Indigenous owned businesses hit hard by pandemic, says survey

Indigenous owned businesses hit hard by pandemic, says survey

Senkulmen Business Park. (Sophie Gray/Local Journalism Initiative) Reporter

Sophie Carrigan Gray

Local Journalism Initiative

A new survey shows the economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had so far on Indigenous owned businesses across the country.

The survey was done by the Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce, made up of Indigenous leaders from across the country to provide the Government of Canada with information on the economic state of Indigenous businesses, and supported by Indigenous Services Canada.

The Taskforce surveyed 838 Indigenous business owners, with most responses coming from B.C., Ontario and Quebec. Respondents were asked to focus on the period between April 29 and May 22.

Ninety-one percent of respondents said they experienced a negative impact from COVID-19, while 50 percent or more said they experienced a decrease in revenues, demand for products or services, and cancellations of meetings, gatherings and events.

A further 30 percent reported having to shutdown offices and facilities and 11 percent reported staff were “unable to work normally during the pandemic,” said the news release.

Almost half of all those who responded have applied for or used government aid, while an almost equal number said they are “likely to fail after three to six months,” without more support.

The survey also proposed measures to help Indigenous owned businesses that are suffering. The proposed measures include developing policies and supports to help break down the barriers faced by Indigenous businesses, additional funding for those who may have to shut down, implementing a “proactive procurement strategy for Government of Canada to directly engage Indigenous businesses that can supply or pivot to supply PPE,” and more research to understand the Indigenous business landscape throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery period, according to the press release.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to continue being seen in the months ahead, said they survey results.