More financial support from the province is appreciated, but the business community still wants to be part of the discussion with government when it comes to business sustainability and pandemic safety, says the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce.
On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced another round of the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program to provide up to $10,000 each to businesses affected by the most recent public health orders.
“If shutdowns are the last resort, as they should be, there really does need to be some financial assistance made available,” said Reg Warkentin, the chamber’s policy and advocacy manager.
“The $10,000 made available is certainly better than nothing. The fixed costs affecting businesses haven’t gone anywhere. They still have to pay their utilities, their rent, their mortgage, their staff. They don’t want to let go their staff again for fear they might not be able to get them back.”
The grant is available to businesses with fewer than 500 employees that have experienced revenue losses of at least 30 per cent.
“With this expansion, we’re allocating another $350 million, bringing the total support for the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to just about a billion,” Kenney said.
“Throughout the pandemic, Alberta has provided the highest levels of support for small businesses in the country. At $985 million, Alberta has provided by far the highest per capita cash grants to job creators. More, for example, than B.C., Quebec and Saskatchewan combined.”
The updated program will replace the previously announced Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit and will provide funding to more businesses facing increased public health measures that were announced on April 6.
Grants will also be available to new businesses that began operating between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, as well as hotels, taxis and ride-sharing services, and non-profits.
Funds can be used to cover the cost of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; paying rent, employee wages or to replace inventory; and help businesses expand their online presence or e-commerce opportunities.
The program is scheduled to be open for applications until May 31.