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Alberta: COVID-19 relief measures for your business

We know that this is a difficult time, full of uncertainty. The information you need to run your business changes rapidly, and it can be hard to keep track and make sense of it all.  

In order to relieve some of the pressure on small businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports in Alberta and putting them in this one location. We will continue working with governments to ensure additional relief measures become available for your business as the situation evolves.

Please check back regularly. We will update this page as more information becomes available. 

New Restrictions (Announced November 24th)

Public & Private Gatherings

  • No indoor social gatherings are permitted in any setting, including workplaces.
  • Outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Funeral services and wedding ceremonies must follow all public health guidance and are limited to a maximum of 10 in-person attendees. Receptions are not permitted.

Businesses & Services

Effective November 27, 2020, businesses and services located in the Calgary, Edmonton or Enhanced Areas fall into three categories:

1. Closed for in-person business

  • Includes banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, non-approved markets, community centres.
  • Children's play places or indoor play grounds
  • all levels of sport

2. Open with restrictions

Restaurants, bars, pubs and lounges will be open with restrictions. They must adhere to the following public health guidance:

  • Maximum of 6 people from the same household at a table
  • No movement between tables.
  • Only seated eating and drinking is permitted. No other services or entertainment will be allowed, including billiards, games or darts.
  • Liquor can be sold until 10 pm and food-serving establishments must close to in person-dining at 11 pm.

Most retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25% of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code.

  • Retail, including liquor and cannabis
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Clothing stores
  • Computer and technology stores
  • Hardware
  • Automotive
  • Farmers markets approved by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Unlicensed outdoor seasonal markets

Some entertainment and event services may remain open with capacity limited to 25% of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code.

  • Movie theatres
  • Museums and galleries
  • Libraries
  • Casinos, offering slots only. Table games must be closed at this time.
  • Indoor entertainment centres including amusement parks, water parks, bingo halls and racing centres.
  • Indoor fitness, recreation, sports and physical activity centres, including dance and yoga studios, martial arts, gymnastics and private or public swimming pools.
    • Facilities can be open for individual studio time, training or exercise only.
    • There can be no group fitness, group classes, group training, team practices or games.
    • Instructors can use facility to broadcast virtual fitness classes from, but there can be no group class.

3. Open by appointment only

Businesses open by appointment only are not permitted to offer walk-in services. Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services.

  • Personal services such as hair salons and barbershops, esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing and make-up, piercing and tattoo services
  • Wellness services including acupuncture, massage and reflexology
  • Professional services such as lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers
  • Private one-on-one lessons (no private group lessons permitted)
  • Hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges

Mask Requirements

For the Calgary and Edmonton areas:

  • Masks are mandatory in all indoor workplaces, except when working alone in an office or a safely distanced cubicle or an appropriate barrier is in place
    • This applies to all employees, visitors, delivery personnel and contractors
    • This includes all locations where employees are present and masks won’t pose a safety risk

 
For more information on the current public health measures in place, please visit: 
Mandatory public health measures | Alberta.ca

Economic Relaunch Strategy

On April 30, 2020, the Alberta government released a phased approach to reopening Alberta’s economy while still following public health guidelines and some restrictions. Read the provincial plan, Opening soon: Alberta’s relaunch strategy, here.

All businesses are expected to develop and implement policies and procedures to address COVID-19 prior to re-opening or continuing operations. The Alberta government has launched a Biz-connect webpage where you can find resources, guidance and sector specific guidelines for safely opening your business. Businesses have been strongly recommended to fill out this Relaunch Considerations Form and post it in their business or online.

Do you have questions about how to safely get back to business as Alberta's economy reopens?
As the province starts to lift restrictions and reopen the economy, CFIB has put together tools and resources to help you get back to business and keep your staff and customers safe:

Supports for businesses

The Alberta government has announced measures to help small businesses maintain normal business operations.

  • Alberta SME Relaunch Grant: the Alberta government is providing eligible small businesses and non-profits to access up to $10,000 to help with relaunch costs.Applications for the program are now open here. Applications will remain open until 4 weeks following the start of Phase 3.
  • Education property tax freeze: the Alberta government canceled the decision made in Budget 2020 and will freeze education property taxes at last year's level (a savings of $32 million for businesses).
  • WCB premium deferral and relief: WCB premiums have been deferred until early 2021. Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit. For small and medium businesses, the government with cover 50% of the premium when it is due. Find out more here.
  • Tourism levy deferral: Hotels and other lodging providers can keep tourism levy amounts collected between March 1 and December 31, 2020.

Expired support programs. 

  • Commercial eviction protection: the Alberta government introduced legislation to ensure commercial tenants will not face rent increases or be evicted for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. Legislation expired on August 31, 2020. CFIB continues to advocate for an extension until the province is well into Stage 3 of its economic relaunch strategy. 
  • Corporate income tax changes: corporate income tax balances and installment payments were deferred until August 31, 2020. 
  • Education property tax deferral: the Alberta government deferred education property tax for businesses for six months.
  • Utility payment deferral: residents, agri-businesses and small businesses were able to defer electricity and natural gas bill payments until June 18, 2020 to ensure no one was cut off, regardless of the service provider. Learn more about utility payment deferral here.

For more detailed information, please visit the. Alberta government’s COVID-19 information page.

Employment Standards Changes
  • Increased the maximum time for temporary layoffs from 60 days to 180 days
    • This change is retroactive for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17
  • Created a job-protected leave for employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19
    • The 90-day employment requirement is waived.
    • The leave length is flexible and linked to guidance from the Chief Medical Officer.
    • A medical note is not required.
    • Regular personal and family responsibility leave rules continue to apply for all other circumstances.
  • Removed the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes
  • Removed the requirement for 2 weeks notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement
  • Removed the employer requirement to provide group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated
    • Individual termination entitlements remain in effect.
    • Employers must still give group termination notices to the Minister of Labour and Immigration as soon as is practical.
    • Streamlined approvals for modifying employment standards (variances and exemptions) related to COVID-19

     

    Alberta Banks

    ATB Financial and Alberta credit unions announced assistance to customers impacted by COVID-19. 

    ATB Financial customers impacted by COVID-19

    • Customers can apply for a deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for up to six months.
    • Small business customers, in addition to payment deferrals on loans and lines of credit, will be provided access to additional working capital.
    • For other business and agriculture customers, ATB will work with customers on a one-on-one basis and further solutions are being considered at this time.
    • For more information on ATB’s relief program, please visit their website.

    Alberta credit unions

    • Credit union members will have access to a variety of programs and solutions designed to ease difficulties with loan payments and short-term cash flow.
    • Both individual and business members are encouraged to proactively contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation.
    What is my municipality doing?

    Consult our guide to see what your municipality is doing to support businesses in your community.

    Support for employees

    Workers’ Compensation

    Information and updates on workers’ compensation issues related to COVID-19 can be found on the website and on the COVID-19 Fact Sheet. The fact sheet includes answers to questions such as:

    • When COVID-19 may be work related?
    • Do I report cases where one staff member caught COVID-19 from a co-worker?
    • When do I report a case of COVID-19 to WCB-Alberta?
    • What happens when I submit a COVID-19 claim?

    Emergency Isolation Support (expired program)

    Alberta had an Emergency Isolation Support program that offered paid leave for employees without access to EI for receiving benefits like vacation time or sick leave. This program was available for small business owners and the self-employed. The benefit was a one-time payment of $1,146 meant to bridge the gap until the Federal program (CERB) commences on April, 2020. To access the benefit, the following criteria had to be met: 

    • The person will be required to state they require a direct cash payment, or they won’t be able to self-isolate.
    • The person must meet Alberta’s published criteria for self-isolation which includes persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate or have been directed by Alberta Health Services to self-isolate. 
    • Supporting documents (e.g. proof of salary) do not need to be submitted with the application but will need to be kept by the person to assist with auditing the programs effectiveness after the fact.
    • Note: applications for this program are now closed.
    Safety in the Workplace

    Alberta Health has updated their Non-healthcare Workplace Guidance During COVID-19 document. Find out more here.

    Looking for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

    Non-AHS facilities are encouraged to request PPE through the government’s one-stop email address at [email protected].

    Learn more about accessing PPE here.
     

    Municipal Mandatory Mask Bylaws

    Several Alberta municipalities have implemented or are exploring the implementation of a municipal mask bylaw. CFIB is encouraging municipalities to ensure that education and awareness remain the focus and take care that small businesses are not made entirely responsible for actions beyond their reasonable control should such a bylaw be put in place. We also want to make certain that a mask bylaw does not impose policing responsibilities on businesses or create confrontation between employees and customers. 

    CFIB recommends any municipality considering a mandatory mask bylaw follow these principles: 

    1. If the municipality implements a mandatory mask by-law, it is reasonable to ask business owners to prominently post signage advising of the rule. The municipality should make such signage available to small businesses at no cost.
    2. Any fines or penalties should be levied on the individual refusing to wear a mask, not the business itself.
    3. If a business is found without required signage or failing to request customers wear a mask or face covering, they should be informed of the requirement without any fines or penalties.
    4. It is reasonable for the municipality to ask businesses to remind employees or customers of the rules.
    5. Business owners should be permitted to ask a customer to leave their premises if they refuse to wear a mask.
    6. Businesses and their employees should not be required to evict a customer or refuse service if they believe it would lead to an altercation.
    7. Businesses should be permitted to take a customer at their word in determining if they qualify for any exemption from a mandatory mask rule.
    8. Any physical removal from a business premises should be the responsibility of local law enforcement and not a business or its employees.
    9. We encourage municipalities to work with the provincial government on a standard mask bylaw template to avoid a patchwork quilt of requirements for businesses with multiple locations across the region, province or country.

    The following municipalities have mandatory mask bylaws in place:

    Banff: Beginning on July 31, 2020, masks are mandatory for all enclosed public spaces and in the 100 to 200 block of Banff Avenue. A link to the town’s bylaw can be found here.

    Beaumont: Effective August 14, 2020, a mandatory mask bylaw in in place for all publicly accessible indoor locations and public vehicles. More information can be found here.

    Canmore: Effective August 7, 2020, masks are mandatory in all public indoor settings. Businesses are required to post signage in their business or face a $100 fine. More information and links to required signage can be found here.

    Calgary: CFIB was pleased to see the City of Calgary incorporate our recommended principles into their mask bylaw. Starting August 1, 2020, masks will be required on public transit, in public vehicles for hire (taxi, rideshare, etc.), public indoor spaces (retails, churches, etc.), and in all City of Calgary facilities. More information and downloadable signage for businesses can be found here.

    Chestermere: Masks are mandatory in Chestermere when an employee and client/customer must be within 2 metres of one another for any service provided. More information can be found here.

    Edmonton: CFIB was pleased to see the City of Edmonton incorporate our recommended principles into their mask bylaw. Starting August 1, 2020, masks will be required on public transit, in public vehicles for hire (taxi, rideshare, etc.), public indoor spaces (retails, churches, etc.), and in all City of Edmonton facilities. More information can be found here.

    Grande Prairie: Effective October 26, 2020, masks are required in all indoor public spaces in the city of Grande Prairie and the county. The bylaw will remain in effect until the City and County have remained below 100 active cases for 14 uninterrupted days.

    Jasper: Effective August 4, 2020, masks are mandatory on Jasper's downtown sidewalks and in all indoor public spaces. More information can be found here.

    Lethbridge: Effective August 7, 2020, masks are mandatory in all public spaces owned by the City of Lethbridge. More information can be found here.

    Okotoks: Effective October 26, 2020, masks are required in all indoor public spaces in Okotoks. The bylaw will remain in effect until Okotoks' active cases are under 15 for 30 consecutive days.

    St. Albert: Effective August 4, 2020, face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces, including city facilities, retail locations, transit and vehicles for hire. The bylaw does not include schools, hospitals, or child care centres. 

    What is CFIB doing?

    With the emergence of COVID-19, our primary concern at CFIB is keeping you, your employees and your business safe. We will provide you with expert advice to guide you through this difficult time, as well as templates and policies that prevent viral transmission in the workplace. We will also continue putting pressure on governments to give your business greater relief—including direct income support.

    CFIB’s Alberta legislative team is working to make sure government officials know what your business needs are. We have asked the Alberta government to:

    • Expand eligibility requirements to Alberta's SME Relaunch Grant 
    • Extend eviction protection under Bill 23 - the Commercial Tenancies Protection Act, which expired on August 31, and suspend property seizures of shut down businesses
    • Recommended the government starts planning for potential business closures in the event of a second wave 
    • Ask the government to partake in CFIB #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign and encourage all Albertans to shop locally 
    • Encourage the government to support CFIB's calls to modify federal support programs such as CERB and CECRA

    FAQ on COVID-19

    We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the federal government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.