TORONTO —The government of Ontario is providing up to $10 million to Indigenous-owned small and medium-sized businesses to help them with much-needed capital as the province begins to safely and gradually reopen the economy.

Loans of up to $50,000 will be available to businesses that are either ineligible for, or unable to access, existing federal and provincial COVID-19 response initiatives for small businesses. The funding is being delivered through the Support for People and Jobs Fund.

“Indigenous businesses are experiencing revenue shortfalls at this time, as many are located in rural or remote areas and operate in hard-hit service sectors such as tourism, hospitality, and retail,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “This funding responds to their unique challenges and will help them get back up and running so they can contribute to the rebuilding of the provincial economy.”

Loans will be available through Aboriginal Financial Institutions. Up to 50% of each loan will be in the form of a non-repayable grant, with no interest due on the loan portion until December 31, 2022. Businesses may use these funds to cover general expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities, and taxes. They may also be used towards increasing production capacity, developing new products, moving to online marketing, or to make improvements to accommodate social distancing requirements, such as the installation of plexiglass barriers.

“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and their recovery is critical to Ontario’s recovery,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “As many Indigenous small businesses across the province closed their doors and halted business during the COVID-19 outbreak, many struggled to keep the lights on. Today, we are providing these businesses with the support they need to recover and adapt to the challenges of this unprecedented time.”