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As the federal government begins accepting applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to soften the economic blow of the COVID-19 outbreak, many business owners wonder if their own wages are covered.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that is the top question raised on its toll-free help line, which has been getting about 800 calls per day on average.

The CFIB says individual employers are among the people who may be eligible for the CEWS that began taking applications Monday but they must have been paid as an employee of a corporation prior to March 15.

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In that case, the business would be able to qualify for a government subsidy of 75 per cent of the owner’s salary, if it also meets the program’s other criteria.

But the CFIB says business owners who pay themselves in dividends wouldn’t be included in the wage subsidy program, and won’t be eligible if they changed the legal structure of the business since March 15.

The national lobby group says it has been working with Canada Revenue Agency to get more answers and will provide advice to all business owners, regardless of whether they are able to pay for a CFIB membership.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those receiving the $500-a-week CERB but going back to work thanks to the new federal wage subsidy should put the CERB money aside. The Canadian Press

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