Posted on Jan 28, 2021


EDMONTON - New business owners say the UCP government’s grant program for small businesses treats them unfairly compared to pre-established businesses. Alberta’s NDP is calling for the UCP government to fix their broken grant program for small businesses as lock-down measures remain in effect.

On January 14, the UCP government announced it was expanding the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to include businesses that opened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the criteria to qualify for the full amount of support is more onerous for new businesses than those that opened before the pandemic. 

“These small businesses would have spent months or even years of hard work just to get their doors open,” said NDP Critic for Economic Development and Innovation Deron Bilous. “They would have signed leases, purchased inventory, and hired staff. And now they’re faced with the pandemic just as they’re getting off the ground. Just like other businesses, they need support if they are going to make it to the other side of the pandemic. They just want to be treated equally and given a fair shot at success.”

Under the expanded criteria, a new business that opened after March 2020 would require $100,000 in monthly revenue in order to qualify for the full $15,000 grant. However, businesses that opened before March would require monthly revenue of roughly $33,000 to receive a $20,000 grant. 

“I have sacrificed everything I have to keep my business going and the government doesn’t even want to give me a chance,” said Aden Abdi, owner of Zaytun Restaurant and Café. “New business owners are not asking for looking for an extra handout. We are only asking for the same funding that other businesses are relying on to get through this.”

“As any entrepreneur can tell you, opening a business takes not only great courage, but also incredible resilience - particularly in a pandemic,” said Shannon Roche, owner of Divine and Free Wellness Spa. “We have continued to hear from our provincial government the term ‘we are all in this together.’ But that hasn’t applied to new businesses.”

The NDP are proposing the government change the criteria so new businesses can access the full $20,000 grant based on the same revenue requirements as established businesses.