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PM announces $306-million funding to support Indigenous businesses

Last Updated Apr 18, 2020 at 2:36 pm MST

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau announced $306-million is going to Indigenous businesses to help them during the pandemic

The Prime Minister says the government is also working on extended support but those details will be released later

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday the federal government will be allocating more than $306-million to help Indigenous businesses during the pandemic.

Trudeau says the funding will be provided through Aboriginal Financial Institutions and will be administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, which is a network of AFIs that help the economic growth for Indigenous people in Canada.

The funding will allow Indigenous businesses to access short term interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions, so owners are in positions to “rebound after this crisis.”

“[Saturday’s] investment will help thousands of businesses bridge to better times, including many that are owned and run by indigenous women,” Trudeau says.

“These businesses employ people right across the country, in small communities and big cities alike. They create good jobs in a whole range of sectors. So when we support them, we’re supporting families and workers too.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller noted that many smaller, Indigenous businesses are being disproportionately affected by the economic downturn of the pandemic, especially smaller companies and those in rural areas that do not have access to financing from larger banks.

Miller says providing financial help through the 59 Aboriginal financial institutions will enable them to keep supporting small and medium First Nation, Inuit and Metis businesses, offering maximum flexibility so they can be in a better position to weather the crisis.

These measures are expected to help 6,000 Indigenous-owned businesses get through the financial challenges that the pandemic is having on companies forced to close their doors or those suffering major drops in business due to public safety and physical distancing restrictions.

Trudeay says the funding is the first step to support these businesses and the people who rely on them.

Details on further support will be provided in the coming days.

Trudeau adds, “It will get easier” as the government continues to support Canadians with “new investment and with measures like the Canada Emergency Business Account, the wage subsidy, and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.”