The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and anxiety for businesses and their employees. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of our economy and our communities. As a source of local employment and pride, they play a key role in the well-being of communities across the country. That is why the Government of Canada has implemented a series of concrete and tangible measures to help them retain their employees, pay rent and access capital to pay their bills.
FedDev Ontario Launches Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to Support Local Economies in Southern Ontario
Businesses across southern Ontario unable to access existing relief measures can now apply for funding under new initiative. Building on these measures, the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors across the economy such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and local economies. RDAs are best positioned to provide this additional support as they work closely with communities across the country every day and understand the diverse local realities.
The Government of Canada’s efforts are making a difference for many local businesses, but some are still falling through the cracks—particularly in rural and remote communities. This is where the RRRF comes in, with $962 million nationally—including $252.4 million in southern Ontario—to support businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that did not qualify for, or have been declined for existing measures. This is the case, for example, for SMEs in the tourism sector that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and are, in some cases, ineligible for other federal programs. More information on the Fund is available on the FedDev Ontario website.
Government of Canada Unveils Economic Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario
An innovative and targeted strategy will build on the region’s unique strengths and competitive advantages to create middle-class jobs and business opportunities. Canadians living and working in Northern Ontario will benefit from this new targeted approach to economic development with a focus on innovation, thanks to the Government of Canada’s Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario (PGSNO). The strategic plan was developed following wide consultations with 1000 people including Indigenous, municipal and provincial leaders, as well as innovation and business stakeholders from across the region.
The Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for FedNor, and the Honorable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced the plan in Thunder Bay and unveiled the PGSNO, an economic development plan that will help guide future Government of Canada activities and investments in Northern Ontario. Among other priorities, the regional strategy will invest in the talent and people of Northern Ontario, ensuring communities have the necessary skills for the middle-class jobs of tomorrow.
The PGSNO is focused on three key areas: supporting innovation; growing companies; and building stronger communities:
• Supporting innovation – by expanding and strengthening the regional innovation ecosystem and providing support for incubators, accelerators and clusters;
• Growing companies – by enhancing supports for business start-ups and scale-ups, promoting the adoption of advanced technologies, and increasing the capacity of companies to export; and
• Building stronger communities – by helping municipalities and Indigenous communities better respond to economic development opportunities and challenges.
The development of the PGSNO followed an announcement by Minister Bains in April 2017 which outlined how each of Canada’s six Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) would prepare an economic growth strategy aimed at seizing business and job growth opportunities created by the innovation economy.
Canada’s businesses are as diverse as Canadians are, and the immediate, concrete support available through the Fund will be tailored to their unique needs. This will allow them to be in a position to play a meaningful role in our economic recovery in the months to come.