Business information

In an effort to provide some support for local businesses, the Town of High Level would like to provide a number of useful tips and information on how our businesses can ensure continuity of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update July 15, 2021

The Jobs and Growth Fund is now open for applications.

On July 13, 2021, the Government of Canada launched the Fund to help job creators and the organizations that support them to future-proof their businesses, build resiliency, and prepare for long-term growth.

Announced in Budget 2021, Canada’s Regional Development Agencies are delivering the $700 million national initiative across Canada. Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) will deliver this program to help position western Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for long-term growth by investing in projects that will:

  • Support the transition to a green economy;
  • Foster an inclusive recovery;
  • Preserve Canada’s competitiveness and future-proof SMEs through digital adoption; and,
  • Strengthen capacity in sectors critical to Canada’s recovery and growth. 

For more information about the program and how to apply, please visit WD’s Jobs and Growth Fund website or contact a regional office. 

Updated June 2, 2021 

Government of Canada Announces Details of the New Canada Recovery Hiring Program 

Today it was announced that the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program, would be available retroactively to June 6, 2021.

The proposed Canada Recovery Hiring Program would help hard hit businesses hire the workers they need to recover and grow as local economies reopen. The program would provide a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of eligible salary or wages. It would be available to eligible employers who have experienced qualifying revenue declines so they can hire more workers, increase workers’ hours, or increase wages. This support would afford businesses with certainty that they can take on the extra costs needed to rehire and be ready to return to growth. Like with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, businesses would be able to access the program through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Support would be available retroactively to this Sunday, June 6, 2021, and businesses would be able to hire workers as their local economy reopens, or as they are ready.

The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Small Business also detailed the proposed extension of business support programs that have served as a lifeline to Canadian businesses through the pandemic. This includes the proposed extension of the Wage Subsidy, Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support until September 25, 2021. These programs are currently set to expire this month. Both the Hiring Program and proposed extensions are part of Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act, which is currently before Parliament.

The Hiring Program is designed to interact with the Wage Subsidy. The programs overlap so that, as Wage Subsidy rates gradually decline, eligible employers would still be able to receive the maximum support from the Hiring Program this summer if they hire more workers or increase workers’ hours or wages. This will make it easy for businesses to quickly hire new workers and do so at a pace that works best for them, as different jurisdictions reopen their economies at different paces.

The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Small Business also announced that the Business Credit Availability Program and Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program are being extended to December 31, 2021. Both programs were set to expire on June 30, 2021. This will ensure, with economies reopening and a path to recovery ahead, businesses will have the liquidity support they need to invest in their recovery.

We value our connections with every stakeholder, so please continue to stay engaged with us. If you no longer wish to receive bi-weekly updates on our government’s progress and important announcements, let me know and I won’t include you moving forward.

To get the help you need:  

  1. Visit the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan website for information about supporting your employees and your business. 
  2. Contact your local financial institution. Since we know most small businesses have a relationship with their local financial institution already, we’ve worked with the financial sector to increase their lending capacity to support you in this challenging time. They are an excellent first resource.
  3. Consult the Canadian Business Resilience Network, a partnership between our government and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to help your business prepare, persevere and prosper through this crisis. 
  4. Check out the new PPE Supply Hub – Canadian businesses in need of personal protective equipment, and businesses looking to sell these supplies can go to this hub to connect.
  5. Make the POST Promise to show employees and customers that you take COVID-19 prevention seriously by practicing key health and safety steps and maintain a safe workplace.
  6. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – for a free online course to provide businesses with all the information they need to reopen safely.

For assistance

For assistance at any time, please reach out to the team member below who represents your region. 

Innovation and Employment Grant

The Innovation Employment Grant will be delivered through the corporate tax system and will not follow a formal application process. 

The Cooperative Investment Program  

Travel Alberta is once again pleased to be supporting tourism businesses across the province through this program. It is designed to assist tourism operators, destinations and communities with consumer marketing activities and aid in the development of visitor products and experiences. Application intake dates: Spring – April 1-30, 2021 Fall – September 1-30, 2021 Questions? Contact your Cooperative Marketing Manager – Christopher Smith (Jasper, Edmonton and Northern/Central Alberta) 780-784-0073 or Christopher.smith@travelalberta.com

 You can read more about the Cooperative Investment Program HERE

 Canada Alberta Job Grant 

The Canada-Alberta Job Grant helps to cover training expenses for existing employees and new hires.  If you are hiring and training an unemployed Albertan, up to 100% of training costs could be covered, up to $15,000 per trainee. 

For further information, please contact: Grande Prairie-Beverly Lavender-Marsh, Beverley.Lavender-Marsh@gov.ab.ca

Fairview, Peace River, High Prairie, High Level – Deanna Basarab, Deanna.basarab@gov.ab.ca

Grande Cache – Louise Gale, louise.gale@gov.ab.ca

You can find out more about the Canada Alberta Job Grant HERE

Canada Summer Jobs

The Federal Governments’ Canada Summer Jobs is an initiative of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, which aims to provide flexible and holistic services to help all young Canadians develop the skills and gain paid work experience to successfully transition into the labour market.

The program provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees, to create quality summer work experiences for young people aged 15 to 30 years. Funded employers are not restricted to hiring students — all youth aged 15 to 30 years may be eligible participants. 

Applications for 2021 Canada Summer Jobs are now being accepted CLICK HERE 

You can find more information about Canada Summer Jobs HERE  

Community Futures Regional Relief and Recovery Fund 

This $962-million Government of Canada fund is to support small and medium size businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses can now apply for loans of up to $40,000 through RRRF. As the financing terms of RRRF and Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) are similar, rural businesses can choose which program to apply for funding.

Find out more about the Community Futures RRF program HERE  

Community Futures Training Opportunities Funding

Community Futures Northwest Alberta is offing a unique opportunity to undertake a training course of your choice. This offer is extended to recent recipients of our Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) and other Clients and Businesses in our Region of Northwest Alberta.

Small business owners are required to fill many roles in their businesses; for that reason, at Community Futures Northwest Alberta, we are offering to supplement the cost of a training course of your choice. 

Is there a skill that you are lacking? Maybe; bookkeeping, marketing or management? Is there some computer program training that you would like to do? Microsoft Word or Excel? Think of something that would assist you in the day to day running of your business.

Community Futures offers you the freedom to take a training course of your choice and receive up to $250 toward the cost of that training.

If you have any questions, please contact Andrew O’Rourke @ (780)926-0738 or orourke@cfnwa.ab.ca

You can download the application for the Training Opportunity HERE

Regional Relief and Recovery Funding (RRRF)

The Government of Canada and Community Futures organizations (CFs) understand the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the small business community throughout the West. As a result, the Government of Canada has made funds available to the CFs to provide support and assistance to SMEs through the rural stream of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).

Small business owners impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for loans up to $40,000 through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund provides funding to support businesses that have not been approved for supports through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) or the Emergency Loan Program delivered through Aboriginal Financial Institutions.

Please click the below link to access our secure online Loan Application Portal for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) Application.

Once you follow the link you will find a button to ’Sign Up’ for the Loan Application Portal. Enter your name, email address and desired password. You will then receive an email asking you to Verify your email address (make sure to check your Junk Folder or Spam Filtering if the email doesn’t arrive in your inbox).

After you click the Verify button in the email, you will be able to login to the Loan Application Portal and complete your application.

Apply Now

General Details:

  • Maximum loan of $40,000;
  • 0% interest until December 31, 2022;
  • No principal payments until December 31, 2022;
  • Principal repayments can be voluntarily made at any time without penalty;
  • 25% up to a maximum of $10,000 in loan forgiveness is available, provided the outstanding balance is paid back by December 31, 2022;
  • If any part of the balance is not paid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a term loan effective January 1, 2023; and,
  • The full balance must be repaid no later than December 31, 2025.

Eligible Uses for Loan Funding:
The funds from this loan shall only be used by the Borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the Borrower including, without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service, and may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation. Note that funds from this loan cannot be used to pay expenses already supported through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance.

Eligibility of Businesses

  • As per Terms and Conditions of the Community Futures Program, SMEs are defined as having less than 500 employees and annual sales revenue of less than $20 million, and produce goods and services for the market economy, regardless of their business structure (e.g. sole proprietorships, social enterprises, cooperatives, etc.);
  • The applicant has not been approved for other federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
  • The SME must have been viable as of March 1, 2020;
  • Established before March 1, 2020; and,
  • Must have been adversely impacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please note: Once you submit your application, you will receive an email notification that is confirmation we have received your application and are working on your request. Rest assured a CF representative will contact you as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

For more information you can contact Community Futures Northwest Alberta at:

Phone: 780-926-4233
Website www.cfnwa.ab.ca
Facebook page Community Futures Northwest Alberta 

Town of High Level provides COVID-19 information to local businesses

In an effort to provide some support for local businesses, the Town of High Level would like to provide a number of useful tips and information on how our businesses can ensure continuity of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

High Level CAO Clark McAskile noted the information is part of ongoing efforts by the Town to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic on a number of different fronts.

“We appreciate the efforts of our business community in High Level in assisting with critical efforts to maintain social distancing,” he said. “We also understand some of our businesses are struggling economically at this time.”

The information provided is intended to assist businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace with guidelines for disinfection as well as customer management.

It includes advice on mapping essential functions and the role the business plays in the community; information on planning and dealing with absenteeism during the pandemic as workers may be forced to self-isolate; advice on respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene; as well as guidelines on disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces.

In addition, the Town is providing links to information for business to access government assistance and other programs available to them at this time.

“Business is the backbone of our community,” said McAskile. “Our hope is that we can all work together during this crisis and come out stronger as a community.”

Please read over the following information. For your convenience, the Town of High Level has provided a compressed two-page handout dealing with business continuity and maintaining a safe work environment:

Business Continuity Two-Page Handout

The following information is also available for download here:

https://www.highlevel.ca/DocumentCenter/View/1622/Web-Business-Continuity


Pathway through the Pandemic

MNP has released a “Pathway through the Pandemic” one page information sheet for businesses from a risk management perspective that provides a framework for prioritizing and navigating the most critical business risks triggered by COVID-19.

You can read more information for businesses provided by MNP on their COVID-19 Business Advice Centre.

You can view Pathway through the Pandemic HERE.


Maintain Healthy Business Operations

Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products.

1. Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize existing customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).

2. Identify alternate supply chains for critical goods and services. Some good and services may be in higher demand or unavailable.

3. Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.

4. Talk with business partners about your response plans. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.

Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children.

1. Plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace.

2. Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism.

3. Prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies.

4. Cross-train employees to perform essential functions so the workplace can operate even if key employees are absent.

Establishing policies and practices for social distancing. Social distancing has been ordered by the Province of Alberta. Social distancing means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately two meters) from others when possible (e.g., breakrooms and cafeterias). Strategies that business could use include:

1. Implementing flexible worksites (e.g., telework)

2. Implementing flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts)

3. Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite

4. Increasing physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive through, partitions)

5. Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events)

6. Downsizing operations

7. Delivering services remotely (e.g. phone, video, or web)

8. Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery

Employers with more than one business location are encouraged to provide local managers with the authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their COVID-19 response plan based on local conditions.

Employers are encouraged to review the Business Continuity Workbook from Community Futures https://www.communityfutures.ca/index.php?q=small-business-toolkit

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Maintain a healthy work environment

Consider improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system. This may include some or all of the following activities:

1. Increase ventilation rates.

2. Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.

Support respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene for employees, customers, and worksite visitors:

1. Limit the use of cash. Encourage no-touch payments and disinfect point of sale terminals after each use.

2. Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.

3. Provide soap and water in the workplace. If soap and water are not readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be chosen over hand sanitizer. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained.

4. Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.

5. Place posters that encourage hand hygiene to help stop the spread at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.

6. Discourage handshaking – encourage the use of other noncontact methods of greeting.

7. Direct employees to visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands protocols for more information.

8. Consider limiting the number of people allowed in retail businesses; especially in the sales floor.

a. The Town of High Level recommends a limit of 1 person per 1,000 square feet of retail space, including staff. Business with less than 1,000 square feet of retail space should limit the number of people to 1 customer and 1 sales staff.

b. Place staff at entrances to monitor store limit restrictions

c. Be prepared to turn away customers displaying COVD-19 symptoms

d. Do not allow people to congregate outside of doors or in vestibules

e. If queueing is necessary provide spaces or guidelines to enforce social distancing

Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection:

1. Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs.

2. If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

3. For disinfection, most common household disinfectants should be effective. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

4. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.

5. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools and equipment) can be wiped down by employees before each use. To disinfect, use products that meet Health Canada’s criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19/list.html#tbl1

6. Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility:

7. If a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow the Health Canada cleaning and disinfection recommendations. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/cleaning-disinfecting-public-spaces.html

Take care when attending meetings and gatherings:

1. Carefully consider whether travel is necessary.

2. Consider using videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings.

3. Consider canceling, adjusting, or postponing large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person.

4. When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.


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MNP Resources

MNP has provided information on supports available for business owners.

https://www.mnp.ca/en/posts/what-you-need-to-know-about-new-support-programs-for-entrepreneurs

For more information, please visit www.highlevel.ca.