Does CEWS leave workers on parental, disability leave behind?

Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge employees who were on leave in the months leading up to the coronavirus shutdown appear to have fallen through a crack in the federal government’s wage subsidy program.

The Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees has pointed out that the airline’s unilateral use of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy means workers who were on leave between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2020 will be at a disadvantage since that timeframe is being used by the federal government to calculate the level of salary they’re replacing.

Read: A legal update on the government’s CEWS and CERB programs

Workers on maternity or disability leave, as well as employees on workers’ compensation or previous leave arrangements due to the B737 grounding, deserve to have their subsidies calculated based on what they’d be earning if they weren’t on leave, says Hugh Pouliot, a spokesperson for the CUPE.

He says the adoption of the CEWS across the board knowingly discriminates against these members and that there’s been no concrete indication from the employer that it intends to address the situation.

Air Canada didn’t respond to Benefits Canada‘s requests for comment. And the Ministry of Finance wasn’t able to provide a comment by the time of publication.

Read: CRA introduces calculator to help employers with wage subsidy applications