LAST UPDATED: July 29, 2020
Masks mandatory in all Edmonton indoor public spaces starting Aug. 1
Face masks will be mandatory in all indoor public spaces starting Saturday, after city council passed a temporary bylaw. The bylaw requires people to wear face coverings at all times while in indoor or enclosed public places or public vehicles. It includes indoor spaces that are both public and privately owned.
Calgary to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces as of Aug. 1
The City of Calgary will make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces starting Aug. 1. Council voted 12-3 in favour of the new bylaw on Tuesday. The bylaw, which will require people to wear a face covering over their mouth, nose and chin, would apply to all indoor public spaces in the city, like malls and grocery stores, and on Calgary Transit, in taxis and Ubers. It does not include schools, daycares and multi-family residential buildings.
Businesses will be asked to post signs notifying people of the rule, but will not be expected to deny service to those who don't wear masks, as there are exemptions.
The bylaw will not apply to children under age 2, people with underlying medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear a mask, people who are eating or drinking, or people who are engaging in a fitness activity, among other exemptions.
Those who fail to wear a mask and don't meet those exemptions could be fined $100 to $200, but city officials say the focus will be on education over ticketing.
Edmonton city council to debate making masks mandatory
Edmonton city council will meet Thursday to debate whether to make it mandatory for people to wear masks in indoor public places.
Regina working to streamline pot store application process as market opens up
The City of Regina is working to streamline the application process for marijuana retail stores in the city once the cap is lifted on the number of stores allowed in each community. The Saskatchewan government announced last October that the cap on stores in communities would be lifted in September of this year. In a delegation to the city's planning commission meeting on Wednesday, one pot shop owner expressed concern over the plan.
The committee voted in favour of a change to the wording of the zoning bylaw
, which would essentially ensure prospective applicants for permits to open new stores are approved and cleared by the province prior to applying to the City of Regina.
An amendment, introduced by Coun. Andrew Stevens, was approved to prepare a report on the economic impact assessment on the city as a result of legalization. That report is expected back before the committee in 2021. Stevens, who noted the agenda item was about the application process and not the market, said the meeting highlighted the city's opportunity to get ahead of the provincial government when the process changes in the fall.
The decision needs approval by city council, which will meet July 29.
Regina city council considering $2M grant program for struggling businesses
Regina's executive committee is considering a plan that could provide relief for businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. If approved, the city would set aside a $2 million pot of money that could be divvied out to businesses through grants. Businesses could apply for grants of between $1,000 to $25,000, as long as they agree to match whatever money they receive. Regina's chamber of commerce would help oversee the grant program.
Mayor Michael Fougere said he supports the idea for the most part, but said council will need to narrow down which businesses will be allowed to apply. The executive committee approved the plan, which will go before city council for further discussion on July 29.
Alberta government proposes new agency to attract investment
Bill 33, the Alberta Investment Attraction Act, would allow for the creation of the corporation, which would be governed by a board that would have up to seven members. The bill was introduced in the legislature on Tuesday by Tanya Fir, the minister of economic development, trade and tourism.
The Invest Alberta Corporation would have a budget of $18 million over the next three years to fulfil a mandate of pulling foreign dollars into Alberta as part of an effort to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.
If the legislation passes, cabinet will appoint up to seven board members, one of whom will be a member of executive council. The board will in turn select a CEO.
Alberta providing free non-medical masks to Albertans at drive-thrus resumes Monday
A Alberta program giving non-medical masks to Albertans through drive-thrus is set to resume on July 13. In June, 20 million masks were distributed through restaurants, municipalities, and long-term care facilities as well as First Nations and Métis settlements, according to a Sunday morning news release from the province. The province said the second round will distribute another 20 million masks.
About 600 A&W, McDonald's and Tim Hortons locations across Alberta took part in the program in June, giving away 14 million masks. The province announced it was pausing the program on June 22.
Outdoor gathering limit doubled in Alberta from 100 to 200 people
Alberta is doubling the number of people who can gather at an outdoor event from 100 to 200, officials announced Tuesday. The limit for indoor gatherings remains at 50.
More information on outdoor and indoor gathering restrictions is available online.
Sector-specific recommendations during the relaunch are also available online.
Alberta recovery plan: billions in infrastructure, cut corporate taxes
Alberta will spend billions on infrastructure projects, cut its corporate tax rate, establish a new investment agency and introduce a series of targeted incentives for industry as part of a plan to restart its economy. Premier Jason Kenney said his government would spend $10 billion on projects that will immediately create jobs, including health-care facilities, pipelines, schools, drug treatment centres and more. He said the government anticipates the creation of 50,000 jobs directly tied to the projects across the province. .
Alberta has been hurt by oil price wars and COVID-19 pandemic. It has seen its deficit balloon from a projected $7 billion to $20 billion this year. Its most recent budget was based on oil fetching $58 US per barrel, a forecast critics called rosy at the time, and was rushed through the legislature as a battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia cratered the price and the global pandemic settled on Alberta. Economists are predicting a severe recession in the once-booming province and even Kenney has warned of "a great fiscal reckoning" to come in a province that has tied its fortunes to the swings of its main commodity.
In addition to the spending announced today, Kenney also said his government would speed up the implementation of corporate tax cuts, slashing the rate to eight per cent from 10 per cent starting on July 1. The plan will offer incentives for the tech sector to employ workers and will funnel $175 million into the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to provide venture capital to startups. As well, a new agency, Investment Alberta, will set up international offices and pitch Alberta to potential investors. Sector-specific initiatives to spur diversification will be unveiled in the coming days and weeks.
Read more about Alberta's Recovery Plan
Alberta: SME Relaunch Grant accepting applications
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that were ordered to close or curtail operations, and that experienced a revenue reduction of at least 50 per cent, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible organizations can apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding.
Businesses, cooperatives and non-profits can use these funds as they see fit to help offset a portion of their relaunch costs, such as implementing measures to minimize the risk of virus transmission, which could include:
For more information on the SME Relaunch Grant
- physical barriers
- purchasing personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies
- paying rent and employee wages
- replacing inventory and more
Alberta pharmacists to begin offering tests for COVID-19
Alberta will soon begin testing for COVID-19 at community pharmacies, says Health Minister Tyler Shandro. Twenty pharmacies, located primarily in Edmonton and Calgary, will begin to offer swab tests to Albertans without symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19, Shandro said at a news conference Thursday. The number of pharmacies conducting COVID-19 testing will expand further once processes, flow of test materials and data is working well, he said. Each participating pharmacy will adhere to strict protocols and has the specialized skills needed to protect patient safety.
Alberta’s free mask distribution a huge success
The first phase of Alberta’s distribution of free non-medical masks has ended, with more than 14 million masks handed out at A&W, McDonald’s Canada, and Tim Hortons drive-thrus across the province.
Full News Release
Edmonton restaurants close after staff, patrons test positive for COVID-19
At least five Edmonton restaurants have voluntarily closed their doors after staff or customers recently tested positive for COVID-19. Greta Bar, at 10141 109th St., closed on Thursday after a customer tested positive for the virus. Other closures have affected The Pint's downtown location, Earls Tin Palace on Jasper Avenue, and MKT and Round 2 on Gateway Boulevard.
In an Instagram post, Greta Bar management said the customer was at the restaurant on June 14, sitting at a table with several of the restaurant staff.
Staff working that day will be tested, the post said. The bar is also urging customers who were there on June 14 to be tested.
Alberta: Protecting Commercial Tenants
The provincial government is proposing
Bill 23: the Commercial Tenancies Protection Act to protect eligible commercial tenants from having their leases terminated due to non-payment of rent during COVID-19. The act, if passed, would also prevent landlords from increasing rent, charging late fees or enforcing penalties on missed rent. The legislation would cover the period from March 17 to August 31; any rent increases that occurred during that time would require landlords to reimburse tenants.
Alberta: Continued support COVID-19 – extending unpaid leave
The Alberta government is proposing
Bill 24: the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act to support Albertans as the province reopens. The bill, if passed, will make amendments to current measures and introduce new measures. These include extending unpaid job-protected leave due to COVID-19 until August 2021, increasing the child care cohort size from 10 to 30 staff and children at day cares, and allowing for remote signing and witnessing of estate and care documents through two-way video conferencing.
Kenney not committing to keeping Alberta's minimum wage at $15
In response to a question in Question Period, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney would not say whether he'd maintain Alberta’s $15 per hour general minimum wage in a post-COVID-19 economy. Kenney responded to the question from NDP Leader Rachel Notley by pointing to Alberta’s high unemployment rate and blaming the former NDP government for what he called its "job-killing policies."
Rachel Notley’s NDP government gradually raised the per hour general minimum wage from $10.20 in 2015 to $15 in 2018.
After defeating the NDP and winning a majority government, Kenney’s UCP government introduced a youth minimum wage of $13 per hour in June 2019.
Alberta bill will prevent commercial evictions, but provide no rent relief
Today, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Minister Tanya Fir introduced Bill 23, the Commercial Tenancies Protection Act. The Bill will protect businesses affected by COVID-19-related closures from facing eviction, rent increases and late fees due to missed rent until Aug. 31, if their landlords have refused to sign up for the federal Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program even if they are eligible.
The Alberta bill does not provide rent relief to affected businesses. Instead, the government is presuming property owners and tenants can work out a repayment plan.
The decision to provide a discount on rent remains with the landlord, meaning they can still demand the full amount owing from March 17 to Aug. 31.
For more information
Alberta Reducing Red Tape
Bill 22: Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2020 proposes
14 legislative changes across six ministries. If passed, programs and services led by Energy Efficiency Alberta will transition to Emissions Reduction Alberta; unnecessary delays in the oilsands approval process will be eliminated; and it will be more affordable for non-profits to operate in Alberta among other changes.
Alberta will move to Stage 2 of relaunch on Friday
Premier Jason Kenney announced that Alberta will moved to Stage 2 of Alberta's relaunch on Friday.
Some steps of the relaunch that were scheduled to wait until the third stage of the plan will be rolled into Stage 2.
Stage 2 measures – will allow more businesses and services to reopen with two-metre physical distancing requirements and other public health measures in place. That list includes:
- K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school;
- Libraries, with some restrictions;
- Places of worship;
- Wellness services, such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology;
- Personal services, including esthetics, cosmetics, skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment and tanning;
- Movie theatres and theatres, with restrictions;
- Community halls, with limits on attendance;
- Team sports, with restrictions, for up to 50 players;
- Provincial campgrounds can operate at full capacity
Areas that were part of Phase 3 but have now been moved forward include:
- Indoor and outdoor recreation, fitness and sports centres, including gyms and swimming pools, with measures in place;
- Concerts, casinos and bingo halls, arcades and video lottery terminals in restaurants and lounge.
Events and gatherings that can be larger in Stage 2 include:
- Indoor social gatherings – including wedding and funeral receptions and birthday parties, with a maximum of 50 people;
- Outdoor events and indoor seated events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies, with a maximum of 100 people.
- As long as public health measures and physical distancing are in place, there will no longer be caps on the number of people who can attend worship gatherings, or patronize restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars.
Fitness centre guidelines – specific guidance for operators of fitness centres will draw a line between high- and low-intensity activities, with more physical distance between participants required for high-intensity training.
For lower-intensity activities, a distance of two metres would be adequate, with some enhanced measures for the regular cleaning of equipment. For yoga classes participants should be encouraged to bring their own equipment.
Other measures would recommend operators do regular screening to make sure patrons or users are not ill, haven't been in close contact with someone who is ill, and haven't returned from international travel in the last 14 days.
Commercial Rent – Banning of Evictions in BC, AB, QC, SK and ON
The governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta banned commercial evictions in light of increasing reports of tenants being evicted.
Alberta may move to Stage 2 of relaunch before June 19
Alberta may be able to speed up plans to move into Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy, Premier Jason Kenney says. Final decisions have not been made, but Albertans can expect an announcement early next week, Kenney said Wednesday at a news conference.
Stage 2 of the relaunch plan has been scheduled to begin on June 19.
Under Stage 2, more businesses and services would be allowed to reopen, with restrictions. Businesses listed by the province under Stage 2 include movie theatres and live theatres, libraries, acupuncture and massage therapy, artificial tanning salons, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments and reflexology. Larger gatherings might be permitted in some situations.
Under Stage 3, the list of businesses and venues that would be allowed to reopen, with restrictions, includes arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events, nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas
Alberta partners with fast-food chains to offer free masks at drive-thrus
Albertans will be able to pick up free non-medical masks from the drive-thrus of A&W, McDonald's and Tim Hortons starting in early June. The Alberta government is distributing 20 million masks meant to help limit the spread of COVID-19, said Health Minister Tyler Shandro during a press conference Friday.
The masks are for situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as on public transit or while shopping. The province is distributing the masks through the three restaurants because they provide an ease of access, said the province's health minister.
Alberta launches new tool available for commercial rent feedback
The province has since launched a survey
for landlords and tenants to provide feedback on any challenges experienced in attempting to develop a payment schedule or meet financial obligations.
Edmonton launches $5M grant program to help business
Edmonton businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for municipal assistance through a new program approved on Wednesday. The city's new economic recovery program includes a 50-per-cent discount on business licensing fees — upon request — until the end of 2020. It includes $5.3 million in grant money, with $1,000 to $25,000 available to each successful applicant.
The city will implement the recovery program in two phases. Forty per cent of the grant money will be allotted in phase one, from June 10 to Dec. 31, 2020, and the rest will be delivered in phase two, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021.
Licence fees cut in half
Of Edmonton’s 36,000 businesses, 300 have already asked for the 50-per-cent discount on their licence fees. Council approved adjustments to the spring operating budget, moving money from one department to another, to free up the money for the grant program.
Alberta cuts training for barbers
Alberta has expanded the hairstylist apprenticeship program to include barber certification, enabling apprentices to choose the path that best meets their needs.
The new barber certification path enables apprentices to streamline their training and achieve certification in half the time. Hairstylist apprentices wishing to switch programs or who are currently working as a barber can receive credit for training they have already completed.
Alberta: Businesses can buy PPE from province until June 30
Alberta will allow private businesses to buy personal protective gear, including masks and gloves, from the province at fair market prices until June 30
, but after that they'll need to secure their own suppliers.
Calgary business owners excited yet wary as they reopen their doors
Today restaurants, bars and salons in Calgary can join the rest of the province in Phase 1 of reopening, as the city joins the rest of the province in Phase 1 of its relaunch, allowing salons and barbershops to reopen, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to allow table service at 50 per cent capacity.
Those businesses were given the green light to reopen on May 14 across the rest of the province but the cities of Calgary and Brooks have reopened at a slower pace due to higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in their regions.
Calgary, Brooks can join rest of Alberta Monday in Phase 1 easing
Calgary and Brooks will join the rest of Alberta by allowing bars, restaurants, hair salons and barbershops to open on Monday, while more COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted across the province on June 1.
The rest of Alberta got the go-ahead more than a week ago to move to stage 1 of the provincial relaunch plan on May 14, but the two southern Alberta cities were told to hold off on opening some businesses due to high COVID-19 infection rates — a last-minute announcement that caught many businesses off guard.
Starting Monday, hairstyling and barber shops will be permitted to reopen in Calgary and Brooks, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can reopen for table service at 50 per cent capacity.
The premier also announced Friday that as of June 1:
- Day camps would be allowed to open with restrictions.
- Post-secondary institutions would be able to offer summer classes with caps on participants.
- Funeral services and places of worship could expand capacity.
Alberta releases COVID-19 guidelines for sectors that may reopen this week
Tanya Fir, minister of economic development, trade and tourism, released the new online tool to help businesses that may be allowed to reopen as early as Thursday. The province's online tool has documents to help prepare businesses for stage one relaunch, including:
• Day camps
• Daycare and out-of-school care
• Hair salons and barbershops
• Museums and art galleries
• Outdoor recreation
• Places of worship
The website also includes guidance documents for sectors currently allowed to operate under public health orders, including:
• Disability service providers
• Farmers markets
• Golf course operators
• Health non-essential services
• Health sector PPE guidelines
• Homeless shelters
• Industrial work camps
• Private/municipal campgrounds
Under the current relaunch plan, May 14 would be the earliest date when some restrictions may be lifted.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects.
Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules.
In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan
she's got mixed emotions about opening up.
Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11
, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households
Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called
Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy
Alberta to partially open economy on Monday
The first step in Alberta's plan to reopen its economy will emphasize outdoor activities, with golf courses to open on Monday followed by shops, bars and restaurants by mid-May. Premier Jason Kenney detailed his government's plan for a multi-stage relaunch that will depend on the province's continued ability to control the spread of the coronavirus and curb the number of COVID-19 patients who need hospital care. The gradual relaunch plan will begin Monday with the resumption of some non-urgent surgeries and office reopenings for dentists, physiotherapists, speech and respiratory therapists, social workers and dieticians.
Provincial parks will begin opening Monday with some boat launches available though washrooms and garbage pickup in the parks will not be immediately available. The province will open as many campsites as possible by June 1 with Alberta Parks's online reservation system coming online May 14. Private and municipal campgrounds can reopen under their own authority.
Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands will begin on Monday.
Under Stage 1, some businesses and facilities could be allowed to gradually resume operations as early as May 14, including:
- Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores. All vendors at farmers markets will also be able to operate.
- Hairstyling and barbershops.
- Museums and art galleries.
- Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy.
- Summer camps with limits on occupancy. That could include summer school.
- Cafés and restaurants with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50 per cent capacity.
Under Stage 2, additional businesses and services would be allowed to reopen, with two-metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. That might include:
- Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions.
- More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination.
- Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage and reflexology.
- Permitting some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined).
- Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.
- Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.
Stage 3. That would mean fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place, and:
Alberta’s staged COVID-19 relaunch
- Permitting larger gatherings, permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events, with some restrictions.
- Permitting nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen, with restrictions.
- Resuming industry conferences, with restrictions.
- Lifting restrictions on non-essential travel.
Alberta releases updated modelling projections
The Alberta government released new modelling projections on Tuesday that estimate far fewer Albertans will require hospitalization and critical care when the coronavirus reaches its expected peak in the province in late May.
That new projection now thought to be the most likely scenario estimates that 298 people will be in hospital with 95 in ICU beds at the peak, if current trends continue. As of Tuesday, 82 people were in hospital with the illness, 21 of them in ICU beds.
The total number of deaths in Alberta has now reached 80, and the total number of cases is 4,850. The updated "probable scenario" estimates 596 people will require hospitalization when the virus reaches its peak. That's down from the previous projection of 818 people.
The regional breakdown of the cases was:
- Calgary zone: 3,366
- South zone: 685
- Edmonton zone: 486
- North zone: 202
- Central zone: 84
- Unknown: 27
Calgary extends ban on events on city-owned land to end of August
The City of Calgary has extended the ban on events on city-owned land until Aug. 31. Previously, the ban extended only until the end of June. That means the cancellation of 166 permitted events, including the annual Canada Day celebrations. Non-permitted events are not included in that tally. The announcement comes one day after both the Calgary Folk Fest and the Calgary Stampede announced their annual festivities would not go forward.
AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8
, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased.
Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8
. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth.
The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators.
Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.
On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate.
Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak.
It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
Alberta may be on track for 25 per cent unemployment rate
Jason Kenney made the prediction on Tuesday, as businesses continue to shed jobs and oil prices hit historically low prices. He said it will be the province's most challenging economic period since the Great Depression. Alberta is on track to hit a staggering 25 per cent unemployment rate as businesses continue to shed jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with historically low oil prices, Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the highest rate recorded by Statistics Canada since 1976 was in Newfoundland and Labrador, which hit 22.7 per cent unemployment in September 1984. Alberta's highest unemployment rate to date was 12.4 per cent, also in September 1984.
Read more about Premier Kenney’s Comments
Alberta to face its 'worst contraction' ever, ATB chief economist warns
The COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic fallout is poised to change Alberta's economy permanently, says ATB chief economist Todd Hirsch.
"This pandemic and this economic fallout will permanently reshape our economy," Hirsch said during a webinar hosted Thursday by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. "I've had a hard time in the last couple of weeks being an optimist on this. I do think this is something very serious for our economy … I do expect this to be the worst contraction Alberta has ever seen."
Hirsch acknowledged there are many unknowns in the coming months. There are questions surrounding how long physical distancing will last and how long it will take for global oil demand to return.
He said Alberta's energy sector is being hit extra hard, and entered the intensifying stages of this pandemic "already in a compromised position." Hirsch said he's "not as convinced" oil demand will be back up by the end of this year, citing concerns with transporting oil.
His views on the economy echo Premier Jason Kenney's statement last month that Alberta's oil and gas industry is "on life support."
Though the global economy could recover from the COVID-19 pandemic this summer, Kenney said Alberta's finances could suffer if an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia drags on.
While Hirsch acknowledged the present moment's downsides, he pointed out potential innovation and positive change during the pandemic. He said the downturn could encourage a higher value being placed on information and communication technology or a growing demand for locally-produced food products. Or perhaps the pandemic will help in developing innovative healthcare technology or an increase in innovation around clean technology. "To me, success will be that we do take this opportunity to purposefully diversify our economy," Hirsch said.
Alberta expanding child care for essential workers
Alberta expanding child care for essential workers
On April 1, Alberta announced an expansion of child care for essential service workers. The province has allowed child-care centres to reopen for a maximum of 30 people. The centres will be compensated for the reopened spaces that are not filled and up to $500 for cleaning supplies.
Alberta releases list of essential services
On March 30, Alberta released their essential services list following their announcement last week on the closure of non-essential businesses.
ALBERTA'S LIST OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES