Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

December 29, 2008 12:06 ET

Government of Canada Launches New Measures to Support Aboriginal Economic Development

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 29, 2008) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, today announced three new measures that will improve access to commercial financing for Aboriginal entrepreneurs and communities. Two pilot initiatives were launched: the first, to create new sources for business loans; the second, to support Aboriginal involvement in major resource and energy development projects. At the same time, Minister Strahl announced expanded eligibility criteria for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Aboriginal Business Canada program, allowing for larger contribution amounts and a projected increase of 200 projects each year.

"Taken together, these are practical measures that will expand Aboriginal participation in the Canadian economy. We are addressing long-standing barriers that have often impeded investment by the private sector in First Nations communities, and curtailed opportunities for growth of Aboriginal businesses," said Minister Strahl.

A pilot Loan Loss Reserve (LLR) will encourage commercial financial institutions to provide debt financing to medium and large First Nations businesses on reserve. The LLR will act to offset a portion of potential loan losses, thus reducing risk to the lenders.

Through the pilot Major Resource and Energy Development (MRED) investments, INAC will leverage financial participation from other levels of Government, the private sector and Aboriginal partners to increase the availability of equity funding to medium and large Aboriginal businesses to participate in major development projects, and be active partners in joint ventures.

Under INAC's Aboriginal Business Canada program, increased contribution levels for equity support are now available to First Nations, Metis and Inuit small businesses in all parts of Canada, and for an expanded range of eligible projects.

"I believe that a greater government focus on Aboriginal business and commercial opportunities, along with additional funding, is critical, if we are going to address Aboriginal poverty in Canada," said Chief Clarence Louie, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board. "The combination of measures announced today is very encouraging, and I commend Minister Strahl for this progress in advancing our shared priority on economic development."

"In Budget 2008, our Government announced a process to develop a new Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development," said Minister Strahl. "Again, in the recent Speech from the Throne, we committed to take steps to ensure that Aboriginal people share fully in Canada's economic opportunities. The initiatives announced today are evidence of this commitment, and will assist in the development of a longer-term Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development."

This release is also available on the Internet at www.inac.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Minister's Office
    Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Nina Chiarelli
    Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160