Alberta NDP calls on UCP to provide more support for small businesses
The official opposition in Alberta believes the UCP is holding back support for small and medium-sized businesses.
In a release Tuesday, the NDP said that during a supplementary supply debate at the Alberta Legislature, it was revealed $137 million of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Grant funding allocated by the UCP government had not to be spent. That program is due to end on March 31.
“Not one small business has come to us saying the amount provided is adequate or they don’t need any more support from the government,” said Deron Bilous, NDP economic development critic.
“We are calling on the UCP to immediately allocate the remaining grant money before the end of the fiscal year and to also accept our longstanding calls to reinstate the commercial eviction ban, put a cap on fees charged by third-party delivery apps, cut business insurance premiums by 50 per cent and ban business utility shutoffs.”
Nicole Goehring, NDP culture and tourism critic, said she’s heard from numerous venue and theatre owners that they’re struggling to cover expenses. Most have been shuttered for the entire year since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
“Restaurants and retail stores are no doubt struggling with constant closures and capacity limitations, but for venues that have not been allowed to reopen at all, the problems are even greater,” Goehring said.
The Alberta government delayed Step 3 of its reopening plan Monday, in light of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases. The NDP pointed out that the province has the highest number of COVID-19 variant cases in Canada.
“We support doing what’s necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19; however, the government needs to protect the health of the public and support the economy at the same time,” Bilous said. “If it’s not safe for businesses to reopen, then the government needs to support them while they stay closed.”