Wage subsidies, loans, and benefits

Visit United in Learning for upcoming COVID-related finance webinars and recordings and PowerPoints from previous webinars on ways to manage the financial impact of the pandemic on our communities of faith. Note that recordings can quickly become outdated as government policies are refined.

Good to Know

  • Several people report challenges getting a CRA My Business Account set up. We have set up a help desk for this at CRAhelp@united-church.ca. In addition, see the Access to CRA Accounts webinar.
  • All charities and nonprofits qualify for the 10 percent immediate wage subsidy. Be sure to authorize ADP and denomination staff to process the 10 percent subsidy (see more on this below).
  • All federal emergency subsidy programs are based on and calculated from payroll records, specifically employer T4 filings and the 2019 T4 Summary on file.
  • In addition, most programs will be administered online, so it will be important to have established online registrations with both the government and your bank. Alternatively, online portals will be available.

Approvals Needed to Seek Financial Relief

Check with your region about online meetings and e-mail voting to expedite these processes during the pandemic:

  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy applications are a local matter. However, it is strongly recommended that the treasurer not act alone but ensure the board is onside.
  • Any loan from government or the broader church requires both local and region approval. Most regions have implemented or are implementing an expedited approval process in support of congregations and other eligible ministries.
  • CRA guidelines were amended in June, and some congregations ARE eligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA); see the eligibility guidelines. The Canada Emergency Business Account program has been extended and will end on October 31, 2020, so you must complete your CEBA application by this date.

Administrative Steps to Take

It appears many of the programs will require or at least significantly benefit from having online capability:

  • ADP Internet report access
  • CRA MY Account for Business/Charities
  • Online banking capability linked to your operating bank account
  • Online registry with Service Canada
  • To authorize the automated processing of 10 percent wage subsidies by ADP, congregations will need to authorize General Council payroll staff to have administrative access. See the download at bottom of this page for more details.
  • Obtain requisite governance approvals as established for you congregation and your region.
  • It will be important to have 2019 month-by-month financial data at hand as well as your 2019 T4 Payroll Summary as filed with the CRA.

Who Is Eligible, and for What?

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy applies to nonprofits and charities that have payroll expenses (defined as issuing T4 and filing a T4 summary) and are experiencing financial distress.
  • The immediate 10 percent Emergency Wage Subsidy is available to all.
  • The 75 percent subsidy must be applied for, and the 15 percent revenue decline (for March 2020) and 30 percent revenue decline (for further months) threshold met.
  • Congregations ARE eligible for CEBA. See the new eligibility guidelines. Camps and certain ministries that have a payroll of between $20,000 and $1.5 million may also be eligible.
  • Within our church structures, it is the entity that manages and reports payroll that must apply. In certain multi-point pastoral charge situations, it will be the pastoral charge even if that is not where charitable status is held.

Jennifer Robson, an associate professor at Carleton University, has written a plain-language guide to government support. Her PDF has been updated as of May 26, 2020. 

Wage Subsidies

10 percent wage subsidy

Churches are considered small business employers and charities by governments. Accordingly, all charities and nonprofits are eligible for a 10 percent immediate subsidy processed against regular payroll.

We have arranged for this to be done automatically by our payroll provider, ADP, but a signed authorization is required from each employer.

All those eligible should proceed to obtain the 10 percent subsidy. For those who meet the criteria for a 75 percent subsidy (below), the 10 percent will be offset.

More information: Frequently asked questions – Temporary wage subsidy for employers

75 percent wage subsidy: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

A further 75 percent subsidy may be available, but this is subject to demonstrating a 15 percent decrease in revenues in March 2020, or 30% each applicable month after that. The program has now been extended to the end of 2020 with significant changes in program design and a phaseout period.

  • There is no limit on the overall subsidy amount an employer can claim.
  • Employers must make their best efforts to top up employees’ salaries to bring them to pre-crisis levels.

More information: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Some congregations ARE eligible for the CEBA loan program. See the new eligibility guidelines. Camps and certain ministries that have a payroll of between $20,000 and $1.5 million may also be eligible. All financial institutions offer the same thing through an expedited, online process. The Canada Emergency Business Account program has been extended and will end on October 31, 2020, so you must complete your CEBA application by this date.

  • CEBA provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to eligible small businesses and non-profits.
  • A quarter of the value of these loans (up to $10,000) is forgivable if the balance is repaid on or before December 31, 2022.
  • Congregations that meet the other eligibility criteria, notably generating revenue from rentals or the sale of goods and services as reported on their annual charitable return, are eligible.

To apply:

  • Eligible ministries will be ones with a payroll number.
  • Churches can apply online. Go to your financial institution's website and search "CEBA."

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The federal government has confirmed that anyone who became eligible for regular and sickness Employment Insurance (EI) benefits on and after March 15, 2020, will receive the CERB. This will include a retroactive payment to March 15 for those who have already stopped working due to COVID-19. The program has also been expanded to include many people not normally eligible for EI.

Applicants who became eligible for EI benefits before March 15 will continue to be processed under the existing EI system, as will claims for EI benefits related to absences from employment for non-COVID-19 related reasons, such as pregnancy and parental leave.

  • The amount available is $500/week, or $2,000 paid every four weeks.
  • Payments will be made by direct deposit in three to five days after applying, and within 10 days if mailed by cheque.
  • The payment is taxable, but no tax will be deducted from the payment at source.
  • There has been no confirmation that employers can top up the CERB as would have been permitted for regular and sickness EI benefits through a Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB) plan registered with Service Canada.

See eligibility criteria and apply at Canada.ca/coronavirus-CERB. Applicants will be asked simple questions that help direct them to one of two service options:

  • Canadians who would generally be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through Service Canada through Appliweb.
  • Canadians who would generally not be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through their CRA MyAccount or CRA’s automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019, which is a dedicated line for CERB applications.

For More Info

Contact your regional council or

Erik Mathiesen
Executive Officer, Finance
416-231-7680 x4022
1-800-268-3781 x4022


Attachment Size Type
Apr 15: Further Updates for Authorized ADP Contacts 125.91 KB PDF
Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers Worksheet 292.01 KB Excel
TWSE-TA form - Managed Services 180.38 KB PDF
COVID-19 Insurance: Frequently Asked Questions 161.64 KB PDF