Gateway Gazette

Alberta Leads Country Supporting Economic Relaunch

New relaunch supports and commercial tenancy measures to help Alberta’s small- and medium-sized businesses during economic relaunch.

The government will continue to provide Alberta’s businesses and non-profits with additional supports as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These new programs complement Alberta’s existing business supports, which are the most comprehensive in Canada.

“Alberta is proud to lead the country in providing relief and support to protect jobs and keep businesses open. We have taken the time to listen directly to job creators, and are acting to address their needs. Our focus remains on ensuring a safe relaunch to get Albertans back to work and our economy back on track.”Jason Kenney, Premier

New grants will ease relaunch costs faced by businesses

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many small- and medium-sized businesses and non-profits in Alberta have shutdown, either completely or partially, leading to severely limited sales. As they begin to reopen, the increased cost to operate under public health requirements are causing further stress among business owners and non-profits.

To ease the impacts of new measures, businesses and non-profits need support to reopen. Government is committing up to $200 million in funding for eligible businesses and non-profits to access up to $5,000 to offset a portion of their relaunch costs. These funds can be used for implementing measures to minimize the risk of virus transmission, (such as physical barriers, personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies), rent, employee wages or replacement of inventory.

The program’s online application is expected to be available in the coming weeks. Program details, including eligibility, are being confirmed.

“The Province is stepping up to provide further support for businesses still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19. These grants will help businesses with desperately-needed revenue, and ensure we emerge from this pandemic with enough strength to weather the economic headwinds Alberta faces.”Janet Riopel, President and CEO, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Ending the fear of commercial tenant eviction

Many Alberta businesses are facing challenges paying their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to feel the economic pressure even as their businesses reopen.

To help ease the economic pinch, government is planning further measures including legislation to ensure commercial tenants will not face rent increases or be evicted for non-payment of rent due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new measures will help address shortfalls in the current Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, and will give eligible business owners piece of mind as they reopen and help with the provincial economic recovery.

Additional details are expected to be finalized during the current summer session.

“CFIB is pleased the Alberta government has listened and heard the concerns of small business owners who fear being evicted. Commercial eviction protection provides a safety net for small businesses struggling to make rent payments and cannot access relief through the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program. A direct cash support program will also help small businesses who have fallen through funding gaps of federal and provincial support programs cover fixed costs such as rent, bills payments and PPE.”Annie Dormuth, Alberta provincial affairs director, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

WCB premiums deferral for private sector businesses and support for small and medium businesses

As announced in March, government is committed to easing the economic burden on businesses by deferring WCB premiums. Private sector employers are saving money on their WCB premium payments now, when they need it most. These actions ensure the sustainability of the workers’ compensation system and that injured workers continue to receive the benefits and supports they need to return to work.

  • Private sector employers have immediate financial relief, with WCB premiums deferred for one year, until early 2021.
  • Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020-21 are eligible for a rebate or credit.
  • For small and medium businesses, the government is covering 50 percent of the premium when it is due.
    • The average small business is expected to save about $1,000 this year.
    • The average medium business is expected to save about $20,000 this year.
  • Large employers are receiving a break having their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.
  • Paying 50 per cent of small and medium private sector WCB premiums for 2020 will cost government approximately $350 million.

“I have engaged with thousands of businesses since the start of the pandemic and have been carefully listening to their feedback. This announcement addresses the number one ask we had from businesses. We’re working to make sure Alberta’s businesses can continue to survive through this trying time. The supports announced today will help make sure we’re well positioned during the province’s economic recovery.”Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

“As a Senior Care provider our requirement to adhere to the many Health directives, to keep our residents and staff safe, and maintain quality care, have resulted in significant cost increases.  The relief from WCB premiums is one of the few financial assistance programs that we are eligible for, and for that we are grateful.” Dawn Harsch, President and CEO, Exquisicare Senior Living and Care at Home

Additional supports for small businesses

Government has taken significant steps to help Alberta businesses get the relief and support needed to weather the pandemic and be better positioned for recovery. These supports include:

  • freezing education property taxes at 2019 levels and provided businesses with a six-month education property tax deferral;
  • deferring corporate income tax payments to August 31, 2020, interest free;
  • introducing a 90-day utility payment relief;
  • providing a two-month filing deadline extension for annual returns with Alberta Corporate Registry; and
  • deferring of the Tourism Levy for hotels and other lodging providers.
  • Energy sector:
    • Committed to a $1.5 billion equity investment in 2020 towards the Keystone XL pipeline project and a $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021.
    • $113 million towards the Alberta Energy Regulator to waive industry levies for a period of six months.
    • $100 million loan to the Orphan Well Association.
  • Deferral of loan payments at ATB Financial and credit unions
  • Deferral of timber dues for six months
  • Support for continuing care facilities
  • Up to $24.5 million is being advanced to help continuing care facilities operators address immediate cost pressures.
  • $7.3 million per month for:
    • increased health-care aide staffing levels
    • a wage top-up of an additional $2 per hour for health-care aides
    • Up to $3.5 million for 1,000 paid student practicum positions
  • Relief for the child care sector
    • Up to $17.8 million in grants for the child care sector
  • Supporting Alberta’s agriculture industry
    • Up to $5 million to the Agriculture Training Support Program, including about $1 million for meat processors to provide support for new hires for meat-cutting training.
    • An increase to the interim payment under AgriStability from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for both the hog sector and the potato industry.
    • Alberta will contribute up to $17 million in Agri-Recovery funding, which is split 60/40 with the federal government for a fed-cattle set aside program. This will allow producers to hold onto slaughter-ready cattle on a maintenance feed ration for up to nine weeks, ultimately allowing the supply of animals to more evenly match demand and reduced processing capacity.

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