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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Residents

COVID-19 Information Update - October 16 

As of October 15, the City of Grande Prairie and Smoky Lake County are classified as “Watch” in the North Zone, as defined on Alberta Health’s COVID-19 interactive relaunch status map. The map can be viewed at https://www.alberta.ca/maps/covid-19-status-map.html. The relaunch status map shows the level of risk in regions and information about local health measures. It also shows the rate of COVID-19 cases and the number of active cases. This map is the source of truth for COVID-19 case information. To protect and respect patient privacy, no further case information is provided.


COVID-19 case information is updated Monday to Friday between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. at www.alberta.ca/covid. Outbreak locations can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-alberta-data.aspx. Locations are updated Tuesdays and Fridays each week.


Communities are also encouraged to sign up for Alberta Health’s email notification system where you can receive notifications if there is a change in your region’s COVID status. Information on this service can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-status-notification.aspx


Influenza immunizations available next week
This year’s influenza immunization program begins for all Albertans on Monday, Oct. 19. Albertans have experienced a pandemic this year already: we need to all do our part to continue preventing all illnesses, including by being immunized.
AHS will offer vaccine through its public health clinics to:
• children under five years of age and their family and household members
• individuals who do not have a provincial health care number
• individuals who live in a community where there are no other immunizing health care providers

All Albertans who do not meet the above criteria will instead be able to receive vaccine through pharmacists or physicians.
This year, we are asking all those eligible to be accessed through AHS to please book an appointment. There will be no drop-in immunizations at AHS locations.
To book your appointment, AHS is offering an online booking tool, which launched this week.
For more info, visit www.ahs.ca/influenza, or call Health Link at 811.

Please continue visiting the Government of Alberta website as well as the AHS website if you have questions about the relaunch, public health restrictions or COVID-19. Assistance is also available through the Government of Alberta’s Provincial Operations Centre by calling 1-866-618-2362. 

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Halloween during COVID-19 

The Government of Alberta has announced guidelines for safely celebrating the creepiest night of the year.

Trick-or-Treaters:
• Don't go trick-or-treating if feeling ill, even if symptoms are minor
• Choose costumes that allow a non-medical mask to be worn underneath - make sure you can see and breathe comfortably
• Minimize contact with others: trick-or-treat with your family or cohort, remain within your community, and stay 2 metres apart
• Avoid touching doorbells or railings: call "trick or treat" from 2 metres away, knock instead of using doorbells, use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces
• Wash hands and disinfect packages before eating candy

Handing out candy:
• Don't hand out candy if feeling ill or isolating
• Wear a non-medical mask that fully covers your nose and mouth
• Ask trick-or-treaters to knock or call out instead of ringing the doorbell
• Use tongs to hand out pre-packaged candy to avoid handling treats

Find creative ways to maintain distance from trick-or-treaters:
• Hand out treats from your driveway or front lawn, if weather permits
• Set up a table or desk to help keep yourself distanced
• Make candy bags and space them out on a table or blanket; don't leave out self-serve bowls of bulk candy
• Build a candy slide, candy catapult or other fun, non-touch delivery methods

Halloween Parties:
• Stay home if feeling ill, even if symptoms are mild
• Spend time with people you know - the smaller the group the better
• Choose games and activities that don't use shared items and allows people to stay 2 metres apart
• Don't share drinks, food, cigarettes, vapes or cannabis
• Host your party outdoors, if weather permits. If you must stay indoors:
• reduce your gathering size
• choose a location that allows for physical distancing between people from separate families and cohorts
• provide hand sanitizer
• Wash or sanitize your hands often

More details: https://bit.ly/2ShHe91

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Our Efforts to Contain COVID-19 in the North Zone

Sept. 25, 2020

Thank you for your continued efforts and commitment to keep your communities safe and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We thank you for your support, questions, patience, and compliance during this challenging time.

We encourage you to follow AHS on social media. COVID-19 updates and information is regularly posted on our Twitter (@AHS_media) and Facebook pages. You are welcome to share these updates and information on your social media channels as needed.

As of September 24, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have confirmed 1,370 cases of COVID-19 in the North Zone, with 130 currently listed as active. There are currently a total of 17,190 confirmed cases in Alberta, with 1,462 currently listed as active.

On July 27, 2020, our North Zone Emergency Operations Centre (ZEOC) was re-activated to respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the North Zone, and across the province. In coordination with the provincial AHS Emergency Command Centre, the ZEOC continues to coordinate all clinical and clinical support resources to respond to the COVID-19 situation as it evolves.

Changes to COVID-19 Testing Guidelines
Last week, Alberta Health announced updated COVID-19 testing criteria for Albertans. In an effort to reduce wait times, to speed up access to results, and to support Albertans during respiratory virus and influenza season, testing in Alberta has shifted to focus on those with symptoms, coupled with asymptomatic testing for only those in the risk groups outlined below. Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended for Albertans who don’t fall into these risk groups. COVID-19 testing in Alberta is now recommended for:
- Albertans with symptoms of COVID-19;
- Albertans who are close contacts of a confirmed case, whether symptomatic or not;
- Albertans who are linked to a known outbreak, whether symptomatic or not; and,
- Asymptomatic Albertans who are:
 - School teachers and/or school staff;
 - Healthcare workers;
 - Staff and/or residents at congregate living facilities, including long-term care;
 - Experiencing homelessness; or
 - Require asymptomatic testing for the purpose of travel

The AHS online testing tool has been updated to reflect these new criteria. Albertans booking appointments using this tool are guided by this new criteria. New appointments are not being offered to asymptomatic Albertans who are not in the priority groups. Health Link is also following this new criteria, as are pharmacies across Alberta.

Resources for Indigenous communities
AHS has been working with Indigenous communities and organizations across Alberta to support their COVID-19 responses. Specific resources can be found on our AHS website: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17101.aspx

Back to School During COVID-19
AHS is working closely with provincial partners to support a safe and healthy return to school. Visit alberta.ca/returntoschool for information and guidance on re-entry for the 2020/21 school year. For answers to common questions, visit our Back to School During Covid-19: FAQ. The COVID-19 school status map can also be viewed here: https://www.alberta.ca/schools/covid-19-school-status-map.htm

Awaiting Your Test Results
If you have been tested for COVID-19, it is important that you understand what to do while you await your tests results, and what it means if your COVID-19 test is positive or negative.

For more information, visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17034.aspx

Travel Related Testing & Documentation Requests
Travelers are responsible for understanding any COVID-19 testing and reporting requirements for their travel. They must allow enough time for their testing and to secure printed results. If you are requiring proof of COVID-19 status prior to travel, please plan ahead.

Albertans planning travel should allow at 7-10 days from the time they are swabbed for COVID-19 to having access to printable test results.

We understand current traveler testing processes may not align with requests from some airlines, countries or local authorities, for travel outside of Alberta. We are working on new processes that will be in place in the coming weeks. The new travel process will significantly shorten turnaround times for testing results for travelers, by early October. In the meantime, we continue to remind all Albertans planning travel to consider testing requirements well ahead of departure date.

Travel-related swabbing and testing is available for asymptomatic patients only. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, please call HealthLink / 811.

Environmental Public Health (EPH) Week
This week (September 21-26) marks Environmental Public Health (EPH) Week. We want to recognize and thank our AHS EPH teams for their hard work and dedication.

AHS EPH teams are making a huge difference in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta and support the province to gradually reopen businesses, resume activities and get people back to school and work.

As Alberta continues to reopen, AHS EPH teams work with our partners to provide further clarity to businesses, their staff, clients, schools and the public on how to act and operate safely, playing a very important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our province.

Resources available Please continue visiting the Government of Alberta website as well as the AHS website if you have questions about the relaunch, public health restrictions or COVID-19. Assistance is also available through the Government of Alberta’s Provincial Operations Centre by calling 1-866-618-2362.

Thank you all On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team for the North Zone we thank you for your all that you continue to do in your communities.

We also want to ensure you are receiving the information you need. If there’s additional information you would like to see in our future updates to you, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We will continue to offer regular communications as the situation develops and changes.
Greg Cummings, Chief Zone Officer, North Zone
Dr. Albert Harmse, Acting Zone Medical Director
Dr. Kathryn Koliaska, Lead, Medical Officer of Health, North Zone

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Our Efforts to Contain COVID-19 in the North Zone

Sept. 11, 2020


Thank you for your continued efforts and commitment to keep your communities safe and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We thank you for your support, questions, patience, and compliance during this challenging time. We encourage you to follow AHS on social media. COVID-19 updates and information is regularly posted on our Twitter (@AHS_media) and Facebook pages. You are welcome to share these updates and information on your social media channels as needed.

As of September 10, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have confirmed 1,154 cases of COVID-19 in the North Zone, with 215 currently listed as active. There are currently a total of 15,304 confirmed cases in Alberta, with 1,494 currently listed as active.

On July 27, 2020, our North Zone Emergency Operations Centre (ZEOC) was re-activated to respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the North Zone, and across the province. In coordination with the provincial AHS Emergency Command Centre, the ZEOC continues to coordinate all clinical and clinical support resources to respond to the COVID-19 situation as it evolves.

COVID-19 Test Results available through SMS text message or automated phone call
Albertans can now receive their COVID-19 test results — either positive or negative — through an SMS text message or an automated phone call.

Individuals who book a COVID-19 test through ahs.ca/covid or drop in for testing at an AHS assessment centre can now choose to get their results through these methods. Anyone who does not consent to receiving results via text message or through an automated phone call will instead receive their results through a call from an AHS team member.

As part of standard contact tracing process, all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will also be contacted by phone by a member of the AHS Public Health team, for further follow-up and support. AHS expects the SMS text message and autodialer systems will decrease the time it takes for Albertans to receive their result, after being swabbed, by a full day.

Albertans who opt for an SMS text message are advised that results are texted any time within a 24-hour period, seven days a week. Automated phone calls are made between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week.

Parents and guardians will also be able to consent to receive automated test results for dependents (aged 17 years and younger). Each individual test result will be delivered by a dedicated call or text. This might mean that multiple calls or texts are delivered to a single number provided for a family unit.

Albertans 14 years of age and older can also access test results online through MyHealth Records, a secure Alberta government service. Albertans need to sign up for a MyAlberta Digital ID to use this service.

Back to school resources

Several resources are available for families as the 2020-2021 school year begins. We also encourage families to visit our Back to School During COVID-19 webpage for more information and resources.
- Back to School Health- Family Resources
- Nutrition and COVID-19: School-aged children
- Help in Tough Times
- Mental Health: Coping and Connection For Children and Families During COVID-19
- Parents’ Guide for the 2020-2021 School Year

Earlier this week, Alberta Health launched a school outbreak map. The map shows the current status of COVID-19 in K-12 schools across Alberta. Schools that have two or more confirmed cases will be
identified on the map. The map can be viewed at https://www.alberta.ca/schools/covid-19-schoolstatus-map.htm

COVID-19 case information
The Alberta Health COVID-19 interactive relaunch status map shows the level of risk in regions and information about local health measures. It also shows the rate of COVID-19 cases and the number of active cases. This map – available at https://www.alberta.ca/maps/covid-19-status-map.html – is the source of truth for COVID-19 case information. To protect and respect patient privacy, no further case information is provided.

COVID-19 case information is updated Monday to Friday between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. at www.alberta.ca/covid. Outbreak locations can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-albertadata.aspx. Locations are updated Tuesdays and Fridays each week.

Resources available
Please continue visiting the Government of Alberta website as well as the AHS website if you have questions about the relaunch, public health restrictions or COVID-19. Assistance is also available through the Government of Alberta’s Provincial Operations Centre by calling 1-866-618-2362.

Thank you all
On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team for the North Zone we thank you for your all that you continue to do in your communities.
We will continue to offer regular communications as the situation develops and changes.
Greg Cummings, Chief Zone Officer, North Zone
Dr. Albert Harmse, Acting Zone Medical Director
Dr. Kathryn Koliaska, Lead, Medical Officer of Health, North Zone

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August 28th North Zone Municipal Update

Download PDF

Students returning to school for 2020-21 school year

Schools will be ready to welcome students under scenario 1, which is near-normal daily operations with health measures.

Alberta’s government has developed a re-entry tool kit to prepare parents and students for what to expect in the new school year. The tool kit includes videos for students explaining some of the health measures, a guide for parents, frequently asked questions, school posters, a self-screening questionnaire in multiple languages, and links to health guidelines.

Under scenario 1, schools will implement a number of public health measures, which include frequent cleaning of surfaces, placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches. Additional public health measures may be established prior to September on the advice of the chief medical officer of health in consultation with the education system.

In addition, students, staff, parents and school visitors will be expected to use a self-screening questionnaire daily to determine whether they can enter the school.

Successful transition to summer school and child care

Alberta’s school re-entry plan works, and already has mitigated risks to students and teachers. Throughout the summer, the Calgary Catholic Separate School Division ran in-person summer school programming in accordance to the guidelines developed and issued by the province. These comprehensive guidelines have mitigated risk, resulting in no COVID-19 outbreaks among teachers or students participating in summer school.

Additionally, Alberta has seen a successful reopening of child care centres across the province. Children and staff have safely returned to these centres with no outbreaks occurring.

School authority funding

School authorities have returned to full funding levels as of July 1, and every school authority in Alberta is receiving a funding increase for the 2020-21 school year – roughly $120 million across the province. A list of funding for every school authority is available here.

In addition, the Minister of Education has approved the use of school board reserves, if needed, to help cover local COVID-19-related costs. The total amount of money sitting in school board reserves is $363 million.

Accelerated capital school funding

The province has also provided school boards an additional $250 million to support accelerated capital maintenance and renewal projects, as part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced in the Alberta Recovery Plan. 

This funding supports infrastructure enhancements that will help in a COVID-19 learning environment. Seventy-nine school projects totalling $15 million are moving forward with this primary purpose, including upgrades for enhanced hygiene such as hands-free sinks, automatic flush toilets, touchless soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors and water bottle filling stations to replace water fountains.

New online Student Learning Hub

A new Student Learning Hub on new.learnalberta.ca is available for parents, students, and teachers to more easily access educational materials to support development of student literacy and numeracy, and provide health and wellness information.

The online hub is another resource to support Alberta’s school re-entry plan, with recognition that more online learning resources may be needed during the upcoming school year. Additional resources will also be added throughout the school year.  

Expanding diploma exams

Diploma exams will be offered in every subject in the November and April exam sessions. Expanding the offerings of the diploma exams will support school authorities who are shifting high school programming to a four-semester system as part of their COVID-19 re-entry plan. This shift allows for better cohorting by limiting the number of classes a student is in during a term without affecting total learning time over the course of a year.

Personal protective equipment

Students and staff may wear a mask if they choose to. However, practices such as physical distancing, cohorting, frequent handwashing, staying home when sick and increased cleaning of surfaces will continue to be the priority public health measures.

COVID-19 cases at school

If a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19, a public health team will investigate to determine when symptoms developed and support the school to minimize transmission.

While each case will be addressed based on its unique circumstances, it is anticipated that in most cases only the group of students and staff who came in close contact will likely be required to stay home for 14 days, and not the entire school population.

Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at school and public health officials will contact those who were in close contact with that person.

Transitioning to scenario 2 or scenario 3

If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a community or school, health officials will work with Alberta Education and impacted school authorities to make any decision to potentially transition to partial in-class learning or at-home learning. Decisions will be based on multiple factors including the number of cases in a community or school and the risk of ongoing transmission.

The health guidance for scenario 2 has been updated to allow for a maximum of 20 students per class.

 

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RELAUNCH GRANT 

The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders, and experienced a revenue loss of at least 50 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible job creators can apply for up to $5,000 through this program.

Application forms are available at www.alberta.ca/sme-relaunch-grant.aspx

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RECOVERY PLAN
Alberta’s Recovery Plan takes bold action to create jobs that get people back to work, build infrastructure, and diversify our economy.


Premier Jason Kenney said his government would spend $10 billion on projects that will immediately create jobs, including health-care facilities, pipelines, schools, drug treatment centres and more.

“Albertans have risen to the challenge of the pandemic, though we will continue to be careful, especially for those who are most at risk. Now we must extend that same culture of resilience to overcoming the greatest economic challenge of our time. Today, we take a big step forward in that journey with the launch of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build our province, to diversify our economy, and to create jobs.” - Jason Kenny, Premier

Learn more: https://www.alberta.ca/recovery-plan.aspx

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Stage 2

Stage 2 will allow additional businesses and services to reopen and resume operations starting June 12 with 2 metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. Business operators, sport and recreation services can determine if they are ready to open and ensure all guidance for workplaces is met.

The success of Stage 2 will determine when Alberta progresses to Stage 3. Factors are active cases, health-care system capacity, hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) cases, and infection rates.

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Changes to PPE

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, the Government of Alberta, through the Provincial Operations Centre (POC), has been working diligently to source and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE).

With the PPE supply chain improving and with more companies now developing PPE, Alberta businesses have more options to source their own PPE. As such, the Alberta government is focusing the supply of critical PPE to organizations that are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Businesses and non-Alberta Health Services organizations will now be required to access PPE directly through suppliers, instead of through the POC or Alberta Health Services.

Starting May 25, 2020, organizations and businesses that have previously received PPE from the POC, or have submitted a request, can continue accessing PPE supplies, subject to availability and for a fee, until June 30, 2020.
If you have taken delivery of PPE before today, you will not be charged. From today onward, if you have a pending or outstanding order with the Provincial Operations Centre, you will be asked to pay.

As of July 1, 2020, the organizations and businesses on the list below will be required to procure PPE directly through suppliers:
- child care providers (day cares/day homes)
- private community based health service providers (diagnostic imaging clinics, primary care physicians, physiotherapy clinics, optometry clinics, etc.)
- private home care and congregate care organizations for services not publicly funded directly or through contracts
- food services (meat packing, food banks, etc.)
- transportation (trucking companies, etc.)
- non-governmental organizations
- oil and gas services
- utilities
- general municipal needs*

Pricing information for PPE: https://bit.ly/2B7WqAl
PPE suppliers: https://bit.ly/2THycTN
Details on existing PPE requests: https://xnet.gov.ab.ca/ppe

 

 

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Get the App

Quickly identifying and isolating positive cases is an important part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing the spread. The Government of Alberta has developed an app called ABTraceTogether that will notify you if you've been exposed to COVID-19 – or if you've exposed others – while protecting your privacy.

The more Albertans who voluntarily download and use the app, the safer we'll be, and the faster we can reopen the economy.

Learn more: https://bit.ly/3c56uYb

 

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SPCA

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:

www.albertaspca.org/helpforanimals/
www.albertaspca.org/helpforanimals-resources/

 

 

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Be Wary of COVID-19 Phishing Scams

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 BBB.org/scamtracker or via the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

 

 

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FAQ'S On Declaring A Local State Of Emergency (SOLE)

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.

 

 

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No Wipes Down The Pipes

As you follow the advice of our public health officials and continue to disinfect your homes and businesses, Big Lakes County would like to remind our residents to place the following items in the garbage:
- Flushable, disposable, cleaning or baby wipes
- Paper towels, cloth towels, or any type of rag
- Diapers (including cloth, cotton, disposable, or plastic)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Facial tissues

Putting these items down toilets may plug sewers and cause raw sewage to back up into YOUR HOME.

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Mental Health Links

Please be aware that many of us may be having a more difficult time than most in dealing with this Pandemic but may not be comfortable sharing that information. Below are some resources you can access in case you or someone you know may need them:

The Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642 | available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you.
- Crisis Services Canada | crisisservicescanada.ca
- Alberta Division – Canadian Mental Health Association | alberta.cmha.ca
- Mental Health and coping with COVID-19 | cdc.gov/coronavirus
- Talking with children about COVID-19 | cdc.gov/coronavirus
- Help in tough times | albertahealthservices.ca/amh/Page16759.aspx
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty | afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-u…

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#BIGLAKESCARES

It is times like these where we have to rely on each other most. Big Lakes County asks that we all reach out to our neighbours and networks for the next while with compassion and support. "We need to face this together, and respond to this extraordinary crisis with extraordinary kindness." Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Wondering how you can help?

1) Break up our news feeds by sharing any acts of kindness you have experienced in Big Lakes County during this difficult time. Spread some light by using the hashtag #BigLakesCares and #AlbertaCares

2) Drop a note on your neighbours' door and see if they are self-isolating and need help picking up shopping, posting mail, getting urgent supplies, or just a friendly phone call.

3) Karen Zelman from Alberta Health Services is asking you to spare a few minutes to write a letter to our residents in long-term and extended care letting them know how you and your area have been affected. Send them by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Resources for Big Lakes County 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.

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • 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

 

FEDERAL ECONOMIC RESPONSE

 

Federal support for individuals and families

  • Increasing the Canada Child Benefit – an extra $300 per child to be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May | no need to re-apply if you already receive CCB
  • Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment – a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families (ave. $400 for individuals and $600 for couples) | automatically given to those who are eligible
  • Extra time to file income tax returns – June 1, 2020 for individuals and payments without penalties until after August 31, 2020 without interest or penalties | if you expect to receive benefits under the Good and Services Tax credit or the Canada Child Benefit, do not delay in filing your taxes to access those benefits
  • Mortgage support – mortgage deferral or skipping payments, which are paid at a later date. This is not mortgage forgiveness | contact your financial institution directly

 

Support for people facing unemployment

 

Support for people who are sick, quarantined, or in directed self-isolation

 

Support for people who are unable to work

 

Support for people who need it most

 

Support for seniors

 

Support for students and recent graduates

 

Avoiding layoffs

 

Access to credit

  • Establishing a Business Credit Availability Program – access to loans through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC)
  • Offering a guarantee on loans
  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) - banks will soon offer $40,000 loans guaranteed by the government to qualifying businesses. The loans will be interest-free for the first year, and the first $10,000 of that amount will be forgivable for businesses that meet certain conditions. Contact your bank directly.

 

Supporting financial stability

  • Launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program – the government will purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.
  • Bank of Canada actions – interest rates are current 0.25%
  • Lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer – lowering of this buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets build resilience of federally regulated financial institutions and improve the stability of the Canadian financial system and economy

 

More flexibility

  • More time to pay income taxes – businesses can defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • Deferral of sales tax remittance and customs duty payments - businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports.

 

Support for the self-employed

 

Support for farmers

 

Support for the air transportation sector

  • Waiving ground lease rents - waiving ground lease rents from March 2020 through to December 2020 for the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to the federal government.

 

Provincial Support for Individuals

  • Alberta Emergency Isolation Supportl Gives eligible Albertans upon approval $1140 within 48 hours  
  • Utility payment deferral - Individuals, families, and businesses can defer utility payments until June 19, 2020 to lessen financial burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact your natural gas or electricity provider directly. Deferral ends June 19, 2020. Agreed upon repayment plans begin June 19, 2020.
  • Student Learningin-school classes are cancelled, but K-12 learning continues. Visit this site for more information and resources.
  • Job-protected leave - Changes to the Employment Standards Code allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are: required to self-isolate or caring for a child or dependent adult who is required to self-isolate. Doesn’t apply to self-employed individuals or contractors.
  • Education property tax deferral - Education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020

 

Provincial Support for Businesses

  • Alberta Employment Standards Rules| Laws for minimum wage, overtime, holidays, job-protected leaves, vacations, hours of work, earnings, youth workers and termination.
  • Utility payment deferral - Individuals, families, and businesses can defer utility payments until June 19, 2020 to lessen the financial burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact your natural gas or electricity provider directly. Deferral ends June 19, 2020. Agreed upon repayment plans begin June 19, 2020.
  • 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  

 

Large employers will have their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due. Employers who have already paid WCB premiums in 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.

  • Education property tax deferral - Education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020. The collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses will be deferred for 6 months. Municipalities are expected to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection. Deferred amounts will be repaid in future tax years. Commercial landlords are encouraged to pass savings on to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments to help employers pay their employees and stay in business. Businesses capable of paying their taxes in full are encouraged to do to so. This will assist the province in supporting Albertans through the pandemic.
  • Corporate income tax changes – Alberta corporate income tax balances and installment payments coming due between March 18, 2020 and August 31, 2020 are deferred until August 31, 2020 to increase employers’ access to cash so they can pay employees, address debts and continue operations. In addition, due dates for the filing of corporate income tax returns due after March 18, 2020 and before June 1, 2020 have been extended to June 1, 2020.

 

Provincial Support for Industries

Tourism

  • Travel Alberta – statistics, toolkits, resources, and updates from Travel Alberta, Alberta’s destination promotion organization
  • Tourism Levy Deferral - Hotels and other lodging providers can delay paying the tourism levy until Aug. 31 for amounts that become due to government on or after March 27, 2020. Payments deferred until Aug. 31 will not be subject to penalties or interest.

 

Energy 

  • Funding the Alberta Energy Regulator levy – Funding for the Alberta Energy Regulator industry levy for 6 months, achieving $113 million in industry relief.
  • Extensions for oil and gas tenures - Extending the term of mineral agreements expiring in 2020 by 1 year to provide increased certainty for industry by allowing additional time to raise capital and plan future activities.
  • Orphan Well Association loan - A $100 million loan was recently extended to the Orphan Well Association to bolster immediate reclamation efforts, decommission about 1,000 wells, and start more than 1,000 environmental assessments – creating up to 500 direct and indirect jobs.

 

Forestry

 

OTHER SUPPORTS FOR BUSINESSES

 

Employees

 

PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS AND TIPS FOR BUSINESSES

 

BUSINESS TRAVEL

 

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

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

 

HELPFUL WEBINARS AND NEWSLETTERS FOR BUSINESSES

  • Canadian Chamber of Commerce– COVID-19 mailing list for key announcements, updates on the latest information, and available resources
  • 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

 

 

 

 

Please download the media release below. 

 

Download PDF

 

Funding Release Form