© Reuters. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reveals plans for coronavirus recovery in Toronto
By Mahad Arale
TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian government has partnered with some of the largest financial institutions in the country to launch a $ 221 million ($ 168 million) program for black entrepreneurs that will give them access to credit and self-help recover from the economic slump caused by the pandemic.
In a joint announcement on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister for Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng said Canada will spend nearly $ 93 million on managing the program over the next four years.
The remainder of the $ 128 million would be provided by financial institutions that partnered with the government for the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.
"With Canada's first Black Entrepreneurship Program, our government is taking real action to help black entrepreneurs recover from COVID-19 and empower them to start, innovate, grow and thrive," said Ng.
Following a wave of protests against Black Lives Matter in both the US and Canada, the government initiative calls on Trudeau to do more to address the profound systemic inequalities among black Canadians.
The prime minister himself was criticized last year after pictures showing him at an Arabian Nights party in 2001 as a 29-year-old teacher in brown make-up a few weeks before the federal elections.
Trudeau later apologized for his actions.
The federal government works with Vancity, a Vancouver-based financial cooperative, and seven other Canadian financial institutions, including the top banks.
Under the program, black-run business organizations can access $ 25,000-250,000 through the fund to start a business.
"The pandemic has shed light on the inequalities that have disproportionately violated black Canadians and underscored the need to restart our economy so that all Canadians have an equal chance of success," Trudeau said.
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