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Weekly Update: April 23 – 29, 2021

Supports for Business

ICYMI: SMERG - Spring payment portal is now open

The application portal for the third Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG) is open! SMERG offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that have faced restrictions or closures due to COVID-related public health orders, and have experienced revenue losses of at least 30 per cent. Hotels, taxis and ride-sharing services are also now eligible for this payment. Eligible organizations will receive a payment of up to $10,000. Application intake for the program is open until May 31.

Additional Resources for Bill-71 - COVID-19 Vaccination Leave

Additional public resources for Bill 71 are now live and the web page for the COVID-19 Vaccination Leave has been updated to provide more information.

Increasing access to Alberta’s rapid testing program

Businesses and service providers that want to access free rapid tests from the Government of Alberta will no longer be required to have a health-care provider oversee their screening program. Alberta will be working with Alberta Chambers of Commerce to develop a program specifically for chamber members. Details will be available soon. Read more.

Vaccinating meat-packing workers

Vaccines will be offered to more than 15,000 workers at 136 federal and provincial plants across the province. Read more.

Register for Open Farm Days

Registration is now open for farms and ranches to be part of the next edition of Open Farm Days, which is taking place on August 14 and 15, 2021. The deadline for host registration is May 31, 2021. Find out more.

Alberta’s government MOU to renew the Partners in Compliance (PIC) Program

Alberta’s government has signed a memorandum of understanding to renew the Partners in Compliance (PIC) program. PIC is a voluntary commercial truck safety program that promotes safety excellence for commercial truckers and reduces red tape. It recognizes members who demonstrate a strong safety culture and operational excellence in commercial transportation in Alberta. PIC members can receive reduced administrative fees and bypass privileges at most provincial commercial vehicle inspection stations.

Supports for Individuals

New rent support for Albertans between jobs

Starting May 1st, Alberta’s government will launch a new Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit paid directly to tenants for up to 2 years for eligible Albertans who are below the local income thresholds and are currently employed or have been employed in the last 24 months and are not receiving social assistance. The Rent Assistance Benefit, formerly the Direct to Tenant Rent Supplement, reopened on April 1. This long-term benefit provides stable support for Albertans with the lowest income across the province.

Relaxing restrictions on continuing care visits

Starting May 10, updated public health measures will come into effect for continuing care facilities in Alberta. These protocols will increase the number of designated family/support persons for each resident, expand the number of people who can attend outdoor social visits and allow limited indoor social gatherings. Read more.

Finishing Phase 2 of vaccine rollout

Albertans eligible in the rest of the Phase 2C and 2D vaccine rollout are able to book appointments starting April 30. Find out more.

Investing in young Canadians

Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada intends to invest $5.7 billion over five years in measures to support students and young Canadians. These include:

  • Creating 215,000 new training and work opportunities for young Canadians, so they can gain valuable skills and experience in the workforce
  • Waiving interest on student loans for an additional year, which would help about 1.5 million Canadians who are repaying student loans
  • Providing more flexibility for the repayment of federal student loans, so no one has to make a payment they cannot afford
  • Doubling the Canada Student Grants for two more years to help over 580,000 students cover the cost of their tuition, school supplies, and living expenses
  • Expanding access to supports, grants, and repayment assistance for students with disabilities.

Community Supports and Resources

New mandatory measures will address growing COVID-19 cases in hot spot communities across Alberta

Targeted restrictions will apply to municipalities or regions where there are at least 350 cases per 100,000 people and 250 currently active cases. New measures will apply to junior and senior high schools, and sports and fitness activities in these communities. These targeted restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks for any community or area that reaches this trigger. After 14 days, the enhanced measures will be lifted once the municipality falls back below the threshold. Read more.

Alberta 2030 strategy to transform higher education

The Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy sets the road map for a re-envisioned post-secondary system focusing on high-quality education and the skills and training needed for Alberta’s future. The strategy establishes six goals:

  • Improve access and student experience
  • Develop skills for jobs
  • Support innovation and commercialization
  • Strengthen internationalization
  • Improve sustainability and affordability
  • Strengthen system governance

Implementation of initiatives under the Alberta 2030 strategy will begin in 2021, with additional engagement to occur as necessary. Read more.

The 2021 Census

Every five years, Canadians are invited to participate in the census to help paint a portrait of Canada's diverse population and the places where we live. The next Census of Population and Census of Agriculture will take place in May 2021.

CBP Continues Temporary Reduced Hours at Ports of Entry

CBP delayed the resumption of the summer hours schedule at the port of Wild Horse, Montana. Wild Horse will continue to operate on its’ winter hours schedule of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week with limitations on non-essential travel. The opening of the seasonal port of Chief Mountain, Montana has also been delayed due to the current travel restrictions. Read more.

Conserving the future of K-Country

Alberta’s government is planning $11.5 million in funding for new projects and more boots on the ground to enhance the visitor experience – made possible in part by a new Kananaskis Conservation Pass, a vehicle entry pass that will go into effect June 1.

Energy Minister halts exploration of category 2 lands

An initial review of the April 2021 survey, that more than 25,000 Albertans completed, illustrates that many Albertans have significant concerns about coal exploration. Based on this insight, the Coal Policy Committee – an independent group appointed to lead comprehensive public engagement to inform the development of a modern coal policy – has recommended to the government that coal exploration in Category 2 lands be suspended. The affected companies have indicated they will cooperate with the pause. The Coal Policy Committee is continuing to review the survey results to help inform the next steps in the public engagement process, with more information available in the near future.


Leading industry associations call for immediate action by federal government to prevent Port of Montreal strike

We urgently called on the federal Minister of Labour to use all tools at her disposal to ensure that Canada’s second-largest port remains open, including immediately introducing back-to-work legislation.  Read the statement. As a result, Minister Tassi announced she will be tabling back to work legislation to resume operations at the Port:

2021 Federal Budget: Canadian Chamber Policy Wins

Budget 2021 includes a number of announcements to support business, economic growth and job creation, as well as others that will be relevant for Canadian business. The Canadian Chamber was active in the lead-up to the budget advocating on behalf of our members. Check out the policy wins for businesses.

Have Your Say
Alberta Crown Land Recreation Survey

The Tourism Industry Association of Alberta (TIAA), together with 20 provincial outdoor recreation organizations, is working to better understand outdoor recreation on Alberta’s Crown lands. They are conducting a survey — a first of its kind in Alberta — to gather feedback from Albertans that will help.

The survey will remain open until 4:30 p.m. on May 17, 2021

New Resources

Mental Health 101

This series of free online tutorials can be used as a starting point for learning about mental health.​ Find them here.

Alberta 2.0 starts with talking about opportunities for our youth

As the province prepares for a robust post-COVID economic recovery, a key consideration for the future is ensuring young, bright and enthusiastic minds are at work in Alberta. Young Albertans are the fuel that will help propel Alberta 2.0. For this reason, Alberta needs bold collaboration across the commercial, social, and public sectors to develop a coordinated plan to attract, retain and develop the best and the brightest. This op-ed authored by Doug Black and David Finch shares their perspective. This same concept ties into the Chamber's recent report on economic impacts, outcomes and opportunities for Southeast Alberta in a post-COVID economy.
Doug Black is an Alberta senator and co-founder of Alberta 2.0. David J. Finch is a professor at Mount Royal University and a senior fellow at the Institute for Community Prosperity.

Retail e-commerce insights leading us out of the pandemic

Here are four expert insights from CPA Canada into how retailers should channel e-commerce efforts moving forward. Read more. Further, through the Harvard Business Review, they share insights into why you should Develop and Invest in Your own Direct Channel.

Economic Indicators at a Glance

Weekly Alberta Economic Review
Alberta Economy - Indicators at a Glance
Bank of Canada rates analysis

To find more stats visit our business resource page, the regional economic dashboard other publications on the Alberta Economy.

Featured Webinars

May 4

Canada Life’s Workplace Strategies for Mental Health | Link to Join at 11:00 am MST

How to use the right digital tools to win customers | Register

May 5

Industrial Revolution 4.0 Continues: Getting Canadians Back to Work | Register

May 12

Executive Summit: Re-globalization in a Business-led Recovery | Register

The SME Digital Transformation: How Top Entrepreneurs are Leveraging Technology in 2021 | Register

May 18, 19 or 20

How to Emerge from the Pandemic with a Digital Growth Plan | Register

May 20

The Art of Effective Digital Workplaces: Communication Style Workshop | Register

May 25

Family Firm Risk and Opportunity Mapping | Register

On Demand

Alberta Advantage: Watch Now

ICYMI: Top 10 HR Questions answered by Peninsula Employment Services now viewable on Demand

Webinar Series

April 8-July 22: Alberta Business Family Institute - Transition Planning series | Register

CPA Financial Literacy Webinar Series for Small Business | Register

Family Enterprise Leadership Series | Register

Succession Planning Webinar Series - May 11-June 22 | Register

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

Alberta Innovates: Inventures Unbound | Free Pass

View an overview of events and market intelligence related to the technology sector globally here

Federal relief funding with Vexxit: CEWS, CERS and CEBA | Watch now

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