April 27, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Brief – April 24, 2020

This has been one of the most challenging weeks ever in Alberta business. From negative oil prices, crisis in meat processing, our challenged aviation sector, and the tragedy in Nova Scotia on top, this will be a week that we will remember, hopefully as a turning point.

One of the most consistent things we have been hearing is how we begin to re-open the economy while maintaining public health. We are engaging members on these plans and how to communicate them, more coming soon.

What we are hearing:

  • Members:
    • Large cap companies need more liquidity support.
    • Immediate attention needed to the cattle and beef situation by government due to COVID-19 problems at Cargill and JBS.
    • Many members interested in a safe and staged reopening plan to begin. Our businesses will not return to anything close to normal until demand starts to come back. Messaging and consumer confidence are very critical.
    • Managing employee confidence and comfort in workplaces is key. Widespread business-delivered testing will be essential in addition to PPE and other protocols.
  • Government:
    • Anticipated peak of Alberta cases is in the next couple weeks. Hospitals are well below capacity. Increased optimism around our ability to weather this surge. This may create the room for phased re-opening.

Policy Moves:

  • A joint federal-provincial commercial rent relief package was unveiled today. The Canada Commercial Emergency Rent Assistance is meant to lower rent by 75% for eligible small businesses whose revenue has been severely impacted. Commercial property owners can receive a forgivable loan to cover 50% of three rent payments for eligible small businesses for April, May and A package for larger tenants is coming next week.
  • More details were released on the federal oil and gas package released last week. There is general support for the orphan well funding; however, many BCA members are too large to benefit from the liquidity measures announced therefore last week’s package fell far short for Alberta’s needs. We are advocating for further liquidity measures from Ottawa to support large cap companies, which we understand will be delivered in a more sector-agnostic package.
  • We learned more about the innovation community support via the IRAP Innovation assistance program. $250MM is allocated to this program for tech and innovation companies that fell through the cracks of the other programs, with applications due Wednesday April 29.
  • The provincial government provided details on the Alberta portion of the abandoned and orphan well program, seeing $1 billion going towards getting service crews back to work.

Other Items: Opportunities: industry or industry/government PPE purchasing and possible coordination of shovel-ready projects.

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