Calgary, September 16, 2021 – Alberta’s new public health restrictions raises significant questions and concerns for affected businesses, in addition to imposing new costs and staffing challenges, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
“We appreciate the Alberta government is trying to avoid another full out lockdown, as it would be devastating to small businesses. However, the Alberta government must also think of the logistical challenges the incoming public health restrictions will have for small businesses,” said Annie Dormuth, Alberta provincial affairs director. “In other provinces with a proof of vaccination program, CFIB has received hundreds of calls expressing concerns and questions, from how to implement such programs, to what supports are available to train staff and what their legal liability is.”
Some of the questions we anticipate Alberta small businesses will have about the restriction exemption program include:
- What can they do to protect their staff who have to refuse entry to unvaccinated patrons?
- Do event venues have to refund contracts (such as a wedding) if the clients are unvaccinated? Do they have liability immunity protecting them from being taken to small claims court for a cancelled event?
- How can they avoid fraud? Are they liable if a customer presents fraudulent or doctored documents?
- If the business owner or staff are unvaccinated, does that mean they cannot enter their own business as a patron?
Businesses affected by vaccine passports need more support
A strong majority of business owners (73%) affected by other provincial proof of vaccination programs do not feel that their government has provided the necessary guarantees to businesses to avoid legal actions related to the use of government-mandated proof of vaccination. CFIB is calling on the Alberta government to support business owners by:
- Creating a strong financial support program to help small business owners deal with increased labour costs, loss of customers and new costs for smart devices
- Making sure businesses aren’t hit with new or ongoing restrictions while having to carry out a government-mandated proof of vaccine program. If businesses are limited to fully vaccinated customers only, policies such as capacity limits must be reconsidered
- Developing an official government poster/signage explaining the rules on vaccine passports and what customers must show to gain entry
- Developing training for small businesses and their staff to help them when it comes to dealing with a very divided public, including what to do if a customer refuses to comply with the rules
- Explaining the legal aspects of vaccine passports and develop clear guidelines addressing concerns around data collection
- Ensuring a system exists to allow businesses, such as gyms, to check the credentials only once for regular customers
- Clarifying that a business will have to use its best efforts, but will not be liable if facing a fraudulent or doctored piece of evidence or if a customer refuses to comply with the rules
- Developing alternatives for areas without readily available internet and who cannot use QR codes
"Let’s not forget businesses that will check vaccine credentials are also among the hardest hit by 18 months of closures and restrictions, such as restaurants, fitness facilities and event venues. Many are still not back to full capacity, they are carrying massive levels of debt, facing historic labour shortages and navigating the health and safety of their employees and customers. The Alberta government needs to provide significant support to these businesses if they expect them to take on yet another burden,” concluded Dormuth.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Alberta provincial affairs director
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.