Alberta businesses hard hit by the pandemic could be in line for another $10,000 in provincial government support under a new $120 million program, Premier Jason Kenney announced on Wednesday.
“This new benefit will replace the small- and medium-sized relaunch grant when it expires on March 31,” said Kenney in Edmonton.
That grant, launched last June, has provided $360 million to more than 50,000 small- and medium-sized businesses employing nearly 250,000 Albertans.
However, businesses will continue to need help until the population has been vaccinated, he said.
“Alberta’s government will be there for those businesses and their employees every step of the way.”
Businesses that have seen at least a 60 per cent drop in revenue will be eligible to receive up to 15 per cent of their monthly revenue up to a maximum of $10,000 to meet their expenses and offset costs associated with COVID -19.
Money can be used for wages, supplies, inventory or for preparing for a safe reopening, he said.
The grants will be on top of hundreds of millions doled out under other programs, such as a commercial rent subsidy and wage subsidy programs and hundreds of millions in other financial help through tax, fee and utility deferrals and $350 million in worker’s compensation premium deferrals.
Kenney also reiterated that his government has no intention of introducing a provincial sales tax, a proposal suggested by the Business Council of Alberta(BCA) , which aired its concerns about the province’s increasing bills and falling revenues.
In its study, the BCA says the government must consider a harmonized sales tax and a provincial consumer carbon tax.
A sales tax would bring in $1 billion per one per cent and a $50 per tonne carbon tax could generate $1.5 billion annually.
“This would be the worst possible time to ask people to pay more,” said Kenney. “Our first obligation to Alberta taxpayers is to show we can operate more efficiently.”
The government’s over-arching focus is on health care and jobs. “That will be the focus of next week’s budget,” he said.
“On the fiscal front, the strategy is economic growth first and foremost,” he said.
Finance Minister Doug Schweitzer urged Albertans to continue to support small businesses where they can.
“Order food. Where you can, with your family, get out to dinner. Continue to support these small businesses that are just critical to all of us.”