Compliance snapshot — Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for businesses

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was introduced at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist businesses with maintaining their workforce by partially offsetting their payroll related costs.

Employers can no longer claim the CEWS as the application periods are now closed, however post-payment audits of the subsidies paid are currently underway.

Below are some key results as of September 29, 2023.

Over $100 billion
in CEWS support provided to
460,000 employers

At its height, the CEWS was
supporting over 5 million employees across Canada

100% of CEWS applications
went through an automated
pre-payment validation.
Claims of concern flagged through this process, were subject to manual pre-payment reviews, to ensure eligibility.

Audit results

Over 6,100 audits in progress or completed

Over $8.9B in claim amounts have already been audited and an additional $7.5B are in progress, totalling $16.4B.

$8.5B claim amounts allowed with
$458M reduced or denied

95% of CEWS claims audited are compliant, with most adjustments due to calculation errors or a lack of supporting documentation

100% of the largest businesses and largest claims were subject to additional review by the CRA.

While small businesses represent a large volume of the claimant population, their
claim amounts are smaller than those of large businesses.

Some aggressive non-compliance is being detected where claimants are suspected to have used certain third-party business subsidy preparers who knowingly facilitated the production of inaccurate or willfully non-compliant claims. These cases will be pursued by the CRA.

Of the claimants who used certain third-party business subsidy preparers, 85% or over $46M of the claim amounts reviewed were reduced or denied.

More than $15M in penalties were applied to claimants who used certain third-party business subsidy preparers.

For more detailed information on the CEWS comprehensive post-payment audit program, please see Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – Post-payment audits. Note that data presented in the comprehensive report is to March 31st, 2023.

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