Government Support

The federal and provincial governments are working on financial programs to help businesses manage at this time. This information is intended for informational purposes only. Businesses should consult their accountant, financial advisor, or government authorities before applying or making decisions about how they should use this information.

We will update this list as more information comes available.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

July 17, 2020 Update: The government has proposed that the CEWS Program be extended until December 19, 2020, and be accessible to a wider range of employers:

  • For corporations that have amalgamated and for eligible businesses that use payroll service providers, the government is considering making changes to the way they calculate pre-COVID baseline remuneration. We will update this page as more information is released.
  • Applications for period 5 (July 5-August 1) are set to open on August 17.
  • The deadline to file an application for CEWS for any qualifying period has been extended to January 31, 2021.
  • Effective July 5, 2020, the eligibility criteria no longer excludes employees who are without remuneration for 14 or more consecutive days in an eligibility period.
  • Effective July 5, 2020 CEWS is comprised of a base subsidy + top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers with a 3-month average revenue drop of 50% or higher. This enhances the wage subsidy for employers with a 70% or higher decline in qualifying revenue with a subsidy of up to 85% of eligible remuneration to a maximum weekly benefit of $960 per employee for July 5 – August 29. See this table from the Government of Canada for details:

May 15, 2020 Update: The CEWS Program has been extended until August 29, 2020.

Eligibility criteria has also been expanded to include limited partnership ownership structures. This includes partnerships that are up to 50% owned by non-eligible hotels and partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments. The government has also signaled their intention to include seasonal and temporary foreign workers in CEWS. Assuming that hotels can take advantage of the summer season and seasonal workers are indeed required, it appears as they would now be covered under the program as well.

  • A wage subsidy is available to existing, new, and non-arm’s length employees in order for companies to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis.
  • Businesses that have seen a 15-30% reduction in revenues could be eligible to claim this subsidy is up to a maximum of 75% of wages paid, to a maximum of $847 per week. We encourage you to follow the link below to familiarize yourself with the criteria to qualify and limits on the subsidy.
  • For Employers: Employer-Paid Contributions
    • Employers can apply to receive a refund for 100% of the employer-paid contributions at the same time they apply for CEWS.
    • Only employees that are on leave with pay (furloughed employees) will qualify for a refund on 100% of the employer-paid contributions (EI & CPP).
  • For Hotel Owners:
    • Hotel owners can apply and measure revenues on a consolidated group basis or each entity can apply individually while measuring revenues at the entity level. Hotel companies may choose their preferred application method (group or individual).
    • Hotel owners can receive the wage subsidy if they are drawing a salary from company profits. (In the case of a family-run business, family members can still receive the subsidy if they are paid a salary, not dividends.)
    • Hotel owners cannot receive the subsidy if they are paid dividends.
    • Hotel owners based outside of Canada will qualify for CEWS (including the United States and Europe), as long as the company can demonstrate a 15%-30% drop in revenue and have employees based in Canada.
  • Eligibility Period:
    • If a hotel’s CEWS application is approved for the first month/eligibility period, hotel businesses will be automatically eligible for the second month/eligibility period.
    • Hoteliers will need to re-apply for the third month/eligibility period and demonstrate the 30% drop in revenue.
    • Program will be in place March 15-June 6, 2020 for wages paid during that period.
  • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees (not accrued or future wages). All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
  • Applications will be made through CRA’s My Business Account portal. If you already have an online account set up for GST, payroll, and corporate taxes, you would be able to access the portal through that account.
  • In order to avoid duplication of funding, the government is now considering a new process requiring employees who have received CERB payments that overlap with CEWS payments to cancel their claim and pay back the CERB for the period of overlap. This can mitigate the issue of employer liability, as it is indicated that the employee is both responsible for notifying CRA by cancelling their claim, as well as restitution for payments that have been received in those overlapped periods. Details will be forthcoming.

How to Prepare for Your CEWS Application

Step 1: Determine your eligibility for CEWS

  • All hotels that have experienced a decline of at least 15% of their revenue in March 2020 and 30% or more for subsequent months are eligible for this program.
  • Decrease in revenue can be calculated in two ways:
    • By comparing gross revenues from a specific month in 2020 against the gross revenues of the same month in 2019. For example, if March 2020 revenues were down 15% compared to March 2019, the employer may claim the CEWS.
    • By comparing revenues in March, April, and May 2020 to an average of revenues in January and February 2020, rather than last year. This will help new or growing hotel properties that may not have qualified based on a comparison to 2019 revenues.
  • If you determine that you qualify for the CEWS for one claim period, you will automatically qualify for the following claim period.

Step 2: Determine your eligible employees

  • An eligible employee is an individual employed in Canada during the claim period, except if there was a period of 14 or more consecutive days in that period where they did not receive any pay by the employer.
  • Employees who have been laid off or furloughed can become eligible retroactively, as long as you rehire them and their retroactive pay and status meet the eligibility criteria for the claim period. You must rehire and pay such employees before you include them in your calculation for the subsidy.
  • When calculating the wage subsidy, you will need to determine an employee’s baseline remuneration. Baseline remuneration is the average weekly eligible remuneration paid to an employee during the period of January 1, 2020, to March 15, 2020. However, you may exclude from your calculation any period of seven or more consecutive days for which the employee was not paid.

Step 3: Use CRA calculator to estimate the total amount you will receive 

  • When you apply for the Canada Employment Wage Subsidy (CEWS), you will be asked to enter amounts such as the number of eligible employees and gross payroll.
  • To get ready, you can determine these amounts and preview your subsidy claim now, based on information you enter. This CEWS calculator is a tool to help you estimate the amount of your wage subsidy.
  • Here is how to use the calculator:
  • Calculate the basic CEWS using the provided spreadsheet:
    • Input the amounts from the spreadsheet on this page as indicated.
    • Enter the refund of employer contributions for any employees on leave with pay.
    • Enter any amounts for employees receiving a Work-Sharing benefit through Employment Insurance.
    • Enter the amount you are eligible for under the 10% temporary wage subsidy program for this claim period.
    • Print and save the information to enter in your future CEWS application.
    • If after calculation, you expect a payment of $25 million or more, you will have to get your payment through the large value transfer system (LVTS). To do this, you must be enrolled in direct deposit on your payroll account and be registered for the LVTS. If you are not already set up for LVTS, begin the registration process.

Thank you to the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) for preparing this detailed guide.

Learn more: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Apply for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Work-Sharing (WS) Program

The WS Program is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers. This program can be very beneficial for employers.

The maximum duration of WS agreements have been extended from the current 38 weeks to 76 weeks, and the government has waived the mandatory waiting period between agreements.

Eligibility:

  • Employers must:
    • be experiencing a recent decline in business activity of at least 10%, for example when directly or indirectly related to the impact of COVID-19
    • demonstrate that the shortage of work is temporary, beyond your control and not a cyclical/recurring slowdown
    • be a year-round business in Canada for at least two years
    • be a private business, a publicly-held company, or a not-for-profit organization
    • have at least two employees in the WS unit
    • be willing to implement a recovery plan to support the ongoing operations and viability of the business, with the expectation that recovery may be achieved at the end of the work-sharing plan
  • Employees must:
    • be year-round core employees (part-time or full-time)
    • be eligible for EI
    • agree to a reduction in hours
    • agree to be part of the WS program
    • read the WS employer guide to ensure they can manage the program requirements

Items employers require for a WS application:

For more information, call 1-800-367-5693 or contact Michael Presniak, AHLA Membership & Operations Manager, at mpresniak@ahla.ca or 780.423.9239.

Learn more: Work-Sharing Program

Temporary Staff Layoffs

June 2020 Update: After ongoing dialogue with government over the past several weeks, the maximum length of temporary layoffs has been extended from 120 to 180 days. This is great news for hotels that cannot yet bring back all their staff, and were facing significant costs for termination pay.

May 2020 Update: The Government of Alberta has extended the eligibility of 120 day temporary layoffs to employees who were laid off prior to March 17 as a result of COVID-19. The start date of the layoff is still the original layoff date, and does not reset to March 17. Employers are encouraged to notify employees of the extended layoff time if it conflicts with their original temporary layoff notice.

Employers in Alberta’s hotel industry recognize that their employees are their greatest asset.  As a result of the rapidly evolving and cascading effects of COVID-19, hotels that employ hundreds of Albertans have been forced to reduce hours due to cancellations and lost business, with no indication of when this business will return.

  • If your hotel has difficulty maintaining hours for staff, you can arrange for your employee to use any accrued but unused vacation time prior to laying the employee off, although you are not required to.
  • Should you be forced to lay staff off, you are able to do so temporarily, according to the Government of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code.
  • The Government of Alberta has extended the eligibility of 120 day temporary layoffs to employees who were laid off prior to March 17 as a result of COVID-19. The start date of the layoff is still the original layoff date, and does not reset to March 17. Employers are encouraged to notify employees of the extended layoff time if it conflicts with their original temporary layoff notice.
  • The period of temporary layoff can be extended beyond 120 days if the employer makes regular payment to or on behalf of the employee, such as continuing to pay wages, employee pensions, or benefits, and the employee agrees to these payments in lieu of a firm limit of the length of the layoff. Termination pay is payable when payments in lieu cease.
  • The notice must:
    • be in writing,
    • state that it is a temporary layoff notice and its effective date, and
    • include sections 62-64 of the Code.
  • When an employee has been temporarily laid off from their position, the employment relationship remains intact. As the employment relationship has not been terminated, the vacation pay standards outlined in Part 2, Division 6 in the Employment Standards Code continue to apply. An employer is not required to provide payment of any accrued vacation pay at the time of temporary layoff.
  • If the employee does not use up their vacation prior to being laid off, and is not called back to work after the temporary layoff period, the employee’s employment is considered to be ended. All vacation pay, as well as the amount required for severance under Employment Standards, must be paid out to the employee. Please see sections 62-64 of the code for more details.
  • See a sample layoff letter that you can use (Word doc download)
Learn more: Government of Alberta website

Recalling Staff from a Temporary Layoff

Hotels that wish to recall employees who were laid off as a result of COVID-19 should know the rules. Before calling employees back to work, the AHLA encourages employers to:

  • Review & Revise Hazard Assessments: Review & revise all measures taken to ensure the safety of workers and guests, including barriers/shields, policies & personal protective equipment.
  • Update Training: Plan training on new and existing health & safety protocols for both new & returning employees.

When calling employees back:

  • Notify: As per Government of Alberta Employment Standards, employers must provide seven days’ notice IN WRITING. In case of a dispute, it is important that an employer can show the employee did, in fact, receive the notice. There are several ways to serve a recall notice to an employee:
    • give the notice to the employee in person, either at work or at the employee’s address
    • leave the notice at the employee’s address with a person who appears to be 18 or older
    • send the notice by mail or registered mail
    • send the notice by fax or email

If the employee does not return to work within seven days of being served the recall notice, the employer can terminate employment, and the employee will not be entitled to termination notice or termination pay. Click here for a sample recall letter you can use (pdf download).

  • Communicate: Review hazards and explain safety measures that have been put in place for the safety of employees and guests.

When the employee returns to the job site, before they start working:

  • Train: Complete training on new safety equipment & protocols.
  • Document: Document training.
  • Reassess as needed: Prepare each department to monitor for compliance and further hazard identification.

Employees have the right to refuse unsafe work.  If an employee has concerns about health & safety and refuses to work, the AHLA encourages you to:

  1. Ask the worker to explain why they feel unsafe, and what safety precautions they think are missing. Respond to their questions and document all concerns and conversations. Worker returns to work, or:
  2. Remedy the dangerous condition if there is one, and inspect in the presence of the Health & Safety Committee member who represents the worker or the Health & Safety Representative. Worker returns to work, or:
  3. Complete a Right to Refuse Unsafe Work form. The AHLA has a template you can adapt for your property (pdf download).
  4. If the employee still refuses to work, the employer should contact OHS to investigate and make a decision about whether the employee is entitled to continue refusing work.

OHS Contacts:

Anywhere in Alberta: 1-866-415-8690
Edmonton & surrounding area: 780-415-8690
Deaf or hearing impaired: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton); 1-800-232-7215 (Alberta)

For questions about Government of Alberta Employment Standards, you can fill out this form or call 1-877-427-3731.

Learn more: temporary layoffs (Government of Alberta)
Learn more: Occupational Health & Safety

Leaves & Benefits for Your Staff

  • Employees in Alberta are entitled to certain job-protected leaves. It is up to the discretion of employers to offer additional leave over and above the legislated requirements.
  • If an employee has been placed in quarantine for COVID-19 or is diagnosed with COVID-19, there is no obligation to continue an employee’s pay, unless a the employee has paid sick leave or any other workplace or collective agreement provision. However, the employee may be able to access short-term disability benefits, if available, or Employment Insurance.
  • An employee may be eligible for sickness benefits if they are ill from COVID-19 or has been quarantined by Public Health officials. On March 11, 2020, the Federal Government announced that it will waive the one (1) week waiting period for employees eligible for EI sickness benefits or quarantine.
  • An employer can implement a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUB Plan) to “top up” EI benefits if an employee is temporarily out of the workforce. Under a SUB Plan, an employer can top-up an employee’s EI benefits to a maximum of 95% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings. If the SUB Plan is implemented to “top up” regular benefits or sickness benefits, the SUB Plan must be registered with Service Canada.

Additional Staffing & Labour Resources

Resources for Canadian Businesses (Government of Canada)

Payroll & COVID-19 (The Canadian Payroll Association)

Employee Benefits

TotalGuard Employee Benefits

Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions is offering a premium reduction for dental and health coverage for TotalGuard members. WFG is also postponing the June 2020 renewal until further notice. Your premium will not change on June 1 and you will continue to be invoiced at your existing rates.

Learn more: WFG

A COVID-19 Policy for Your Property

A COVID-19 policy for your property should consider the following topics, at a minimum:

  • Communication:
    • How will the employer communicate with employees or other contractors?
    • Does the employer have the information and technology required for efficient communication (e.g., mass text)?
  • Reporting:
    • When must an employer report exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?
    • To whom must the employee report and how: HR, Public Health, etc. (See Protecting Guests & Staff for guidance about reporting)
  • Self-Quarantine
    • When, for how long, and to whom to report?
  • Working from Home:
    • Is this possible in certain positions? While front-line employees would not have this option, are there office roles that may have the ability to work from home?
    • If not, what if anything can be put into place to facilitate this? Can this be done proactively?
    • What are the expectations of an employee working from home?
    • If an employee cannot work from home, what is the impact on the employee’s status in the workplace?
  • Return to Work:
    • When and how?
    • Medical certification (will the employer pay for the certificate)?
  • Business Travel:
    • Reporting: when and to whom?
    • Will there be no obligation to travel for business?
    • What is “non-essential” travel?
  • Personal Travel:
    • Reporting: when and to whom?
    • Travel to “affected areas”
  • Guests:
  • Internal Reporting and No Reprisal:
    • Encourage internal reporting and reinforce that there will be no reprisal for doing so.

Information adapted from:

Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta’s Employer Fact Sheet and the Hotel Association of Canada’s COVID-19 FAQ document (March 13, 2020) prepared by Sherrard Kuzz LLP, Employment & Labour Lawyers. This information is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice, nor does accessing this information create a lawyer-client relationship. Information about the law is checked for legal accuracy as at the date the presentation/article is prepared, but may become outdated as laws or policies change.

Property Closures

In the unfortunate event that you decide to close your property, the AHLA has prepared a Sample Property Closure Checklist (Word doc file download) to assist you.

Please contact Tracy Douglas-Blowers, Director of Membership & Industry Relations, at tdblowers@ahla.ca or 780.423.9227 if you have other questions or need additional support.