Notley calls for more small business help from Kenney government
EDMONTON -- A day after federal help was announced for large companies to survive the pandemic, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling for the government to not forget small companies, either.
Notley, leader of the Official Opposition, has proposed Alberta offer $5,000 grants for physical improvements – such as plexiglass barriers – and $5,000 for start-up related costs, like inventory.
She wants to see the latter grant increased to $10,000 for businesses in the hospitality sector, whose product likely did not survive two months in lockdown and who will reopen at half capacity.
“Most businesses, small or medium, typically are operating with pretty tight margins,” Notley said Tuesday.
“The kinds of additional investments that are required for (personal protective equipment), for extra cleaning, for extra staff time to pitch in the extra cleaning and the slowdown of customers coming in and out, and the reduction in capacity, all of those things push businesses much, much closer to their margins.”
She also called on Jason Kenney's UCP government to provide relief – not just deferrals – from utility, insurance and rent bills, and set up a PPE program to help businesses source quality products.
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“I don’t know where to source it, at all. Even on a personal level I’m trying to get masks for myself and they’re very hard to find," Brittany Anderson, co-founder of Laser City in Edmonton and Calgary, said, speaking alongside the NPD leader.
"With us, we’re dealing with lots of children and groups of people, so we want to make sure our customers and our team and our staff are safe.”
In March, the province announced deferrals on utility payments and eviction protection to renters.
And at the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the latest show of support for entrepreneurs: the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), which he said will provide "bridge loans, not bailouts" to companies with annual revenues of at least $300 million and who need $60 million to maintain operations and staff on payroll.
- READ MORE: 'We're pleased': Alta. finance minister says federal loan program will help oil and gas companies impacted by COVID-19
While the Alberta UCP government said it was pleased with the aid, which it expected would help the ailing oil and gas sector, Notley and some small business owners feel they are being left out.
The owner of a Calgary fitness boutique said she's been found ineligible for both provincial and federal aid.
“If I had to start a business from this financial position in this climate, I, quite frankly, wouldn’t,” Janis Isaman of Body Couture commented.
While her business won't open until Alberta starts phase three of its relaunch plan, other businesses are preparing to reopen May 14.
On Monday, Alberta launched a site, called Biz Connect, that is supposed to guide employers through the regulations they'll have to follow.