Hon. Jane Cordy: Welcome, minister.
My question relates to your responsibilities as Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. In 2020 the Prime Minister announced funding for the first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program, committing $93 million in federal money along with another $127 million from major Canadian financial institutions over a four-year period. In your Departmental Plan, it states that the agency will deliver key funding under the Black Entrepreneurship Program.
Minister, can you share with us how much money has been delivered to date and the number of Black entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada who have received funds through this program?
Also, minister, the fund committed $6.5 million to creating the Black Entrepreneurs Knowledge Hub, which is being led by Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business and the Dream Legacy Foundation. Minister, is the Knowledge Hub up and running, and if not, when will it be? Also, when the Knowledge Hub is collecting data on Black entrepreneurship in Canada, how will it report its findings to the public?
Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P., Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency: Thank you so much for that question.
With respect to the work that is being done at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, a lot of great work is being done on the ground with respect to helping and supporting small- and medium-sized businesses. Being the minister responsible for ACOA, I oftentimes indicate that the secret sauce for the success of ACOA is the folks on the ground and the staff that we have in over 40 offices across Atlantic Canada, to make sure that they really know the pulse of what is needed in the communities. That is really the beauty of ACOA.
I’m happy to say that we’ll be celebrating 35 years this year for ACOA in Atlantic Canada. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been operational for that long, but we have certainly seen a lot of progress and a lot of support provided to small- and medium-sized businesses.
With respect to the Black Entrepreneurship Program, ACOA focused on a group in Nova Scotia that was able to deliver the programs that were needed for Black entrepreneur small- and medium-sized businesses. Through that Knowledge Hub as well, the monies have been provided to that group, and then from there they are able to do the analysis to make sure where the money should be invested.
Again, we’re extremely pleased to say that there is also a partnership that has been provided through another group in Moncton to make sure that through the Knowledge Hub program there was also a francophone component, because we wanted to make sure that the francophone Black entrepreneurs as well were going to have access to that program. The group in Nova Scotia is the lead, but we also have a group in Moncton that will be able to ensure the analysis of the funding requests that are made, and then from there, the proper disbursements of the funds will be able to be provided to them.