I recently found myself comparing the latest COVID-19 updates to Alberta’s unpredictable April weather. A hint of sun when I hear that most Albertans are following the advice of government and health officials by staying home to help stop the spread, then a snow squall when Premier Kenney released modelling data on cases and timelines, and overcast skies in between as we continue to receive updates about the difficult decisions our partners are having to take.
As we expected, the employment numbers tell a sad story. Statistics Canada’s March Labour Survey reports a 34 per cent decrease year over year in the Accommodation and Food Services sector. Some help is on the way in the form of the federal government’s wage subsidy legislation, passed by Parliament on March 11. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will provide a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of an employee’s weekly salary, whichever is less, for up to 12 weeks. The federal government also announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program to support the hiring of summer staff. And the Government of Alberta is partnering with Business Link to provide small businesses with free advice, coaching and information on COVID-19 resources and supports.
Even with these provisions, we know the impacts of the pandemic will continue to be felt. I want to assure you that Travel Alberta is here to work with and support our partners across industry and within government to manage the far-reaching impact on tourism.
You may have seen our “Stay Home. Stay Healthy.” campaign, which is one way we are responding to the crisis. It supports the Government of Alberta’s health messaging, encouraging Albertans to stay home to help stop community spread. The idea is, if we all do our part now, the sooner our industry can get back to business and Albertans can get back to exploring the province.
Launch of “Connections LIVE” webinar series
Based on your feedback, we know you continue to seek information to help you tackle your top business challenges in response to COVID-19. Travel Alberta is kicking off a weekly webinar series this Thursday, April 16 with a session on “Communicating with your customers during a crisis” led by Lisa Gorchinski, Director, Global Brand here at Travel Alberta. It’s more important than ever to stay connected with your customers and maintain your relationships. Registration is now open and you can check out some helpful tips in the meantime.
Alto Awards update
Understanding that your immediate priority is the health of your businesses, families and employees, the Alto Awards committee has taken the difficult decision to pause the search for the 2020 Alto Ambassador. The committee felt that while it is important to continue to find ways to celebrate our tourism heroes and the best of the best in our industry, we will reassess the best way to do that in the coming weeks and months. The committee will continue to meet as the COVID-19 situation unfolds and consider what an industry-led celebration could look like closer to the fall.
Industry support and new developments
Lastly, we continue to update the COVID-19 page on Travel Alberta’s Industry Hub to provide you with current information and resources in one place. We have made some changes to the Industry Partner Toolkit to make it even easier to tap into the information you need, including the federal and provincial government supports available to businesses and employees at this time.
We will get through this together. Stay Home. Stay Healthy.
CEO, Travel Alberta
Previous CEO Messages:
April 7, 2020
March 31, 2020
March 24, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 3, 2020