As Canada works to finish the fight against COVID-19, a full economic recovery will require the participation of all Canadians, including women, Indigenous peoples and racialized communities.
Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, highlighted the Government of Canada’s commitment to creating a more inclusive economy during the Diversio and Rosenzweig & Company panel on improving racial and gender diversity in leadership.
Minister Ng spoke about the new investments proposed in Budget 2021 to help build a more inclusive economy, such as the additional $51.7 million for the Black Entrepreneurship Program and $146.9 million for the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, investments supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, and up to $30 billion over the next five years for a national early learning and child care system.
Since 2015, the government has made historic investments to support women and children-from implementing paid parental leave to enhancing the Canada Child Benefit, which has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
Minister Ng highlighted the 50-30 Challenge and the barrier-breaking programs that the government is undertaking to foster change in Canada’s boardrooms and workforce.
The 50-30 Challenge is a framework to accelerate diversity actions already taking place in many Canadian organizations and encourage other Canadian organizations to adopt practices that improve equity. The challenge’s goal of balancing out organizational boards with 50% gender parity and 30% under-represented members is gaining traction, with over 1,200 companies and organizations having joined to date.
The panel agreed that an inclusive economy is not just about social justice; it’s also about investing in a competitive advantage. Minister Ng and fellow panellists pointed to research like the Rosenzweig Report that further illustrates how the power of diverse and inclusive leadership leads to more productive and successful companies.
“From the critical supports we’re providing to Canadian businesses to help them get through the pandemic to the forward-looking programs we’re proposing to improve access to economic opportunities for all, we will continue our efforts to ensure the gains made by under-represented business owners in recent years are not lost to the pandemic. More than social policies, these are important economic measures that will be critical to building back better.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a more than $6-billion investment to help increase women-owned businesses’ access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets. The government’s fall 2020 Speech from the Throne committed to accelerating the work being done under the strategy, which has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.
In spring 2020, the Government of Canada provided an additional $15 million for the WES Ecosystem Fund, enabling existing recipient organizations to provide thousands of women entrepreneurs with access to urgent business support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through a competitive process, the Government of Canada awarded Ryerson University in Toronto up to $8.62 million over three years to establish the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which is made up of 10 regional hubs that are working together to coordinate activities in different regions.
The Black Entrepreneurship Program is a more than $400-million investment including:
- up to $53 million for the National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital and provide them with mentorship, financial planning services and business training. Budget 2021 has proposed investing an additional $51.7 million in this fund.
- up to $291.3 million in support through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which will provide loans of up to $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Government of Canada is investing $33.3 million, and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will be the first partner financial institution with an investment of $130 million. An additional $128 million in support has been jointly committed by a number of financial institutions.
- up to $6.5 million for the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which will conduct qualitative and quantitative research and collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The hub will be run by partnership between Black-led community and business organizations and post-secondary educational institutions.
- The amounts above include costs associated with operating the funds.
- The concepts that were submitted for both the National Ecosystem Fund and the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub are currently under review.