The Hon. Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and MP for Waterloo, joined Pam Damoff, Member of Parliament for Oakville North-Burlington, and local business leaders on Monday to discuss the ways the federal government can better support women entrepreneurs as they work to grow their businesses and create middle class jobs for Canadians.
In Oakville, Minister Chagger and MP Damoff first met with business leaders including Julia Hanna, who owns Oakville’s Ristorante Julia and Ritorno. During this meeting, they spoke about the benefits of inclusive hiring, a priority for Hanna in her own restaurants. “Inclusive hiring creates an empathetic workplace, adds value to a business and positively benefits the bottom line,” said Hanna.
“Canadians, communities and workplaces benefit when everyone can participate and contribute equally,” said MP Damoff. “While there has been great progress in making our society more inclusive, we can do better. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Cabinet, and stakeholders across the country, to develop new accessibility legislation that promotes equal opportunities and increases the inclusion and participation of Canadians living with disabilities.”
As part of the Government’s action to support Canadians living with disabilities, Budget 2017 committed $77 million over 10 years to expand the activities of the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which will include support for building and renovating infrastructure, such as ramps and accessible washrooms, as well as providing accessible information and communication technologies and retrofitting vehicles.
Additionally, the Budget committed $22.3 million over five years to establish a new Accessible Technology Development program that will make it easier for Canadians with disabilities to more fully participate in the digital economy.
“I am committed to ensuring that Canadians living with disabilities have the same opportunities to find good, well-paying jobs, make a contribution to their communities and the economy, and build a better life for themselves and their families and I want to make Halton a leader in inclusive employment,” said MP Damoff.
Following this productive discussion, Minister Chagger and MP Damoff joined a group of women small business owners from Oakville and Burlington for a roundtable discussion at TechPlace in Burlington. The conversation focused on the challenges and successes they have experienced as they started their businesses, and where they see room for further government action.
Minister Chagger told participants that the federal government wants to double the total number of women-owned businesses in Canada. “Hiring and promoting more women in business is not only about doing the right thing, it’s about doing the smart thing,” she said. “More women entrepreneurs and small business owners means more growth in our economy, more Canadian businesses exporting to new markets and more well-paying, middle-class jobs for Canadians.”
In November, during an address to the Canadian Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference in Toronto, Minister Chagger announced that the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will make fundamental changes to the way it delivers its services, and will work to become a world-leading financial institution for women business owners.
BDC is also taking on a number of new activities to support women entrepreneurs in the tech sector. This includes investing $70 million to support help women in Canada’s tech sector.
Supporting businesses that are majority-owned, operated and controlled by women makes good economic sense. Benefits can include higher profits, greater employee retention and even access to new markets.
“Our government wants to help unleash the full economic potential of women entrepreneurs,” said MP Damoff. “Women are an impressive economic force. In 2015, 8,278 businesses in Halton employed fewer than 10 workers, which represents nearly two-thirds of local businesses. These small businesses provided 33,455 jobs. It is vitally important to our local communities to support them.”