Tourism Red Deer Executive Director Rene Rondeau says local businesses need more financial support from the provincial government. Rondeau was on a town hall telephone call with government officials Wednesday evening, which included business owners and stakeholders. (Advocate file photo)

Tourism Red Deer Executive Director Rene Rondeau says local businesses need more financial support from the provincial government. Rondeau was on a town hall telephone call with government officials Wednesday evening, which included business owners and stakeholders. (Advocate file photo)

Gov’t needs to do more to support central Alberta businesses

Businesses need more financial support from the provincial government.

As some restrictions are set to be eased early next week, government officials, including Premier Jason Kenney, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and Doug Schweitzer, minister of jobs, economy and innovation, heard from business owners and stakeholders Wednesday in a telephone town hall.

Tourism Red Deer executive director Rene Rondeau said in listening to the many local businesses on the call, it’s clear they can’t hang on much longer under the current climate. With restrictions not likely to be fully eased anytime soon, he said financial assistance needs to be explored and something that business owners he’s talked to are clamouring for.

“It’s good to have open communication, but there needs to be a financial plan. It’s great that we’re trying to open doors and do that kind of stuff. Medically, we have to abide (by the rules) and get out of this hole and do what we can to control the spread,” he said.

“Financially– a lot of our local businesses and tourism… are at their final straw.”

In January, the government announced expansions to The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. The program was originally launched in June of 2020.

It offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that have faced restrictions or closures due to COVID-related public health orders, and have experienced revenue losses of at least 30 per cent.

The program offers up to $20,000 in funding for organizations established before Feb. 29, 2020, including unregistered sole proprietors.

There is up to $15,000 in funding for new organizations that began operations between March 1 and Oct. 31, 2020, including unregistered sole proprietors.

According to a press release, as of Feb. 1, Alberta’s government has provided more than $327 million to more than 47,000 businesses across the province.

Still, those funds have been hard to access for some and Rondeau said there has to be a better way to help out businesses like hotels and tourism.

“There’s some businesses that will tell you that, they’ve tried and they’ve gotten nowhere,” he said.

He said much of the town hall call was focused on fitness facilities and restaurants and the reopening strategy over the next several months and less on the hospitality industry, which has also struggled during the more recent restrictions.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said they heard from businesses about how difficult the past year has been for them.

“What we said to small business owners and sectors that were on the line is two things. First of all, the best chance we have of being able to slowly increase the amount of activity that can happen in different settings is to show with each small step forward we can continue to keep our trend downward with our new cases,” she said.

“If we’re able to do so, in each of these sectors, slowly step, by step, we’ll be able to allow additional activities. The other thing we wanted to make clear, is we are being very thoughtful about how we balance the needs of Albertans and the minimizing of risk of COVID harm and minimizing of risks of the harms of the restrictions.”

Rondeau hopes in the near future he can set up a town hall with those same officials or even local MLAs, so they can listen to the struggles of businesses in Red Deer and beyond.

“People, their livelihood is strapped with money into their business. They can’t open the doors and they can’t run it without some financial assistance. We won’t have any businesses to go back to,” he said.

The province is planning to move forward with Step 1 of its Path Forward plan on Monday. At that time, fitness facilities can open with strict guidelines, including only one-on-one training with a personal trainer. Restaurants can open for in-person dining with a maximum of six people at a table and only one household.



Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Traffic will be delayed on 40th Avenue and 19th Street until the end of February. (Advocate file photo).
Traffic delays expected downtown this weekend

Red Deer drivers will be delayed in the downtown area of the… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read