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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. 

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. Alberta’s economy has gradually begun to reopen and will enter Stage 2 on June 12th.

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:

Stage 2 (current stage) - June 12

  • all retail businesses 
  • restaurants, bars, lounges, and cafes can operate at full capacity (cannot have more than 6 people at a table)
  • all farmers' market vendors
  • hairstyling and barber shops
  • museums and art galleries
  • daycares and out-of-school care, with occupancy limits
  • day camps, including summer school, with occupancy limits
  • Wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology.
  • Personal services (esthetics, cosmetics skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, artificial tanning)
  • Movie theatres and theatres
  • Community halls
  • Team sports
  • Indoor recreation, fitness and sports, including gyms and arenas
  • Pools for leisure swimming
  • VLTs in restaurants and bars
  • Bingo halls and casinos (but not table games)
  • Instrumental concerts
  • Provincial campgrounds at full capacity
  • K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance
  • Libraries
  • More surgeries

Social Gathering Restrictions in Stage 2:

  • 50 people maximum: indoor social gatherings, including wedding and funeral receptions, and birthday parties
  • 100 people maximum: outdoor events and indoor seated/audience events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies
  • 200 people maximum for audience-type community outdoor events, such as festivals, firework displays, rodeos and sporting events, and outdoor performances 
  • No cap on the number of people (with public health measures in place):
    • worship gatherings
    • restaurant, cafes, lounges and bars
    • casinos
    • bingo halls
  • More flexibility for ‘cohort’ groups – small groups of people whose members do not always keep 2 metres apart:
    • a household can increase its close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people
    • performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers)
    • sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players (mini leagues)
    • people could be part of a sports/performing and household cohort.

Still not permitted in Stage 2:

  • Social gatherings that exceed above listed maximums
  • Regular in-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12. Classes will resume September 2020
  • Vocal concerts (as singing carries a higher risk of transmission)
  • Major festivals and concerts, large conferences, trade shows and events (as these are non-seated social events and/or vocal concerts
  • Nightclubs
  • Amusement parks
  • Hookah lounges (permitted for food and drink only)
  • Major sporting events and tournaments
  • Non-essential travel outside the province is not recommended – this won't be lifted until stage 3 of the relaunch strategy
Supports for businesses

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

  • Commercial eviction protection: the Alberta government has introduced legislation to ensure commercial tenants will not face rent increases or be evicted for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19.
  • Small business grant program: the Alberta government is providing eligible small businesses and non-profits to access up to $5,000 to help with relaunch costs. This will be a one-time direct cash payment. Applications for the program are now open here. Applications will remain open until August 31 or for 4 weeks following the start of Phase 3 - whichever is later.
  • Corporate income tax changes: corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred until August 31, 2020.
  • Utility payment deferral: residents, agri-businesses and small businesses can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments until June 18, 2020 to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider. Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a deferral on all payments. Learn more about utility payment deferral here.
  • 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).
  • Education property tax deferral: the Alberta government has deferred education property tax for businesses for the next six months.
  • 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.

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

Employment Standards Changes
  • Creating 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.
  • Removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes
  • Removing the requirement for 2 weeks notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement
  • Removing 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.
  • Increasing 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
  • Streamlining 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

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

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

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.

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
  • 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.