Federal relief fund launched for Nunavut’s small- and medium-sized businesses

CanNor will cover up to $100,000 over a four-month period

A new fund from CanNor’s Nunavut office, based in Iqaluit, will help small- and medium-sized businesses in the territory during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for the new fund opened on Monday, April 20. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency has launched a new fund for northern businesses in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund, called the Northern Business Relief Fund, was launched on April 20 and will provide short-term support for ongoing fixed costs for small- and medium-sized businesses in all three territories.

“The NBRF complements the suite of relief measures implemented by the Government of Canada to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian economy,” said an April 20 news release from CanNor.

The NBRF will provide qualifying small- and medium-sized businesses with up to 100 per cent of eligible fixed costs, up to a maximum of $100,000 over a four-month period, retroactive to April 1.

“Eligible recipients include all licensed, northern-based SMEs including sole-proprietors, partnerships and incorporated companies, provided the business is eligible, and is currently operating at a loss as a direct result of COVID-19,” the release said.

Mathieu Parker, director general of pan-territorial operations at CanNor, said the funding is a result of the $15 million announced by the federal government last week to support businesses in the territories. Each territory received $5 million, Parker said.

The federal government also recently announced another $675 million for the six regional development agencies to support businesses during the pandemic.

“That’s new money…. But it will allow us to top up our existing relief efforts down the line if there’s a need to, as well as provide some money for recovery efforts down the road once the whole COVID-19 situation is hopefully behind us,” Parker said.

Parker couldn’t say how quickly applications would be processed and money handed out, but extra staff have been tasked to work on the new fund.

“We know the need is out there and every day counts. We’re going to be doing our best. We have people set to work from home, and we’ve got some surge capacity people we’ve borrowed from elsewhere as well to help us with the process, so hopefully we can get through these as quickly as possible,” he said.

“It will depend on the complexity of each individual application…. We’re really hoping to be able to get the money out the door within a matter of a few weeks.”

Priority will be given to businesses with fewer than 20 employees, Parker said, but CanNor will consider applications from businesses with up to 50 employees.

As of April 21, Parker said CanNor had not yet received any Nunavut-based applications to the NBRF.

“We are working with the territories and the regional Inuit associations to help co-ordinate some of the benefits…. If there’s opportunities for us to redirect people that might not be eligible for our program that might be eligible for the GN program or vice versa, we’re happy to do that.”

Information on how to apply for the NBRF can be found here.

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