Alberta extending COVID-19 relief support to small and medium-sized businesses, tourism industry

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The Alberta government is extending its relief supports to small and medium-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19 public health orders as well as the province’s tourism industry.

The province announced on Wednesday that applications for the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program, which launched in April, would be extended to June 30. The relief funding is available to businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that have been impacted by the restrictions brought in on May 4. Those who are eligible must show that they have experienced at least 30 per cent in revenue loss.

Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said during a media conference announcing Alberta’s reopening strategy that small businesses across Alberta have made sacrifices over the past year.

“For the last six weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to meet with over 50 chambers of commerce and business organizations and the feedback is resounding,” he said. “(We have) an immense amount of gratitude to the small businesses across Alberta that have made those sacrifices for all of us.”

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Eligible organizations will receive payments of up to $10,000 and can use it however they wish. Organizations can only apply to the current program once. The program’s budget currently sits at $350 million.

Meanwhile, the province is providing a three-month extension on levy amounts collected by hotels and other lodging providers until July. This allows businesses to keep tourism levy amounts collected between April 1 and June 30, which the province says will free up to $8 million in additional cash flow. Regular payments are expected to resume or after July 1 and businesses are still required to file returns.

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“When it comes to our tourism industry, we know that you have been asked again to make big sacrifices throughout this pandemic,” Schweitzer said. “We’ve heard loud and clear from hotels and the tourism industry that further supports are required. That’s why we’ve expanded the relaunch grant timing, as well as extending the tourism levy abatement until the end of June.”

Short-term rentals that list on Airbnb and Vrbo that started collecting a tourism levy on April 1 will also be eligible. A refund will be provided to those who already remitted amounts collected on or after April 1.

jlabine@postmedia.com

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