I want to start this e-newsletter out by mentioning that this week is National Volunteer Week – an opportunity for us to all thank the many volunteers who give their time, talent and energy to give back to our city and province.
This past year, more than ever, we have seen the dedication and commitment from so many volunteers in our communities. They have provided groceries to those in isolation, checked in on neighbours, and supported those who have perhaps needed someone to talk to during this pandemic.
Our communities are stronger because of those who give back in community service.
As we continue to find ourselves in difficult times, I am very encouraged to see the number of Albertans getting their vaccines. With the age limit being lowered for AstraZeneca from 55 to 40, we have seen lineups at the walk in clinic in Calgary (Telus Convention Centre) – this is a good thing. I am happy to share that I have made my appointment for AstraZenca and look forward to receiving my first dose next week.
As the province’s vaccine program expands, some Albertans have raised concerns regarding ability to get vaccinated without losing pay. As the Minister of Labour and Immigration, I was pleased to both introduce and see The Employment Standards (COVID-19 Vaccination Leave) Amendment Act pass in the legislature this week.Further details of what this amendment can be found below.
In this edition you will also read about further aid for Alberta’s small businesses and highlights of some of our amazing volunteers in our communities.
As always, if you have questions or would like to share your feedback please reach out to my office at http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
AstraZeneca now available for those Albertans over 40 years
Albertans now born in 1981 or earlier are now able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine through AHS, participating pharmacies and the Calgary walk in clinic. Alberta’s decision to reduce the age of eligibility for AstraZeneca from 55 to 40 is based on public health recommendations that indicate the benefit this vaccine offers outweighs the very small risk of adverse events from this vaccine. AstraZeneca has been shown to reduce infection by 60-70 per cent, and severe outcomes like hospitalization by 80 per cent.
Physician clinics now offering vaccines
There are now 10 physician clinics across the province participating in a pilot project to administer COVID-19 vaccines to eligible patients. Based on the learnings from this pilot, the program will expand to include more clinics in May.
Paid leave for COVID-19 vaccinations
This week I introduced the Employment Standards (COVID Vaccination Leave) Amendment Act, 2021 which passed through into legislation. This amends the Employment Standards Code to ensure working Albertans can access paid, job-protected leave to get each COVID-19 vaccine.
This will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated. Every working Albertan can access up to three hours of paid, job-protected leave for each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. All employees are eligible regardless of job status or length of employment.
Our government urges all employees and employers to work together when scheduling COVID-19 vaccination leaves.
This is the right thing to do and we will continue to take bold actions to protect Albertans lives and livelihoods while ensuring our economic recovery.
More COVID recovery aid for Alberta’s small businesses
Alberta’s government is expanding the small business relaunch grant to put more money in the hands of job creators.
The Alberta government is offering small businesses affected by the most recent public health orders another payment of up to $10,000 from the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant.
Alberta businesses affected by the latest public health orders will be eligible to apply for another payment in the second half of April. This additional payment will also be available to new businesses that began operating between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, as well as hotels, taxis and ride-sharing services.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG) offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that have faced restrictions or closures due to COVID-related public health orders, and have experienced revenue losses of at least 30 per cent.
Funds can be used to:
- Cover costs of items that help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
- Pay rent, employee wages or replace inventory.
- Help businesses expand their online presence or e-commerce opportunities so that they can continue to serve customers.
The program is scheduled to be open for applications until May 31 and is capped at $350 million.
For more information or to apply click here.
Alberta’s tech sector grows and creates jobs – rate of female founders is higher than global average
Alberta Enterprise Corporation’s 2021 Alberta Technology Deal Flow Study reveals the number of technology companies in the province has more than doubled since 2012. The majority – 58 per cent – are located in Calgary, 30 per cent are in Edmonton and almost 13 per cent are in other regions of the province. This is great for diversifying our economy and creating jobs.
The report also highlighted that 30 per cent of tech companies in Alberta had a female co-founder; this is higher that the global average. Although this good news, it shows that we still have a long way to go with creating gender equity in leadership roles.
Alberta signs small modular nuclear reactor MOU to address climate change
Alberta joins New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan in the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding to support the development of small modular nuclear reactors to address climate change. The Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Feasibility Study, formally requested as part of the MOU in December 2019, concludes that the development of SMRs would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions and position Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology. SMRs are nuclear reactors that produce 300 megawatts of electricity or less. They can support large established grids, small grids, remote off-grid communities and resource projects.
All provinces involved have agreed to collaborate on the advancement of SMRs as a clean energy option to address climate change and regional energy demands while supporting economic growth and innovation.
You can read the full announcement here.
Coal exploration halted on Category 2 lands
In response to concerns raised by Albertans, including those who participated in a recent online survey, Alberta’s government is immediately halting all coal exploration projects in Category 2 lands.
Almost 25,000 Albertans from across the province shared feedback to help inform the next steps of the coal policy engagement through an online survey from March 29 to April 19.
An initial review of the results illustrates that many Albertans have significant concerns about coal exploration. Based on this insight, the Coal Policy Committee – an independent group appointed to lead comprehensive public engagement to inform the development of a modern coal policy – has recommended to the government that coal exploration in Category 2 lands be suspended.
Energy Minister Sonya Savage has directed coal companies to halt exploration. The affected companies have indicated they will cooperate with the pause.
You can read the full news release here.
In our community
National volunteer week
This week I was pleased to celebrate National Volunteer Week. Volunteers have kept so many organizations and associations going while we have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note are our community associations, who worked hard to find new ways to help out, keep us connected and spread community spirit.
I asked the community associations to nominate a volunteer that deserves some extra recognition. I would like to highlight a few here:
Melanie Swailes – Brentwood
The Brentwood Community Association recognized Melanie for her great job with Development and Transportation. Thank you, Melanie!
Teresa Lynch – Silver Springs Botanical Garden
The Silver Springs Botanical Garden recognized Teresa for her work as board secretary and managing their tree and shrub group. She was also the contact for their engraved bricks and is involved with the naturalization project which will move forward. Thank you, Teresa!
Derwyn Hughes – Silver Springs
The Silver Springs Community Association recognized Derwyn for his assistance with their rink. Derwyn has helped with the rink for several years, among 45 other volunteers. Thank you, Derwyn!
Glenn Scott – Triwood
The Triwood Community Association recognized Glenn for his contributions as rink volunteer organizer. Thank you, Glenn!
It is great to see our local businesses rising to the challenge this past year has presented and becoming innovative with their space to continue to operate and serve customers. Joyful Java located at the Village in Brentwood now has picnic tables set up outside in the back courtyard. If you and your family are looking for a place to have a bite safely please drop by and support a local company. Their menu can be found on their website at https://www.joyfuljavacafe.com/menu.
I want your feedback. Please take a moment to answer the following question.
Our government has provided further supports for small businesses, do you think the government is doing enough to support small business in Alberta?
c/ Not sure
To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LSG5S3G
Thank you to those who took time to answer the previous survey question:
Do you agree that our government made the right decision to go back to Step 1 of the COVID plan in light of the rise in COVID and variant cases across Alberta and projected impact on our health care system?
a/ Yes 48%
b/ No 48%
c/ Not sure 3%