Alberta NDP wants immediate support for businesses hurt by latest restrictions

·2 min read
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley wants the government to immediately offer more assistance to workers and businesses adversely affected by the latest pandemic restrictions.   (Alberta NDP Caucus  - image credit)
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley wants the government to immediately offer more assistance to workers and businesses adversely affected by the latest pandemic restrictions. (Alberta NDP Caucus - image credit)

The Alberta NPD wants to see immediate and enhanced support for small- and medium-sized business impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions introduced by the province this week.

Leader Rachel Notley called the restrictions — which included a new ban on in-restaurant dining and reduced capacity for retailers — necessary in slowing the spread of the virus, but said more needs to be done for employers and employees.

"Unfortunately, we haven't seen that leadership from Jason Kenney and his UCP government throughout this pandemic," she said at a news conference on Thursday.

"When Jason Kenney announced the reintroduction of public health measures on Tuesday, it was clear that he had no plan and he had nothing to offer the businesses that he was telling would have to close again."

The small and medium enterprise relaunch grant offered by the province has been closed to new applicants, and the program to replace it has not yet opened for applications.

The new grant reduces the number of businesses eligible — from those who had a 30 per cent reduction in revenue to the new level of a 60 per cent reduction.

It also reduces the amounts they'll receive — from a maximum of $20,000 down to a new maximum of $10,000.

Applications for the new grant are expected to open in mid-April.

What Opposition wants

The NDP wants to see support for affected workers to the tune of $500 per week for two weeks, with extensions for those who don't qualify for federal aid.

The Opposition also wants grants up to $25,000 for impacted businesses and offered to those whose revenue has dropped by 30 per cent or more.

"There are some very clear answers that this government can provide to these business owners, immediately, to give them the assurances that they need, that this most recent set of restrictions is not going to drive them out of business," said Notley.

Justin Brattinga, the press secretary for the minister of jobs, economy and innovation, said relief is on the way.

"Like we have been throughout the pandemic, we will continue to be there for small businesses affected by public health orders," he wrote in an emailed statement.

"We are currently developing a support program to help those that have been forced to close or curtail operations by the latest measures, and an announcement will be coming in the very near future."