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Weekly Update: March 5-11, 2021

Supports for Business

Alberta moves into full Step 2 of Path Forward

Albertans can now enjoy reduced public health restrictions while strong measures remain in place to protect hospitals and limit the spread of COVID-19. Completing Step 2 of Alberta’s Path Forward, updated health measures are now in place for retail, hotels and community halls, performance groups, and youth sports, performance and recreation. These changes are effective immediately. They are in addition to the Step 2 measures announced on March 1, as pressure eases on the health system and hospitalizations remain well below 450.

New under Step 2: Hospitalization benchmark – 450 and declining

Banquet halls, community halls, conference centres and hotels

  • These facilities can now open for all activities permitted under Step 1 and Step 2.
  • This includes hosting virtual meetings/conferences/events, permitted performance activities, wedding ceremonies with up to 10 individuals, and funeral services up to a maximum of 20 individuals.
  • Wedding receptions, funeral receptions or trade shows are not permitted.


  • All retail services and shopping malls must limit customer capacity to 25 percent of fire code occupancy, not including staff. This is an increase from 15 percent.
  • This includes individual stores and common areas.
  • Curbside pickup, delivery and online services are encouraged.

Performance activities

  • Individuals or groups can now rehearse and perform in preparation for filming or live streaming a performance, provided they adhere to public health guidance.
  • For adult performers and performance groups (over the age of 18), the following activities are permitted:
    • Individual performers or performance groups (up to a maximum of 10 individuals) can access facilities for rehearsals or filming/virtual broadcasting.
    • Larger indoor film and other performances will be allowed provided there is no audience and subject to an approved plan that follows strict new guidance, including regular lab-based PCR testing.
  • No in-person audiences are allowed for any type of performance.
  • Masks are required and three-metre physical distancing must be maintained at all times.
  • For children and youth, performance activities are permitted provided they follow the same requirements set out for youth sport, performance and recreation activities in Step 1:
    • Up to a maximum of 10 individuals with three-metre distancing between all participants.
    • No spectators or in-person audiences are allowed for any type of performance.
    • Masks are mandatory at all times.
    • Includes lessons and practices.
    • Includes youth development activities such as Scouts, Girl Guides and 4-H.
  • Performance activities include dancing, singing, theatre and playing instruments.

Youth sports and recreation

There is no change to the restrictions around youth sport and recreation.

  • The Step 1 restrictions around youth sports and recreation have been expanded to include members of college and university athletic programs:
  • Lessons, practices and physical conditioning activities are allowed.
    • Games are not allowed.
    • Maximum of 10 total individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants.
    • Physical distancing must be maintained between participants at all time.
    • Participants must be masked at all times, except during the training activity.

Additional details on the current restrictions are outlined on

Any decisions on Step 3 will be made on March 22, at the earliest, based on hospitalizations and the current spread of COVID-19. Metrics based on cases and growth, including variant cases, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions. More information.

Century Farm and Ranch Award 125 Year Recognition Program

The Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award recognizes farm families who have continuously owned and actively operated the same land for 100 years or more. Find out more about the criteria and application.

Exploring Alberta’s vaccine capacity

Alberta’s government is accepting proposals to understand and explore opportunities related to the province’s vaccine capacity as part of a long-term strategy to enhance our vaccine manufacturing capabilities. Companies and organizations interested in submitting their proposals can apply online, starting March 8. The application form will remain online with applications closing at midnight on March 21. More information.

Federal-provincial working group exploring ways to reduce emissions

The experience and expertise of Alberta’s energy sector will guide a new federal-provincial working group exploring ways to reduce emissions. The working group will consist of officials from the governments of Alberta and Canada and will be advised by representatives from key Alberta industries and other experts. The group will specifically explore opportunities with carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology, and how Alberta can lead the way in setting up Canada to be a global leader in emissions-reducing technology. More information.

New resources to help farmers discover beneficial on-farm biogas opportunities

With funding of up to $28,800 from the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, the CBA launched a campaign to help farmers learn more about biogas. As part of the campaign, the CBA launched, a new website with resources to help farmers evaluate the opportunities of biogas, including a self-assessment tool, answers to key questions, profiles of on-farm biogas plants in Canada and more. It also includes a checklist and links to biogas equipment suppliers and technical advisors, acting as a one-stop-shop to help farmers get started. More information.

Government of Canada announces support for Alberta hog producers

The federal and provincial government announced the launch of an initiative under the AgriRecovery Framework to provide up to $3 million to assist hog producers impacted by processing shutdowns due to the pandemic. More information.

Government of Canada announces next step in the creation of domestic carbon offset

The federal government announced draft regulations to establish the Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset System to reduce carbon emissions. The Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset System is a market-based approach. The system will support a domestic carbon trading market under Canada’s carbon price for industry – the Output-Based Pricing System (OBPS) – under which regulated facilities who exceed their emission limits can provide compensation by purchasing federal offset credits – an additional lower-cost option – generated from activities not already incentivized by carbon pollution pricing. More information.

Help Shape the Future Rules that Govern Space Exploration

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is currently undertaking a consultation process to learn about the priority issues and concerns for Canadian business as they relate to international treaties and rules that govern space exploration and utilization. We will contribute the views of our members to the CSA. To contribute your views, or if you have any questions, please contact Harrison Ruess by Monday, March 22. More information.

Backbone Angels Investing Group

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, Shopify launched a new angel investing group in Canada to back women and non-binary founders, with a specific focus on Black, Indigenous and women-of-colour-led companies. Called Backbone Angels, the group consists of 10 angel investors who have held various management-level roles at Shopify. More information.

Adapting meetings for a digital world

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for more flexibility in business operations and Alberta’s government is making that flexibility possible. If passed, the Service Alberta Statutes (Virtual Meetings) Amendment Act will change five pieces of legislation to allow organizations the option of conducting meetings and votes electronically, instead of in person. More information.

Modernizing the Irrigation Districts Act

If passed, Bill 54, the Irrigation Districts Amendment Act, will allow irrigation districts to borrow funds for large-scale expansions of their irrigation works, increase confidence for financial lenders, and lead to more consistent, secure access to funding for irrigation districts. More information.

Growth Catalyst Program Helping Alberta Businesses Scale up Despite COVID-19

Mount Royal University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with support from the federal government, is helping Alberta companies scale up despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the region’s prolonged economic downturn. Growth Catalyst is a pilot initiative led by the Institute addressing the scale-up gap in Alberta. The initiative is partly funded by Western Economic Diversification Canada, a federal program providing business support services across Western Canada.

Supports for Individuals

Questions about your T4A? Here’s what you need to know

Since the beginning of January, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been issuing T4A slips to individuals who received COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefits from the CRA in 2020. These benefits are taxable, and the information on T4As is needed when individuals are filing their taxes this year. As these slips continue to be issued, individuals are reminded to read all communications from the CRA. Some of this correspondence requires action, and ignoring it could result in the recipient not receiving benefit or credit payments they are entitled to. Read more.

Canadians are invited to participate in Open Dialogue on AI

The Government of Canada is launching Open Dialogue: Artificial Intelligence in Canada, a series of virtual workshops to better understand the public’s perception of AI. The workshops will take place from March 30 to April 30, 2021, in regions across the country and will include designated sessions for youth and Indigenous communities. All members of the Canadian public are invited to register and share their experiences with, understanding of, hopes for and concerns about AI technologies. More information.

Community Supports and Resources

Alberta’s 2021 Capital Plan spends $20.7 billion over three years

In addition to continued funding for projects already underway, the 2021 Capital Plan provides $825.8 million for new projects over the next three years, including critical health-care infrastructure and 14 school projects around the province. See the province's Capital Plan.

Funding for expanded surgeries

Alberta’s health system will perform thousands more surgeries to eliminate the current backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce wait times. Alberta’s government and its health partners have launched an aggressive expansion plan to provide 55,000 more scheduled surgeries in the coming fiscal year starting April 1. More information.

Government of Canada launches Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge to support increased vaccine confidence

The federal government announced the launch of the Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge. Under the Challenge, individuals and/or groups are invited to propose creative ideas for communications campaigns that will reach groups within their communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty finalists will be chosen by an expert panel and given $25,000 to develop their ideas and launch their campaigns. A grand prize of $100,000 will be awarded to one winner at the end of the Challenge period to reinvest in the protection and promotion of public health in their community. More information.

City Launches Interactive Major Project Map

To better inform residents of upcoming, in-progress and completed construction projects, the City of Medicine Hat has launched an interactive project map ahead of the 2021 construction season. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map can help identify major infrastructure ventures planned for the upcoming year. Residents will be able to use this map to see important infrastructure upgrades and learn more about each one. Each project on the map includes a description, an expected start and end date, and information about the project cost. More information.

City Receives Approval of Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Funding

In August 2020, the federal government announced the new COVID-19 Resilience funding stream under the existing Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The federal and provincial government adjusted previous ICIP parameters in response to COVID 19, allowing municipalities to choose whether to continue to use their approved funding for eligible projects under the original Public Transit Stream, or to reallocate for projects that would stimulate local construction and support economic recovery from the pandemic. The City is pleased to announce that the funding for all but one of the stimulus projects is now confirmed, with approval for sidewalk rehabilitation still pending. More information.

Taking action to prevent the spread of invasive zebra mussels

Alberta’s government is asking anyone who purchased moss balls after Jan. 1 to destroy and dispose of them. Live zebra mussels, which are an invasive species, have been discovered in moss (marimo) balls, a spherical, plant-like algae commonly sold at pet and garden stores throughout North America, including in Alberta. Albertans should destroy moss balls by freezing or boiling them, then placing the moss balls in a sealed plastic bag and disposing of them with their household trash. Moss balls, and any water they were in, should not be flushed down the toilet, put down a drain or placed in a compost. More information.

Emergency Fund Supports Wages and Projects at Universities and Health Research Institutions

The federal government announced that the government has provided wage support for up to 32,000 research staff whose salaries were adversely affected by COVID-19 and who were not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. In addition, the government provided help to about 22,000 research projects to cover unanticipated maintenance and ramp-up costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and that could not be funded by existing sources of funds. More information.

Local Measures Statutes Amendment Act

Bill 56, the Local Measures Statutes Amendment Act, 2021, would enhance access to emergency services and extend capital funding under the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) to 2023-24 and defers the introduction of the Local Government Fiscal Framework until 2024-25. The proposed act also supports the modernization of emergency 911 systems through amendments to the Emergency 911 Act. The act makes nine secondary 911 centres eligible for funding from a 51-cent larger wireless 911 levy. More information.

Modernizing the Metis Settlements Act

If passed, this act will empower Metis Settlements to create sustainable and self-sufficient communities to support future generations. Alberta’s government will update the 30-year-old legislation to set Metis Settlements on the road to self-determination. More information.

New pilot program for rapid testing in schools

Starting in mid-March, rapid COVID-19 tests will be offered at two Calgary schools to help assess rapid on-site testing in schools. More than 100,000 kits will be made available for this pilot program. Rapid tests will be offered every week for up to three weeks to screen students with no symptoms. Results from the first three weeks of the pilot will inform how the pilot program can be successfully expanded to include more schools and regions in the weeks ahead. More information.

Rapid tests distributed across Alberta

Rapid tests will support screening programs to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks at a wide range of businesses and sectors.  More information.


How Applied Research Can Support a Business-led Recovery

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) is pleased to be a part of the Canada’s Most Innovative Partnerships campaign. To provide insight for this campaign,  the CCC teamed up with Polytechnics Canada. Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, CCC Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology, and Innovation, and Sarah Watts-Rynard, CEO of Polytechnics Canada, a member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, discuss in an interview how applied research can address the unique challenges that lie ahead for Canadian business. Read the interview. See the full campaign story.

View the Business-Led Recovery resources here along with the highlights from the three distinct phases identified for the path towards recovery:

  • Making sure Canadians and businesses get through the current lockdown.
  • Making sure we reopen our economy successfully and never return to lockdowns again.
  • Making sure Canada has a viable economic plan to recover its damaged and transformed economy.
Women in the Workforce. This is Not a Women’s Issue; It Is an Economic Issue

As we commemorate International Women’s Day this week, we are also marking one year of the pandemic in Canada. COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect women in the workforce as employees and business-owners / entrepreneurs. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce Council for Women’s Advocacy released a statement calling on the government to immediately implement five recommendations aimed at supporting women and fostering economic growth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the recommendations.

New Resources

WCB Online App for Employers

Pay your premiums, get a clearance and more with the myWCB mobile app for employers. With the myWCB app, you can:

  • Request real-time clearance letters on an account and view your account’s status.
  • Check the balance on your account, make payments, update payroll, and change to a monthly payment installment plan by signing up for pre-authorized debit.
  • Connect with us directly, by sending a message or requesting a callback.

...all through your phone. Download the app to get started today. Now available in Google Play and the App Store.

Five Ways to Streamline your Energy Savings for Business (ESB) Program application

To make your ESB project submission process even more efficient, we have five tips on how to successfully submit an application:

  1. Submit complete applications for quicker approvals
  2. Split applications for a quicker review
  3. Create a second account when using internal expertise
  4. Use technologies that are best suited for your project
  5. Wait to receive the next steps from the ESB Team

View the details and additional resources here.

New Online Platform Will Improve Understanding of Impacts of Climate Change

Natural Resources Canada, in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, has launched the Open Science and Data Platform (OSDP) for cumulative effects, an innovative online tool that provides Canadians with access to data and scientific publications that can be used to understand the cumulative effects of human activities. More information.

Featured Webinars

March 15-18

Tourism HR Canada’s Labour Market Forum | Register.

March 16

The Five Surprisingly Easy Changes to Make Your Business More Accessible | Register

March 17

Wagepoint Releases Small Business Resilience Report | Register

March 18

A Click Away - Trends for the Future of e-commerce in 2021 | Register

Flexing Your Operating Model: Scenario Planning for a Post-Pandemic Future | Register

Leading with Trust | Register

March 23

Industrial Revolution 4.0: Geoeconomics and Technology | Register

March 23-24

Alberta Rural Connectivity Forum | Register

Industrial Revolution 4.0: Geoeconomics and Technology | Register

March 24

Canada-Alberta Job Grant: Updated and Explained! | Register

Demonstration of the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub | Register

Simplifying Federal COVID-19 Relief for your Business | Register

March 25

Executive Summit Series 2021 | Innovation in a Business-led Recovery | Register

March 23-29

True North Free Trade Forum | Find out more or email to get your invitation to the online event platform. The online platform will allow you to complete your online company and personal profile, access content, see who else is attending, request 1:1 business meetings with anchor companies and register for the Forum's two-day program.

March 30

Business Continuity within the Family Business | Register

Retail E-commerce: The COVID-19 Experience | Register

Anyone Can Be a Victim: How to Protect Your Business | Register

Webinar Series

CPA Financial Literacy Webinar Series for Small Business | Register

March BBB Fraud Prevention Series: Register

March 10: Getting Into Retail 3: Connecting with the retail food buyers and business development advisors | Register

Women Entrepreneurs in STEM: Breaking Down Barriers to Starting a Business | Register here.

Alberta Innovates: Inventures Unbound | Free Pass

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