Will Ottawa’s latest stimulus package be enough to spark Calgary’s economic recovery?

CALGARY — The federal budget has a lot to offer Albertans in terms of pandemic and business supports but many small business owners say they wouldn’t have lasted the year without Ottawa’s ‘survival’ funding and hope there is enough ‘revival’ funding to kick-start the economy.

Patios allow a fraction of the business since Alberta restaurants closed to indoor dining for a third time so it’s welcome news for some to hear Canada’s wage and rent subsidies are being extended until September.

“I’m happy to hear this program has been extended to September. I’d like to hear it extended to 2022 but its better than nothing,” said Gerard Curran, owner of James Joyce Irish Pub.

Alberta’s hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal budget also unveils a new program to make it easier for businesses to hire back laid-off workers or to bring in new ones.

“A lot of good things for our province and for Calgary,” said Murray Sigler from the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

More than $17 billion is aimed at shifting Canada towards a greener economy.

“Providing opportunities for Calgary businesses not just locally to spend in our province, for our reputation beyond Alberta,” said Sigler.

A good step, though not the amount Alberta’s premier hoped for from the feds for carbon capture.

“Not the $30 million Kenney asked for but a whole bunch set aside for green investments,” said Duane Bratt, Mount Royal University political science professor.

Money is also earmarked to help tourism and aviation sectors and to convert vacant downtown office buildings to housing.

“As we know all downtowns of all cities have been hit hard but Calgary’s is the worst off,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “There’s no additional operating funding for city’s this year and I know that many cities are quite concerned that particularly on transit and it’s going to be hard for them to budget their budgets this year.”

But the biggest chunk of the budget — more than $30 billion over the next five years — is going to early learning and child care, which is good news for parents as well as employers.

“That will help fill jobs in the economy as we emerge,” said Sigler.

The budget is a promising start that Calgary is watching closely.

“Those are all important steps, now with each of them the devil is going to be in the details. They are national programs we have to make sure Alberta, and Calgary gets its fair share because our city has been hardest hit,” add Sigler. “Our city has been the hardest hit of any metropolitan area in this country.”

The 1$7.6 billion to clean energy initiatives is being applauded by both environmental groups and major energy players, including Calgary’s Cenovus Energy.

Its CEO says the budget provides incentives to invest in carbon capture and other green technology and these federal tax credits and grants will help Cenovus get to net zero emissions by 2050, which is in-line with Canada’s stated goal, so it’s a program that will help the global reputation of Alberta’s energy industry.

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