Alberta small business grant program receives $350M expansion for COVID-19 response
CALGARY -- Small businesses struggling to survive in Alberta during the pandemic will soon have access to more funding from the provincial government.
Alberta businesses and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that experienced revenue losses of at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19-related health restrictions can receive up to $10,000 in additional funding from the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG).
Businesses eligible for SMERG will be able to apply between mid-April and May 31, 2021 and the program is capped at $350-million.
Funds can be used to cover costs such as rent, wages and cleaning supplies, as well as to help businesses expand online.
“Our thanks to all the small businesses out there across Alberta that we're asking to make sacrifices,” said Alberta Jobs and Economy Minister Doug Schweitzer on Tuesday.
“We know it’s not easy but we want to say with an immense amount of gratitude in our hearts, thank you for what you have done for all of us to keep us healthy and we're going to continue to support small businesses to get through to the other side of this pandemic.”
The announcement revives Alberta’s SMERG program, which was started in 2020 but expired in March.
“That was exactly what we recommended,” said Annie Dormuth, Alberta provincial affairs director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
“It’s good to hear the government has listened to the views of small businesses and understood their struggles and frustrations right now.”
The types of businesses that can apply for the latest funding has been expanded to now include hotels, taxis and ride-sharing services, as well as new businesses which opened between the beginning of March 2020 and the end of March 2021.
“Definitely good news on that front that this grant has been expanded to new businesses,” said Dormuth who explained that Alberta is one of few provinces to offer this, and new businesses can’t access federal funding either.
“The federal government has not lived up to its commitment to open up its grants to new businesses.”
Dormuth said the program may need to be extended as the pandemic evolves.
“Theses measures need to be in place until we can fully re-open the economy and remove all restrictions," she said.