A survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says 57 per cent of businesses in the hospitality industry are at risk of closure as well as 44 per cent in the arts and recreation industry.
The CFIB is calling on the Alberta government to increase financial support for small businesses as additional restrictions come into effect.
The decision to suspend indoor dining and limit indoor fitness activities will again push the economic recovery of these industries further behind. Small businesses in the hospitality and fitness industries have been operating under some of the most strict and longest-lasting public health orders for over a year. They are also at the most risk of closing and in desperate need of additional financial support, said the organization.
“Once again small businesses, especially those in the hospitality and fitness industries, are being closed to send a message to the public to stay home while little evidence is provided that dining with family or exercising is a real danger to public health,” said Annie Dormuth, Alberta provincial affairs director. “Furthermore, it is concerning we are over a year into this pandemic and over half of small businesses (56 per cent) say the Alberta government has not been doing a good job supporting them.
“It is vital the Alberta government ensures there is sufficient support for small businesses while they are kept under mandatory operating restrictions. We strongly call on the Alberta government to broaden the eligibility and increase payments to the new grant program.”
The CFIB survey found that only four per cent of the arts and recreation industry in Alberta has normal sales and eight per cent in the hospitality industry. The Alberta average is 28 per cent for all businesses.
While 70 per cent of Alberta businesses on average are fully open, that drops significantly for the hospitality industry at 17 per cent and the arts and recreation industry at 26 per cent.
“Last week the Alberta government turned off the taps to small business support by closing the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Relaunch Grant program. Meanwhile, applications for the much narrower replacement program, the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit, are not even open yet while small businesses like restaurants and gyms are forced to close their doors again,” said the CFIB.
“The Alberta government can support small businesses by broadening the following eligibility requirements of the new Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit and increase payments for the hardest-hit industries:
– Lower the revenue loss threshold from 60 per cent to 30 per cent, like the previous SMERG (Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant) program;
– Remove the requirement for businesses to calculate whether the total of federal and provincial support programs received exceeds 80 per cent coverage of their revenues; and
– Reopen applications for the SMERG program until the entire economy is reopened if changes to the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit do not occur.”