Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan has helped to protect millions of jobs, provide emergency support to families and keep businesses afloat as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. A central part of this is the federal government’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), which helps support those who may not be eligible for other programs and the Province Government of Ontario’s Indigenous Economic Development Fund – Business Recovery Financing program (BRF).
Since May 2020, Two Rivers Community Development Centre (Two Rivers) has been delivering targeted support to Indigenous businesses in the communities it serves. With its local expertise and connections, Two Rivers has been a trusted colleague of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and Ontario’s Ministry of Indigenous Affairs to deliver this funding to support Indigenous businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to stay afloat and maintain jobs.
In this time, Two Rivers has provided over $2.9 million in liquidity support to help over 75 businesses impacted by the pandemic to cover costs and maintain 365 jobs. The funding is making a difference to the Indigenous economy in southern Ontario by providing businesses the support they need to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic while finding ways to grow for the future.
Monica Staats, owner of MTS Native Services, located in Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation noted, “The COVID-19 relief funding helped MTS Native Services with cash flow and operational costs at first. We were in a really tight spot and it alleviated a lot of stress. Once we opened back up to regular hours, we made our working space safer with personal protective equipment and protocols, social distancing equipment and signs in and outside our office. We then upgraded our debit equipment so we could offer touchless payment options. We are still working on a new website so we can expand our clientele off reserve and so our existing clients can place their orders online. We also expanded our services to offer Photobooks, which is something I've wanted to do for some time. We are very appreciative that the relief funding was there for us when we needed it!”
Stephanie Styres, President and CEO of Market Place Solutions Inc., also located in Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation wrote, “The funding has helped me retain workers, complete office renovations due to COVID-19 and purchase protective gear for staff.”