The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and anxiety for businesses and their employees. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of our economy and our communities. As a source of local employment and pride, they play a key role in the well-being of communities across the country. That is why the Government of Canada has implemented a series of concrete and tangible measures to help them retain their employees, pay rent and access capital to pay their bills.
Building on these measures, the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors across the economy such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and local economies. RDAs are best positioned to provide this additional support as they work closely with communities across the country every day and understand the diverse local realities.
Yesterday, the Honourable Mélanie Joly (photo), Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced that southern Ontario businesses that are unable to access other existing measures can now apply for RRRF support through FedDev Ontario. As the RDA for southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario will work with key partners such as the Community Futures Development Corporations across the region to help southern Ontario businesses during these difficult times. A total of $252.4 million will be available for southern Ontario businesses.
The Government of Canada’s efforts are making a difference for many local businesses, but some are still falling through the cracks—particularly in rural and remote communities. This is where the RRRF comes in, with $962 million nationally—including $252.4 million in southern Ontario—to support businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that did not qualify for, or have been declined for existing measures. This is the case, for example, for SMEs in the tourism sector that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and are, in some cases, ineligible for other federal programs.
Canada’s businesses are as diverse as Canadians are, and the immediate, concrete support available through the Fund will be tailored to their unique needs. This will allow them to be in a position to play a meaningful role in our economic recovery in the months to come.