Many small businesses in Alberta are struggling to pay employee wages, replace inventory, or buy supplies to prevent coronavirus transmission, including personal protective equipment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few businesses have benefited from the Alberta government grant program, while others have not.

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees previously qualified for aid if they’d lost more than 50 percent of their pre-pandemic revenue. Now, the government of Alberta has announced the expansion of a grant program for small businesses. So far, the government has spent about $62 million of the program’s $200-million budget, and 16,513 businesses, co-operatives, and non-profit organizations have qualified for the grants. Additional 1,727 applications are currently under review.

Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said more businesses and non-profits would now be eligible for the pandemic relief. He said the province had lowered the threshold for small and medium businesses to qualify for a grant of $5,000. The government will also offer a second round of grants for affected businesses and begin taking applications within weeks.

Additionally, Schweitzer said there were some promising signs on vaccines and treatments that would be available starting early next year. He said they would support all those Albertans who were tired and frustrated and small business owners.

The minister said the move was necessary given new restrictions imposed on some businesses earlier this month to prevent coronavirus spread. Until November 27, group fitness classes are banned, and bars must stop serving liquor by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. in parts of Alberta with higher COVID-19 case rates. Those include the Edmonton area, the Calgary area, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Fort McMurray.

Schweitzer’s press secretary, Justin Brattinga, said businesses that once applied and now meet the new criteria would receive the aid retroactively. He said Companies will use the first round of grants up to Tuesday. After a few weeks, the government will take applications for the second round of grants until March 31, 2021. Most applications have come from the retail, personal services, accommodation and food services, and health-care and social assistance sectors.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-government-widens-criteria-for-small-business-pandemic-grant-program-1.5813577

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