Table of Contents
The COVID-19 virus continues to create major issues for our Indigenous tourism sector. ITAC is monitoring the changing public policies by the day and the hour as things unfold.
Update: June 2, 2020
COVID-19 Development Stimulus Grant Process & FAQs
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has received many questions regarding the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Grant, such as what the evaluation process is; where the funding came from; when the next phase of successful applicants will be announced and other similar questions. As a result, we have created two documents outlining the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Grant process and FAQs.
If you are an Indigenous tourism business in Canada, have already applied for ITAC’s COVID-19 Development Stimulus Grant, and have any questions regarding the evaluation process and/or your application, please review the Stimulus Grant Evaluation Process and FAQs. If you still require assistance, you can contact your regional coordinator listed at the bottom of the Stimulus Fund and FAQs page.
COVID-19 Development Stimulus Grant: Member Testimonials
ITAC’s COVID-19 Development Stimulus Grants are making a real difference for Indigenous tourism businesses from coast to coast to coast. Thank you to all of the businesses for submitting testimonials and sharing the importance of this funding and how critical it is for survival.
ITAC is continuing to advocate for additional funding for the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada. The following video testimonials allow us to see why grant programs are so desperately needed for Indigenous entrepreneurs across the nation. Indigenous tourism still needs support to ensure our businesses survive the impacts of COVID-19.
Click on the links below to learn more from some of our ITAC members who have received funding and how it has helped them.
- Brenda Holder, Owner & Operator of Mahikan Trails
- Experience Carcross
- Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours
- Squamish Lil Wat’ Cultural Centre
- Feast Cafe Bistro
Update: May 21, 2020
Yesterday, Keith Henry hosted a Facebook Live town hall discussion on the Federal funding available for Indigenous tourism businesses in Canada. Henry also welcomed guest speaker, Adam Fiser, Associate Director of The Conference Board of Canada, to discuss the preliminary results of the COVID-19 Economic Impact Research Survey on the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada.
Update: May 19, 2020
Government of Canada Extends Eligibility of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) helps businesses keep employees on the payroll, encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and better positions businesses to bounce back following the crisis.
On May 15th, the Government of Canada announced the extended eligibility of CEWS, which now clearly includes Indigenous tourism businesses on reserves and Indigenous governance structures. ITAC has advocated very heavily for changes to this program to be inclusive of all our members and we are very pleased to see this approved.
If your business was unable to access this program previously for this reason, please note that you can qualify now.
To read the full release, click here.
Indigenous Businesses Invited to Add Businesses to the Government of Canada’s Directory of Suppliers
Indigenous businesses are invited to be part of a comprehensive and searchable Indigenous Business database to be used by federal government departments that are looking for prospective suppliers for procurement opportunities.
The Government of Canada is currently the largest public buyer of goods and services in Canada, purchasing about $22 billion worth every year. ITAC is currently part of this initiative with various national Indigenous organizations, to be part of the response against the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide opportunities to our members to be considered in the Government of Canada’s call for bids.
By filling out the attached Google form, you will be registered as a supplier. This will enable government buyers to contact you regarding valuable procurement opportunities and position your business for economic growth.
The deadline to submit the form is May 29, 2020.
COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit
Tourism HR Canada is in the process of creating a no-cost, easy to access and use, comprehensive and bilingual online COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit. This new resource is based on best practices and aligned with needs identified by employers. It will help tourism operators in their recovery from COVID-19.
The Toolkit will be a practical web-based program including presentations, downloadable content and tools, notifications of new material and more. It will be updated regularly with content focused on topics like human resources, crisis communications, marketing, budget & finance, and strategic planning, all focused on business recovery. This new toolkit is an extension of free online training announced by Tourism HR Canada two weeks ago and will be ready in several weeks when the economic shutdown is expected to move into recovery mode.
Click here to learn more.
Update: May 12, 2020
Fireside Chat with Jonview Canada
Last week, ITAC’s Sales Manager, Jason Picard-Binet, hosted a virtual fireside chat with Sheldon DSylva and Roman Dushatsky of Jonview Canada.
Jonview Canada is Canada’s leading receptive tour operator (RTO), providing a full range of travel products and services to the International Tour Operator community. During the virtual chat, they discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and how Jonview is responding.
Update: May 5, 2020
Indigenous Business Survey
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact economies, up-to-date information and data are critical to fully understand the extent of the disruption to Indigenous businesses.
The newly-created Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce is conducting The Indigenous Business Survey which may help to advise the Government of Canada on policy decisions that directly impact Indigenous businesses.
Your participation is crucial. We know that you are asked to complete a lot of surveys and they are time-consuming. However, The Indigenous Business Survey is uniquely targeted and its results could have a major impact on how the government moves forward on new policies affecting your business.
Conference Board of Canada: COVID-19 Economic Impact Research Survey
In partnership with ITAC, the Conference Board of Canada is conducting a research survey to assess the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada. All Indigenous tourism businesses (members and non-members) across Canada will be surveyed to provide a robust picture of the total national impact.
The intention of this survey is to assess the economic losses to Indigenous businesses specifically due to COVID-19. It will update ITAC’s latest economic impact research results including Indigenous tourism’s GDP contribution, percentage of Indigenous tourism businesses affected, type of businesses and current inventory of Indigenous operators across Canada.
We urgently need input from all Indigenous organizations, artists, and businesses that provide cultural experiences, goods and/or services to tourists.
List of Aboriginal Financial Institutions
On April 18, the Federal government committed $306.8 million dollars in stimulus funding to support the 6,000 small-medium sized Indigenous businesses across the country flowing through 59 different Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) in Canada. Of these, more than 30 percent, or 1875, are Indigenous tourism businesses.
This funding will allow for interest-free loans, as well as non-repayable contributions, to help Indigenous businesses unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. ITAC is encouraging our members, if they require financial assistance, to go immediately to their local Aboriginal Financial Institution to try to secure a loan.
Update: May 1, 2020
Over 600 Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada have applied, requesting $14.4 million from a COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada ( ITAC) set up in March, providing businesses with grants of up to $25,000 each to help Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses stay afloat during these difficult times.
The deadline to apply for funding requests was yesterday, April 30, 2020 and 604 Indigenous tourism business owners responded. To create the fund, ITAC allocated its annual development grant money along with a large amount of savings from other programs, with a goal to assist in providing relief for Indigenous tourism businesses that are being affected by the impacts of COVID-19. Paired with additional federal funding, ITAC hopes the program will help businesses to prepare for future tourism seasons by allowing them to focus on market awareness, training qualified staff and designing sustainable business growth strategies.
“We know the ITAC COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund is not enough but it was what we could do immediately to provide Indigenous tourism operators some relief,” says Keith Henry, ITAC’s President and CEO. “We continue to work with our partners at the federal government level to identify additional funding from Indigenous-led sources as each day becomes more critical for the survival of our industry.”
Update: April 24, 2020
ITAC President and CEO, Keith Henry, has shared video messages to address concerns and outline the steps we are taking during these uncertain times.
On Keith’s April 24, 2020, Facebook Live, he provides COVID-19 progress updates for Indigenous tourism members/businesses and partners.
Update: April 24, 2020
Keith Henry, President and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada discusses Indigenous tourism on CTV Your Morning.
The Federal Stimulus Funding Package for Indigenous Businesses announced last week is a positive step forward for the Indigenous businesses but not enough to save Indigenous tourism in Canada.
Update: April 23, 2020
Destination Canada: COVID-19 Research
Destination Canada regularly provides intelligence, tools and insights to their partners—equipping them to optimize their business and maximize their reach. As a result of COVID-19, this work is needed more than ever.
The following research will quantify the impacts of COVID-19 on an ongoing basis—check back often for updated products. It will help to understand when recovery will start and how effectively and quickly we are recovering to inform go-forward marketing. It also seeks to understand the non-quantifiable effects, such as structural changes in tourism and lasting changes in consumer preferences.
For more information, click here.
Update: April 21, 2020
Urgent Feedback Needed for COVID-19 Economic Impact Survey
Your input is urgently needed to help ITAC understand the extent of COVID-19’s damage to the Indigenous tourism sector and to make the strongest case possible for improving stimulus funds to help Indigenous tourism businesses recover from this pandemic.
We urgently need input from all Indigenous organizations, artists, and businesses that provide cultural experiences, goods and/or services to tourists. Please complete this survey to help ITAC better understand the economic impact of this pandemic on the Indigenous tourism industry.
The survey closes Monday, May 18th at 5:00 pm PDT.
Update: April 18, 2020
Federal Stimulus Funding Package Announced for Indigenous Businesses In Response to COVID-19
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is pleased to announce that the federal government is committing $306.8 million dollars in stimulus funding to support the 6000 small-medium Indigenous businesses across the country flowing through 59 different Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) in Canada. Of these, more than 30%, or 1875, are Indigenous tourism businesses.
ITAC President and CEO, Keith Henry has been advocating for Indigenous-led financial solutions as many of the stimulus funding options already announced are not available to Indigenous tourism business owners. In addition to ITAC’s COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund, this Federal stimulus package will further aid Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses’ survival during these difficult times.
To read the full press release, click here.
NACCA Applauds Economic Stimulus Package for Indigenous Business
The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) applauds the Government of Canada’s strong support of a targeted economic stimulus package of $306.8 million for our Indigenous businesses.
The programming will be delivered through NACCA and the network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs). The AFIs provides financial and business services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast.
NACCA CEO Shannin Metatawabin is confident that the announced $306.8M stimulus will ensure the economic stability of an already fragile economic situation for Indigenous entrepreneurs. “We have been working for weeks with the government on this stimulus package for AFIs and their clients. Our AFIs will be ready to roll this out to assist Indigenous businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”
Click here to review FAQs for Indigenous tourism businesses in response to the stimulus support package.
To read the full press release, click here.
Update: April 8, 2020
Government provides further flexibility for employers to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians and employers facing hardship as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak.
Last week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau provided further details on the eligibility criteria for businesses to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). These details will ensure that the proposed CEWS meets the government’s objective to support the employers that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the jobs Canadians depend on during these difficult times.
Update: April 7, 2020
On April 7, 2020 Keith Henry discussed his upcoming presentation before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance that addressed the COVID-19 impacts on the Indigenous tourism industry and ITAC’s proposed solutions. Henry also outlined the latest news on the Federal Government’s Economic Stimulus solutions and why it will not “save” our industry.
Update: March 30, 2020
Government of Canada Announces Support for Businesses
Last week, the Government of Canada announced three new initiatives to help support Canadian businesses facing the impacts of COVID-19. The initiatives included:
- An enhanced wage subsidy program that allows qualified businesses and non-profit organizations seeing a drop of at least 30 per cent in revenue to qualify for a 75 per cent wage subsidy.
- Guaranteed loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses, interest-free for the first year and under certain conditions, up to $10,000 could be non-repayable.
- GST and HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, will be deferred until June 2020.
We will keep you updated as more details on these initiatives become available
Parks Canada Helps Tourism Businesses with Impacts of COVID-19
Parks Canada has announced measures to help Canadian small businesses and the tourism industry. To help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Canada’s tourism industry, Parks Canada will work with tourism operators in national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas to defer payments on commercial leases and licences of occupation without interest until September 2020.
Update: March 27, 2020
ITAC Launches Stimulus Fund In Response to COVID-19
ITAC recognizes that during these uncertain times, its shared singular focus for 2020-2021 must be on COVID-19 recovery and preparing for future tourism seasons. Because of this, we have created the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund, dedicated to addressing the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous tourism businesses by affecting positive change.
The overall goal of this program is to assist in providing relief for Canadian Indigenous tourism businesses that are being affected by the impacts of travel restrictions and physical distancing recommendations. This program will allow businesses to prepare for future tourism seasons by allowing them to focus on things like market awareness, training qualified staff and designing sustainable business growth strategies.
Update: March 25, 2020
EDC: Working together to support exporters through the COVID-19 pandemic
Late last week, the federal government announced its latest measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the announcement of the Business Credit Availability Program which will enable EDC (and Crown corporation, the Business Development Bank of Canada) to provide Canadian entrepreneurs with an additional $10 billion to help companies access to credit during this evolving crisis.
EDC is prepared to act swiftly to help Canadian businesses access the capital they need. By working together, we can minimize the impacts that this crisis is having on Canadians. Most businesses can start to access these program enhancements immediately.
Update: March 24, 2020
Keith Henry welcomed Federal Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Honourable Mélanie Joly to speak directly to our members and partners. They addressed the measures the government is taking to help the Indigenous tourism industry during the COVID-19 crisis and the solutions Joly believes are necessary to support the industry.
Update: March 18, 2020
Prime Minister Trudeau announces more support for workers and businesses through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a new set of economic measures today to help stabilize the economy and help Canadians affected by the impacts of this challenging time.
These measures, delivered as part of the Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet the liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals.
The Office of the Honourable Melanie Joly shares the measures the government has taken to address COVID-19 and support businesses
The Office of the Honourable Mélanie Joly shared the measures the government has taken to date to address COVID-19 in Canada, as well as the most recent measures announced to support our businesses, our workers, and our Canadian economy.
“We understand that workers are experiencing heightened anxiety and that Canadian businesses need our support to recover from the global economic impact of COVID-19. While the situation is indeed evolving at a rapid pace, our country is well-prepared and well-positioned to mitigate the fallout.”
The President and CEO of TIAC writes a letter to the Minister of Finance to address the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry
Charlotte Bell, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bill Morneau, to address the government’s support of the Canadian tourism industry in the light of COVID-19. The letter lays out, in detail, the measures that are needed in the following days to ensure the survival of the industry and tourism businesses in the coming months and years. The measures include:
- Specialized or fast-tracked liquidity options for businesses operating in the tourism and travel sector
- Tax relief measures
- Employment insurance measures
- Support for airlines and airports
- Recovery funding
Update: March 16, 2020
ITAC is a member-driven organization, and in order for us to continue to support our valued members and the Indigenous Tourism Industry, we need your assistance during these uncertain times.
The top ways that you can engage with ITAC right now:
The member information from the survey above will help us address your specific needs with the Federal Government.
Update: March 12, 2020
As Keith Henry outlines, ITAC is looking at multiple solutions such as supporting U.S. and domestic travel in more strategic ways and creating a stimulus package for our businesses. We are working with partners like Destination Canada, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Government of Canada, but we need an Indigenous assessment of the situation. That’s why we’re asking you to take part in a short survey to understand the impact COVID-19 is having on your business.
Your answers will only be shared with the ITAC management team and relevant political parties. This information will help inform our response to the situation as it unfolds.
On March 11, the Prime Minister announced a $1.1 billion whole-of-government response to COVID-19. This comprehensive approach includes measures already underway to respond to the outbreak, as well as new investments to limit the spread of the virus in Canada and prepare for its possible broader impacts on our people, our economy, and our small businesses. These measures include:
- Waiving of the mandatory one-week waiting period to claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits for workers who have been directed to self-isolate, allowing them to be paid for the first week of their claim (estimated cost: $5M);
- Enhancing the Work-Sharing program to help support employers and workers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19 (estimated cost: $12M);
- Exploring additional measures to support other affected Canadians, including income support for those that are not eligible for EI sickness benefits;
- Should the economy experience tightening credit conditions, the government will act to stimulate the economy by strengthening investment in federal lending agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
- Flexible arrangements could be made for businesses trying to meet payment obligations to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Please find attached additional information concerning resources you can tap into through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). The Honourable Minister Joly’s office has also begun to disseminate this through their various networks and information channels. In particular, please note the following:
- The six Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have been given more tools and flexibility to help local businesses deal with economic difficulties. They will help them deal with the immediate impact of COVID-19 on their operations by allowing, for example, deferred repayment, advance payments or reimbursement of legitimate claims.
- The RDAs will reallocate marketing efforts to support local and regional tourism, taking into account the latest advice from health agencies. Destination Canada is also closely monitoring the global situation and adjusting its marketing strategy accordingly, a central part of which is promoting domestic tourism.
- In collaboration with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the government is ensuring that grants and contributions awarded to local events, festivals or other initiatives are maintained and take into account the possibility of cancellations due to COVID-19.
Businesses affected by the situation are asked to contact their local economic development officer. The Minister’s team at Economic Development and Official Languages is also ready to assist if need be.
In addition to the attached information, please find various links to initiatives already in place from the federal government and additional resources with useful information.
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses
- WHO dashboard on the progression of COVID-19
- Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Mental Wellness: At Risk During this Time of Crisis
As we are all forced to deal with sudden unprecedented disruptions, some of you may be feeling anxious, worried and even scared. The isolation is taking its toll on people, especially those without a proper support system in place.
Below is a list of national resources that can be of assistance in helping you manage the stress around the COVID-19 situation:
- Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645; 1-866-277-3553 (for Quebec)
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
- Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266
The ITAC Team is here for you
We know these are difficult times for everyone and we are working hard to provide you with support and up to date information. It is imperative that our communities, businesses, and the Indigenous tourism industry remain united during these uncertain times.
Please feel free to reach out to any of our senior staff with questions or concerns. We are here to support you as best we can.
Keith Henry, President & CEO
Teresa Ryder, Director of Business Development
Sebastien Desnoyers-Picard, Chief Marketing Officer
Cecilia Point, Director of Finance
Brady Smith, Chief Strategy Officer
We will continuously update this page as information comes in.