businesses looking to find out if they are complying with the Public Health order. Since it was posted online on March 30, it has been visited 8,316 times, with 7,116, or 86.73% of respondents completing the assessment.

Respondents included 2,618 businesses exempt from the Public Health order, 2,491 businesses who are permitted to operate if they are able to practice the social distancing measures, 769 employers who chose “other”, 390 from the food service industry, 279 from regulated health professions, 202 from unregulated health professions.

Employer Assessment Tool is located here: