Ontario expands aboriginal economic investment funds

ONTARIO—Ontario is expanding its investment in the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund, supporting new jobs and economic growth for indigenous communities across the province, a press release from the province states.

In accordance with the government’s commitment to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, the name of the program will also be changed to the Indigenous Economic Development Fund.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, David Zimmer, made the announcement while speaking at the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.

Ontario will invest $70 million over the next seven years to extend the fund, originally launched in 2014. With a total combined investment of $95 million over ten years, the fund will continue to: help indigenous communities develop long-term strategies to diversify their economies; increase access to employment and training opportunities for indigenous people; provide access to financing to start and expand indigenous businesses; and enable communities and businesses to collaborate on region-wide employment and skills training projects.

Partnering with indigenous businesses and organizations is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects the government’s commitment to work with indigenous partners to create a better future for everyone in the province.

Investing in indigenous economic development is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

“Waubetek has been involved in delivering the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund throughout Northeast Ontario since January 2015 with great success,” Dawn Madahbee, manager of Waubetek Business Development Corporation, told The Expositor. “We are very pleased with the possibility of a longer term funding commitment to enable us to assist indigenous entrepreneurs with access to capital as they create jobs for both indigenous and non-indigenous people alike while developing much needed services in our area. Indigenous businesses contribute greatly to the regional economy as they purchase their equipment and supplies primarily from the wider business community. It is proven that funds invested in indigenous people significantly benefits and helps to sustain the larger region.”

“We’re excited to announce additional funding of $70 million for the aboriginal economic development fund,” stated David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “These funds will help Indigenous businesses, communities and organizations create and expand job and economic opportunities across Ontario.”

The Aboriginal Economic Development Fund has three funding streams: Regional Partnership Grants, Economic Diversification Grants and the Business and Community Fund.

To date, Ontario has funded 51 projects with Indigenous partners through the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund.

The Aboriginal Economic Development Fund is part of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund which is providing $2.7 billion over 10 years to enhance productivity, bolster innovation and grow Ontario’s exports.