(TORONTO) – November 30, 2020 – The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business’ (CCAB) President and CEO, Tabatha Bull, issued the following statement in response to this year’s fall economic statement.
CCAB was pleased to be invited to the technical briefing on the Fall Economic Statement today. We welcome the Government of Canada’s focus on the specific health, infrastructure and education gaps of Indigenous peoples and are also pleased to see commitments on closing these gaps including delivering broadband to Indigenous communities. We welcome the focus on women in this statement, specifically the commitment to a National Action Plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice.
However, we expected a greater emphasis on efforts to support Indigenous prosperity, given that many Indigenous businesses are struggling to survive during a second wave of the Pandemic. Too often, Indigenous business concerns are an afterthought, resulting in Indigenous organizations like CCAB working to prove to the Government that Federal responses have not met the needs of Indigenous peoples. We were pleased that the Government of Canada acknowledged as much in the Fall Economic Statement, noting that “more work will be done to continue to engage, assist and ensure underrepresented groups are able to make use of government support measures.” The CCAB looks forward to continuing our work to close gaps in Federal programs so that Indigenous businesses can receive the same level of supports as non-Indigenous businesses.
While we recognize the supports that have been provided for Indigenous businesses to date, the economic statement included no further support and no mention of an extension to existing support analogous to the extension of CEBA. What is lacking is a comprehensive Federal-Government wide strategy to support Indigenous business. Such a strategy would make Indigenous prosperity a priority for every Federal Department, Agency and Regulator and provide the necessary down payment to support Economic Reconciliation.
This position has been supported by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance in its recent report on Bill C-9, following our testimony to the committee on November 12, 2020: 2020-11-17_NFFN_Report_C-9_FINAL_e.pdf (sencanada.ca)
This Plan, at a minimum, should include the following:
A time-bound commitment to entrench the Government of Canada’s Indigenous procurement set-aside in legislation, with a transparent accountability mechanism and navigator function to support Indigenous businesses.
This will ensure that the Government achieve its target of having at least 5% of Government purchases from Indigenous-owned businesses.
Every medium-large Infrastructure project supported by the Federal Government, no matter its colour or region, needs to have an Indigenous procurement partnership component to ensure there is a local benefit for Indigenous businesses and peoples.
Additionally, every major infrastructure project needs to incorporate an equity position for the impacted Indigenous communities. This will ensure that local Indigenous peoples share in the ongoing revenue and benefits of these assets.
The Government of Canada needs to introduce an Indigenous set-aside as mainstreaming innovation funding, including the Strategic Innovation Fund, which was allocated $250 million over 5 years in the Fall Economic Statement, and the Supercluster Program. Indigenous businesses are ready to retool to support their communities and drive economic recovery.
CCAB research, supported by Global Affairs Canada, shows that Indigenous SMEs are twice as likely to be exporters as non-Indigenous SMEs. We need an Indigenous set aside for export development training for Indigenous businesses to accelerate their export growth.
CCAB has already done a lot of work in the field, and we could do a lot more to support Indigenous exporters in collaboration with key private and public sector partners.
We were pleased to see the commitment of $70 million over 5 years, starting in 2021-22, and $15 million ongoing to sustain the existing federal Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Secretariat, and to help build Indigenous governance capacity and support Indigenous participation in the development of a Canada-wide system. The measures announced herewith reflect the advocacy and hard work of community leaders from across Canada.
Indigenous parents cannot support their families without Pandemic ready spaces for their children. The Federal Government needs to provide consistent and enhanced support for Indigenous schools and daycares so that they can purchase what they need to ensure their children have protected learning environments and parents can go back to work.
About the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
CCAB is committed to the full participation of Indigenous peoples in Canada’s economy. As a national, non-partisan association, its mission is to promote, strengthen and enhance a prosperous Indigenous economy through the fostering of business relationships, opportunities, and awareness. CCAB offers knowledge, resources and programs to its members to cultivate economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples and businesses across Canada. For more information visit www.ccab.com.
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business