Sep 9, 2020
Justin Trudeau Announces Loan Program to Support Black Entrepreneurs Transcript
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a loan program intended to support Black entrepreneurs on September 9. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Ahmed Ismail: (00:09)
Hello, my name is Ahmed Ismail co-founder of Hxouse. On behalf of myself, La Mar Taylor, Abel Tesfaye, we would like to welcome everybody here today for this historic occasion. When we first started Hxouse we knew that the system was broken and we didn’t want to waste our time complaining about it, we wanted to envision solutions that would last and make sustainable real impact. And today is one of those days that, as a young kid who grew up as a political science nerd, dreams about because to have an active, responsive government that’s being able to adapt to the issues at hand and not want to bandage this no more and believe that systemic racism and opportunities are not equal and take the uncomfortable step of doing something about it instead of pointing fingers, this is something that I’ve never really witnessed in all my life in every country that I’ve studied. So I’m really happy to celebrate what we do at Hxouse every day, but it’s very rare that we get to celebrate today, this announcement of supporting all that you’re going to hear today.
Ahmed Ismail: (01:19)
For those who don’t know about Hxouse, it’s an incubator and accelerator that’s talent driven to keep amazing talent in Canada. We started and established in 2018 to tell every Canadian that has a dream, that there is no more dreams. That’s the name of our scholarship, we believe it, it’s our mantra and we don’t like to complain about fixing problems so today I’m happy to announce that Honorable Minister of Small Business, Mary Ng to the podium to share the rest of this announcement, thank you.
Minister Mary Ng: (02:10)
Well, good morning, everybody. I want to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the peoples of the Anishnaabeg, the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee and the Mississauga of the Credit First Nation. Today, indeed is an exciting day. I’m honored to be here at Hxouse, a local think center that helps entrepreneurs turn their innovations into made in Canadian businesses and products. I am joined by our prime minister, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, I have also here with me is my friend and colleague, the member of parliament, Greg Fergus, a relentless champion of his community in Hull—Aylmer, but also the chair of the Canadian Caucus of Black Parliamentarians.
Minister Mary Ng: (03:04)
Today’s announcement is a testament to the dedicated advocacy of Black caucus, as well as the incredible leadership strength and the hard work of Black led business organizations from across the country. A sincere thank you to the Black Business Professional Association, the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, [ Group Transet Transet 00:03:36] Cote Des Neiges Black Community Association, the Black Business Initiative in Nova Scotia, and many others. Today would truly not be possible without your expertise, and thank you for joining us. Right from the very beginning of this pandemic, we promised Canadians that we were going to listen to them and that we would create the supports that responded to what they needed. Black business owners have been clear, unique barriers to their success existed long before COVID-19 and have worsened throughout this pandemic. They need a targeted support to help them grow and to thrive in the future.
Minister Mary Ng: (04:17)
Over the past few months, our government, Black led business organizations and Canadian financial institutions have come together with one common goal, helping Black entrepreneurs and businesses succeed because we know that black owned businesses across Canada are led by talented, innovative, and resilient people and they make our communities more vibrant, welcoming, and beautiful places where we all call home. Their success is essential to Canada’s economy, both as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. This is why we must address the longstanding discrimination and prejudice towards Black business owners and entrepreneurs, which has resulted in a lack of trust with more mainstream business programs, including amid COVID-19 and key emergency supports such as the Canada Emergency Business Account loan.
Minister Mary Ng: (05:25)
In a recent cabinet retreat meeting back in July, one of the main topics that we discussed was how we can continue to fight systemic racism. We came out of that meeting with a commitment to create policies that will break down barriers for racialized Canadians, including Black Canadians. On my part, I’ve been focused on working to improve access to capital and to build capacity for entrepreneurs and small businesses, which is that we have heard time and time again from Black owned businesses that can be a key barrier to their success. Ensuring that all business owners and entrepreneurs can thrive is absolutely key to the success of our country. And as we work to recover from COVID-19 and in the years to come, we must continue to work hard to build an economy and a country that works for all Canadians. With that I am very happy to introduce the prime minister of Canada, the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, merci beaucoup.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (06:35)
[foreign language 00:06:53], hello everyone. I am happy to be here at Hxouse in Toronto with Minister Ng, Greg Fergus, the chair of Parliamentary Black Caucus, Adam Vaughn and Gary Anandasangaree. I also want to thank one of the cofounders of Hxouse Ahmed Ismail for welcoming us today. I know that Abel Tesfaye known as the Weeknd and La Mar Taylor are also cofounders of Hxouse and wanted to be here, but just couldn’t make it, so thanks to them as well. We’re also joined by members of the local community and representatives from some of Canada’s largest banks. Over the last six months as our country faced the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 we’ve seen that there exists still far too many gaps in our society. For Black entrepreneurs this pandemic has highlighted the many inequalities they face. We need an economic recovery that’s inclusive and equitable for all Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (07:53)
Earlier today, I talked with some local Black entrepreneurs about what starting a business means to them and what the last few months have been like. They told me what it was like to build the company of their dreams and the importance of giving back to the community. The small businesses that Black entrepreneurs create are the backbone of our communities. Just take the story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn two prominent Black Canadian entrepreneurs from the early 1800s. After the Blackburns escaped from slavery, they became successful business owners starting Toronto’s very first taxi company. Here in Toronto, at the end of the Underground Railroad, the Blackburns brought a new dream to life, a dream of building economic freedom through hard work, perseverance, and hope. A dream that gave them pride in creating something with their own two hands and contributing to their community and their city. They achieved that dream all the while reaching back to help others move forward.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:01)
Their legacy speaks to what Black business owners have always done and still do for their communities. From the Blackburns to Viola Desmond, Black business owners are at the very center of their communities. To Black entrepreneurs, we heard you when you said that investing in the right tools and support create good sustainable jobs, you’re absolutely right. An investment in Black excellence is an investment in economic empowerment and economic empowerment is an essential part of justice. It’s justice against a system that is locked out far too many Black entrepreneurs and denied them the same opportunities as other Canadians. So today we’re taking another step forward to reduce barriers and address that.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:54)
This morning, I can announce that the Government of Canada in partnership with Canadian Banks is investing nearly $221 million to launch Canada’s first ever Black entrepreneurship program. The Government of Canada’s share will be nearly $93 million over four years as part of this program. The Black Entrepreneurship Program will help thousands of Black business owners through our economic recovery and into the months and years ahead. I’d like to take a moment to thank our partners for working with us to address an issue Black Canadians have faced for far too long. The Black Entrepreneurship Program will include funding to support three new initiatives, a National Ecosystem Fund, a Black Entrepreneurship Loan fund, and a Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:04)
Let me start with the National Ecosystem Fund, Black business owners and entrepreneurs often have a hard time getting the right tools and mentorship to succeed. With this new National Ecosystem Fund, Black entrepreneurs will have access to financial planning services and business training they need for the months and years to come. Black entrepreneurs also continue to face systemic barriers when it comes to accessing loans from financial institutions. That’s what the second part of our program, the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will tackle. With this new fund Black businesses will be eligible for loans of up to $250,000. And that brings me to the third part of this program, the creation of a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. To build back better we need the best data possible to ensure future funding is more efficient. This hub will identify the barriers…
Justin Trudeau: (12:03)
… is more efficient. This hub will identify the barriers standing in the way of black entrepreneurs and highlight opportunities for future growth. To get the right input from communities, the hub will be run by black-led business organizations in partnership with universities and colleges. Moving forward, Statistics Canada will continue to collect dis-aggregated data to better understand the needs of black entrepreneurs.
Justin Trudeau: (12:29)
[French 00:12:29] The black entrepreneurship program wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of black business organizations. I’d like to thank them again for their hard work on building this new program with us. This funding is another step in supporting the hopes and aspirations of black Canadians. It’s another step towards our commitment to address the systemic racism that affects black communities. We know there’s still more work to be done, and we’re committed to doing that work.
Justin Trudeau: (16:10)
In the weeks and months to come, our government will continue to stand with all Canadians through this economic recovery. We will continue to build a better, more equitable, more inclusive Canada, where everyone has a real and fair chance at success.
Justin Trudeau: (16:27)
I’ll now hand it over to the chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, Greg Fergus, and then I’ll be happy to take your questions.
Greg Fergus: (17:00)
[French 00:17:00] Today is a historic day. You know, it was 186 years ago in 1834, that there was the abolition of slavery in this country. And in many respects, people thought that that was a positive development. In many respects, it is. But in a sense, it was phrased in the negative. Abolition of slavery. But that was no guarantee for freedom. That was no guarantee for opportunities. That was no guarantee for prosperity. As we saw over the last 186 years, there’ve been many obstacles. Dare I say, it’s systemic discrimination anti-black racism that had existed here. Where blacks weren’t able to get deeds to the properties that they lived on or the houses they owned. They weren’t able to get loans, so that they could pass on some prosperity to their children. That they could use that capital in order to create businesses not only for their community, but for all Canadians to create that prosperity.
Greg Fergus: (18:35)
Well, I think today we can say that we’ve moved into a positive era. The announcement today by the prime minister and by the minister is a very positive development. It will not in one fell swoop, eliminate all of systemic discrimination and the consequences, but we’ve taken a positive step forward. It is a way for black Canadians to tell a different story to non-black Canadians about what we want to do and the prosperity that we want to create, the opportunities that are before us. Now we have the means to do this. It’s also an opportunity for the black community to tell ourselves a different story. That we are economic actors. That we are leaders in our community. And that we are full Canadians and wanting to participate to this wonderful country that we call home.
Greg Fergus: (19:47)
I would like to thank some people who are here in this room. First of all, I’d like to thank my colleagues, Gary Anandasangaree who is here. Adam Vaughan. And a special shout out to a colleague who is not here, Minister Ahmed Hussen. These three have been, along with many others past and present members of parliament, have been just stalwart members of the Parliamentary Black Caucus and who have put their responsibilities aside, the many responsibilities aside to ensure that we could pursue and represent the needs of the black communities from all across this country.
Greg Fergus: (20:29)
Another group of people who I’d really like to thank are the business people, especially the black business people who are here in the room, who have made an amazing contribution through their businesses to contribute to this new entrepreneurial fund. This is remarkable. To see how everybody is working in partnership to ensuring that black Canadians can take their place. So thank for all that work. The work is not done. We still have more work to do on the justice issue, public security, making sure that there’s representation in our private and public sectors, to making sure that there’s work to do in culture. But what we’ve started today, and Prime Minister, what you have worked on all summer long, in cooperation with the Minister Ng, she and her staff have done an incredible job, is the beginning of this process to making sure that all Canadians are equal Canadians.
Greg Fergus: (21:34)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 1: (21:36)
Thank you, Greg. We’ll start with reporters in the room. One question, one follow up, then go to the phone afterwards.
Simon Dingley: (21:51)
Good morning, Prime Minister. Simon Dingley from CBC. I’ll get to the announcement today in just a moment sir, but some whistleblowers are now reconsidering being part of the external review into Rideau Hall because you described the job the Governor General’s doing as excellent. Why would you say she’s doing an excellent job before the review is actually done?
Justin Trudeau: (22:12)
The Governor General has a long and successful role as a scientist, as an astronaut. We have engaged a third party reviewer to follow up on these serious allegations and we will wait for the reviewer to do their work.
Simon Dingley: (22:50)
[French 00:22:50] A second question. It’s been more than three months since you took a knee at the anti-black racism protest on Parliament Hill. Today’s announcement seems to be the only action the government’s taken so far to help the black community since then, where is your government’s anti-racism strategy that you’ve been promising?
Justin Trudeau: (23:12)
Over the past many years, my government, our government has been working with the black community on issues of importance to them, whether it’s social justice, whether it’s the justice system, whether it’s public safety, but it’s also been issues around economic development.
Justin Trudeau: (23:30)
One of the things that we’ve heard time and time again, is about the barriers to economic success members of the black community facing. Young entrepreneurs who get extra barriers, when it’s already challenging enough to be an entrepreneur. We needed to turn things around and over the course of numerous round tables with business leaders over the past years, we’ve made commitments, and today we’re announcing a significant element of economic empowerment and investment for black communities. I recognize there’s much-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (24:03)
And investment for black communities. I recognize there’s much more to do on the justice system, much more to do on public safety and working with police, and we will have more things to talk about. We’ve heard very clearly from the black community that economic empowerment is an essential step towards breaking down those barriers and creating true success, not just for the black community, but for our country. That’s why I’m so excited to have made that announcement today.
Speaker 2: (24:31)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (24:36)
[foreign language 00:24:36].
Lamont Frinke: (25:37)
Hello, Prime Minister. My name’s Lamont Frinke. I’m from the Canadian Press. Racialized people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, both in health and finances. Do you have plans for broader help targeted at their economic recovery, or are you confident that the programs in place now will serve their needs?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (25:53)
We moved very quickly as a government to respond during this COVID-19 crisis, put money in the pockets of all Canadians who needed them almost immediately. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit made a huge difference in the lives of millions upon millions of Canadians. On top of that, we rolled out a wage subsidy to help small businesses, and we’ve continued to create other programs to help young people, to help seniors, to help people with disabilities, a range of things we will continue to do.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:27)
It is a fact that racialized communities have been much more vulnerable to COVID-19, and that is something that we are continuing to work with communities across the country on responding. We will be there to support any and all Canadians who are facing difficulties because of COVID-19. I know there are a number of black businesses in Eglinton West and other areas that have been solidly affected by COVID and by construction projects, and the money that we’re putting forward today to support black businesses across this country will be there to help communities that are facing difficulties.
Lamont Frinke: (27:07)
And second question, you’ve been open about how you’re winding down emergency pandemic supports in favor of longer term programs, but B.C. just ordered some businesses to close again. How can you encourage a recovery and a return to more normal economic activity, when some people are clearly still living in an emergency?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:25)
We are all still living in an emergency. COVID-19 is here, and is going to keep being here in our communities until such a time as we have a vaccine, or else much better treatment than we have now. Yes, we’re talking about an economic recovery, and we’re putting in the building blocks of it, because Canada has managed to control the spread of COVID-19. But as we’re seeing, with cases rising across the country, we are not out of the woods.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (28:02)
Canadians need to continue to be vigilant. Canadians need to continue to be careful, to wear a mask, to wash their hands, to keep social distancing, to avoid large gatherings. These are the things we need to do to keep COVID-19 under control while we get our economies going again. The last thing that anyone wants is to have to once again shut down our economies and suspend our lives to try and counter a massive second wave. That’s why each and every one of us, in the choices we make, need to keep each other safe, keep ourselves safe, keep our frontline health workers from being overwhelmed, keep our elders from being victims of COVID-19. Yes, we moved forward quickly with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, that helped Canadians not only be able to pay for their groceries right away when the economy shut down, but to encourage people to stay home, because that’s what we needed to control COVID-19. Now, as we are living with COVID-19, there’s a lot of economic activity picking up again. And that’s a good thing, but obviously it needs to be done carefully. That’s why shifting from the CERB, which was designed to keep people at home and not working, towards a more EI-like system that will have incentives to work, and encouragements and supports for people while the economy gets rolling again, is the right step. But we are going to remain vigilant every step of the way, and as I’ve said from the beginning, this government will continue to have Canadians’ back throughout this crisis.
Speaker 3: (30:06)
[foreign language 00:30:06]?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (30:09)
[foreign language 00:30:09].
Speaker 3: (32:07)
[foreign language 00:32:07].
Speaker 4: (32:13)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:32:13].
Speaker 3: (32:30)
[foreign language 00:32:30].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (32:53)
[foreign language 00:32:53].
Speaker 3: (33:33)
[foreign language 00:33:33].
Speaker 5: (33:39)
[foreign language 00:33:39].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (34:00)
[foreign language 00:34:00].
Speaker 3: (35:06)
In English, please?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (35:08)
I’ve been very clear. The government has no interest in seeing an election this fall. We know that there’s still an awful lot of hardship that Canadians are going through. There’s still real concerns about a potential second wave of COVID-19, and we need to be vigilant. We need to be there to help Canadians. We need to be there to relaunch our economy. So we have no interest in an election. However, we will be putting forward a strong and ambitious plan to both help Canadians right now, and begin the process of building back better our country and our economy. And it is the responsible thing to do in a democracy, particularly in a minority Parliament situation, to put that plan forward to ensure that it has the confidence of the House as we move forward. So, it will be up to…
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (36:03)
… the house as we move forward. So it will be up to opposition parties to decide whether or not they have confidence in the plan this government is going to put forward to help Canadians and to build a better future. We’re going to stay focused on helping Canadians, and I hope that the other parties will do the same.
Speaker 6: (36:21)
Thank you. Operator, next question.
Thank you! Merci. Next question, Ryan [Tipalti 00:36:33], National Post. Line open.
Ryan Tipalti: (36:33)
Yeah, good morning, sir. I’m wondering in your throne speech that’s coming up, I know you’ve suggested that you’ll be presenting an ambitious plan for Canada. Given the country’s current debt and deficit situation, will that plan include some sort of new financial anchor, some sort of grounding for the government’s finances?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (36:57)
I know people are eager to see what’s going to be in the throne speech, and I’ve been very clear that it is going to be an ambitious and responsible plan for helping Canadians right now, and building a stronger future for us all into the coming years. The values and principles that underpin it should be obvious to everyone, because they’re the things that this government has remained focused on from the beginning, making sure that all Canadians have a real and fair chance to succeed, recognizing the inequities that COVID-19 have highlighted, knowing that the future of jobs and opportunities for Canadians involves making sure we’re reducing our carbon emissions. These are the kinds of things that we want to work in partnership right across the country with to make sure that we’re building a better future. I look forward for the opportunity in a couple of weeks to share that vision with Canadians and see parliamentarians pronounce on it.
Speaker 6: (37:54)
Following up, Ryan?
Ryan Tipalti: (37:58)
Yes, sir. I guess I’m just wondering though, if it will have any tethering, are you concerned about what that will do to Canada’s debt if bond rating agencies start to view our debt as unmanageable? Also, sir, I’m wondering, do you plan to meet with opposition leaders before presenting this throne speech to get their input?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (38:19)
Every step of the way we have consulted with opposition leaders, we’ve worked with them. We’ve worked with members of all parties who have come forward to highlight gaps and issues and concerns that they have about Canadians who need help because of this pandemic. We will continue our engaged approach and make sure that we’re listening carefully to proposals put forward by the other parties. We know that it is better when we all work together. Quite frankly, what we’ve seen over the past number of months with historic numbers of meetings between the First Ministers, deal signed with the provinces and territories for billions of dollars of investments to help Canadians through COVID. Canadians appreciate that here in Canada, different parties and different levels of government are all working together to serve them and we’re going to continue to do that.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (39:12)
But our principle from the very, very beginning has been, we will be there to help Canadians and there are people out there who said we shouldn’t have helped people first. We shouldn’t have been sending money to Canadians right away. Well, I think they’re wrong. I think if we hadn’t made sure that Canadians had money in their pockets, as we shut down the economy, not only would people have had to borrow money as a household, on their credit cards, through the banks, in order to make it through, we would have seen record numbers, even higher record numbers at food banks. We would have seen families evicted. We needed to be there to help Canadians first. And that’s exactly what we did. Every step of the way we will continue to be there for Canadians, because we know that Canadians are more than able to get us through this and out to the other side, even stronger than ever before. This government will always be a partner to them every step of the way.
Speaker 6: (40:23)
Merci. [foreign language 00:04:25].
Thank you. Merci. Next question, Alex [Bangar 00:40:30] with Toronto Star. Line open.
Alex Bangar: (40:34)
Hi, good afternoon. Thanks for taking my question. With this new program you’re announcing today, what happens to it after four years? Is $93 million from the government over four years really enough to answer, as Mr. Fergus highlights, at least 186 years of discrimination and injustice for black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (41:01)
Thank you for asking you a question about this announcement. The reality is, there’s always going to be more to do. One of the things we’ve heard, however, clearly from the black community and black business leaders is there is a fundamental challenge around access to capital. The ideas, the ability to succeed are all there within the black community, but the barriers with financial institutions, the barriers to accessing loans to invest in their communities, in their businesses, are simply not there.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (41:37)
What this program will do over the coming four years is ensure that by working with financial institutions, there is much greater access to capital for these black businesses, which face systemic barriers and discrimination every single day. It would be lovely to imagine that with four years of working with almost all financial institutions on delivering capital, it will become very obvious to those institutions, what we, and so many of us in this room already know, that investing in black businesses is an amazing way to create wealth and prosperity for everyone.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (42:21)
In four years, we will look at this and perhaps there will be different challenges we have to invest in, because the challenges of access will have been so significantly improved. What we get to demonstrate with this program is that investing in black businesses, isn’t just good for financial institutions or for black businesses themselves, that it will be incredibly good for our communities and for our entire country and that’s what I’m so excited about here.
Speaker 6: (42:52)
Following up, Alex?
Alex Bangar: (42:55)
Yeah, I think it was mid June, Mr. Fergus, the Parliamentary Black Caucus released that declaration of recommendations for the government to tackle systemic racism, that was signed by, I think it was more than half of your cabinet, more than a 100 liberal MPs. I’m wondering how you’re using that declaration as a guiding document for whatever work is coming, as you say, you’re promising more action on this. How much of a role does that declaration play in what the government is working on?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (43:28)
I think that declaration was extraordinarily important and I’m deeply grateful to Greg for his leadership and for so many parliamentarians and ministers for signing on to that. But we’re listening to that document, we’re also engaging directly with the black community and hearing the challenges, the issues, the impediments, the barriers that we need to tackle. We’ve worked with all sorts of different partners throughout the summer, we’ve brought forward different elements. I’m happy to be making an announcement today about significant investments that’s going to encourage black entrepreneurship and help black businesses succeed. But there are many other elements, whether it’s our justice system, whether it’s around public security, whether it’s around community supports that we’re going to continue to work on. Every step of the way we will do it in partnership with those most effected, the black community itself and indigenous Canadians as well.
Speaker 6: (44:29)
Thank you. Operator, one last reporter on the phone.
Thank you! Merci. [Foreign language 00:44:37].
Speaker 7: (44:47)
[foreign language 00:44:43].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (44:47)
[foreign language 00:45:12].
Speaker 6: (44:47)
[foreign language 00:46:05].
Speaker 7: (44:47)
[foreign language 00:46:09].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (44:47)
[foreign language 00:46:22].
Speaker 6: (44:47)
[foreign language 00:47:04]-