Funding provides Saskatchewan entrepreneurs with the advice and tools they need to mitigate COVID-19 impacts on their businesses.
November 13, 2020 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Western Economic Diversification Canada
From the outset, the Government of Canada has taken action to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to protect their contributions to the Canadian economy. One measure of support is the $1.5 billion Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), delivered by Canada’s Regional Development Agencies and intended for small and medium-sized enterprises that have been unable to access other federal relief measures, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.
The pandemic has created new barriers and challenges for Saskatchewan businesses, including access to capital, and there has been strong demand for RRRF funding. The traditional broad range of supports available to entrepreneurs through the business ecosystem, such as industry associations and chambers of commerce, face their own pandemic-related challenges. These not-for-profit organizations, best placed to identify and nurture locally relevant initiatives that meet regional needs, are struggling at the time that they are needed most.
Support for the business ecosystem
Today, Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency), announced $1.925 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada for business ecosystem support in Saskatchewan. This RRRF funding for 24 organizations will ultimately support over 2,600 enterprises in all stages of the business lifecycle, from nurturing start-ups to the ongoing development of mature firms. Many of the programs being funded are already under way, bringing immediate support for local companies, and making a difference for families and communities across the West.
Today’s funding supports over 340 jobs directly in the funded organizations, as well as many more in the small businesses that benefit from the programs they deliver. This contributes to the Government of Canada’s campaign to create one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels.
For example, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce plans to analyze, coordinate and provide support to local labour markets in rural Saskatchewan communities. Under this project, the Chamber will work with at least 12 rural chambers of commerce to develop policies and actions that help integrate Indigenous, immigrant, youth, and women into the local workforce. Many rural communities in Saskatchewan have struggled to incorporate local labour groups, and this situation was worsened by COVID-19 social distancing and economic impact.
This RRRF funding complements existing programs offered by WD, such as the WES Ecosystem Fund and the Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) program. RRRF will help industry sectors retain the knowledge and skills of valuable employees, and maintain the capital flows and supply chains needed to build back better in an economic recovery.