From the Province of Alberta
Additional financial support for Albertans and employers
More relief is on the way for Albertans and Alberta employers.
The government has made three significant decisions that will give Albertans and Alberta employers additional supports as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our priority is to keep our province strong while we get through these difficult times together. We’re doing everything we can to support Albertans and Alberta employers through this crisis. That’s why we’re focused on creating tangible savings for households and freeing up necessary cash for businesses to help them through these unprecedented times.”
Education property tax freeze
During a pandemic, Alberta households should not need to worry about paying additional property taxes.
- The government will immediately cancel the decision made in Budget 2020 and will freeze education property taxes at last year’s level.
- Reversing the 3.4 per cent population and inflation adjustment will save Alberta households and businesses about $87 million in 2020-21, which means $55 million for households and $32 million for employers.
- The government expects that Albertans and Alberta businesses will fully realize these savings and that municipal property tax levels will not be increased as a result of the lower provincial education property tax levels.
Education property tax deferral for business
When Alberta businesses are operating, they employ Albertans who can support themselves, their families and help keep the economy running. Effective immediately, the government will defer education property tax for businesses for six months.
- In the next six months, $458 million in cash will remain with employers to help them pay employees and continue operations.
- The government expects municipalities to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection. Deferred amounts will be repaid in future tax years.
- The government encourages commercial landlords to pass on these savings to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments. This will help employers continue to manage their debts, pay their employees and stay in business.
- Businesses capable of paying their taxes in full are strongly encouraged to do so. This will assist the province in being able to support Albertans through this pandemic.
“Eliminating the scheduled adjustment of education property taxes and deferring collection of non-residential property taxes will result in savings to Albertans and improved business cash flow. This measure will help Alberta households and businesses during this time – we want to keep Albertans working while we get through these difficult times together.”
WCB premiums deferral for private sector businesses and support for small and medium businesses
Private sector employers can save money on their WCB premium payments at a time when they need it most. These actions ensure the sustainability of the workers’ compensation system and that injured workers continue to receive the benefits and supports they need to return to work.
- Private sector employers will have immediate financial relief by deferring WCB premiums until early 2021, effectively for one year.
- Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.
- For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50 per cent of the premium when it is due.
- Large employers will also receive a break by having their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.
- Paying 50 per cent of small and medium private sector WCB premiums for 2020 will cost government approximately $350 million.
Additional measures to help families, students and employers
Previously announced measure taken by the province to protect Albertans and assist businesses include:
- The collection of corporate income tax balances and instalment payments is deferred until Aug. 31, 2020. This gives Alberta businesses access to about $1.5 billion in funds to help them cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
- $50 million to support emergency isolation for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate, including persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated. It is distributed in one payment instalment to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April.
- Utility payment deferral for residential, farm, and small commercial customers to defer bill payments for the next 90 days and ensure no one is cut off from electricity and natural gas services during this time of crisis.
- A six-month, interest-free moratorium on Alberta student loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.
Ninth Albertan dies from COVID – Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s Alberta Update for March 31
From the Province of Alberta
Update 18: COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (March 31 at 5 p.m.)
Sixty-four additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 754.
There is one additional death in the Calgary zone.
- Cases have been identified in all zones across the province:
- 453 cases in the Calgary zone
- 187 cases in the Edmonton zone
- 51 cases in the Central zone
- 50 cases in the North zone
- 12 cases in the South zone
- One case in a zone that is yet to be confirmed
- Of these cases, there are currently 26 people in hospital, with 11 admitted to intensive care units (ICU).
- In total, there have been 49 hospitalizations, with 17 admissions to ICUs.
- Seventy-five of the 754 cases are suspected of being community acquired.
- Seventy-seven confirmed cases involve health-care workers, including staff in continuing care facilities. We continue to refine reporting for health-care worker cases.
- There are now a total of 120 confirmed recovered cases.
- There are a total of nine deaths in Alberta – five in the Calgary zone, three in the Edmonton zone, and one in the North zone.
- Alberta Health is tracking outbreaks in the following facilities. Updates on confirmed case numbers will be provided in the April 1 update:
- Calgary zone: McKenzie Towne Long Term Care and Carewest Glenmore Park centre
- Edmonton zone: Shepherd’s Care Kensington
- Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographical areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.
- All Albertans need to work together to help prevent the spread and overcome COVID-19.
- Restrictions remain in place for close-contact businesses, dine-in restaurants and non-essential retail services. A full list of restrictions is available online.
- Albertans are prohibited from attending gatherings of more than 15 people, and they must continue to observe two metres of social distancing. This includes events both indoors and outdoors, such as family gatherings, weddings and funerals. Further details are available online.
Access to justice
The Court of Queen’s Bench will now permit counsel to submit master and justice consent orders for processing through email. More information: www.albertacourts.ca/qb/resources/announcements/processing-of-master-justice-consent-orders-by-email
Charities and non-profit organizations
Eligibility criteria for emergency funding for charities and not-for-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19 is available at https://www.alberta.ca/emergency-funding-for-charities-and-not-for-profit-organizations.aspx.
List of essential workplaces
The list of essential workplaces that can continue to operate in Alberta can be found online.
Emergency isolation supports
Emergency isolation supports are available for Albertans who are self-isolating or who are the sole caregivers for someone in self-isolation, and have no other source of income. Applicants can view eligibility criteria and apply at alberta.ca. To carefully manage the flow of applications, we are periodically closing access to MADI and the emergency isolation support. We will provide daily updates about system availability.
There is no formal deadline for emergency isolation support. This is a temporary program to bridge the gap until the Federal Emergency Care Benefit is available.
- The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
- This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately.
- Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.
- For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit alberta.ca/COVID19.
Youth worker, hockey coach one of Alberta’s latest COVID-19 victims
HIGH PRAIRIE, Alta. — The wife of a northern Alberta man who died this week of complications due to COVID-19 says he will be remembered as a loving father and someone who cared for youth in his community.
Shawn Auger, who was 34, died Monday morning in hospital after he was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus on March 16.
He is the province’s youngest victim of COVID-19 to date.
His wife, 35-year-old Jennifer Auger, says the virus particularly affected him because he had asthma.
The father of three was a youth care worker at the Youth Assessment Centre in High Prairie, Alta., about 370 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
His wife says they were heavily involved in organizing hockey teams and they often called the kids they coached their “hockey babies.”
“He hasn’t left us,” Jennifer Auger said Tuesday. “We gained a fighting, caring, wonderful angel and he is still working from beyond.”
A statement from the Valleyview Jets hockey club asks people to place hockey sticks on their porches as a sign of solidarity with Auger’s friends and family.
And a statement Monday on Facebook by Big Lakes County, a municipal district about 300 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, urged community members to get support during their grief.
“Big Lakes County is deeply saddened by the news of our first COVID-19 death,” the statement said.
“We are a close-knit community, and this news will be hard for everyone.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020
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