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Saskatchewan earmarks $50 million in aid to small, medium businesses during coronavirus pandemic

Saskatchewan earmarks $50M in aid to small, medium businesses during coronavirus pandemic
WATCH: On Thursday, the government of Saskatchewan announced $50 million in aid for small and medium sized businesses who have had to temporarily close or curtail their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatchewan is providing $50 million in financial support to small and medium-sized businesses that had to temporarily close or curtain their operations as a result of the government’s public health order during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aid was announced Thursday by the government of Saskatchewan and will be issued through the new Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP).

Grants will be paid to businesses based on 15 per cent of its monthly sales revenue, up to $5,000.

With over 151,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Saskatchewan, not all of them will qualify for the grant.

READ MORE: 3,075 coronavirus deaths forecast for Saskatchewan in low-range scenario: SHA

Eligible businesses must meet criteria that includes:

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  • Have been operating on Feb. 29, 2020
  • Have been ordered to temporary close or curtail their operations due to the public health order
  • Have less than 500 employees
  • Attest that they have experienced a loss due to a COVID-19 public health order and that they plan to reopen operations following cancellation of the public health order

“We recognize this support will not solve all of the problems facing businesses during this pandemic, however, this is the first step in our economic recovery effort,” said Premier Scott Moe. “We want to stress we are committed to working with business throughout what is a very unprecedented time.”

The Ministry of Trade and Export Development says the $50 million is an estimate based on the program being fully subscribed by eligible businesses.

This includes bars, restaurants, recreational and entertainment facilities and personal service facilities such as hairdressers, which were all ordered to temporarily close.

Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan announces new small businesses support program amid COVID-19
Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan announces new small businesses support program amid COVID-19

Business that had to curtail their operations are also eligible for SSBEP. They include dental optometry, ophthalmology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry, or chiropractor services. These businesses were mandated to provide emergency services only.

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Childcare facilities are also eligible for SSBEP if they meet the criteria.

Retail services are also eligible if they are not considered a critical or allowable business services.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Export, businesses that are still allowed to operate are not eligible to receive benefits under the program. A list of non-eligible businesses can be found here under the allowable businesses header.

Applications for the program open on Monday. Any business that qualifies for aid by the federal government will also qualify for the SSBEP.

“What we stepped in with, is a program to supplement those programs to bring in funding as quickly as possible so businesses can deploy to keep their business moving forward,” said Moe.

The government says the funding will be issued as quickly as possible.

On Thursday, the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce applauded the decision.

“COVID-19 is having a significant impact on business and our economy,” said John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.

“Many businesses are facing critical decisions about the future and the need for cash flow now to help with expenses like rents or leases. The reality that the payment will be expedited is also vital at this time of need and we commend the government for its understanding of the plight of business.”

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan clinics laying off staff after provincial billing code delays

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. All international travellers returning to Saskatchewan are required to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.