Late last week, the Alberta government announced a one time payment of $2000 for small and medium sized businesses who choose to implement the restrictions exemption program.

But some in the Edmonton business community say more supports are needed.

“The $2000 that we’re getting is sort of like putting a band aid on a gaping wound right now,” 1st RND owner Mo Blayways said.

“While it’s very much appreciated, it’s unfortunately not enough to help dig us out of the whole that were going to be in.”

Blayways explained with the added costs of labour and signage to implement the program, the cash doled out by the province will run out quickly.

“From a financial perspective, I don’t know that you can quantify the exact number that it would take to make this easier on people, but I know there isn’t an unlimited amount of funds to go around either,” Blayways said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said many owners who have chosen to implement the program are struggling.

Adding the average small business in Alberta has more that $330,000 of COVID-19 related debt.

“Only a third, around 30 per cent of Alberta small businesses are back to making normal sales for this time of year,” CFIB director of provincial affairs Annie Dormuth said.

“We’ve never really seen an uptick above 35 per cent throughout this entire pandemic.”

It holds true for Blayways, who says heading into the fall they “really noticed a drop off in sales” when the restrictions exemptions program came into effect.

The restaurant owner says he would like to see more information and clarity on these types of provincial programs — but for now he hopes this funding is available soon.

“Everyday could be somebody’s last day in business these days and unfortunately having to wait 4 to 6 weeks isn’t a feasible option for somebody,” Blayways said.

The province says it is working to get the grant program up and running as soon as possible and that it should be ready in the coming weeks. It adds, it will also monitor the situation and asses if further supports are needed.

Blayways said the best solution to getting his businesses back on track is to get back to living without restrictions.

The province has also introduced a million dollar grant to help train staff to implement the REP and the fine for harassing employees has also been doubled from $2000 to $4000.

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