Posted on Mar 11, 2021
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORTS FALL SHORT FOR THOSE HARDEST HIT BY PANDEMIC
EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP and small business owners are calling on the UCP government to provide more support for the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Small businesses already face incredible challenges. And now that small businesses are facing reduced demand and public health restrictions, it’s even harder - especially in the hardest hit sectors like tourism and the live event industry,” said NDP Critic for Economic Development and Innovation Deron Bilous.
The recently announced Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit provides support payments based on 15 per cent of eligible business’s monthly revenue, up to a maximum of $10,000. However, small businesses in industries that have already been closed for a year, and could face several more months of hard times, say this is not nearly enough support for them to survive.
“Fifteen per cent of just one month’s lost revenue is an inadequate level of support for the hardest hit industry sectors,” said Samuel, owner and general manager of Ocean & River Cruises Travel. “Our provincial government needs to provide sector-specific support that helps the businesses who - through no fault of our own - have faced the most significant revenue reductions and losses.”
“The newly proposed Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit is nowhere near the kind of funds we would need to help support us,” said Chris Dewitt, owner and operator of Dickens Pub. “If live music venues do not see more support, the results will be catastrophic for our sector.”
In February, the UCP announced the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant will be phased out as the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit is implemented in April. At the time, the UCP claimed the new program was designed to help the hardest-hit industries and was the reason for narrowing eligibility from 30 per cent lost revenue to 60 per cent lost revenue. However, they also reduced the maximum amount from $20,000 down to $10,000.
“I’m worried this will not be nearly enough for businesses hit hardest by the pandemic, resulting in even more closed and for lease signs in our communities. These businesses need more support and they need it now,” said Bilous.
The UCP have not released any other details of the program, leaving small businesses worried they may not qualify at all after weeks of waiting.
“The newly announced Enhanced COVID-19 Benefit for heavily impacted businesses has many caveats and restrictions, and there is still a lack of clarity on the eligibility requirements,” said Spencer.
“Businesses need certainty and they need to be able to plan ahead - especially those that are fighting to keep their business alive. There are small businesses right now all across this province currently debating whether or not to close their doors or go further into debt to operate for a few more weeks,” said Bilous. “They deserve to know if they will be receiving the new benefit so they can plan accordingly.”