This week’s big announcement of a provincial strategy to begin to re-open the economy is welcome news for the business community. We are looking forward to working with the provincial government to ensure Alberta’s economic recovery and resilience is a model of success—and Albertans come out stronger than ever.

Here is what happened this week:

What we are hearing:

  • Government:
    • Premier Kenney announced the re-launch strategy on April 30. It outlines how the province will gradually and thoughtfully re-open on a phased basis. It includes 3 stages the first of which starts on May 14, to begin enabling retail to re-open, restaurants at 50% capacity and some personal services such as dentists, physiotherapy and salons. It includes several key measures to ensure public health and safety and three key performance measures that will determine progress to future stages. This is in line with the letter that BCA sent to the Premier asking for this phased re-open and offering support of business to ensure its success.

Policy Moves:

  • There continues to be no federal liquidity measures to support large cap, heavily impaired sectors in the Canada such as oil and gas, aviation or tourism. This is deeply concerning. BCA has repeatedly voiced its concern with Ottawa on this, as have many individual members who have developed numerous thoughtful proposals. We continue our advocacy on this critical missing piece in federal government programs.
  • Applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) opened this week. More than 10,000 businesses applied for the subsidy within the first few hours, with Ottawa expecting a million companies to eventually participate. As more provinces begin to unveil their frameworks for re-opening their economies, the interplay between CEWS and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is becoming an issue; there are concerns that many Canadians are unwilling to return to work for fear of losing their CERB payments. BCA is monitoring this issue and will be advocating for adjustments to these programs that protect Canadians, but do not erode the incentive to return to work.
  • The federal government passed legislation to enact a $9 billion aid package aimed at Canadian students. It includes $5.2 billion in benefits for students who do not qualify for CERB. It also made changes to CERB to allow self-employed workers who pay themselves through dividends rather than salaries to qualify for support.

Other Items:

  • Small business owners are growing concerned over whether landlords will participate in the Canada Emergency Rent Assistance program. A survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business showed that only one in 10 commercial tenants who need help will qualify and believe that landlords will apply for the program. CFIB calls it a good program in theory but the uptake has been lackluster so far.
  • The Bank of Canada has a new Governor as of June: Tiff Macklem, former Deputy Governor, has been appointed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau to replace Stephen Poloz.
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