The Government of Canada is committed to supporting women entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis and to ensuring that Canada has a feminist recovery.
On March 9th, the Honorable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, presented at Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Summit. The Honorable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development delivered opening remarks.
About Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Summit
Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Summit brought together feminist experts and those with lived experience to examine how COVID-19 is impacting the lives of women in Canada. It focused on the steps that governments, civil society and all Canadians can take to ensure an inclusive recovery.
Minister Ng also moderated a breakout session entitled “Women in the Economy.” The session welcomed economic leaders and businesswomen from across Canada to discuss the unique and systemic barriers facing women. The panel also addressed the unique struggles groups like Black and racialized women, Indigenous women and LGBTQ+ individuals face. Minister Ng and the panelists discussed working together to address these barriers. The ultimate goal is for all Canadians to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the economy.
Women’s participation in the economy could add up to an estimated $150 billion to Canada’s GDP. The Government of Canada continues to advance women’s economic empowerment with the first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. This is a nearly $5–billion cross-government initiative to increase women-owned businesses’ access to financing, talent, networks and expertise to succeed. During COVID-19, the government is also investing an additional $15 billion in the WES Ecosystem Fund. The fund provides timely support and advice to women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to the pandemic.
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.
From the speakers
“After a challenging year that has disproportionately impacted women, we know that their inclusion and empowerment is the way forward. Our government is promoting the success of women in a kaleidoscope of ways, from legislating pay equity and income supports for raising children, to investing in programs to ensure women-owned businesses grow in Canadaand around the world. More than social policies, these important economic measures will be critical to our recovery from COVID-19.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
“COVID has hit women hard, but we have put in place the supports needed to ensure the pandemic does not roll back advancements in gender equality. Our government has a plan to create a million jobs, which includes investments to ensure diverse women have access to the skills training they need to take advantage of new opportunities. Throughout the last year, women small business owners have kept our communities and main streets thriving, and we are continuing to support them through new investments in the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. Our focus remains on keeping women safe and healthy and ensuring their voices are heard throughout the response and recovery.”
– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
Feminist recovery quick facts
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a nearly $5-billion investment. WES helps increase women-owned businesses’ access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up and scale up. The government’s fall 2020 Speech from the Throne committed to accelerating the work of the WES. The initiative has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.
- In spring 2020, the Government of Canada also provided an additional $15 million for the WES Ecosystem Fund. The additional funds enabled existing recipient organizations to provide thousands of women entrepreneurs access to business support during the pandemic.
COVID-19 relief quick facts
- To support Canadians during COVID-19, the Government of Canada introduced the largest relief package in our country’s history. The 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% of payroll. They extended the current structure to June 5, 2021.
- The expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides an interest-free loan of up to $60,000 with 33% forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.
- The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), available directly to business owners, covers up to 65% of rent. Businesses will receive the new lockdown support, an additional 25%, where a shutdown is required by a public health order. This means they can have up to 90% of their rent covered. The current structure is being extended to June 5, 2021.
- The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) will offer loans at a fixed interest rate of 4% across all financial institutions. This is applicable for terms of up to 10 years, and 100% 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. This fund is for those that have been unable to access existing relief measures. It is delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies.