Saskatchewan

COVID-19: Sask. announces $50M small biz grant that could pay up to $5K with no strings attached

The Saskatchewan government announced a small and medium-sized business support grant on Thursday that does not have to be spent on any specific costs.

7 new COVID-19 cases announced on Thursday, bringing total to 278

Premier Scott Moe said the money will be provided to businesses, no strings attached, to use during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Michael Bell/Canadian Press)

The Saskatchewan government announced a small and medium-sized business support grant on Thursday that does not have to be spent on any specific costs.

The Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment will provide up to 15 per cent of monthly sales to a maximum of $5,000.

Businesses receiving the grant do not have to spend the money on overhead costs, wages, rent or lease payments — they just have to commit to re-opening when the time comes.

"The focus of this program is to get some funding out the door, into the hands of small business and have it with no strings attached," Premier Scott Moe said on Thursday during a news conference.

"They know best what to do with those valuable resources and we want to get it to them as quickly as possible."

Eligible businesses have to have been fully operational on February 29, employ fewer than 500 employees and had to stop or curtail operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We did look at options, whether to address very specifically elements of fixed overhead or whether to take a more flexible and broader approach that would give businesses to opportunity in the way that they felt would best support their business," said Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan's Minister of Trade and Export Development.

Applications for the grant could open Monday, Harrison said. Businesses may also be eligible for federal business grants.

Harrison said the Saskatchewan program will act as a supplement as federal programs will require a longer amount of time to access.

The $50 million for the program was an emergency re-allocation of funds, Harrison said, but did not elaborate further.

'Our curve remains flat'

Seven new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Saskatchewan on Thursday, bringing the total to 278 cases since it was first detected in the province. (CBC)

Seven new cases of COVID-19 were announced Thursday in the province, bringing the total to 278 cases since the novel coronavirus was first detected.

There are 160 active cases in the province as of Thursday, five fewer cases than the day before. There are still eight people in hospital, with two in intensive care.

"Our curve remains flat," said Dr. Saqib Shahab, the chief medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

There have been 16,672 tests conducted in the province so far, with 1,051 tests done on Wednesday, the most in a single day to date. The previous record of 900 was set on Tuesday.

Premier Moe announced Wednesday that the Ministry of Health was looking to have the Roy Romanow Provincial Lab conducting 1,500 tests per day by the end of April.

Twelve more people have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the province up to 115. Three people are known to have died from COVID-19 since it was first detected in Saskatchewan.

Of all cases so far, 122 cases were related to travel, 96 are linked to community contact (including mass gatherings), 20 cases were of no known exposure and 40 are under investigation.

Most of the cases, 138, have been detected in Saskatoon and area. There have been 58 in Regina and area, 52 from the north, 15 from the south, 10 cases in the central reason of the province and five in the far north.

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