Canada extends wage subsidy popular with cannabis producers

Canada’s government is extending a pandemic-related wage-subsidy program that has been tapped by more than a dozen federally regulated cannabis producers.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, which subsidizes wages for employers that have lost revenue because of the COVID-19 crisis, was set to expire March 13.

The program has been extended to June 5.

“We are extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and lockdown support at their current levels until June,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

To qualify for the CEWS program, companies must show a drop in eligible revenue during the crisis compared to revenue from a previous period.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said businesses can use pre-pandemic revenue levels when applying for the subsidy in the coming months.

The CEWS program has been utilized by most of Canada’s top cannabis producers, including Aphria, Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth and Tilray.

However, despite having access to the subsidy last year, large cannabis producers slashed thousands of jobs.

Aurora Cannabis cut deep into its workforce while receiving 23.7 million Canadian dollars ($18.7 million) in government grants, as first reported by The Globe and Mail.

More information about the CEWS program can be found here.