$306 Million in Support for Indigenous Business Announced by Prime Minister

Prime Minister Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA – BUSINESS – “We will always be there for Canadian businesses, and we are working hard to make sure that Indigenous business owners have the support they need during this period of uncertainty. Entrepreneurs are at the heart of communities right across the country, and we’re going to help them bridge to better times,” states Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

Indigenous businesses provide jobs, goods, and services to communities, and are an important part of the Canadian economy. Right now, they are facing challenges and economic hardships due to COVID-19. That is why the Government of Canada is taking action to make sure that Indigenous business owners have access to the support they need to get through this crisis.

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced up to $306.8 million in funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses.

The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, which offer financing and business support services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis businesses. These measures will help 6,000 Indigenous-owned businesses get through these difficult times.

The Prime Minister concludes, “Today’s announcement is part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. We will continue to monitor and respond to the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, and take additional actions as needed to protect the health and safety of Canadians and stabilize our economy.”

Jason Rasevych, a member of the Ginoogaming First Nation near Longlac, Ontario, has worked with various First Nations, and community economic development corporations.
Jason Rasevych, a member of the Ginoogaming First Nation near Longlac, Ontario, has worked with various First Nations, and community economic development corporations.

The Anishnawbe Business Professional Association (ABPA) based out of Thunder Bay, welcomes the federal government’s announcement of $306 million for small and medium-size indigenous businesses and support to Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) that offer financing to these businesses.

“We have been working diligently through special task forces and committees with our provincial and federal counterparts to provide policy and program recommendations that has resulted in a solutions-based framework for the COVID-19 stimulus package. The announcement of $306 million made on April 18th by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the first step in the right direction but much more work needs to be done to ensure that the eligibility criteria will support the unique structure of First Nation’s owned companies such as limited partnerships and other corporate models.  The ABPA will continue to monitor the outcomes of these programs to ensure that funds flow easily and quickly to the nation-wide network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions like NADF that could serve the First Nations business community in Northern Ontario.   It is crucial that remote First Nations communities and entrepreneurs receive the capital that they require to maintain operations that will keep the delicate Northern supply chain intact.  The ABPA will continue to express the unique positions on behalf of our members and assess the COVID-19 impacts on the Northern Ontario economy, “stated Jason Rasevych, President, Anishnawbe Business Professional Association.

The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) applauds the Government of Canada’s strong support of a targeted economic stimulus package of $306.8 million for our Indigenous businesses. The programming will be delivered through NACCA and the network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs). The AFIs provides financial and business services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast.

NACCA’s strategic response to the crisis was led by its Board of Directors. The Chair, Jean Vincent, is also President and CEO of the Société de crédit commerciale autochtone (SOCCA), an AFI located in Wendake, QC.  Mr. Vincent has welcomed today’s announcement, stating, “Indigenous businesses have distinct needs and are more vulnerable during economic downturns, including the unprecedented impacts of this current pandemic”.

NACCA CEO Shannin Metatawabin is confident that the announced $306.8M stimulus will ensure the economic stability of an already-fragile economic situation for Indigenous entrepreneurs.  “We have been working for weeks with the government on this stimulus package for the AFIs and their clients.  Our AFIs will be ready to roll this out to assist Indigenous businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”

Since COVID-19 began to severely impact the Canadian tourism and hospitality industry in March, ITAC President and CEO, Keith Henry, has been advocating for Indigenous-led financial solutions as many of the stimulus funding options currently offered are not available to Indigenous tourism business owners. In addition to the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund announced by ITAC in late March, which provides grants of $25,000 per applicant, this Federal stimulus package will further aid Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses during these difficult times with short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through the Aboriginal Financial Institutions network.

“I am extremely happy to see that the government is listening to the concerns of the Indigenous tourism industry and has taken action to support one of our proposed solutions,” said Keith Henry. “We know that it’s an unpredictable time for our country and this investment will provide important relief for our Indigenous tourism operators, many of whom have had to shut down completely and are facing the loss of their 2020 tourism season.”