Recently announced support for companies that have signed up for the province’s vaccine passport system is lacking, say some Edmonton business owners.
“I thought it was a little overwhelming, to be honest,” said Cathal O’Byrne, owner of O’Byrne’s Irish Pub, which adopted the restriction exemption program when it launched in September.
The program allows companies to require patrons or clients to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. O’Byrne said enforcing it has been challenging.
“Usually we’re a place for yourself, but we’ve had to hire at least three or four extra staff and security now during the week, because the later the day goes, the more people we get that start to cause a little shit, ”he said.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Jason Kenney and senior officials once announced grants of $ 2,000 to small and medium-sized businesses to help offset the cost of adopting the exemption limitation program.
The province has also set up a $ 1 million fund to support safety training for employees tasked with implementing vaccine passports, and doubled fines from $ 2,000 to $ 4,000 for people who mistreat workers trying to enforce the program.
Kenney also announced legislation that would protect companies from legal challenges to requiring workers to be vaccinated or over the restriction exemption program.
O’Byrne says $ 2,000 does not go far enough to help with additional staff costs. He said he would not sound like he was asking for a distribution card, but if they want to offer subsidies, he wants the province to look at the percentage each company spends on staffing now relative to what was left. in 2019, and offer to help bridge this gap.
He also said the offer to fund education is “naive”.
“We’ve been dealing with people who are drunk and disorderly and have been cut off from the company for 23 years. To throw some extra dollars at training us is like beating a dead horse,” he said.
Not the answer
OTTO Food and Beverage Owner Ed Donszelmann also believes the province’s offer of support fell short.
Donszelmann says the province’s vaccine passport program, by making it optional, puts companies in a difficult position of taking responsibility for enforcing it and taking heat from angry customers.
“If I do not agree that they have failed to limit the exemption program, I will have to lay off all my employees and within a few months I will have to declare bankruptcy,” he said.
‘Not even a little bit’
Square 1 Coffee owner Brandy Brozny decided not to introduce the restriction exemption program.
“We did not want to have to deal with the hassle of fighting with people to have their vaccine passports and doing all that,” she said. “If the situation is as bad as it is, people don’t have to sit down.”
She said she had to clarify with a few customers that she fully supports immunization, but said it made a lot more sense to move to takeaway only at her cafe in two places.
Bronzy said the support the province offered Thursday would not do much to help their business.
She said they shattered the numbers, reckoning it would cost over $ 100,000 a year to pay any minimum wage to stand at the door in both places for the 14.5 hours a day they are open. Like O’Byrne, she says $ 2,000 would not go far.
“It’s not even a drop in the bucket to cover the cost,” she said.