‘When are we actually going to get it?’ Some Alberta businesses are still waiting for government grant payments

CALGARY — Some Alberta small business owners say they’re still waiting for the financial help the provincial government promised them months ago.

Alberta rolled out the third round of its Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG) funding in the spring.

It’s meant to help businesses that were forced to close or limit service during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some of the payments have still not been received.

“I’m curious as to when they’re actually going to distribute that money,” said Amanda Fex, the owner of City Fit Shop in Edmonton.

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“You do get to a point when you’ve been closed for as long as we have that you really are counting on that money to get you through these closure months and come out the other side. So, it’s tough when you don’t see it coming in.”

Fex said she applied and received funding in the first two rounds of the SMERG program without issue, but the third is taking weeks.

The money is for businesses that experienced a revenue drop of at least 30 per cent due to public health measures, up to $10,000.

Fex said she was approved for $5,000.

“That $5,000 would definitely help. I’m definitely not ungrateful for that that, I just find it odd. Why is it different for this spring grant than it’s been for the last few grants?” she said.

“When are we actually going to get it?”

TAKING LONGER THAN EXPECTED

The government said it’s paid out $620 million to 91,000 applicants since the SMERG program started in June 2020. Some applications may take longer to review and approve due to incorrect or incomplete information, a spokesperson for the province said.

“Those who are approved should receive their payment within ten days of receiving that approval,” reads a statement from Alberta’s ministry of jobs, economy and innovation.

But CTV News has spoken to nearly a dozen Alberta business owners who say they are still waiting for payments. One owner shared a screenshot of their application portal, which confirmed they had been approved and waiting for payment since April 23.

“We have definitely heard from at least up to 15 business owners in the last couple weeks who are quite concerned that they still haven’t received their payment,” said Annie Dormuth with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Dormuth is urging the province to hurry up delayed payments and properly communicate with business owners who are unsure of why they haven’t received the funding.

“This has been a common problem, I feel, since the third round was launched,” she said.

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The Alberta Hospitality Association (AHA) said businesses are relying on any and all funding help they can get as they recover from the rules and restrictions from the last 15 months.

“There’s so many small businesses waiting for that relaunch grant,” said Ernie Tsu with the AHA.

“We’ve got businesses from hospitality to coffee shops and cafes, from here to Grande Prairie still waiting for that relaunch grant.”

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