Federal government commits additional $41 million in COVID-19 support to Indigenous businesses

The federal government has committed approximately $41 million in additional COVID-19 support to 73 Indigenous-owned businesses and projects through Canada’s regional development agencies (RDA).

This funding is supplementary to the $962 million pledged to RDA’s in April.

The funding was announced on Sunday during the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. The funding is separate from the federal government’s nearly $1 billion commitment to the RDAs and the Community Futures Network to support businesses and projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government first committed $306 million in COVID-19 support for Indigenous businesses in April, at the onset of the pandemic. In June, the government pledged a further $133 million to support nearly 30,000 Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada. Minister of Economic Development Mélanie Joly’s office told The Globe and Mail the $41 million is in addition to those previous commitments.

This latest funding commitment will see FedDev Ontario, the RDA for southern Ontario, allocate $12.4 million to support eight organizations. Of that $12.4 million, $10 million is going towards Aboriginal Impact Capital, a partnership between four Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) serving First Nations and Métis-owned businesses in southern Ontario.

FedNor, the RDA for northern Ontario, will deploy $13 million to support 22 initiatives led by Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations in the region. Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions will deploy $4 million into 18 projects.

RELATED: More federal assistance for Indigenous businesses required, says COVID-19 taskforce

Western Economic Diversification, the RDA for British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, will provide $895,000 in funding to support two initiatives specifically in Saskatchewan. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will deploy $6.1 million to 12 projects in the region.

Finally, CanNor, the RDA for the Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories, will deploy $5 million to 11 initiatives in Canada’s North.

According to a survey conducted by the Indigenous Business COVID-19 Taskforce last month, 44 percent of Indigenous businesses surveyed expect to fail within three to six months without further support.

The task force urged the federal government to put in further supports that address barriers faced by Indigenous businesses, provide more assistance to Indigenous businesses at risk of closing down, and initiate further research into the evolving needs of Indigenous businesses during and post-COVID-19.

Image source Pixabay.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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