A forward look at Indigenous business development

June 11, 2019

A view of a lake. On the left we see the start of the shore with tall pine trees.

Canada's Indigenous population is growing, with an increasingly younger generation offering a demographic of entrepreneurs with potential for business growth.

Federal Budget 2019, released in March, supports various efforts of Indigenous business development to increase the opportunity for these communities to participate in the Canadian business landscape. This is recognized as a means for them to establish independence for their communities. The ultimate goal is to ensure First Nations, Métis, and Inuit have their respective priorities supported while contributing towards Canada's economy.

Below is an overview of how Budget 2019 is supporting Indigenous business development and other efforts moving forward. While the budget was released in late Q1 2019, the changes it proposes are planned to take effect within the next several years.

First Nations

First Nations make up the largest Indigenous group in Canada. Budget 2019 has allocated $1.2 billion over three years for Jordan's Principle; granting improved access to health, social and educational programs for First Nations children.

Moreover, efforts are supporting the improvement of on-reserve essential services like fire protection and emergency response. Budget 2019 is also focusing on forgiving and reimbursing claim negotiation loans, allowing for reinvestment in priorities specific to First Nations communities.

Métis

The Métis Nation represents communities across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Colombia. Budget 2019 proposes to provide $50 million over five years to support enhanced funding of Métis Capital Corporations for startup and expansion of small and medium-sized Métis enterprises.

Budget 2019 is also building on investments from 2016 to support the Métis Nation in developing an economic strategy. Additional funding will support efforts that include a post-secondary education strategy, as well as recognizing the contribution of Métis veterans to Canada's WWII efforts.

Inuit

Inuit communities are primarily located in circumpolar maritime regions. Because of their remote locations, Inuit communities in particular face accessibility challenges when it comes to resources and facilities. Budget 2019 has allocated $220 million over five years to improve this accessibility, particularly for educational and social programs for Inuit children. Moreover, Inuit communities will receive ongoing support for access to addictions treatment in Nunavut.

Community Opportunity Readiness Program (CORP)

The Community Opportunity Readiness Program (CORP) involves project-based funding for Indigenous communities' pursuit of business opportunities in Canada. Budget 2019 proposes to invest $78.9 million over five years, with $15.8 million per year ongoing. These funds are in support of Indigenous entrepreneurs and their business development. This will help communities identify opportunities; build business plans and strategies; provide funding to expand existing business; help launch new Indigenous-led startups; remove economic barriers; and employ efforts to improve various infrastructure.

The program covers up to 80% of consulting costs to support development for Indigenous communities. Many of these efforts are geared towards ultimately driving business and growth for the future.

Other initiatives

Beyond helping to nurture the businesses of Indigenous entrepreneurs, Budget 2019 has allocated $12.8 million for natural resource and energy projects that engage Indigenous communities in their development and maintenance. Moreover, there is an Indigenous growth fund specifically aimed at entrepreneurs. Among all of the Indigenous groups, post-secondary and language revitalization initiatives are being supported. Additionally, focus is going towards improvement of emergency response and natural disaster relief on reserves, as well as further efforts towards Jordan's Principle–health, social and educational access to Indigenous children. Moreover, another $4.5 billion over five years is being directed at closing the gap in living conditions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

If you'd like to learn more about how these initiatives could affect your Indigenous business, please reach out to our team.


Blair Smith, CPA, CA
Partner, Northern Ontario OMP
bsmith@bdo.ca