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Alberta announces financial assistance for small businesses affected by Fort McMurray wildfire


August 10, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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Alberta’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade announced on Tuesday that financial assistance for small businesses affected by the Fort McMurray wildfire will be available starting in September.

Gover Bumatay cleans up his place of employment in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday June 1, 2016. Residents and business people returned after being evacuated during wildfires, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Gover Bumatay cleans up his place of employment in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday June 1, 2016. Residents and business people returned after being evacuated during wildfires, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Small businesses recovering from the wildfire will have access to two complementary recovery programs as they resume operations and support their employees, the ministry said in a press release. The first program – funded by the governments of Alberta, Canada and the Canadian Red Cross – will provide up to $20,000 to cover costs, including new equipment, property damage and cleanup. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has also allocated funding to support a second program to provide small businesses with wages and labour assistance, the ministry added.

It is estimated that as many as 4,000 small businesses have been affected by the wildfire in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The municipality plays an integral role in the Canadian economy, “contributing $91 billion to national GDP and 480,000 jobs,” the ministry reported.

Small businesses will be able to access the program by the end of September. Eligibility requirements for businesses will at a minimum include:

  • Operating within the wildfire evacuation zone as of May 2, 2016;
  • Located in Fort McMurray and the surrounding affected region;
  • Fifty or fewer employees (part-time and full-time); and
  • Demonstrate intent to operate or resume operations within the wildfire evacuation zone prior to Dec. 1, 2016.

“In the face of one of our country’s worst natural disasters, Fort McMurray businesses are showing incredible resilience and taking the lead in rebuilding their city,” said Deron Bilous, Alberta’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, in the release. “The Canadian Red Cross, Mayor Blake and I met with small business leaders here. They told us this is the kind of support that will help them get them back on their feet – we listened and we worked together to make it happen.”

More information on supports available to RMWB small business is available online at redcross.ca/AlbertaFiresBusiness and choosewoodbuffalo.ca. Local businesses can also contact the municipality’s Business Recovery Hotline at 1-855-RMWB BIZ (1-855-769-2249), which provides updates for business owners and links them to local resources.