Alberta announces $350M bump for businesses impacted by third wave
EDMONTON -- The Alberta government is offering more cash to small businesses forced to shut down during the third wave of COVID-19.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG) will offer financial assistance to Alberta businesses up to $10,000 and capped at a total of $350 million in total.
According to Premier Jason Kenney, the additional payout will be available to new businesses that began operating between March of 2020 and March 31, 2021 as well as hotels, taxis and ride-sharing services that saw a revenue fall of 30 per cent.
Money paid out through SMERG will not need to be repaid, according to the government.
The updated program is intended to replace the previously announced Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit due to a rollback in restrictions announced on April 6.
“We’re extending the previous program to provide necessary support to a wider range of businesses,” Kenney said on Tuesday.
Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer said it’s the province's responsibility to support businesses impacted by this third round of mandated health measures.
“We have to be there to support them and help them get through to the other side of this pandemic,” he said.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Schweitzer said he knows "this isn’t necessarily going to keep all those small businesses whole.”
According to Schweitzer, more than 100,000 businesses have applied for the grant in the past, and they’re expecting another 50,000 to 60,000 to apply for this round of financial relief.
The online portal for applications is expected to open next week, with a payment turnaround of up to 10 days.
Schweitzer said there will be an audit function built into the portal to ensure there are no instances of fraud during the application process.
Kenney echoed the importance of providing hope to Albertans, saying “brighter days are coming.”
However, the premier did warn that if recent measures do not improve compliance, and if variants continue to drive growth, additional targeted measures are not out of the question.
“That’s the last thing I want to do,” Kenney said. “Especially when we’re so close to the goal line.
“We just need to hold on a little longer.”
Close to a billion dollars has been allocated to small business recovery during the pandemic.