We received a number of announcements from Edmonton today, programs and initiatives to help us move quickly into economic recovery.
$2 billion investment in job creation
In response to the COVID-19 recession, the Alberta government will allocate almost $2 billion from the 2020 Capital Plan to resurface roads, repair bridges, restore schools and fill potholes, all to get thousands of Albertans back to work.
The government is doubling the capital maintenance and renewal (CMR) funding in 2020-21 from $937 million to $1.9 billion by accelerating the capital plan. This will allow government to act quickly and work with companies across the province so they can keep their workers employed during these challenging times.
“These infrastructure investments will be focused on projects that can be actioned quickly. By doubling our capital maintenance and renewal project funds, we will deliver much-needed improvements to important assets, keep companies operating and most importantly, keep Albertans working. As the weather improves and buildings are empty, now is the perfect time for us to act.”
Jason Kenney, Premier
A long-term capital maintenance and renewal strategy ensures capital assets are sustained and repaired to generate the most value. These assets include schools, roads, post-secondary institutions, justice facilities and more.
By accelerating the capital plan, significant additional work will be undertaken, including $410 million for transportation projects. This includes an additional $60 million for operating, which covers work repairing potholes across the province.
“Investing in road construction and maintenance represents excellent value for taxpayers. This significant contribution will create thousands of jobs and economic benefits to communities across Alberta. On behalf of our 800 member companies, the ARHCA thanks the Alberta government for this substantial investment.”
Ron Glen, CEO, Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association
Filling jobs and keeping the food supply safe
The Alberta government has launched an online resource to help strengthen the food supply chain and fill agriculture and agri-food jobs.
Keeping Alberta’s food supply chain safe and intact is a priority. The new Agriculture Jobs Connector website is a tool for Albertans to find essential agriculture work opportunities and for essential agriculture businesses to find workers.
Currently, some farms in Alberta rely on a federal temporary foreign workers (TFW) program to hire seasonal workers. However, with travel restrictions, typical users of this program are concerned about the availability of foreign workers.
With so many Albertans now out of work due to no fault of their own from COVID-19, there is an opportunity for the needs of both employers in the agriculture sector and Albertans wanting work to connect.
“There are great job opportunities on Alberta farms and ranches. There is definitely a greater appreciation for Alberta’s agriculture sector, and this new website will help Albertans find an exciting new job in this essential service.”
Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Agriculture and food employers and workers can access hiring, job search and farm safety resources through the new Agriculture Job Connector at alberta.ca/AgJobConnector.
Agriculture employers are encouraged to post available jobs on the connector so the positions can be filled by hard-working Albertans who will help keep the food supply chain operational.
In the U.K., due to COVID-19, thousands of seasonal foreign workers were no longer available and a “land army” of thousands of British people came out to work on farms. This website will help connect an Albertan “land army” of non-traditional agriculture workers enter a new and important labour market.
Pandemic supports available for small business
Small businesses can seek free advice, coaching and information on COVID-19 resources and supports.
Business Link will serve as a one-stop shop to help small businesses learn about and connect to available COVID-19 supports based on their unique business needs.
Business Link can provide one-on-one guidance to Albertans who operate a small business or are pursuing an entrepreneurial venture. Small businesses can access a list of available supports on Business Link’s website, or connect with a business strategist by phone, email or live chat.
Business Link is also offering free programming through June, including webinars on a variety of topics, online events, and free expert sessions with lawyers, accountants, marketing specialists, e-commerce specialists and more.
“We are working closely with businesses and workers across the country to assess and address the impact of COVID-19. Our message to them is clear: We are here for them now with concrete measures like Business Link, and we will be here in the days and weeks to come. We will get through this together.”
Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“Small businesses inject billions into our provincial economy. They create good jobs and are a cornerstone of our communities. I’m pleased to see Business Link refocusing its efforts to make it easier for small businesses to access supports to give them some relief now, and to help set the stage for their future recovery.”
Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism
“At Business Link, we feel it is important to provide support to Alberta entrepreneurs as they navigate these difficult times. We want to break down the barriers to information and ensure business owners know what is available to them for support. We know that Alberta is in a tough place right now, but we want to ensure the small businesses that are the drivers of our economy can last long beyond this pandemic.”
Barbara McKenzie, CEO, Business Link
Business Link is a non-profit organization established in 1996 and is jointly funded by the Government of Alberta and Government of Canada. To access Business Link services, contact 1-800-272-9675 or visit www.businesslink.ca.
ED: Our Entrepreneur Coach Harvey Walsh is preparing to launch Zoom Cafés and broadcasts to help our local businesses during this episode. For information please email Harvey.
Keeping the supply chain open and moving during COVID-19
Alberta is temporarily modifying some regulations for truck drivers and railway operators to protect the supply chain and ensure Canadians can access necessities like medical supplies, groceries and fuel during the COVID-19 crisis.
Regulation changes will temporarily allow commercial truck drivers transporting essential supplies in direct support of the COVlD-19 relief efforts to:
- Work for longer periods of time, provided all safety conditions are met.
- Apply for fewer municipal and provincial overweight permits by increasing the limits on weight of loads some vehicles can carry.
- Be exempt from road bans.
- Be exempt from municipal bylaws that restrict the hours they operate and park.
These temporary adjustments are being offered as part of pandemic response efforts, provided all safety conditions are being met.
The regulation changes also allow provincially regulated railways to temporarily delay audits and retesting of existing operators’ skills and medical fitness, to ensure physical distancing requirements can be met.
“These temporary changes are necessary to ensure the critical movement of essential supplies as part of the COVID-19 response. It is important that we keep the supply chain open and moving, so that Albertans can access the supplies they need, including groceries, medical supplies and fuel, during the pandemic.”
Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation
Certain regulations are also being temporarily modified to allow Albertans to practise physical distancing:
- Albertans and businesses will have until 30 days after the public health emergency ends to file appeals to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board and 30 days after the ministerial order ends to file judicial reviews of the board’s decisions.
- The expiry dates of vehicle inspection certificates and decals will be extended to May 15 for those certificates set to expire between March 17 and May 15.
- Government is extending the timeline for most drivers who require a medical evaluation to provide their completed medical form when applying for or renewing their licence.