• Airdrie Chamber of Commerce launches online form for businesses struggling with Restrictions Exemption Program

    Written by Anna Ferensowicz Tuesday, Oct 05 2021, 1:26 PM

    The Airdrie Business Chamber of Commerce is coming to the aid of frustrated businesses that aren't getting the answers they need from the provincial government.
    Since the Restriction Exemption Program has come into effect last month, there have been businesses that are not able to find clear and specific answers as to whether or not they qualify for the program.
    "Different kinds of youth programs and different types of in-home structures, don't know where they fit in," said Marilyne Aalhus the Executive Director of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce. "They don't want to get in trouble. They want to follow the guidelines to the best of their abilities. So they're asking questions."
    Those questions were meant to be directed to Alberta Biz Connect, the provincial online platform meant to offer, "workplace guidance and support to help businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19 operate safely and support their recovery."
    However, Aalhus said that the portal is causing grief and precious time lost for businesses.
    "It does depend on how the business approaches it," she said. "There have been some [businesses] that have taken over a week and not heard back and others have heard back within approximately 72 hours"
    In an effort to speed things and to quell anxiety, there is now an online form that Alberta businesses can submit to their local Chamber of Commerce. A business can go to the online form, fill it out, and it will be sent to the respective chamber of commerce in their area.
    "After the form is completed, and your local chamber receives that information, within probably around 48 hours, we are then going to start writing letters to our local MLA, requesting that they support businesses with having a closer line of communication with the government," she said.
    This method shifts accountability to MLAs to provide answers for their constituents. The Airdrie Chamber of Commerce will then follow up with said business to find out if this route helped and clarified the questions a business had.
    "We're optimistic that by communicating this, more information will get to the provincial government, and hopefully, they [the provincial government] will either streamline how businesses can connect with them, or we will hear directly from our MLA's who will be providing answers to those businesses."

    On September 20th, 2021, Alberta's government announced that businesses had two options going forward; they could either: implement the Restrictions Exemption Program requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or businesses would be forced to comply with all public health restrictions.