Resources for BLC Residents & Businesses Affected by COVID-19

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. We’re here for you. The Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority and our BLC communications team have developed a list of resources and tools primarily for businesses, but also for individuals and industries. You’ll find general information, including governments’ and the World Health Organization’s website portals containing very important health, social, and economic information; federal government resources; provincial government resources; and tools and resources for businesses from various business councils, associations, and other organizations that support small businesses.

The Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642 | available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you.

  • Coronavirus disease (COIVD-19)| Government of Canada | Main Site with downloadable resources, minute-by-minute updates, and links to travel advice Canada’s financial response, prevention and risk, symptoms and treatment
  • COVID-19| Government of Alberta | Portal for all main information from the provincial government
  • COVID-19| World Health Organization | Most recent information by WHO
  • COVID-19| Big Lakes County | Up-to-date local information and announcements. Also, see the Big Lakes County Facebook page
Employment Insurance

Canada made temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program to better support Canadians who need financial assistance. For claims starting between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021, the minimum benefit rate for EI clients is $300 per week before taxes in most cases.


Apply for Employment Insurance


If you’re not eligible for EI or if you’ve received the maximum number of weeks of EI regular benefits, you may be eligible for the following benefits:


Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit

The government is proposing the new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit that would provide $300 a week to eligible workers who are unable to work due to a temporary local lockdown anytime between October 24, 2021 and May 7, 2022.


The government is proposing to make the benefit available retroactively and available for the entire duration of a government-imposed lockdown. Eligible workers would include those who are ineligible for Employment insurance.


Further details on this proposed benefit will be released in the near future.


Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The CRSB provides $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) per week for up to a maximum of four weeks, for workers who:

  • are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19
  • are self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19
  • have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Apply to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The CRCB provides $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for up to 42 weeks per household for workers:

  • unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19
  • because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19.

Apply to the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

Support for low income families & workers

The Canada Workers Benefit provides a refundable tax credit to help people who are working and earning a low income. We are expanding eligibility by making the benefit available to those with incomes up to:

  • $32,244 as single Canadians, without children;
  • $42,197 as single-earner families; and
  • $56,197 as double-earner families.

Low-income workers are now eligible for a tax refund of up to about:

  • $1,400 for workers who are single and without children; and
  • $2,400 for workers with families.

Learn more about the Canada Workers Benefit


Mortgage Payment Deferrals 

Homeowners facing financial hardship may be eligible for a mortgage payment deferral.


The deferral is an agreement between you and your lender. Typically, the agreement indicates that you and your lender have agreed to pause or suspend your mortgage payments for a certain amount of time. After the agreement ends, your mortgage payments return to normal and the deferred payments — including principal and accumulated interest – are added to the outstanding principal balance and subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage.


To know if you are eligible for a mortgage payment deferral or to learn what options are available, contact your lender — your bank or your mortgage professional.

Learn more about mortgage payment deferrals

Increasing credit available – additional $5 billion in loans to producers, agribusiness, and food processors to help with losses and cashflow | applicants should contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301 to discuss their individual situation and options.


COVID-19 – Information for the agriculture and agri-food industry

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is taking action to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). This page contains information for those in the agriculture industry (producers, processors, and agri-food businesses).

Learn more

  • Alberta Employment Standards Rules | Laws for minimum wage, overtime, holidays, job-protected leaves, vacations, hours of work, earnings, youth workers and termination.
  • Downloadable posters – Use these posters to share tips on ways to practice physical distancing and let your clients or customers know your business or workplace is open or closed.
  • Banks and Credit Unions – contact your banks directly to find out what programs and resources they offer
  • WCB premium payment deferral – Small, medium and large private-sector employers can defer WCB premium payments until 2021. For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021 – saving businesses $350 million.
  • Guidance for reopening
  • Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) – Canadian businessesnon-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021. This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords. If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – As a Canadian employer who has seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages, retroactive to March 15. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease you back into normal operations.

Answer a few questions to get a personalized list of support

Other Supports For Businesses
Information for businesses

The Tourism Relief Fund will help position Canada as a destination of choice when domestic and international travel is deemed safe, by:

  • empowering tourism businesses to create new or enhance existing tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors
  • helping the sector reposition itself to welcome international visitors, by providing the best Canadian tourism experiences we have to offer the world

The Tourism Relief Fund provides non-repayable contributions up to $100,000 or repayable contributions up to $500,000 to businesses to enhance or create new tourism experiences. Not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous organizations, not generating profits, are also eligible for non-repayable contributions.

Apply through your Regional Development Agency

  • Travel Alberta – statistics, toolkits, resources, and updates from Travel Alberta, Alberta’s destination promotion organization
  • Economic Developers Alberta – hosts a weekly webinar on various topics; these webinars are recorded and available online
  • Covid Continuity – a group of businesses and communities started this free website and newsletter to support organizations working through the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak

Big Lakes County would like to remind residents to continue exercising caution when receiving phone calls or email notifications about COVID-19. There are a number of scams circulating hoping to take advantage of the public’s anxiety during this time.


Fraudulent health products, fake charities, and websites selling fake face masks are some of the most common scams circulating during the COVID-19 pandemic according to the Better Business Bureau.


Only buy products from reputable stores and websites and be wary of fraudulent fundraising efforts. AHS will never call and ask for credit card information. Suspected scams can be reported at or via the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

What is a SOLE?

A State of Local Emergency (SOLE) is a declaration made by the local authority so that extraordinary actions may be taken to deal with an emergency.

Misconceptions on declaring a SOLE:
  1. a local authority is not required to declare a SOLE in order to activate their ECC or community emergency plans
  2. a SOLE is not required in order for a local authority or citizens to be eligible for financial assistance through a disaster recovery program
Why would a municipality declare a SOLE?

The primary reason a municipality would declare a SOLE would be to create a legal state of affairs of a temporary nature (must be renewed every 7 days) so that it may take extraordinary actions to deal with the situation at hand.

Extraordinary actions include:
  • acquiring or using personal property
  • controlling or prohibiting travel
  • evacuating people, livestock and personal property
  • entering any building or land without a warrant
  • demolishing or removing trees, crops, or structures
  • fixing prices
  • conscripting people

As of today, Big Lakes County has not yet declared a SOLE.  Through the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency, the province is already monitoring and dealing with everything a Local Authority’s  SOLE would encompass.

The province’s State of Public Health Emergency enables the following:
  • Acquire or use any real or personal property;
  • Authorize or require any qualified person to render aid of a type the person is qualified to provide;
  • Authorize the conscription of persons needed to meet an emergency;
  • Authorize the entry into any building or on any land, without warrant, by any person; Provide for the distribution of essential health and medical supplies and provide,
  • Maintain and coordinate the delivery of health services.
  • May impose, authorize the absence from employment of any persons who are; ill with pandemic influenza, or caring for a family member ill with pandemic influenza.
  • Order the closure of food & beverage establishes or other places of group gathering; Order the cessation of (indoor or outdoor) group gatherings
  • Quarantine a group or people, a facility, or an entire community.

At this time, the County has not deemed it necessary to enact further restrictions.  We would like to assure our residents that we are continuing to carefully monitor the risks associated with COVID-19 daily and we are busy working behind the scenes to coordinate our Pandemic Influenza Support and Business Continuity Plans.

The Alberta SPCA has a program available to assist people with their pets during COVID-19. This program can help provide “feed in place” resources, pet food for those who cannot afford it, and help to arrange for livestock feed. Below are some resources from the Alberta SPCA website you can access in case you or someone you know may need them: