Posted on May 19, 2021


EDMONTON — Alberta’s NDP is calling for additional support for women who own businesses as they struggle with miniscule supports, lacking communication and no forward-looking plan from Jason Kenney and the UCP.

Currently, businesses have access to $10,000 through the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant and the NDP have already called for that stream to be increased to $25,000. Women’s Issues Critic Janis Irwin joined four Edmonton business owners on Wednesday to call for an additional $10,000 to be provided to women attempting to prevent their businesses from closure for good.

“Through the pandemic these entrepreneurs have had to pivot and re-pivot to try and keep their businesses going and to continue putting money into the local economy,” Irwin said. “We know that this past year has been incredibly difficult for all small businesses … but women-owned businesses have been affected even more.

For some, it’s the combination of pressure on the business and on family. For others, it’s simply that their sector has endured more restrictions and more closures than others … and businesses in sectors like personal services, such as hairstyling, are disproportionately owned by women.

“So today we are proposing a solution … to help keep these businesses open and protect the jobs of their workers.”

According to a study by Global Entrepreneur Monitor, women in Alberta are 30 per cent more likely to shut down their business than men. The top two reasons listed for women in Western Canada to close their business is a lack of profit or family and personal reasons. For men, the top reason is the opportunity to sell the business. Prior to the pandemic, 59 per cent of startups owned by women were in the consumer services sector, which has been hit hard with repeated public health closures, compared to 23 per cent of male-owned startups.

Irwin also said the dedicated grant stream should come with concierge services to ensure the funding is meeting the needs of applicants and is delivered quickly.

“For the Alberta economy to recover quickly and fully, we need to ensure that as many of these businesses can make it through the end of the pandemic,” she added.

Lynsae Moon, owner and operate of The Nook Cafe, said businesses were already hurting before the pandemic as Premier Jason Kenney failed to deliver on his promises of job creation and economic growth.

“It felt like the dominoes were already set up for small businesses to fail under this Government and COVID was the thing to push them over,” Moon said. “It is not right that we have to choose between the health of our communities and our businesses. We should have the necessary support to get through the pandemic and come out strong when it’s all over.

“The Government communication has been confusing, frustrating and infuriating. No one cares about whether we succeed or fail.”

Janet Blouin is the owner of the Sherbrooke Pub and is still waiting to receive a provincial grant that was promised in March which could not be applied for until April.

“I expected Mr. Kenney to come up with a plan to help us get through this new shutdown, but he remains silent,” said Blouin. “How can I keep going at a 90 per cent loss of income? How do other businesses keep going on their 100 per cent loss of income?”