Alberta business owners try to balance protection of their livelihood and their lives

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Alberta businesses try to balance protection of their livelihood and their life
WATCH: Recovery from Alberta’s small businesses continues to flat line, many fearing the survival of a growing number of them. But with the concerning number of COVID-19 cases, many wonder if provincial health officials should consider imposing even more restrictions. Jill Croteau reports – Nov 6, 2020

For two years, a mother and daughter team have been running their own boutique bakery in Calgary. With finesse and fondness, they’ve built a dream and they are very protective of what they’ve accomplished.

Cait Gerber and her mom, Kelly, have created a loyal following of clientele but are anxious about another potential lockdown. Cait Crafted: Confections is their prized investment and can’t imagine it being shut down.

“I would be heartbroken. I’ve worked really hard,” Cait Gerber said. “My mom and I did farmer’s markets and we started this place together and my dad designed it. We painted walls and laid the floors.”

“We run a ghost crew. It’s just me and my mom and this is the most important season for us going into holiday season,” Cait said. “The income over November and December, that’s what carries us throughout the year.”

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In-house made chocolate at Cait Crafted. Jill Croteau/Global News

But her entrepreneurship aside, Cait’s situation is unique.

She is guarded with her health too and is conflicted about the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

Cait Crafted: Confections. Jill Croteau/Global News

“That is a large source of panic. Small businesses don’t want to shutdown, but on a personal side of things, I have Crohn’s disease and am immuno-suppressed. It’s scary. I only come to work and only go to my apartment,” Cait said.

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The chance of a recovery from another shutdown continues to narrow for a growing number of businesses, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Keyli Kosiorek is a policy analyst with CFIB.

“Only about 70 per cent of small businesses are fully open and one in five are making normal revenues and 40 per cent are back to normal staffing levels, so they are nowhere near recovered,” Kosiorek said.

“If things continue the rate they have been, it would take them them one year and five months from this point to fully recover.”

The province is backing businesses. Premier Jason Kenney said its evidence of transmission in most establishments is low and the province won’t buckle to pressure to implement sweeping lockdowns.

“We’ve seen other jurisdictions implement sweeping lockdowns, violating people’s rights and destroying livelihoods — nobody wants that to happen in Alberta,” Kenney said.

The premier also had a message for those who want the province to impose more restrictions.

“I’m sure people who call for lockdowns are well intentioned, but I would ask them to be compassionate for people barely hanging on –restauranteurs whose life savings are tied up in those business that are barely surviving today,” Kenney said.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Lockdown would be a ‘massive impact’ on Albertans’ financial stability, according to Kenney'
COVID-19: Lockdown would be a ‘massive impact’ on Albertans’ financial stability, according to Kenney

Murray Sigler, interim CEO of the Calgary Chamber, said cases in Calgary are rising and it affects all Calgarians, business owners and patrons, alike.

“Calgary businesses have faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to restrictions would be very difficult, particularly for those in sectors that have not been able to return to pre-pandemic revenue or activity levels,” Sigler said.

“That said, we are at a critical point in the pandemic, and we must recommit to following all public health guidelines in order to limit the spread and keep our businesses open.”

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