Nearly one quarter of small businesses need additional relief but are not eligible for the new Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit
Calgary, March 18, 2021 – Direct feedback from Alberta small businesses confirms the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) initial concerns with the Alberta government’s intention to close the Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG) and replace it with the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit. Nearly a quarter (24%) of Alberta small businesses need additional support but are not eligible for the new Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit. A startling 94% of these small businesses are not able to access this much-needed funding because they do not meet the new 60% revenue loss threshold.
“The staggered easing of restrictions as laid out in Alberta's relaunch plan provides no real guarantee for when business operations can return to normal,” said Annie Dormuth, Alberta provincial affairs director. “Until the entire economy can reopen, and small businesses can once again serve customers in person without restrictions, the government must extend or expand support measures, not narrow eligibility requirements and close programs.”
CFIB strongly recommends the following changes to the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit:
- Lower the revenue loss threshold to 30%, like the current SMERG program;
- Remove the requirement for businesses to calculate whether the total of federal and provincial support programs received exceeds 80% coverage of their revenues;
- Ensure new businesses and sole-proprietors have access to the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit; and
- Keep applications open under the SMERG program until the entire economy is reopened if changes to the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit do not occur.
In the same survey, over half (56%) of small businesses said the Alberta government has not been doing a good job of supporting small businesses during the pandemic.
“Clearly the Alberta government needs to do more to support small businesses during this critical time. It can start by opening up the upcoming Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit under the same eligibility requirements of the current SMERG program,” concluded Dormuth.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Alberta provincial affairs director
Source for CFIB Data
Preliminary results for CFIB’s Your Voice – March 2021, online survey conducted March 4-9, 2021, n=3,351. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-1.6%, 19 times out of 20.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region, including 9,300 in Alberta. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.