By Justin Seward
With Alberta’s government rolling out the re-opening stages plan last recently, there was the concern that some businesses that were going to be more impacted than others, says Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s minister of jobs, economy and innovations.
“We wanted to make sure we provided targeted additional support for small businesses that are going to be severely impacted,” said Schweitzer.
Schweitzer along with Premier Jason Kenney announced a $120-millon Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit program on Feb. 17.
Small and medium sized businesses will be eligible for up to $10,000 and payments will be calculated based on the eligible’s businesses’ monthly revenue of 15 per cent.
The benefit will provide funding to businesses that have experienced a revenue reduction of 60 per cent.
“It’s designed for small businesses that have a handful of employees all the way up to small businesses that have 500 employees,” he said.
Schweitzer went out and consulted with industry groups, restaurants, the hospitality sector and the tourism to get feedback on existing federal supports while creating this program.
Schweitzer said there was an existing rent subsidy that was out there and also a wage subsidy.
“We also know that small businesses have made huge sacrifices and we have an immense amount of gratitude for these small businesses because they made sacrifices to keep all of us healthy,” he said.
“We’re doing everything we can to give them the supports they need so they can get through the other side of the pandemic.”
There will be an additional 10,000 to 15,000 businesses entitled to the new grant program.
Applications and more information will be launched in mid-April.
Schweitzer is encouraging those small businesses to still apply for the existing relaunch grant, which runs out on March 31, and offers financial assistance to Alberta organizations that were ordered to close or curtail operations and experienced a revenue reduction of 30 per cent.
The current program allows businesses to apply for up to $20,000 in funding and $15,000 for those businesses that started operations between March 1, 2020 and Oct. 31, 2020.
Alberta committed $500 million to that program last year.
“We’ve had over 50,000 businesses apply and be eligible for the relaunch grant,” said Schweitzer.
“We’ve already distributed over $350 million under that program.”