COVID-19 has had a negative impact on 81% of small businesses in Canada, with 32% of business owners worried their ventures won’t be able to survive the next year. So you might be pleased to hear about the small business grants program in Alberta.
In addition to the pandemic, Alberta has been negatively affected due to the state of the oil and gas industry in the province.
The Relaunch Grant was created to help eligible small Alberta businesses that were negatively affected by the pandemic offset some of their relaunch costs. Unlike loans, grants do not require repayment. For many businesses, the Alberta small business grants listed here are a lifeline they desperately need to survive.
Keep reading to learn all about Alberta's Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant — plus three other sources of financial support to check out.
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The SME Relaunch Grant
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant provides financial support to Alberta businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations that had to close or decrease their operations due to COVID-19. Applicants must prove that they lost at least 50% of their business revenue in April or May 2020.
Eligible organizations can apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 monthly revenue as a one-time payment, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Businesses are free to use these funds at their discretion and put them either towards their relaunch costs (paying rent or employee wages, replacing inventory, etc.) or other expenses such as measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (e.g. installing physical barriers, buying protective equipment and disinfecting supplies, etc).
Who is eligible
To be eligible, an Alberta business, cooperative or non-profit organization must:
- Be an active business/organization in good standing
- Already be open or planning to reopen
- Have less than 500 employees (full-time, part-time and contract combined)
Organizations with multiple Alberta branches can apply for funding for each establishment (using separate applications for each location) as long as the branch/location/chapter can prove a revenue reduction of at least 50% due to COVID-19.
An eligible business should not have received any payments, grants or amounts directly from federal or provincial government sources or insurance to replace the loss of revenue, EXCEPT from the following assistance programs:
- Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board premium relief
- Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
- Western Economic Development Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
- Government of Alberta grant relief funding for the child care sector
- Relief funding from municipalities
How to apply for the SME Relaunch Grant
The application intake is currently open and will remain open for four weeks following the start of Stage 3 of Alberta’s Relaunch strategy.
The first step is to read the program guidelines, create a user account and log into the online application portal.
All applications must be submitted through the online application portal before the application intake closure.
In order to log into the application portal, applicants must use their My Alberta Digital ID (MADI) login credentials. If you don’t have a MADI account set up, you must do it first here.
Before applying, make sure you have the following information in front of you:
- Legal business name
- Corporate Access Number (CAN) or Alberta Registration Number
- Permanent establishment address
- Financial details of pre-COVID revenue and COVID-impacted revenue
- Social Insurance Number (for sole proprietors only)
- Financial Information including branch, transit and account numbers
- Financial institution address
After you apply
You can check your application status on the main page of the online application portal. It will say either “submitted” or “review” meaning that the application has been flagged for manual review.
If your application is approved, you should have the funds within 10 business days.
Approved businesses will receive funding via Electronic Fund Transfer directly into their bank accounts. This grant is a taxable benefit and must be declared on your annual return.
As always, remember that every application and grant is subject to potential audit by the Government of Alberta. So make sure to enter the correct information to avoid having to repay the grant.
Other financial help open to Alberta small businesses
There are also other financial supports available to Alberta small businesses that were affected by the global pandemic. Alberta entrepreneurs can access the following programs:
1. The New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
The new rent subsidy supports businesses, charities and non-profit organizations that have had a substantial revenue drop.
This program subsidizes a percentage of eligible expenses, on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 65% of expenses, until December 19, 2020.
Organizations can make claims retroactively for the period between September 27 and October 24, 2020.
Some organizations that were temporarily shut down by the mandatory public health order can also qualify for a Top-Up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and get funding in addition to the 65% subsidy.
2. The Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021
This extension is meant to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and/or re-hire workers.
The goal of this extension is to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels and create more jobs.
According to the program, the subsidy will remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 percent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
3. An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
CEBA loans were created for businesses and not-for-profit organizations that are still seriously impacted by the pandemic. An interest-free loan of up to $20,000 is available to qualifying businesses and organizations, on top of the original CEBA loan of $40,000.
Fifty percent of this additional financing would be forgiven if repaid by December 31, 2022. Furthermore, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020.
Don’t miss out on these small business grants in Alberta
Many Alberta small businesses are able to continue their operations thanks to the Alberta small business grants. COVID-19 has affected most parts of our lives, and it will take time for businesses to get back to the way things used to be.
The Government of Canada is focused on helping small businesses survive the storm.
However, 76% of Canadian business owners are optimistic about the long-term picture and are confident that they can rebound after the pandemic.