The Alberta budget paints a worrisome picture of the province’s debt outlook

Alberta small businesses face similar challenges with COVID-19 accumulated debt

Calgary, February 25, 2021 – On the same day the Alberta government released its financial plan, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) also released the financial outlook of small businesses. The government’s outstanding total debt is currently estimated at $98 billion, and this year’s deficit is expected to be $18 billion. 

Nearly eight in 10 Alberta small business owners have taken on debt due to COVID-19, with the Alberta average reaching nearly $186,000 per business. In total, small businesses in Canada now owe a collective $135 billion, over $21 billion of which is owed by Alberta small businesses.

“CFIB was very pleased to see the Alberta government take the well-being of small businesses into consideration by not introducing any new taxes, reaffirming its commitment to red tape reduction, and freezing the education property tax rates for a second year,” said Annie Dormuth, Alberta provincial affairs director. “Given the fragile state of Alberta small businesses, and that it will take years to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the government should not impose additional costs on small business, now or anytime soon.” 

However, lacking from the budget was a plan to get small businesses through the current crisis, which is still a crisis considering the government hit pause on its phased reopening plan earlier this week. The Alberta government has the ability to help small businesses, especially those hardest-hit in the hospitality and arts and recreation industries, by immediately making the funding earmarked for the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit available to business owners now through the current SME Relaunch Grant. 

“We reiterate our calls for the government to provide small businesses direct support now through the current SME Relaunch grant and eligibility requirements, not in April under the new Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit. It is unacceptable to ask businesses that are closed or under strict restrictions to wait until April to receive additional funding,” concluded Dormuth.

Read more about the budget here.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Annie Dormuth
Alberta provincial affairs director 

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region, including 10,000 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