Tab C: Briefing Notes - ISED
Tab C: Briefing Notes - ISED
- Rural Broadband
- Universal Broadband Fund
- Broadband Coverage Maps
- Rural and Remote Broadband
- Broadband and Indigenous Communities
- Passive Infrastructure
- Support for Vulnerable Population
I. Rural Broadband
1. Universal Broadband Fund
What is the status of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) that was announced in Budget 2019?
- The Government of Canada has made billions of dollars available for rural and remote Internet infrastructure to help ensure all Canadians have access to fast and reliable Internet, no matter where they live.
- Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, for the Universal Broadband Fund to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects.
- In total, including proposed Budget 2021 funding, $2.75 billion will be made available through the UBF to support Canadians in rural and remote communities.
- The government's investments will connect 98 percent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026, with the goal of connecting all Canadians by 2030.
- The government recognizes the urgency of bridging the digital divide for Canadians and is pleased that announcements of successful Rapid Response stream projects are already underway.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted much of our lives online and transformed how we live, work, learn, and do business. This makes it more important than ever that Canadians, including Canadian small businesses in every corner of this country, have access to fast and reliable high-speed Internet.
- This would mean thousands more Canadians and small businesses will have faster, more reliable internet connections.
- To assist in COVID-19 recovery efforts, the government has set aside up to $150 million through a Rapid Response Stream for UBF projects that can be completed during the 2021 build season. 574 applications were received under this stream.
- The government is also improving mobile Internet for Indigenous peoples by setting aside $50 million for UBF projects that connect roads and communities that demonstrate value in terms of Indigenous socio-economic development or Indigenous public safety.
- Thanks to the recent announcement of federal and provincial investments, Highway 16 in British Columbia, more commonly known as the Highway of Tears, will soon have cellular coverage along the entire route, fulfilling a critical recommendation in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' calls for Justice.
- The government will keep Canadians up to date on these investments and the progress made towards connecting all households in the country through online reporting, updated quarterly.
In Budget 2019, the government set a national target for 95% of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to speeds of at least 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) by 2026 and 100% by 2030, regardless of where they are located in the country. To help reach this target, Budget 2019 committed funding to support the launch of the Universal Broadband Fund as well as secure new, Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity to serve remote and northern communities and top-up the Connect to Innovate program.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to the Universal Broadband Fund to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects in collaboration with provinces and territories and other partners. This would mean thousands more Canadians and small businesses will have faster, more reliable internet connections.
Launched in November 2020, the Universal Broadband Fund dedicated $1.75 billion, up from the original $1 billion in Budget 2019, towards connecting Canadians living in rural and remote areas of the country. This includes:
- Up to $150 million for a Rapid Response stream to assist in building projects that must be completed in 2021;
- Up to $750 million for large, high-impact projects that are transformative in nature, for example connecting large numbers of households or large geographic areas, or will substantially improve speeds being offered;
- Up to $50 million for mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples; and
- Other projects to help get Canadians connected quickly to high-speed Internet, using the remaining funding.
Budget 2021 increases the UBF to $2.75 billion.
The intake period for the main UBF is now closed. Applications are undergoing assessment and announcements are already underway. All announcements are being posted online on the UBF website: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/139.nsf/eng/h_00000.html.
Announced projects as of April 15, 2021:
Rapid Response Stream: The government has announced over $41 million in funding for 43 projects to connect over 11,000 households across Canada.
Mobile: The Government of Canada announced a partnership with the government of British Columbia to provide 100% mobile coverage along BC's Highway 16, known as the Highway of Tears, by October 2022. The Government of Canada is contributing up to $2.25 million to this project, which will see 12 new cellular towers built between Prince Rupert and Moricetown to help keep travelers safe.
Main UBF: The Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, and Internet service providers (ISPs) Vidéotron, Cogeco, Bell, Xplornet, Sogetel, and TELUS are partnering to launch the extensive Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed, to connect nearly 150,000 homes to high-speed Internet by September 2022. This operation is made possible by an equal investment totaling $826.3 million from the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec.
The Pathfinder Service received just under 2,000 inquiries during the application period with almost half of them coming from small ISPs and municipalities. They have offered 18 webinars to over 1,000 participants and sent out seven e-blasts to help applicants prepare their submissions to the program.
Applications for the Rapid Response stream were accepted on a rolling intake basis until January 15, 2021. In total, 574 applications were received from all provinces and territories except the Yukon. These applications requested over $550 million and represented total project costs of over $1 billion. On December 17, 2020, the first project to be funded was announced.
The government published Canada's Connectivity Strategy in June 2019. The Strategy committed to connect every Canadian to affordable, high-speed Internet no matter where they live by 2030, and to improve mobile cellular access from coast to coast to coast. The UBF is a key action under the Strategy, along with other complementary measures such as improving access to spectrum, reducing barriers to investment, and broadband funding from other entities including the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Infrastructure Canada, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
CRTC Broadband Fund
In 2016, the CRTC established a fund of up to $750 million to help achieve universal access at speeds of 50/10 Mbps, as well as mobile coverage along major roads. The CRTC's fund is sourced from a levy on telecommunications service providers' revenues.
In August 2020, the CRTC approved $72 million in funding for five projects in the North and Northern Manitoba as part of the fund's first call for applications, which will improve broadband service to more than 10,000 households in 51 communities. The CRTC's second call for applications, focusing on the rest of Canada, closed June 1, 2020, and announcements are now being made, including 12 transport projects receiving $84 million in funding to benefit 56 communities.
2. Broadband Coverage Maps
How does the broadband coverage map work, particularly for the Universal Broadband Fund?
- The National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map shows broadband and mobile coverage for all areas of Canada
- Continual improvements to the collection of broadband coverage data to make maps more precise and detailed, allow coverage to now be shown by 250 metre road segments.
- Under the Universal Broadband Fund, any 250m rural road segment identified on the Map that does not show as having 50/10 Mbps coverage is eligible.
- ISED regularly conducts reviews of the coverage data and has an online form where Internet Service Providers can submit updated coverage information at any time.
- Internet coverage information is collected and updated by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) through ongoing consultation with Internet service providers, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, industry associations, provinces and territories and other stakeholders.
- The Map reflects the maximum advertised speeds that are available from Internet service providers at those locations. This data represents the best possible determination of service availability shown to the 250 metre road segment level; however, Canada is very large and some errors or omissions are possible.
- Canadian Internet service providers have supported this mapping initiative and work collaboratively to improve and correct any discrepancies.
The National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map (the Map), and its underlying data, is comprehensive and precise mapping data describing retail broadband Internet services and wholesale backbone infrastructure in Canada. This data is collected and used for the statistical measure of broadband Internet service availability in Canada as well as the administration of all Government of Canada broadband related contribution programs. A whole-of-government approach has been adopted to ensure mapping data reflects broadband funding from all federal government sources, including ISED, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Infrastructure Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Broadband coverage by speed is depicted in both hexagons and 250m road segments, depending on the layers chosen by the user and the map's level of zoom. For example, hexagons enable users to quickly view general coverage information at the national or provincial level. As the map is zoomed in on particular areas, the road segment layer can be used to show coverage and speeds at a much more detailed level.
Using this data, the Universal Broadband Fund provides a user-friendly mapping tool to allow applicants to develop projects in underserved areas at the road segment level and submit them to the program easily.
Annually, ISED works with the CRTC to collect updated Internet coverage from Internet service providers and typically publishes updates to this coverage information on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map and Eligibility Mapping Tool in August. The Map is also updated with new project information as it becomes available. Projects chosen under the Universal Broadband Fund will be added once a signed Contribution Agreement is in place.
Should discrepancies be noted, users should first contact the Internet service provider in question for initial verification. Once done, and if the information does appear to be inadequate, users can contact ISED for more information on next steps. The UBF program accepts the submission of project proposals where there is disputed broadband data speeds. Applicants must follow the guidance in the application guide; however, ISED cannot guarantee that mapping discrepancies can be resolved during the current call for applications.
3. Rural and Remote Broadband
What is the Government of Canada doing to support the development of high-speed internet in rural and remote areas?
- The current crisis has highlighted the need for digital connections, and the Government of Canada wants to ensure that all Canadians have access to fast and reliable Internet, no matter where they live.
- Budget 2021 proposes to add an additional $1 billion over six years for the Universal Broadband Fund, bringing the total to $2.75 billion available through the UBF to improve high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada.
- The government has also entered into a $600 million agreement to serve the most remote areas through Telesat's Low Earth Orbit satellite constellation.
- High-speed internet will be available to 98 percent of Canadians across the country by 2026, with the goal to connect all Canadians by 2030.
- In November 2020, the government added an additional $750 million to the original $1 billion allocated to the Universal Broadband Fund to accelerate timelines and connect 98% of Canadians by 2026 – up from the original target of 95% by 2026.
- The government is providing this additional funding to advance large, high-impact projects, and to partner with the Canada Infrastructure Bank and other stakeholders.
- Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to the UBF to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects in collaboration with provinces and territories and other partners.
- To connect communities as quickly as possible, the UBF includes up to $150 million for a Rapid Response Intake Stream, dedicated to projects that will be completed quickly - by November 2021. Several Rapid Response projects have already been selected and announced, with more to come.
- The UBF also includes $50 million to improve mobile services in areas that will benefit Indigenous peoples.
- The application period for the Rapid Response Stream closed January 15, 2021. In response to feedback from our partners and stakeholders, the deadline for applications to the main UBF intake was extended to March 15, 2021.
- The CRTC also recently announced projects under its Broadband Fund. The selected projects will target 41 communities, including three Indigenous communities and one official language minority community, representing more than 8,000 households.
Amid the pandemic, a Canadian sample showed that home Internet traffic for downloads increased by up to 48%, and up to 69% for uploads. Approximately 4.7 million Canadians worked from home in March 2020. On March 27, 2020 Bell noted that Internet usage in 300 rural communities also surged 50%.
Universal Broadband Fund
In Budget 2019, the government set a national target for 95% of all homes and businesses to have access to speeds of at least 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) by 2026 and 100% by 2030. With new investments, the target for 2026 has been increased to 98%.
The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) has dedicated $2.75 billion, up from the original $1 billion, towards connecting Canadians living in rural and remote areas of the country to high-speed Internet as well as improving mobile Internet for Indigenous peoples. The UBF includes a $150 million Rapid Response stream dedicated for projects to connect rural Canadians by November 15, 2021. The deadline for applications to the Rapid Response Stream closed on January 15, 2021. Following feedback from partners and stakeholders, the deadline for applications under the main UBF intake was extended until March 15, 2021.
LEO Satellite Developments
The government has partnered with Telesat and invested up to $600 million to secure Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite capacity over Canada to reach the most remote communities. These satellites will provide high-bandwidth, low-latency broadband internet coverage to rural and remote regions of Canada, including the North.
On November 6, 2020, ISED provided regulatory approval for SpaceX's Starlink constellation, allowing it to provide fixed satellite services in Canada. Over the past few months, SpaceX has entered the Canadian market and has begun to offer Starlink beta service to Canadians.
Other Actions to Improve Access
Spectrum Initiatives: In addition to providing flexibility to licensees during the pandemic by extending payment dates for annual licence renewal fees in 2020, allowing unused spectrum to be shared between telecom service providers to increase coverage and capacity and also accelerating the process to authorize the use of spectrum, ISED has proposed to amend the Radiocommunication Regulations to introduce a new fee structure for certain services (fixed point-to-point, including backhaul). This will reduce these fees overall and encourage the upgrading and deployment of these systems, particularly in rural and remote areas. Modernizing these fees will support the development of 5G and benefit rural communities, where broadband deployment depends on the use of these systems.
CRTC Broadband Fund: In 2016, the CRTC established a fund of up to $750 million to help achieve universal access at speeds of 50/10 Mbps, as well as mobile coverage along major roads. The CRTC's fund is sourced from a levy on telecommunications service providers' revenues. The CRTC announced its first set of projects in northern and satellite dependent communities in August 2020 and announced a subsequent set of projects under its national call on February 4, 2021. Further CRTC project announcements are anticipated later this year.
Connect to Innovate (CTI): Through CTI (announced in Budget 2016), over 100 rural and remote communities across Canada are already benefitting from completed projects that have the potential to bring improved internet speeds to over 35,000 households. By the end of 2021, 750 communities and 250,000 households are on track to benefit from access to improved connectivity with CTI projects.
4. Broadband and Indigenous Communities
What is the Government of Canada doing to connect more Indigenous communities to high-speed broadband networks?
- High-speed Internet access is a necessity for all Canadians.
- Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, for the Universal Broadband Fund to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects, bringing the total to $2.75 billion available through the UBF.
- The Universal Broadband Fund has set aside $50 million to support mobile projects that will primarily benefit Indigenous peoples' health, safety and economic needs.
- Thanks to recent federal and provincial investments, Highway 16 in British Columbia, also known as the Highway of Tears, will soon have cellular coverage along the entire route.
- Canada's Connectivity Strategy recognized that Indigenous communities face unique connectivity challenges and committed to consider the needs of different users, including Indigenous peoples, during planning, program design, and project selection of federal broadband programs.
- To support all applicants, but particularly smaller and Indigenous applicants, the government created a pathfinder service to help identify what funding is available and provide advice on developing projects under the Universal Broadband Fund.
- We have a strong track record in supporting Indigenous communities: under the Connect to Innovate (CTI) program, our $585 million investment will connect over 975 communities, 190 of which are Indigenous.
- The UBF's Rapid Response Stream has already announced broadband projects connecting 540 Indigenous households, including in communities in Ontario and Alberta.
According to the CRTC's 2020 Communications Monitoring Report, only 35% of First Nations reserves have access to high-speed Internet at a speed of 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps), compared with 99% of urban households and 46% of rural households.
In Budget 2019, the government set a target to connect 95% of Canadian homes and businesses to speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps by 2026, and all Canadians by 2030, no matter where they are. Budget 2019 committed funding for the UBF, as well as new, Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity to serve remote and northern communities and top-up the CTI.
In November 2020, the Universal Broadband Fund launched a $1.75 billion program, up from the original $1 billion in Budget 2019. This includes:
- $150 million for a Rapid Response stream for projects that will be completed in 2021;
- Up to $750 million for large, high-impact projects;
- Up to $50 million for mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples.
Budget 2021 proposes an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to the UBF to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects in collaboration with provinces and territories and other partners.
Leading up to the launch of the UBF, ISED met with Indigenous organizations, companies and communities to ensure that the UBF responds to the unique needs of Indigenous peoples.
Through the Universal Broadband Fund's mobile stream, the Government of Canada announced a partnership with the government of British Columbia to provide 100 percent mobile coverage along BC's Highway 16, known as the Highway of Tears, by October 2022. The Government of Canada is contributing up to $2.25 million to this project, which will see 12 new cellular towers built between Prince Rupert and Moricetown to help keep travelers safe.
Project selection and announcements are already underway for the Rapid Response Stream of the Universal Broadband Fund. As of April 23, 2021 the government has announced over $41 million in funding for 43 projects to connect over 11,000 households across Canada, including 540 Indigenous ones. Announcements can be viewed the selected projects website (https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/139.nsf/eng/00021.htm) or by visiting www.Canada.ca/get-connected.
5. EORN/SWIFT (Rural Broadband)
How will the Government of Canada work with EORN and SWIFT to support broadband expansion in Ontario?
- The Government of Canada has made billions of dollars available for rural and remote Internet, to ensure all Canadians can access fast and reliable Internet, no matter where they live.
- Budget 2021 proposes an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to the Universal Broadband Fund to support rapid rollout of broadband projects.
- We look forward to working with EORN and SWIFT -- as well as provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners and the private sector -- to achieve our ambitious objectives.
Canada's first national connectivity strategy, released in 2019, committed the government to a national goal of 95 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses having access to speeds of at least 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030, regardless of where they are located in the country.
Budget 2019 committed $1.75 billion to support the launch of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF). Budget 2021 would bring the UBF to $2.75 billion, proposing an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects in collaboration with provinces and territories and other partners – such as the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) and Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) – with good projects to bring forward.
The recent agreement with the Government of Quebec is an example of this acceleration and partnership strategy, with an expectation of connecting 150,000 households to broadband by the end of 2022. This agreement, known as Operation High Speed, is made possible through a joint investment of $826 million.
Federal Broadband Funding
Since November 2015, the Government of Canada has invested nearly $242 million in broadband funding in Ontario to connect over 87,000 households.
The Rural and Northern Communities Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program is providing $71 million toward EORN's $213 million project to improve access to cellular service and mobile broadband in Eastern Ontario.
Through the Building Canada Fund's Small Communities Fund the federal and provincial governments are each contributing $63.7 million to SWIFT for a $209 million project, to install 3,095 km of fibre, targeting 50,000 households and businesses by 2024.
Under the Rapid Response Stream of the UBF, two projects have been announced to date in the EORN area, representing just over $1.1 million to serve 454 households, and four projects in the SWIFT territory valued at just over $2.3 million to improve connectivity for 584 households.
Approximately 88% of Ontario households have access to 50/10 Mbps Internet speeds.
EORN and SWIFT are non-profits established by their respective Wardens' Caucuses which bring together funding from all three levels of government and bring detailed intelligence of their respective regions. They are well-supported by local communities/ municipalities and are vocal advocates about their communities. Both are eligible to submit projects under federal broadband programs, including the UBF. As was done with the Government of Quebec, the Government of Canada welcomes the opportunity to work with all levels of government and other stakeholders to achieve our goal of universal connectivity.
EORN's goal is to bring speeds of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) to 95% of households in the region by 2025-26 through the Gig Project. EORN seeks to fund the $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion project with $200 million each from the federal and Ontario governments and the remainder from the CIB and the private sector. In early March they stated publicly that they had sent their submission to Minister Monsef, and Ontario's Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott. EORN is seeking support through flexible use of these programs, or any other appropriate funding streams.
SWIFT is currently announcing successful proponents under its funding. In February they stated publicly that the funding is a big question for the next phase as there has been no commitment on what the province and federal governments will give, if anything at all. A third of SWIFT is funded by the province and a third from the federal government (Infrastructure Canada), with the private sector filling in another third and municipal governments providing some capital contributions.
6. Access to Passive Infrastructure
Passive infrastructure refers to the physical assets – like telephone poles and underground conduits – that are needed to deploy telecommunications networks.
Efficient access to passive infrastructure can lower costs and speed up the deployment of broadband networks.
Jurisdiction over these assets is split across federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government.
- Efficient access to infrastructure like poles and underground conduit is important for building Canada's broadband networks.
- As part of the recently expanded $2.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund, applicants' ability to facilitate access to passive infrastructure is part of the project assessment.
- The CRTC takes action on access to assets within its jurisdiction and we are also encouraged by measures that provinces and territories are taking to address this issue.
Canada's Connectivity Strategy recognized the importance of access to passive infrastructure. The Strategy outlined that the federal government would continue to raise awareness on this issue across jurisdictions and that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) would review regulatory frameworks within their jurisdiction.
Universal Broadband Fund
The UBF will consider passive infrastructure access in the comparative assessment criteria. For example, projects in which applicants own passive infrastructure assets and take action to make them more promptly accessible to third parties, and those in which applicants can show a commitment of speedy collaboration in accessing others' passive infrastructure, will be assessed more favourably.
CRTC Proceedings on Broadband Deployment Barriers and Poles
In December 2019, the CRTC launched a public proceeding to examine barriers to broadband expansion within its jurisdiction. On October 30, 2020, the CRTC announced a proceeding specifically on telephone pole access. The CRTC intends to identify and implement specific regulatory measures that will make access to poles more efficient. We anticipate the CRTC will release its decisions on these proceedings in the coming months.
The CRTC also can and does address disputes. On April 16, 2021, the CRTC issued a decision finding that Bell had violated the Telecommunications Act is not giving timely access to Vidéotron for certain structures. The CRTC ordered Bell to implement certain remedies and is considering whether an administrative monetary penalty is warranted.
Provinces and Territories
Other jurisdictions are taking access to this domain. For instance, Ontario has introduced legislation to enable more efficient access. Quebec launched a coordination table regarding broadband projects.
ISED's Tower Siting Procedures
ISED is considering changes to its tower siting procedures under the Radiocommunications Act as they pertain to the deployment of smaller wireless equipment. Any changes to the procedures would be the subject of future consultation.
II. Support for Vulnerable Population
7. Economic Recovery
How will Budget 2021 help Canadians recover from the “steepest and fastest economic contraction since the Great Depression”?
- The Government of Canada's top priority remains protecting Canadians' health and safety, particularly during this third wave of the virus and its variants.
- The government aims to finish the fight against COVID-19 and ensure a robust economic recovery that brings all Canadians along.
- Budget 2021 puts people first, creates jobs, grows the middle class, sets businesses on a track for long-term growth, and ensures that Canada's future will be healthier, more equitable, greener, and more prosperous.
- For businesses, it is an inclusive plan that takes action to break down barriers to full economic participation for all Canadians, including creating 1 million jobs by the end of the year.
- Budget 2021 proposes to extend business and income support measures through to the fall and to make investments to create jobs and help businesses across the economy come roaring back.
- It is also a plan for a green recovery that fights climate change, helps more than 200,000 Canadians make their homes greener, builds a net-zero economy by investing in world-leading technologies that make industry cleaner.
- Budget 2021 invests in Canada's bio-manufacturing and life sciences sector to rebuild domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity, and has a plan to put in place national standards for long-term care and mental health services.
- It offers support to businesses in our most affected sectors such as tourism and arts and culture; and accelerate investment in digital transformation of small and medium-sized businesses.
Prior to the outbreak, Canada was doing well compared to its G7 counterparts, placing second in GDP growth and featuring historically low unemployment. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented economic shock to the global and Canadian economies, but the impacts have been asymmetrical across sectors. While some sectors faced only modest decline (e.g. digital/green), others have ground to a halt (e.g. air sector, tourism).
The government has provided unprecedented support to Canadian workers and businesses to meet their immediate liquidity needs. In fact, Canada, in comparison to its G7 counterparts, has demonstrated the highest per capita share of spending in relation to direct/indirect liquidity measures to business. This is in addition to supports to Canadians and Canadian workers impacted by the pandemic mitigation measures.
However, if strategic interventions are not made, some of the impacts of the pandemic may prove structural and long-term – exposing existing fractures in our society and economic structures, with winners and losers. Many firms were not prepared for tectonic shifts required to continue operations throughout the pandemic (e.g. digital transformation), and we have seen disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations.
This is part of why the Black Entrepreneurship Program was launched – to ensure that our economic recovery will focus on eliminating barriers for those who have faced structural inequities. This program recognizes the invaluable contributions of Black business owners and entrepreneurs to communities across the country. The government, along with financial institutions, is investing up to $221 million in their success. Helping them recover from this crisis and grow their businesses is essential to Canada's economic recovery and future prosperity. Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to an additional $51.7 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, for the Black Entrepreneurship Program.
The government has also made important investments to help traditional industries modernize. In October 2020, it invested $295 million to secure 5,400 well-paying middle class jobs by transforming Ford Motor Company of Canada's Oakville Assembly Complex into a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) production plant. This type of strategic investment in Canadian innovation will not only secure good-paying jobs to fuel our economic recovery, but will also help ensure we can become a leading destination for the design, development, and manufacturing of the sustainable technologies of the future.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $250 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, for an initiative to scale-up proven industry-led, third-party delivered approaches to upskill and redeploy workers to meet the needs of growing industries. This initiative will help approximately 15,500 Canadians connect with new work opportunities.
The government is also helping SMEs to pivot their business delivery to online solutions and adjust to the “new normal” of increased digital business delivery through investments like the $57 million dedicated to Digital Main Street. By working with provincial and industry partners to develop practical, on-the ground solutions, we can ensure our made-in-Canada small firms are future-proofing their business delivery in order to prosper in the digital economy and lead the way for a connected economic recovery.
Additionally, Budget 2021 proposes to support small and medium-sized businesses with up to $101.4 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Program.
It also proposed several transformative programs, such as:
- A new Canada Digital Adoption Program that will assist over 160,000 businesses with the cost of new technology. It represents a $1.4 billion over four years, starting in 2021-22, to provide them with the advice they need to get the most of new technology with the help of 28,000 young Canadians who will be trained to work with them.
- Allowing Canadian small businesses to fully expense up to $1.5 million in capital investments in a broad range of assets, including digital technology and intellectual property. This represents an additional $2.2 billion investment in the growth of Canada's entrepreneurs over the next five years.
8. Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
How has Budget 2021 impacted the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)?
- The viability of small and medium-sized businesses is critical for Canada's economy and that is why the Government of Canada responded with decisive action through the RRRF.
- Eligible firms and organizations that could not qualify for other federal COVID support programs received support in the form of no-cost loans to pay expenses, keep operating, and save jobs.
- Since the government launched the RRRF in April 2020, the six Regional Development Agencies and nearly 270 Community Futures organizations across Canada have delivered over $1.6 billion to nearly 23,000 businesses and organizations, helping to protect over 170,000 jobs.
- Budget 2021 provides additional support to small businesses in rural communities. The RRRF will receive up to an additional $80 million in 2021-22 for the Community Futures Network of Canada and RDAs to extend delivery until June 30, 2021.
- Since its inception, there has been high demand for RRRF – particularly in Western Canada. The RDAs have received (as of March 25, 2021) nearly 34,000 applications requesting $3.12 billion (allocation is $2.1 billion).
- Demand for the program continues and in March 2021 alone, the RRRF received an average of 635 applications a week from businesses and organizations across the country, requesting over $42 million.
- This additional $80 million in funds will allow the RRRF to continue providing much-needed support to rural Canadian businesses. Since the start of the program, the Community Futures Network has provided nearly $500 million in support to over 15,000 businesses and organizations in rural areas.
The RRRF is a special one-time relief fund delivered by six Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and nearly 270 Community Futures organizations across Canada. This funding specifically targets businesses, organizations and communities facing economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
RRRF programming is being delivered through two streams:
- Stream 1: Support delivered by RDAs to businesses, organizations and communities.
- Stream 2: Support delivered by Community Futures organizations to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural and remote areas.
The fund is set up as a “back-stop”, aimed at providing support to those businesses that are either ineligible for other federal support programs, or are still facing economic hardship after receiving other assistance. Through the original funding and announced top-ups in October 2020, the Fall Economic Statement and Budget 2021, the RRRF now has a total investment of over $2.1 billion, with over $540 million designated for delivery through the Community Futures Network. The Fall Economic Statement also earmarked 25% of RRRF funding to support the tourism sector through June 2021.
To date, the Community Futures organizations across Canada have helped:
- Over 13,000 rural businesses
- Nearly 5,800 women-owned businesses
- Over 450 Indigenous-owned businesses
- Almost 3,000 tourism-related businesses and organizations
- Directly support over 56,000 jobs
9. Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
How is the Government of Canada supporting women entrepreneurs?
- The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada's competitiveness and prosperity.
- Budget 2021 is a historic investment to address the specific wounds of the COVID-19 recession; it puts people first, creates jobs, grows the middle class, and sets businesses on a track for long-term growth.
- The government proposes to invest up to $146.9 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, the $5 billion strategy to support women entrepreneurs over the long term.
- This new support will provide affordable financing, increased data, and will strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Budget 2021 messages:
- Canadian women entrepreneurs are important to Canada's economic success, but women still face unique and systemic barriers to starting and growing a business, and they remain underrepresented in the economy.
- The pandemic has disproportionately impacted women and the government is committed to supporting Canadian women entrepreneurs.
- To provide affordable financing, increase data, and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem, Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $146.9 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. Women entrepreneurs would have greater access to financing, mentorship, and training. Funding would also further support the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
- The government will work with financial institutions to develop a voluntary code to help support the inclusion of women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs as clients in the financial sector.
Fall Economic Statement messages:
- COVID-19 is rolling back many of the gains Canadian women have fought for and won.
- That is why, as part of the commitment to an Action Plan for Women in the Economy, the government is laying the foundation for a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.
- Canada will not be truly competitive until all Canadian women have access to the affordable child care needed to support their participation in the country's workforce.
On support for women entrepreneurs during COVID-19:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women entrepreneurs and sectors where women entrepreneurs are most present, such as retail, hospitality and food services.
- On May 16, 2020, the government provided an additional $15 million to the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund, enabling recipient organizations to provide thousands of women entrepreneurs with access to urgent business support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- On September 2, 2020, Ministers Joly and Ng with Parliamentary Secretary Bendayan announced $3.1 million in funding for seven organizations across Québec supporting women entrepreneurs.
The Task Force on Women and the Economy and other stakeholders have emphasized that the support networks and financing needs of women entrepreneurs are often different from those of men, with women valuing wraparound supports and smaller amounts of funding.
That is why Budget 2021 announced up to $146.9 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The funding will provide affordable financing, increase data, and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Under the Strategy, the WES Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will receive additional funding.
The government will work with financial institutions to develop a voluntary code to help support the inclusion of women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs as clients in the financial sector.
In addition to an existing $1.4 billion in lending under the Strategy, the Business Development Bank of Canada will seek to support 19,000 direct women-owned businesses in 2024, an increase of nearly 7,000.
To support Indigenous women entrepreneurs, Budget 2021 proposed to invest $22 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to support the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association's Indigenous Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative by providing tools, services, and resources to increase the number of Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
WES programs and initiatives
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Announced in 2018, the Women Entrepreneurship Fund is a $30 million initiative that directly invested in women-owned and led businesses across Canada, prioritizing diverse women entrepreneurs (such as women with disabilities, Indigenous women, women in rural or remote regions, recent immigrants and visible minority women). This included $2.5 million allocated to Indigenous women entrepreneurs. The Women Entrepreneurship Fund funded more that 320 projects.
Announced in 2018, the $85 million WES Ecosystem Fund is designed to help non-profit, third-party organizations strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs. It has supported more than 50 projects. In May 2020, an additional $15 million was provided through the Fund for support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Budget 2021, the Ecosystem Fund will receive additional funding.
Up to $8.6 million was allocated over three years to create a Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). Led by Ryerson University, and supported by 10 regional hubs and a network of over 300 organizations, the hub serves as a one-stop source of knowledge, data and best practices. Under Budget 2021, the WEKH will receive additional funding.
Select Participating Government Departments and Agencies (Initiatives since 2018):
- Business Development Bank of Canada:
- $1.4 billion over three years allocated to debt financing for women-owned businesses (target exceeded).
- $200 million over five years allocated to the Women in Technology Venture Fund.
- will seek to support 19,000 direct women-owned businesses in 2024, an increase of nearly 7,000.
- Export Development Canada:
- $2 billion by 2023 of financing and insurance solutions on commercial terms for women-owned businesses exporting or looking to export.
- $100 million in equity capital.
- Global Affairs Canada:
- $10 million over five years to the Trade Commissioner Service to connect Canadian businesswomen with expanded global export and trade opportunities.
- Financial assistance through CanExport to develop new export opportunities and markets.
- Farm Credit Canada:
- $500 million in financing over three years to support women entrepreneurs in agriculture and agri-food (target exceeded).
10. SME Support During COVID-19
What is the Government of Canada doing to support small and medium-sized businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Budget 2021 is a historic investment to address the specific wounds of the COVID-19 recession; it puts people first, creates jobs, grows the middle class, and sets businesses on a track for long-term growth.
- The Government of Canada will continue to have Canadians backs by extending business and income support measures through to the fall.
- The Budget will support almost 500,000 new training and work opportunities, including 215,000 opportunities for youth, support businesses in the most affected sectors such as tourism and arts and culture; and accelerate investment in digital transformation of SMEs to help them build for the future.
- Small businesses are the heart of Canada's communities and the engine of Canada's economy.
- COVID-19 has caused businesses across the country, both large and small, to rethink their approaches. Entrepreneurs and owners are looking at more digital options, more creative solutions, and more climate-friendly investments.
The government is proposing up to $46.5 million over two years to support main street businesses through shop local initiatives across the country. While $12 million has been announced as part of the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, $33 million in funding is proposed to support provincial and territorial chambers of commerce to collaborate with key stakeholders in their communities to support the development or enhancement of awareness building campaigns that promote main street businesses in their communities. The remaining funding will support the administration of this initiative by departmental officials.
Canada Digital Adoption Program
Budget 2021 proposes to launch the Canada Digital Adoption Program, a $1.4 billion investment over four years to help as many as 160,000 small businesses move into the digital era. The program will provide micro-grants to smaller, main street businesses to support the cost of technology adoption. It will create training and work opportunities for as many as 28,000 young people to help small businesses adopt new technology.
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The CRB provides $500 per week to self-employed Canadians, as well as workers who have not lost their job but have seen significant income loss due to COVID-19. The government proposes to provide up to 12 additional weeks of CRB to a maximum of 50 weeks. The first four of these additional 12 weeks will be paid at $500 per week. As the economy reopens over the coming months, the government intends that the remaining 8 weeks of this extension will be paid at a lower amount of $300 per week claimed.
To date, 14.4 million Canadians have been approved to receive this benefit. The benefits are available until September 25, 2021.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
The new CRCB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. Budget 2021 also proposes to extend the CRCB an additional 4 weeks, to a maximum of 42 weeks, at $500 per week, in the event that caregiving options, particularly for those supporting children, are not sufficiently available in the interim as the economy begins to safely reopen. Budget 2021 proposes legislative amendments to provide authority for additional potential extensions of the CRB and its associated suite of sickness and caregiving benefits, as well as regular EI benefits until no later than November 20, 2021, should they be needed.
New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support
On November 19, 2020, Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (CERS and CEWS) received Royal Assent. It includes the new CERS, which will cover up to 65% of eligible rent and mortgage-interest support for tenants and property owners and the new Lockdown Support, which will provide an additional 25% through the CERS for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown or partial shutdown. Budget 2021 proposes to extend the rent subsidy and lockdown support until September 25, 2021. It also proposes to gradually decrease the rate of the rent subsidy, beginning July 4, 2021. To date, these measures have provided $2.6 billion in support to Canadian businesses.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The CEWS was introduced to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to rehire workers previously laid off due to COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis. On November 19, 2020, Bill C-9, received Royal Assent and included the extension of the CEWS until June 2021. The maximum wage subsidy rate was raised to 75% for the period beginning December 20, 2020. Budget 2021 proposes to extend the subsidy until September 25, 2021. It also proposes to gradually decrease the subsidy rate, beginning July 4, 2021.
Canada Recovery Hiring Program
Budget 2021 proposes to introduce the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program for eligible employers that continue to experience qualifying declines in revenues relative to before the pandemic. The proposed subsidy would offset a portion of the extra costs employers take on as they reopen, either by increasing wages or hours worked, or hiring more staff. This support would only be available for active employees and will be available from June 6 to November 20, 2021. Eligible employers would claim the higher of the CEWS or the new proposed subsidy.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The CEBA provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. As of December 4, 2020, eligible businesses can now access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000. Half of this additional financing, up to $10,000, will be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022. As of April 15, 2021, more than 864,188 CEBA loans have been approved, representing a total of $46 billion in funds. This includes about 530,473 approved loans for the $20,000 expansion. Announced on October 26, 2020, CEBA is also open to businesses using personal banking accounts. All applicants now have until June 30, 2021, to apply for CEBA.
Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
Through the Business Development Bank of Canada's co-lending program for SMEs, the bank supports financial institutions to offer businesses term loans of up to $12.5 million to assist with operational cash flow requirements. These loans are interest-free for the first year and provided on commercial terms with a 10-year repayment period. In total, 80% of each loan will be financed by BDC. As of early February 2021, 753 loans worth $936 million were provided. Additionally, BDC's mid-market financing program extends loans ranging from $12.5 million to $60 million. As of early February 2021, seven transactions had been completed worth over $200 million.
Through Export Development Canada's new loan guarantee for SMEs, financial institutions can issue new credit for up to $6.25 million to help companies satisfy cash flow requirements, with 80% of each loan being guaranteed by EDC.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
The government is increasing the RRRF by $500 million, bringing total funding to over $2 billion, 25% of which is earmarked for the tourism sector. This new funding increases the contribution limit from $40,000 to $60,000, based on eligibility. Eligible applicants can get funding up to $40,000, with 25% (up to $10,000) forgivable if the non-forgivable portion is repaid by December 31, 2022. Eligible applicants can apply for an additional funding over $40,000 and up to $60,000, with 50% (up to $10,000) forgivable if the non-forgivable portion is repaid by December 31, 2022.
Budget 2021 proposes to extend the application deadline for RRRF to June 30, 2021. It also proposes to provide up to $80 million in 2021-22, on cash basis, for the Community Futures Network of Canada and regional development agencies.
Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP)
As part of the HASCAP, the government, through financial institutions, is offering guarantees on low-interest loans of 4%, between $25,000 and $1 million, to help businesses heavily affected by COVID-19 with their day-to-day business operating costs. Hard-hit businesses with multiple entities under related ownership, could be eligible for up to $6.25 million. Qualifying businesses will benefit from repayment terms of up to 10 years, and may postpone principal payments for up to the first 12 months of the loan.
CanExport SME program
On November 3, 2020, Minister Ng announced that with international travel restricted due to COVID-19, the CanExport SMEs program is pivoting to now help small businesses.
11. Black Entrepreneurship Funding
What new funding is the Government of Canada providing to Black-led businesses?
- Many Black entrepreneurs and business owners face systemic barriers daily, and have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Government of Canada is acting now to address those barriers, to build a brighter and more inclusive future for everyone.
- Last year, the government announced the creation of the first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program, an investment of up to nearly $221 million through a partnership with Canadian financial institutions.
- As part of Budget 2021, the government proposes to invest up to an additional $51.7 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, in this important program, to add funds to the Ecosystem Fund, so that more supports can be available to Black-led businesses and Black entrepreneurs.
- Black entrepreneurs and business owners make invaluable contributions to Canada's economy every day.
- Applications received for both the Ecosystem Fund and Knowledge are currently under review for what was a tremendously successful call for concepts in both cases. In fact demand for the Ecosystem Fund was overwhelming with more than 200 concepts submitted.
- On February 25, 2021, the government announced that its $30 million investment in the Loan Fund will be administered by the Federation of African-Canadian Economics (F.A.C.E.), a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization. Loan application in-take will begin in May 2021.
The Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) is an investment of up to $221 million over four years, in partnership with Canadian financial institutions, that will help address the systemic barriers that Black business owners and entrepreneurs face, providing targeted support during the COVID-19 pandemic and on the road to recovery.
Originally announced in September 2020, BEP is composed of three main components, with funding as follows:
- Up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.
- Up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The government is also partnering with financial institutions, including RBC, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support.
- Up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs' barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The Hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions.
In addition to increasing funding available to Black entrepreneurs through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, the BEP will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs by strengthening business and mentorship supports in their communities through Black-led business organizations (National Ecosystem Fund) and by better capturing the experiences and challenges of doing business as a Black Canadian through the new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
The Black Entrepreneurship Program is designed to broadly serve Black business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada, through lending support, business plan development, mentorship or otherwise. The call for concepts for both the Ecosystem Fund and the Knowledge Hub launched on November 23, 2020 and are now closed.
One of the reasons behind the new funding under the National Ecosystem Fund is the tremendous response to the call for concepts that was launched in fall 2020.
The Federation of African-Canadian Economics (F.A.C.E.) consists of Black business and community leaders from several not-for-profit organizations, including:
- Africa Centre (Alberta)
- Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA)
- Black Business Initiative (BBI)
- Cote des Neiges Black Community Association (CDNBCA)
- Groupe 3737
ISED officials continue to work with F.A.C.E and participating Financial Institutions (Royal Bank of Canada, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, TD, Vancity and Alterna Savings) to finalize the design of the Loan Fund.
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