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Leadership News Briefs

Canada’s Ministers and Knowledge Hub Experts Boosted Women Entrepreneurs

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, alongside the Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, met with Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub partners to discuss the state of women entrepreneurship in 2021. The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub—a three-year, $8.62-million program—is part of the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The hub is creating a one-stop-shop for the information, tools and resources women entrepreneurs need to succeed.

Both ministers focused on how the Government of Canada is working to remove systemic barriers to women entrepreneurship and helping women reach their business goals.

It is estimated that increasing women’s participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion to Canada’s GDP. The Government of Canada continues to advance women’s economic empowerment with the WES. A nearly $5–billion cross-government initiative to increase women-owned businesses’ access to financing, talent, networks and expertise.

Relief measures from the Government and the Knowledge Hub

The government invested $15 million in the WES Ecosystem Fund to provide support for women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to the pandemic. Minister Ng also participated in a session on the state of women entrepreneurship in 2021 at the Women Entrepreneurship Conference. This was a month-long event series presented by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub in partnership with Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada.

The conference brought together leading researchers, policy-makers, government representatives, women entrepreneurs and other key ecosystem stakeholders. Together they were able to better understand the challenges women entrepreneurs face and to discuss the best ways to build inclusivity into the pandemic recovery. 

As Canada addresses the pandemic and steps forward on the road to recovery, the Government of Canada will continue to support women—especially women entrepreneurs—every step of the way.


“Women entrepreneurs play a key role in Canada’s economic growth and development. It’s now more important than ever before as the country starts to recover from the pandemic. Our government is supporting women in many ways, from legislating pay equity and income supports for raising children, to investing in programs to ensure women-owned businesses grow and thrive. More than social policies, these important economic measures will be critical to rebuilding from COVID-19 and building back better,” said The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.

“I was happy to join today’s roundtable to hear directly from women entrepreneurs. The pandemic has exposed critical gaps in our social safety net. The virus has hit certain sectors and groups of people harder than others. These sectors include seniors, women, low-wage workers, young people, people of color, and Indigenous peoples. Our government will continue to have their back as we work to remove the barriers so everyone can thrive in the workforce,” said The Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

Quick facts

  • WES is a nearly $5-billion investment to help increase women-owned businesses’ access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise. This allows businesses start up, scale up and access new markets. The government’s fall 2020 Speech from the Throne committed to accelerating the work done under WES. This initiative 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. Thus, enabling existing recipient organizations to provide thousands of women entrepreneurs with access to urgent business support.
  • The Government of Canada awarded Ryerson University up to $8.62 million over three years to establish the WEKH. The hub made up of ten regional hubs that coordinate activities in different regions.

Canadian relief packages

  • To support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada introduced the largest relief package in our country’s history. This package includes the following major programs for business owners and their employees:
    • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is helping businesses by covering up to 75 percent of payroll.
    • The expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides an interest-free loan of up to $60,000.
    • The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), available directly to business owners, covers up to 65 percent of the rent. Businesses will receive lockdown support of an additional 25 percent where a shutdown is required by a public health order. This means they can have up to 90 percent of their rent covered.
    • The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) offers loans at a fixed interest rate of 4 percent across all financial institutions for terms of up to 10 years, with loans 100 percent guaranteed by the Government of Canada. Businesses will be able to apply up to June 30, 2021.
    • The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is providing more than $2 billion to support small businesses across Canada that have been unable to access existing relief measures. It is delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies.
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