PRESIDENTS REPORT- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)/ COVID-19 Paid Downtime Absence-June 17th 2020

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President, Local 707      Mark Sciberras

Brothers and Sisters,

Due to concerns from the Master Committee’s at Local 707, Local 200 and the National Union in regards to the federal government’s position on our SUB plan. Specifically, how it pertains to our members who applied for Employment Insurance but were forced in to CERB, a joint task force was established.

The following represents a collaborative effort made by this Unifor joint task force, composed by the National Staff Representatives, Local 200 President, John D’Agnolo and I.

While more work needs to done to resolve our concerns with the federal government, the following agreement with the Ford Motor Company will resolve a period of COVID-19 lay-offs. Furthermore, it will ensure we are not penalized or, later financially disadvantaged for receiving SUB payments during the period indicated.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)/ COVID-19 Paid Downtime Absence at Oakville Assembly Complex

Retro-active to Sunday April 12th 2020, the Ford Motor Company has enrolled in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. As a result, through discussion with Unifor, the Company has agreed to issue a 75% of an employee’s 40 hour gross weekly wage to all employees who were on a COVID-19 lay-off for periods, between April 12th to June 6th, 2020. This will result in the repayment of Employment Insurance/CERB and SUB (if entitled) for this period.

There is no application or reports required from the employee for the Wage Subsidy program. No Action is required on your part to receive this retroactive Wage Subsidy, or COVID-19 Downtime Paid Absence.

You will receive payments, deposited into your account, just as you would normally receive your wages from payroll. This payment will also be reflected on your pay stub, when issued.

If you have continued your EI reporting, we recommend reporting you have returned to work at your next opportunity. This should avoid any further over payments, or confusion with Service Canada. The only exception would be anyone who was recently been recalled to work from indefinite lay-off, and has no vacation entitlement for our scheduled shutdown period.

Members on Indefinite Lay-off

Any Member that have been on Indefinite Lay-off since February 3rd, will not be part of the Wage Subsidy Program.

For those who were recalled to return to work on Monday May 25th or Monday June 1st 2020, providing they work this week required, they will receive a retroactive wage subsidy payment for the week they were on lay-off after Monday May 25th 2020.

Members on Infectious disease emergency leave, Medical leave and Personal Employment Standards Act Leaves

For members on leave due to daycare, quarantine, or medical conditions that prevented them from working, please continue to complete your EI reporting as normal.

Employees are only included in the wage subsidy program for periods that they were on a COVID-19 lay-off and not on leaves.

Any week a Member is on a Medical leave, in receipt of Sickness and Accident Benefits, Workplace Safety Insurance Benefits (WSIB), or (Personal) Employment Standards Act leaves such as Maternity, Parental, Compassionate Care or Caregiver leave, they will not be part of the program or receive a retroactive payment.

Members in receipt of Wages, Vacation pay and Short Work Week Benefits

For any week, a member in receipt of 30 hours or more of Vacation, Wages and/or Short Work Week Benefits, they will not be part of the Wage Subsidy program.

Retroactive Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy payments/ COVID-19 Paid Downtime Absence- April 12th through to June 6th 2020

Retroactive, for the period Sunday April 12th to Saturday June 6th, 2020 the Ford Motor Company will issue a 75% gross wage subsidy payment, less taxes, premiums, Union dues and less any net Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB), for all weeks on COVID-19 lay-off. Once the payment is calculated for all employees, the Company will issue payment sometime in July.

Members Repayment of Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB/ERB) and Employment Insurance 

Once this retroactive payment is received, it is imperative that all members use the payment for the period (April 12th to June 6th, 2020) to repay the net amount received for any and all Employment Insurance, Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB payments.

This is imperative, as failure to repay these payments during the 2020 calendar year will result in substantial tax repayments to the Canadian Revenue Agency next year.

More information on how to repay these benefits will be provided when the retroactive payment is issued by the Ford Motor Company.


Why has the Ford Motor Company decided to apply for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy Program?

After weeks of discussion and dialogue with the company, it was determined that CEWS would be an improved income replacement for all our members and resolve our SUB issues from the week beginning Monday April 13th 2020, when the Ford Motor Company would be eligible to apply.

  • As it ensures no member would lose income due to our SUB payments from the week beginning Monday April 13th, 2020 forward.
  • During this period, it provides a minimum 10% weekly increase in gross income for those who qualify for SUB, and provides substantially more for members who did not qualify for SUB upon the COVID-19 lay-off, by ensuring they too qualify for a 75% gross wage payment.

What about the three (3) week lay-off period from Monday March 23rd through to Saturday April 11th, 2020, will the Ford Motor Company be able to receive and issue a Wage Subsidy payment for this period of time?

Currently, the Ford Motor Company does not qualify for the CEWS for the 3-week COVID-19 lay-off period from March 23rd to April 11th, 2020.

As we still have an issue with this three-week period. We continue to apply pressure and have ongoing discussion with the federal government, to ensure our SUB payments are not considered earnings for those who applied for Employment Insurance and received CERB payments. We will continue this fight, not just for our members, but for the thousands of workers across Canada who have been disadvantaged.

Will the Ford Motor Company be able to issue a Wage Subsidy payment for any lay-offs that occur after June 6th 2020?

It is highly unlikely that the Ford Motor Company will qualify for the CEWS program beyond June 6th 2020, and therefore any member laid-off after this date will once again be required to apply for Employment Insurance.

In Solidarity,

Mark Sciberras

President, Unifor Local 707