COVID-19 Business Resiliency
The Chamber of Commerce along with the City of Grande Prairie and County of Grande Prairie Economic Development Departments are working together to provide a unified approach to supporting local businesses during these unprecedented times. Many businesses may be experiencing difficult choices or financial hardship during the Covid-19 crisis and below is a list of resources to help you navigate various levels of support. Please check back often as we update this page and provide additional resources, including locally hosted webinars.
For further insight and support, the partners will be hosting a series of webinars with local experts or referring to webinars hosted by other organizations that we believe to be of value. Please check back here for updated events.
Business Resiliency Through Covid-19 – Webinar #2 - Friday, April 3, 2020
12:00-1:00PM via Zoom Meeting with presenters Roselle Doyle and Ola Aigbokhai from the ATB Entrepreneur Centre in Grande Prairie
To register, please click here
COVID-19 support for employers and employees
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses
The Canada Emergency Business Account, provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits through their financial institutions. Up to 25% of the loan will be forgiven if repaid by December 31, 2022. More details HERE
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) applied at a rate of 75% on the first $58,700 earned by employees, representing a benefit of $847 per week. The program will be in place for a 12-week period, retroactive to March 15 and ending June 6, 2020. Eligible businesses of all sizes and from all sectors of the economy, regardless of the number of workers they employ, that suffer a drop of at least 30% in gross revenues due to COVID-19 in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy. More details HERE
COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre – CFIB
Finding the way forward: Guiding businesses through coronavirus (COVID-19) – Grant Thornton
COVID-19: Business Resilience – Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Helping understand the challenges and opportunities associated with running your business operations during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.
Chambers Plan COVID-19 Business Resource Centre
As per the Government of Alberta:
The businesses and services on the essential services list can continue to provide services at locations accessible to the public and must have proper risk mitigation measures in place, such as sanitation stations and appropriate distancing between customers.
The intent of this list is to provide general guidance to business owners and operators. It is not meant to be exhaustive.
Updated by the Government of Alberta as of March 29, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and distributed by the Provincial Operations Centre for the COVID-19 Pandemic
What are the new restrictions on business?
• Effective immediately, attendance at certain businesses and organization across the province is prohibited.
What businesses are affected by the new restrictions?
• The new restrictions are now in place for the following classifications of businesses:
o Close contact businesses including:
▪ hair salons and barbershops, tattoo and piercing studios, esthetic services;
▪ wellness studios and clinics and non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services.
o Dine-in restaurants will no longer be able to offer service. Take-out and delivery services will continue to be available.
o Non-essential retail services that fall into the categories of clothing, computers and gaming stores, and services in shopping malls and shopping centres such as hobby and toys, gift and specialty items and furniture. A more complete list of impacted businesses can be found online.
• All other businesses and facilities that have previously been ordered to close remain closed, including public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities.
o This includes gyms, swimming pools, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, community centres, children’s play centres, casinos, racing entertainment centres and bingo halls.
What happens if a business that’s supposed to close doesn’t?
• Any business or organization not following the public health order will be subject to a fine. Courts have the power to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.
• We are calling on every Albertan and organization to assist our public health efforts and do their very best to comply with the public health guidance.
• Anyone aware of a business violating these orders should submit a complaint online immediately.
How was the list of essential versus non-services determined?
• Essential services are public services that if interrupted would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the public. These services are also necessary to the maintenance and administration of the rule of law and public security.
• A list of workplaces considered as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic is available online.
How long will these restrictions on businesses be in place?
• Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of Alberta has ordered certain types of businesses to close effective immediately and remain closed until further notice. For more information, visit https://www.alberta.ca/restrictions-on-gatherings-and-businesses.aspx
• We encourage businesses to explore opportunities to continue operations through work-from-home and innovative business models.
If my employer provides essential services and I am reporting to work, do I need to provide or carry any sort of documentation with me?
• No. If your place of work is deemed essential, you do not need to carry any sort of documentation with you when travelling to and from work or while at work.
If my business/organization is defined as providing essential services, do I need a certificate or any documentation to continue my brick-and-mortar operations?
• No. If your business/organization is on the list of essential services, you do not need to take any action and do not require a certificate or documentation to remain open.
• All essential services must have proper risk mitigation measures in place such as sanitizer stations and appropriate distancing between customers.
• Anyone who must access essential services is to practice safe social distancing and good hand hygiene. If you feel unwell stay home.
If my business has been ordered to close, can I still go to my place of business to perform routine maintenance on the facility, attend to perishable products or property, or perform other necessary tasks?
• Yes, if you are the owner of a business that has been ordered to close, or employees, you may go to your business facility, as required, to take care of crucial tasks that cannot be done remotely or to retrieve necessary materials or documents.
What if I think my business should be closed, but they’re still asking me to report to work?
• A list of essential workplaces is available online.
• You are encouraged to discuss the situation with your employer.
• If your employer is not following the Public Health Order regarding closure of all non-essential services, violating these orders should submit a complaint online immediately.
Do restrictions apply to public rest stops? Private campsites?
• See the directions regarding mass gatherings – nothing over 15 people. But these facilities are neither private entertainment facilities or recreation facilities and therefore do not have to close.
Will shopping malls with essential retailers such as pharmacies, etc. be allowed to stay open?
• Essential retailers located within shopping centres can remain open; however, access to common areas of indoor shopping malls is restricted, and thoroughfares must be monitored to limit the number of people in these areas.
Are people in medical/dental clinics still okay to schedule emergency surgeries and care?
• Yes, emergency/urgent medical care will continue, including emergency dental care. If your dentist is closed and you need urgent care, they need to refer you to one that’s open. You can also call the dental association and college: https://www.dentalhealthalberta.ca/ Do not go to the ER for emergency dental issues.
Do these restrictions apply to informal services that don’t involve close contact, like dog walking, babysitting, Uber, etc.?
• No, they don’t apply to these types of informal businesses, but social distancing – keeping a distance of at least 2 metres – must be practiced.
Are outdoor recreation facilities, like archery ranges, included in the restrictions on rec facilities?
• Albertans have been asked not to attend some businesses at this time. Check online for the latest details on business, workplaces and facility closures.
• Businesses that can continue to provide services at locations accessible to the public must have proper risk mitigation measures in place, such as sanitation stations and appropriate distancing between customers.
What about long-term care facilities? Can I still go and visit my family members?
• We are taking COVID-19 extremely seriously and acting quickly to minimize risk and keep Albertans safe and healthy.
• Only essential visits to any continuing care or long-term care facility in Alberta are recommended:
• Individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.
• Families and friends of those in these facilities to think of other ways besides visiting that they can support and encourage their loved ones through this difficult time.
What about visits to congregate living sites?
• Effective immediately, we are restricting visitors to all congregate living sites.
• Residents are at extreme risk if exposed to COVID-19.
• We are asking that visitors are restricted to one or two people at a time and that those visitors be immediate family or designated support persons only.
• This will reduce the risk of loved ones being exposed to COVID-19.
• We ask you to also restrict visitation of children as children do not necessarily show symptoms of COVID19.
• If you are ill with fever, cough, sore throat, or runny nose please do not visit.
• If you have any symptoms, and if there is an absolute critical need for visitation to occur, such as in an end of life situation, visitors need to be equipped with PPE suitable for droplet and contact precautions, escorted to and from the room, and must not stop to visit with any other residents either before or after visiting loved-ones.
Should I still go to work?
• If your place of work is open, and you are not experiencing symptoms, you can go to work as usual.
• Practicing good hygiene is the most important thing Albertans can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes cleaning your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, and staying home and away from others if you are sick.
• Anyone with specific health questions or concerns should call Health Link at 811 for assessment and health advice. If you have questions about how the essential services list may apply to your business, email BizConnect@gov.ab.ca.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Albertans may experience financial hardship. To help your organize support clients with utility-related issues, the Utilities Consumer Advocate would like to share some valuable information and resources.
Utility payment deferral
Albertans no longer able to make regular utility payments as a result of COVID-19 can work with their utility company to defer all or part of their electricity and natural gas bills until June 19, 2020 – without any late fees or added interest payments. Utility payment deferral is available through all regulated rate providers, competitive market retailers, rural electrification associations and gas cooperatives for Alberta’s to residential, small business and farm consumers who use less than 250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and 2,500 gigajoules (GJ) or natural gas per year (the average Alberta household uses 7,200 kWh and 135 GJ per year).
To defer payments, consumers need to contact their utility providers directly. If they are on a pre-authorized payment plan and pay their bill by automatic withdrawal, consumers need to ask their retailer(s) to pause the payments during the program. Albertans can sign up at any time before the deferral period ends on June 19, when the repayment plan with their retailer(s) will begin.
In addition to the payment deferral program, utility companies will not disconnect electricity and natural gas customers in arrears, and services will not be cut off or reduced between March 18 and June 18, 2020.
Utility payment deferral provides temporary financial relief for Albertans who need it. Before June 19, consumers should contact their providers to discuss their options and set up a repayment plan to spread the deferred balance over future bills to make repayment more manageable.
During the deferral period, Albertans will still receive a bill that will show new energy and delivery charges and any previous amount owing. Any unpaid charges during the deferral period will be part of the deferral repayment plan.
For advice and support in negotiating a repayment plan to fit their budgets, Albertans can contact the Utilities Consumer Advocate toll-free* at 310-4822 Monday – Friday between 8:15 am and 4:30 pm, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Government of Alberta toll-free circuits experience an increased volume of calls. Please contact us at 780-644-5130 if you are unable to reach us through our toll-free number.
For more details on how utility payment deferral works for your clients, please visit: https://www.alberta.ca/utility-payment-deferral.aspx
The Utilities Consumer Advocate’s Mediation Services continue to be available to support consumers with:
· Resolving issues between consumers and utility providers
· Advice and information on how to shop for electricity and natural gas service
· Answer questions regarding utilities
For more information on the Government of Alberta’s supports for Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-supports-for-albertans.aspx.
Supported by the Government of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has established the Canadian Business Resilience Network to help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 reality and prepare for recovery.