As Canada works to finish the fight against COVID-19, the Government of Canada is committed to a strong, inclusive economic recovery that supports those who have been most disproportionately impacted, including women entrepreneurs.
Yesterday, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, joined Square Canada’s round table to discuss the Government of Canada’s ongoing support for women entrepreneurs and business owners as we start to emerge from the pandemic.
Minister Ng spoke about how investing in women and advancing gender equality are not only good social policy but also great economic policy. By advancing gender equality, Canada can add up to $150 billion to the Canadian economy, and if the world follows suit, we can add $12 trillion to the global economy.
Since 2015, the government has made historic investments to support women, including integrating gender-based analysis, legislating pay equity, enhancing the Canada child benefit and, most recently, making Canada-wide childcare a reality through a $30 billion investment in Budget 2021. The government is also addressing systemic barriers for women in business through programs like the now $6-billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), which includes the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, the WES Ecosystem Fund and additional investments in Budget 2021 to strengthen the WES.
Another focus of the round-table discussion was ensuring that the momentum for women in the workforce is not lost to the disproportional effects of the pandemic. Minister Ng highlighted that this was a priority in the development of emergency support programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which helped many women-owned businesses keep staff on the payroll and pay the bills. She also highlighted how important programs like the Canada Recovery Hiring Program and Budget 2021 investments will be for an inclusive recovery.
“With the critical supports we’re providing to Canadian businesses to help them get through the pandemic and 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 women business owners in recent years are not lost to the pandemic. These are important social and 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 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 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 3 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.
Budget 2021 proposes more funding to help businesses make a strong recovery from the pandemic as the economy safely reopens. Highlights include:
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.