Federal minister announces LGBTQ Entrepreneurship Program at Kingston summit

Minister Mary Ng makes an announcement during the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Summit 2023 at the Holiday Inn Kingston-Waterfront. Photo by Dylan Chenier/ Kingstonist.

On Thursday, Jun. 15, 2023, Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced a new LGBTQ Entrepreneurship Program, the first of its kind in the world. The announcement came at the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) Summit 2023, which is currently being held at the Holiday Inn Kingston-Waterfront in downtown Kingston.

“Our government has been working hard to support all Canadian businesses in their journey. We have been working hard to create an economy that works for all Canadians. If you’re not creating an economy and communities that are inclusive, you’re missing out,” Ng said as she announced the new program, which will include a $25 million investment from the federal government to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and business owners.

“Two in five LGBTQ+ business people have had difficulty securing capital business loans and funding… [One] third have been [unable] to find a mentor or a business network that will help grow [their] business,” the minister added.

Starting in 2023, the LGBTQ Entrepreneurship Program will seek to rectify these inequities by providing LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and business owners with millions of dollars in funding.

“LGBTQ+ business people make invaluable contributions to our economy, creating good jobs, growing our economy, and building a better Canada, despite the barriers that [they] have been facing. Now imagine what our economy will look like if we level that playing field. It will be more growth, it will be more jobs, it will be more entrepreneurs, and it will be more entrepreneurs who are LGBTQ+, and that is great,” said Ng.

Minister Ng addresses the press during a media scrum following her announcement. Photo by Dylan Chenier, Kingstonist.

During a media scrum following Thursday morning’s announcement, the minister provided a breakdown of how the $25 million will be distributed across three streams, the first of which will include $14 million for business startups or ‘scale-ups.’

In the second stream, $8 million will support an LGBTQ+ business ‘ecosystem.’ Ng said, “The ecosystem is really about enhancing the capacity of those organizations who are supporting LGBTQ+ employees and entrepreneurs already, but also creating some ecosystem partners in parts of the country where there isn’t as much support… [such as] in the north, as well as rural and Atlantic Canada.”

A further $3 million will go towards a new ‘knowledge hub,’ which will focus on gathering data on LGBTQ+ businesses and entrepreneurs.

“This [stream] is really about understanding what the gaps are, what some of the best practices might be, and then collecting the data so we can do a much better job in the years to come,” Ng explained.

“Together, in these three streams, [the program] will help businesses grow and expand here in Canada, but also into new markets, [while] creating opportunities that currently may be out of reach.”

As for why a fund specifically dedicated to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and business owners is needed, Ng pointed to the adversity that members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to face. “Almost half a million Canadians are employed by [LGBTQ+ owned] businesses, and yet, we still hear issues like 40 per cent not getting access to funding, and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and businesses not wanting to self-identify… Those are real issues, and those are real barriers.”

CGLCC will be responsible for administering funding associated with the LGBTQ Entrepreneurship Program. Darrell Schuurman, CEO and founder of CGLCC, elaborated on the challenges LGBTQ+ businesses encounter today.

“There are over 100,000 LGBTQ+ owned businesses across Canada, and I think the unfortunate thing is many still do not feel comfortable self-identifying. We know that over a quarter have actually faced discrimination and lost contracts because of [their] identity. So this program will be instrumental in helping them to be able to be their true selves so that they can focus on growing their business as opposed to hiding who they are,” he said.

(L-R) Minister Ng and Darrell Schurmann pose for photos after their respective media scrums. Photo by Dylan Chenier/ Kingstonist.

The program is the latest in a series of initiatives the federal government has rolled out in recent years to support economic growth among underrepresented and marginalized groups, such as the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and the Black Entrepreneurship Program.

“I’m starting to see [the] numbers, and [the programs] are working,” said Ng. “30,000 women entrepreneurs are being helped… [and we’ve helped] thousands of Black entrepreneurs get a foothold in the Canadian economy and grow their existing businesses. There are heartening examples that these programs are helping [and] the support networks are helping businesses start and helping them with their growth.”

While Ng did not provide a specific timeline as to when funding for this latest program will begin rolling, she said the government aims to do it “as expeditiously as [it] possibly can.”

Thursday’s announcement was made on the second day of the CGLCC Summit 2023, which brings together LGBTQ+ business people for a three-day conference. This year marks the first time the summit has been held outside of Toronto in its 10-year history. The event also coincides with Kingston’s Pride Festival.

2 thoughts on “Federal minister announces LGBTQ Entrepreneurship Program at Kingston summit

  • Why does this article not mention that the $25 million is being given to the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to administer? Anyone applying for these grants must jump through their demands for “qualifier” points and letters of reference, (three, with affidavits, according to their website), to be certain that no one outside of the LGBT+ community receives their support.

    Imagine if a government program demanded that someone was actively and entirely heterosexual, with proof in the form of letters of reference, affidavits, and qualifier points, (such as children), to certify their entitlement to an award. That’s what was done in Nazi Germany to promote a thriving Aryan race. This looks to me to be the other side of the same coin of sexual discrimination.

    • Hi Scott,

      It says that the Chamber is responsible for dissemination of the funds in the article: “CGLCC will be responsible for administering funding associated with the LGBTQ Entrepreneurship Program.”

      As for opinion on the announcement and how the funds will be used, we do not speak for the government or the chamber, and simply present the facts.

      Thank you,

      Tori Stafford
      Editor-in-Chief
      Kingstonist

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