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COVID-19: Alberta restaurant owners say more financial help is needed to help them survive

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Some Alberta restaurant owners are speaking out about a new provincial grant to help them survive another round of COVID-19 restrictions. As Tomasia DaSilva reports, some are questioning the eligibility and amount – Dec 9, 2020

Some Alberta restaurant owners have questioned how much the province is actually helping them after announcing new, strict restrictions for the industry.

The Alberta government announced on Tuesday that it is expanding and increasing the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. The changes will lower the threshold and bump up the grant amount, which should extend funding relief to thousands of additional businesses.

However, not all businesses are eligible for this grant. John Sikking co-owns 10 IHOP restaurants in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and just recently opened a new location at Deerfoot City in northeast Calgary.

Calgary restaurant owners concerned with new restrictions and not enough financial help. Global Calgary

He told Global News even though planning for the restaurant started two years ago, it is still technically a new business and therefore not eligible for many aid packages from either the province or the federal government.

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“We’ve invested $1.5M into this new location,” he said. “Two years of work to get it going, and there’s no subsidy for us.”

Sikking added that the lack of financial aid will make it hard to survive, especially considering how much business slowed down when COVID-19 cases started to ramp up.

He expects the new restrictions which prohibit any in-person dining for at least four weeks will hit his business hard.

“We’re going to go down from about $40,000 in sales a week to maybe $6,000,” Sikking added. “At $6,000 a week — we won’t pay the rent.”

Read more: Alberta businesses react to new, tighter COVID-19 restrictions

Other restaurant owners, who are eligible for financial help, are also concerned about the grant allotment.

“It’s going to be challenging,” Noor Sadid told Global News.

Sadid, who owns breakfast stop EggsOasis Crowfoot, said while he is grateful for the help — it won’t go very far.

“We were locked down for almost three months the first time and now again,” Sadid said. “So $20,000 is absolutely not enough.”

He added the cash will barely cover the costs of keeping his business open and running which they have to do in order to be able to offer takeout and delivery.

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“Our fixed costs don’t go away,” he said. “Heating costs, electricity costs, the mortgage quite significant, the rent is significant.”

Calgary restaurant owner concerned with new restrictions. Global Calgary

Read more: ‘Catastrophic to our livelihoods’: Alberta businesses brace for possible 2nd COVID-19 wave

Global News reached out to the province with these concerns.

Jobs, Economy and Innovation press secretary Justin Brattinga told us that the changes to the SME Relaunch Grant will provide up to $20,000 to small businesses that have had a 30 per cent reduction in revenue, tripling the amount available in the second payment.

Brattinga also said, “the government has made a historic investment of half a billion dollars in the program.”

The ministry added that it is are aware of the issue for new businesses not eligible for the grant, and while no decisions have been made, “they are considering changes to ensure they have access to funding”.

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A full list of businesses and services affected by the new restrictions can be found at alberta.ca.

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