by Morinville News Staff
Shortly after Premier Jason Kenney announced increasing capital spending to $1.9 billion to speed up the province’s capital plan to put Albertan’s back to work, Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley put forward the NDP suggestion for helping Alberta’s small businesses, charities and non-profits. The suggested short-term plan would immediately protect Albertans’ jobs, the NDP say.
The NDP cites Statistics Canada released Apr. 9 that shows Alberta lost 117,000 jobs in March, figures resulting largely from businesses forced to reduce hours or close their doors altogether amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The opposition also references a recent Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses survey from last weekend that shows one-third of Alberta businesses do not have enough cash flow to pay this month’s bills.
The NDP plan would apply to all small businesses, charities, and non-profits and includes an emergency rent subsidy up to a maximum of $10,000, as well as a government-funded backstop of up to $7,500 for landlords who agree to defer busness rent for three months during the pandemic. Under the suggested plan, businesses would pay back the amount owing over the subsequent 18 months.
The opposition is also suggesting am insurance premium freeze retroactive to Mar. 18 and a 50 per cent reduction for insurance premiums until Dec. 31.
They also propose and additional $5,000 to help small businesses adapt to the business environment created by the pandemic and introduce new technology to continue operating.
They are seeking a $10 million guarantee for festivals that support small businesses.
“We are facing an economic crisis,” Notley said. “We can’t afford to continue to sit back and watch more Albertans lose their livelihoods. We need bold action and we need it now.
“Support from the federal government is still weeks away and the UCP have not done enough to support small businesses or to protect the people who work for them. The plan we have developed would put cash in the hands of small business owners so they can keep their businesses afloat right now, and succeed when conditions return to normal.”
The federal government has announced a 75 per cent wage subsidy plan for businesses; however, it still requires legislative introduction and approval from the House of Commons and the Senate.
As such, the NDP says some businesses will have been closed for almost two months without any revenue. The NDP says although the provincial government has brought in measures to defer taxes, loans, and utility payments, business owners they have heard from are saying it isn’t enough to save their businesses and only adds to their debt levels.
“The scale of the human and economic impact of COVID-19 is almost unprecedented. We need an unprecedented response if we are going to prevent a catastrophe,” Notley said.
“We’ve heard from businesses they need help now. The more we can do to protect jobs and our economy today, the quicker our province can recover and get back to work.”