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COVID-19 Update - Government Assistance

New information and applications have recently been released by the federal and provinical governments.

Federal Programs


The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) online application process opened April 27, 2020.

There are three ways to apply:

  1. You can apply through the company’s “My Business Account”

  2. Fort Group can apply for you if we are authorized through “Represent a Client” (please contact your partner’s assistant if you wish to know if Fort Group is authorized on your account.)

  3. If items 1 and 2 are not applicable, you may use this link to access “Web Forms” to receive a web access code and apply online:

Should you wish Fort Group to prepare the calculation and apply for the 75% wage subsidy on your behalf, please contact us and we would be happy to assist. CRA requires you to sign a one page “Attestation” document stating that the information provided in the submission is accurate. We will provide that document to you and upon receipt of a signed copy we will commence the application for you.

If you plan on performing the calculation of the CEWS the Government of Canada has developed a website for CEWS which includes a template for calculating the subsidy.

The website gives you information about the subsidy, how to apply and how to calculate the subsidy. Please note that you will need to calculate the subsidy before proceeding to apply for it online as certain information fields on the online application come directly from the subsidy calculation spreadsheet.

We also wish to point out that the Government has released four versions of the wage subsidy calculation template since April 23, 2020, so make sure you are working with the most current version (which is Version 4 currently on the Government website). Please also continue to monitor the website as additional versions may be released.

Another very important point to note is that you must deduct the 10% wage subsidy from the 75% wage subsidy even if you did not calculate and use the 10% wage subsidy program. Therefore, if you have not yet calculated and used the 10% wage subsidy, you should ensure to do so on your next payroll remittance.

The Government of Canada has released information on how to calculate your revenue for purposes of determining if your business is eligible for CEWS. Specific guidance for profit oriented, non-for-profit organizations, charities and companies that have revenue from non-arm’s length sources was provided. If you have any questions relating to how to calculate your revenue, please contact Fort Group to have a further discussion.


On April 24, 2020, the Government of Canada announced additional details about the proposed Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. The CECRA is expected to provide financial support to commercial property owners that temporarily reduce monthly rent by 75% for affected small business tenants.


Under the CECRA, commercial property owners may apply for a forgivable loan equal to 50% of rent due for April, May, and June 2020 by eligible small business tenants experiencing financial hardship.

The loan would be forgiven if the commercial property owner agrees, under a rent forgiveness agreement, to reduce the eligible small business tenant’s rent by at least 75% for the months of April, May, and June 2020. The commercial property owner must also pledge not to evict the tenant while the rent forgiveness agreement is in place.


The CECRA is expected to be available in respect of tenants:

  • Paying less than $50,000 per month in rent;

  • Who have temporarily ceased operations, or have experienced a 70% drop in revenue, due to COVID-19; and

  • Who are, or will be, able to pay up to 25% of rent due for April, May, and June 2020.

The program is available for small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and charities.


CECRA applications are not expected to be available until mid-May 2020. The Government of Canada is asking commercial property owners to be flexible with tenants in the meantime.

We expect the Government of Canada to release draft legislation with more details, and for that legislation to be debated in Parliament in an emergency session. We will advise once these details are released.


For post-secondary students and recent graduates who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or for Employment Insurance, but who are unable to find full-time employment, are unable to work due to COVID-19, or are earning less than $1,000.00 per month the government proposes to introduce the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The CESB would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August 2020, and $1,750 for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities.

This new grant would provide income support to post-secondary students who will experience financial hardship over the summer due to COVID-19. The CESB will be delivered by CRA and more details will be communicated.


To encourage students to participate in the COVID-19 response, the government will launch a new national service initiative to recognize students' significant contributions to the COVID-19 efforts, and provide support through a new Canada Student Service Grant which will provide up to $5,000 to support student's post-secondary education costs in the fall.

More details will be made available on the “I Want to Help” platform over the coming weeks, including more detailed information about eligibility, the levels of funding available under the grant, how to apply for a national service position, and how applications will be assessed.

Provincial Programs


The Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP) is available to any business in Manitoba that have fallen into a gap in failing to qualify for the various federal government assistance programs and wage subsidies created because of COVID-19.

The province will advance each eligible business a non-interest bearing, forgivable MGPP loan of $6,000, for a total of up to $120 million. The loan will be forgiven on December 31, 2020, if the recipient attests at that time the business has not received any major non-repayable COVID-19 federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account, as well as sector-specific grant federal programs specifically developed in response to the pandemic. If the applicant has received benefits under a federal COVID program, then the loan will be added to the recipient’s 2020 tax bill.

To be eligible for the MGPP funding, a business must:

  • have been operational on March 20, 2020, the date the Manitoba government declared a province wide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act because of COVID-19;

  • have temporarily ceased or curtailed operations as a result of a COVID-19 public health order and have been harmed by the health order;

  • be registered and in good standing with the Manitoba Business and Corporate Registry;

  • have not qualified for federal government COVID-19 grant support; and

  • have an email address and a bank account.

Specific details on how to access the MGPP program have not yet been released at the time of writing this update.

For more information contact the Manitoba Government Inquiry Telephone Line: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.


The Summer Student Recovery Plan is a new wage subsidy program to support high school and post-secondary students employed in the private and non-profit sectors.

Under the new program, up to $120 million is available for employers to access a $7 per hour wage subsidy, up to a maximum of $5,000 per student. The program is open to Manitoba students aged 15 to 29, with an employment period from May 1 to Sept. 4. Employers can be subsidized to hire up to five students. Reimbursement will be provided at the end of the employment period, upon proof of payment of student wages.

Employers must place students in jobs that can be accommodated under current public health orders and be able to adapt to recommendations provided by public health officials over the summer.

For the first two weeks of the program, priority will be given to employers who do not qualify for the various federal government assistance programs.

For more info on the programs, including how employers can apply for the wage subsidy, visit

Please contact your team at Fort Group to discuss any of these benefits further - our current office hours are Monday - Friday - 9 am to 5 pm.

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