[Witness spoke in Cree
Waachi’ye. My name is Shannin Metatawabin. I'm the chief executive officer for the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association. I am also a member of the Peetabeck or Fort Albany First Nation of the Mushkegowuk nations.
Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.
Before I start, I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional and unceded territories of the Anishinabe Algonquin people.
The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, NACCA, is the representative organization of over 50 indigenous financial institutions across Canada, from coast to coast to coast. They provide developmental lending to hundreds of first nations, Inuit and Métis businesses across the country.
Indigenous financial institutions are an incredible success story. They were recently highlighted in a 2019 OECD study that promotes this network as a model for the rest of the world.
During a 30-year program partnership with the Government of Canada, indigenous financial institutions have provided over 50,000 loans, totalling $3.3 billion, to indigenous-owned businesses. Each year, IFIs make over $120 million in loans to indigenous-owned businesses. Indigenous financial institutions have a current aggregate loan portfolio of $329 million. We are proud to state that we have a 97% repayment rate.
Recently, we launched an indigenous growth fund. It is a $153-million investment vehicle to provide the private sector mechanism to invest into our community. This was supported by BDC, EDC and FCC, along with the Government of Canada.
Indigenous businesses are a key driver of employment, wealth creation and better socio-economic outcomes for indigenous communities and people. Every loan we provide results in 3.34 jobs and contributes $3.6 to GDP for every dollar lent. Additionally, IFIs' lending in indigenous communities is linked to marked improvements in community well-being scores, with poor health outcomes being reduced by 75% and food insecurity being cut in half.
I commend your committee for undertaking your work to examine diversity in procurement. I believe that NACCA can provide some important insights and recommendations to support your study.
Since the government announced its commitment to ensure that a minimum of 5% of the total value of federal contracts is held by indigenous businesses, six indigenous organizations—NACCA, CCAB, AFN, ITK, CANDO and NIEDB—formed the national indigenous procurement working group to begin planning. These are in your packages, so you'll see the full names of them there.
Additionally, in 2022, the national indigenous economic strategy for Canada, which was developed by over 20 indigenous organizations, recommended that the government devolve government procurement processes to indigenous institutions.
Article 5 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reaffirms the need by highlighting “the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.” This is something that Canada is also supporting.
The federal procurement process is a complex system with many players, including Indigenous Services Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada, the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman, Treasury Board Secretariat, and the Office of the Comptroller General.
The federal procurement process presents many barriers to our businesses, including systemic bias within the procurement ecosystem, restrictive administrative processes, multiple procurement actors creating a complex landscape to navigate, capacity for first nations to respond to opportunities, and lack of a trustworthy and updated national database of available first nations businesses.
Today, I'm proposing the creation of a first nations procurement institute that will play a key role in the procurement industry by providing culturally appropriate wraparound services via a single window of contact for all things related to first nations procurement.
The mission of the first nations procurement institute will be to maximize the potential for first nations businesses to successfully access and win procurement opportunities through providing necessary certification, education, networking and promotion. The first nations procurement institute will be focused on better outcomes for first nations businesses while assisting the federal government to reach its 5% procurement target.
The first nations procurement institute will offer four streams of service to address the needs of its users, including a first nations business certification and a directory of certified businesses; education services and training; networking, collaboration and partnerships; and the promotion of first nation procurement and, most importantly, advocacy and accountability.
It is time that Canada acknowledges that the current system is not working. It is also time to recognize that indigenous-led solutions have been enormously successful. The success of the indigenous financial institutions is a testament to our view that indigenous organizations are best placed to design and deliver programs and services to indigenous people, including first nations.
The existing federal structures that are supposed to support indigenous procurement opportunities, including the procurement strategy for indigenous business, have not been successful. After more than 25 years of operation under PSIB, indigenous procurement remains stubbornly under 1% of total federal procurement. You may recall, from their testimony before your committee in October, that federal officials were unable to provide any concrete measures of the government's effort at moving toward the 5% target.
During the last election, all major parties committed themselves to undertaking the important work of walking the path to reconciliation. Reconciliation is not possible if indigenous people continue to be excluded from Canada's economy and the sharing of Canada's prosperity. First nations want an end to the systemic economic exclusion, and to be full partners in this confederation. This is what we mean by economic reconciliation. Working together to meet the government's indigenous procurement commitment is a significant step in the journey, but the Government of Canada must be willing to accept that first nation people are true partners in this effort.
[Witness spoke in Mi'kmaq and provided the following text:]
Weli'egsipug. Teluisi Gepme'g Gitpuisq. Gespe'gewagi tleawi. Aq Wigi Listuguj.
[Witness provided the following translation:]
Good morning. My name is Victoria LaBillois. My traditional territory is Gespegewagi, and I live in Listuguj.
I come to you from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation, located on the southern shore of Gaspésie.
Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today on the issue of diversity in procurement. I'm the vice-chair of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, a ministerial-appointed, non-political organization mandated to provide advice to the federal government on issues related to indigenous economic development.
Our board was established in 1990 and is comprised of first nation, Inuit and Métis business and community leaders from across Canada. I invite you to check out our board's website, which includes our series of national indigenous economic progress reports, the next of which will be released in late 2023.
I also invite you to review the national indigenous economic strategy referenced by my colleague Shannin. This strategy was released in June 2022. Brought forward in partnership with more than 20 national indigenous economic organizations, this strategy provides economic development practitioners and policy-makers with a coherent vision designed to guide efforts in the coming decade.
As you are aware, the Government of Canada is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the nation, spending approximately $22 billion annually on goods and services. Clearly, the federal procurement policy has the potential to be a key driver of economic reconciliation.
However, despite the federal commitment to increase access to federal procurement opportunities for indigenous businesses, year over year, indigenous businesses have received less than 1% of the value of contracts for tendering goods and services to the Government of Canada.
Despite the Government of Canada's goal that federal departments and agencies ensure that a minimum of 5% of the total value of federal contracts is awarded to indigenous businesses, innovation in this area continues to lag. There are a number of reasons for this, including constraints that are hard-wired within the Indian Act and impediments to accessing capital by indigenous communities and governments.
The NIEDB is a member of the federal government's indigenous procurement working group and the indigenous reference group created specifically for these issues. We applaud the government's openness to working with indigenous representatives on these issues and recognize the significance of the new 5% target. However, more can be done in the immediate term to better utilize government procurement processes. In this context, the NIEDB believes a significant investment is necessary for the establishment of a new indigenous-led procurement institution at the national level. This is our key recommendation for immediate action.
Indigenous national economic development organizations are close to finalizing a business plan for an indigenous procurement institute with the responsibility of maintaining a directory of certified indigenous businesses, and helping such businesses navigate federal and corporate procurement processes.
The NIEDB also recommends that the very low thresholds for non-competitive processes and sole-source contracting be increased immediately. The current rules indicate that contract opportunities for goods over $25,000, services over $40,000 and construction over $100,000 must be advertised via tendering, and that only opportunities under these amounts may be awarded through a sole-source contract. These limits have not changed for many years. In 2021, the Treasury Board Secretariat indicated that increasing the sole-source contract limits for indigenous businesses to $100,000 would not contravene Canada's free trade agreements.
Increasing these thresholds immediately will assist indigenous businesses in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by procurement within the federal government.
I would also like to share a few more recommendations. The implementation of these will be crucial to the success or failure of the government's goals in this area.
In areas of the country where the indigenous population is more than 5%, the target for the total value of federal contracts awarded to indigenous businesses should also be proportionally higher.
Training on indigenous cultural awareness for procurement officials should be mandatory. This is necessary not only to ensure that government officials understand indigenous cultures and the importance of economic reconciliation, but to deal with the growing issue of false indigeneity within business lists used by the Government of Canada.
Finally, the NIEDB recommends that the government monitor and report on an annual basis, distinct from other reporting processes, whether or not each federal department is meeting its mandated 5% indigenous procurement target.
Thank you. Wela'lioq.
Good luck with that, but thanks.
Good morning. As mentioned, my name is Philip Ducharme. As vice-president of entrepreneurship and procurement at the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, I want to thank you, Mr. Chair and all distinguished members of this committee, for the opportunity to provide you with my testimony and to answer your questions.
Speaking to you from my home office, I acknowledge the land as the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and now home to many other first nations, Inuit and Métis people.
Since CCAB's two previous appearances before this committee, in February and June 2021, it is heartening to see that one of our recommendations that was brought forward has been implemented. We were asking for measures that would mandate federal government departments and agencies to publicly report on their purchases from indigenous businesses within a shorter time frame. Currently, the most recent data we have been able to publicly identify for indigenous procurement was from fiscal year 2018.
On August 6, 2021, announced new and immediate measures to increase federal procurement opportunities for indigenous businesses across Canada. Included in that announcement was the development of a reporting framework that would see spending publicly reported in a much more timely manner. My understanding is that the value of federal spending with indigenous businesses for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023 will be published by the end of calendar year 2023.
By having a fulsome mechanism for measuring and reporting on indigenous procurement, we will be better situated to evaluate and improve on meeting the minimum mandated requirement of 5% indigenous procurement spend.
In 2022, CCAB conducted research on government contracting and heard from indigenous business owners about a wide range of challenges preventing them from taking full advantage of federal procurement opportunities. One of the most common themes that indigenous businesses expressed was a concern about the lack of knowledge among government staff regarding indigenous peoples and communities and the procurement process itself.
Business is best conducted between parties that understand and respect each other, so providing increased training and awareness for government employees will help facilitate lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, which are the cornerstone of a robust procurement strategy. True economic reconciliation is accommodating indigenous peoples to ensure their full participation in the Canadian economy, not forcing them to assimilate in order to obtain contracts.
A portion of this concern was addressed in 's August 21 update, when she announced that the federal government will be developing a mandatory training for the federal procurement community on modern treaty and self-government agreement implementation of procurement obligations, and ensuring that such training is integrated into the regular curriculum. Enhanced indigenous cultural awareness will also be explored, so that more responsive and culturally relevant procurement strategies may be developed. That is a start, but we will push to ensure that the enhanced indigenous cultural awareness will quickly move from exploratory to implemented.
Indigenous businesses also claim that the federal government has failed to make the necessary changes to promote access to the procurement process itself, given its many intricacies. Businesses consulted felt inferior and marginalized by the contract requirements, which excluded indigenous businesses in favour of larger mainstream companies. Some participants found the process difficult and time-consuming, and believed that the requirements were set up in a way that excluded indigenous businesses, despite having the capacity to execute a project. Bonds, payment holdbacks and, particularly, over-complex applications all contributed to these barriers.
If the federal government is truly committed to allocating 5% of its procurement spend to indigenous businesses, it should also be responsible for providing indigenous businesses with the tools and resources they need to participate meaningfully in that process.
Another challenge frequently cited by indigenous participants in our procurement research is that federal departments need to better collaborate to share best practices when engaging with indigenous businesses and communities. While collaboration among federal departments to share best practices will help, the way forward must include establishing a government-wide approach to indigenous procurement that ensures consistency by explicitly laying out the best path and penalizing those who break from it, while ensuring that the context and needs of indigenous businesses are substantively addressed.
If the federal government is truly committed to indigenous reconciliation, more must be done to mobilize the recommendations of national indigenous economic organizations such as CCAB, and those that my fellow witnesses are representing, and apply the learning and the takeaways we gather directly from indigenous business leaders.
We at CCAB are very fortunate to have the opportunity to connect with our indigenous businesses on a daily basis, and we will continue to be the voice for indigenous businesses as we engage with the federal government to ensure that our indigenous businesses reach the minimum of 5% of the dollar value of federal procurement. Even though there are still many barriers and challenges to overcome, we look forward to the future with hope and excitement as we rebuild and strengthen the path towards reconciliation and a healthy and prosperous Canada.
Thank you. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Good morning, honourable Mr. McCauley and honourable members of the standing committee.
My name is Ray Wanuch. I am the executive director of the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, otherwise known as CANDO. Today, I am speaking from Edmonton, the traditional name of which was Amiskwaciy Waskahikan, which means “beaver hills house”, located within Treaty 6 territory, the traditional territory of the Cree, Blackfoot, Dene, Stoney and Métis peoples.
Indigenous economic development is essential is for positive socio-economic outcomes and empowerment of indigenous peoples. CANDO is a national indigenous organization established in 1991 by economic development officers throughout Canada. CANDO provides membership certification, training and tools to support EDOs, land managers and community leaders to create positive impacts on indigenous economies. CANDO provides both in-person and virtual support for EDOs through a national “Links to Learning” educational series, an annual conference and an annual youth summit.
CANDO has co-developed an innovative community economic development initiative called CEDI, which creates positive relationship-building opportunities between indigenous communities and their municipal neighbours to work together on mutually beneficial projects. The initiative is co-delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and CANDO. One such example was the CEDI project that partnered Enoch Cree Nation with the City of Edmonton.
Since 2021, CANDO has worked with procurement assistance Canada to create studies, pilots and new tools for EDOs and community leaders to support increased indigenous community and business access to federal procurement opportunities. As part of this partnership, CANDO has developed several reports and studies around indigenous participation in federal procurement: in November 2020, on federal procurement and indigenous capacity building and an assessment of how CANDO and the EDO network can support PSPC; in July 2021, a road map of federal procurement progress for indigenous communities and businesses; and also in 2021, an inventory of federal programming supporting indigenous businesses.
Inclusive procurement and making procurement more inclusive are good for everyone, and by finding better and more creative solutions to increase indigenous participation in federal procurement, the government will begin to change its culture and will also have very positive impacts for other disadvantaged groups.
CANDO feels that the government needs to have better reporting and data collection. Eventually this responsibility is expected to be transferred to a group of indigenous organizations to manage the process. CANDO feels that the concept of a data lake, which aggregates data from multiple sources, will likely be required to support and measure the impact of the 5% policy and the transformation of the procurement study for indigenous business.
During the work completed by the indigenous business COVID-19 task force, CANDO and other national indigenous organizations compiled a database focused on providing more indigenous businesses to supply PPE to the Government of Canada. The data lake concept was attempted between the collective networks of national indigenous organizations and Indigenous Services Canada. CANDO viewed this effort as being successful, as several indigenous organizations won federal procurement contracts and were supported by the task force. Yet a key issue with the process was the inability to obtain contract award data for indigenous businesses. That made it difficult to track progress. Being able to have a central point for indigenous business services and capabilities and more timely access to contract bidding and award data would allow for more effective decision-making.
CANDO has been developing a capacity assessment process and tools for EDOs, which are currently being piloted in B.C. One important consideration for achieving the 5% goal is to ensure that we can understand the current skills gaps that keep indigenous people from working in major industries.
Early engagement with indigenous rights holders, communities and businesses is essential. In many communities, economic development officers and economic development corporations are a key hub for engagement with indigenous peoples. The earlier in the process the government can engage with communities to allow time to prepare for opportunities, the more socio-economic benefits will likely be realized.
CANDO provides training for EDOs through virtual and in-person “Links to Learning” events and an ongoing weekly webinar series.
CANDO and procurement assistance Canada are expanding their EDO procurement mentorship pilot, which will provide a “train the trainer” model for EDOs to understand the basics of procurement. Two cohorts have graduated 18 participants, and this program will now be rolled out within all procurement assistance Canada regions, of which there are six.
A key barrier noted in CANDO's work is a lack of ability to understand the procurement process, whether it's a community responding to an indigenous participation plan requirement in an RFP or whether an EDO is supporting a community-based business writing a proposal. CANDO's procurement mentorship should provide more insights into training requirements.
One of the lessons learned from the indigenous business COVID-19 task force was that there needed to be a support service for indigenous communities and businesses to participate in federal procurement. The support service was launched to help communities go through the process. Under an SPI pilot, CANDO is developing a virtual EDO website space to provide a library of support tools for EDOs, communities and businesses, along with a resourced indigenous procurement navigator role. We feel this strategy will provide more procurement and be more inclusive for indigenous communities and businesses.
Ensuring that public servants understand the culture of indigenous communities is essential. Specifically, giving procurement officers the authority to take more time to prioritize working with indigenous communities and businesses and respecting the communities' requirements will increase trust and build relationships. An example of positive cultural—
Thank you very much, esteemed witnesses, for being here with us today. Meegwetch. I'm the member of Parliament for Calgary Midnapore, which is located in the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi and the people of the Treaty 7 region of Alberta. As well, of course, the city of Calgary is also home to the Métis nation of Alberta, region three.
Madame LaBillois, Indigenous Services Canada maintains the indigenous business directory, which identifies over 2,100 businesses that can compete for federal contracts set aside through the procurement strategy for indigenous businesses. Only indigenous businesses that meet the eligibility requirements for the indigenous set-aside program can register in this directory.
Do you think the eligibility criteria are adequate, or do you think there need to be changes?
In my role as the vice-president of entrepreneurship and procurement, I have a number of roles at CCAB. The one that's most relevant to today's hearing is “Supply Change”. Supply Change is CCAB's trademarked indigenous procurement strategy, which we started in 2018. This strategy aims to increase indigenous participation in all buying entities within Canada—not just the federal government, but all levels of government and corporate Canada.
We have a number of different pillars within that strategy that bring indigenous businesses together with buyers. We have aboriginal procurement champions, who currently have 117 corporations in all sectors and industries across the country that have signed on to help us increase participation with indigenous businesses within their supply chains, either directly or indirectly.
We also provide learning experiences for our certified indigenous businesses. As Ray talked about with some of the programs they do, we have also done some of that stuff with indigenous businesses as they try to navigate federal procurement.
On the previous question about what would get more indigenous businesses on the directory, it would be simplifying the procurement process for procurement within the federal government. Small businesses, indigenous businesses, do not have the capacity or the resources to respond to these overwhelmingly admin-heavy RFPs that the federal government does.
Again, we are very focused on bringing our indigenous businesses to the rest of Canada to ensure they're included.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My first question will be for Ms. LaBillois, but before I begin, I want to make it clear that I am going to name an act whose title makes my hair stand on end. I really don't like to say it. I think this act has always caused and is still causing enormous harm to first nations, and I deplore that. That said, it has to be named.
Ms. LaBillois, in your presentation, you mention the difficulties and obstacles caused by the Indian Act. Since 1867, this act has treated first nations as minor children unable to make their own decisions and have full responsibility for them, especially on reserves. It's worse for people who want to start their own business because, as you mentioned, they don't have access to capital. It's especially difficult for businesses established on reserves.
In a minute or a minute and a half, could you give us some more details on the problems that the Indian Act causes for first nations entrepreneurs?
Thank you for your question.
I also deplore that act.
I will respond in English to speak faster, to answer in one minute. I'll give you two quick examples.
One is the certificate of possession. I live on reserve. In my community, I cannot own the land according to this law. I can possess the land. I have a certificate of possession. Therefore, I cannot use the land that I own in the community against obtaining a loan.
Second, if I am trying to obtain a piece of equipment, I must sign an affidavit. For example, I'm buying an excavator, which is in excess of $150,000 or $200,000. To do that, I must sign an affidavit that my equipment will not be stored in my community, that it will only be used for work off my community and it will always be off community, so that in the event of non-payment, the asset can be seized.
I must ask permission from chief and council. Asking our elected politicians for permission to be running my business or for assistance with a ministerial loan I find very offensive, especially in 2022.
I think the natural resources sector has led the charge on indigenous procurement in Canada. The Wood Buffalo region, especially, has been doing it for many years. In 2021, Suncor and Syncrude did a combined spend of $2.4 billion with indigenous businesses, which equated to, I believe, 17% of Suncor's overall spend and 27% of Syncrude's.
It's happening across the country if you're looking at clean energy, as well. Some of our champions, including Ontario Power Generation, have publicly made targets. Hydro One has also publicly made targets. By making them public, they are opening themselves up to ensuring they meet them and working with our indigenous businesses. They do that through a number of different ways, even through indirect opportunities, where they bring in their prime vendors. These prime vendors are working with our indigenous businesses to grow the capacity and make them be suppliers.
I think that sector has been doing it for a long time. They share some great practices. Suncor has spoken to Deloitte, another one of our champions, on how to increase it. I believe Deloitte has met its internal targets, as well, for indigenous procurement. I think, again, that the best practices that came through the natural resources sector can come through the rest of Canada, as well.
Thank you for that question.
We're in the process right now of making sure that access to capital is something that indigenous entrepreneurs have. The organization I represent received $240 million 30 years ago and has recycled it 15 times to $3.3 billion in lending. They've never been able to take advantage of all the opportunities within their regions with adequate access to capital.
In order to deploy money, you need to ensure there's an enabling environment to ensure you have deal flow. The Government of Canada created a program called “Aboriginal Business Canada” many years ago, which provides an equity contribution to an indigenous business that reduces the risk level on that loan. That has been highly successful. They've shown that for every dollar provided, there is $1.26 to $1.40 provided back to the treasury department. These are social impacts and returns to the government. It's an actual investment to invest in the indigenous economy: providing more enablers, tax incentives for investors and also the training capacity that Ray was talking about. It's very important to make sure that everybody has the training, understanding, knowledge and know-how to start a business.
Being plugged into the procurement system needs to be improved, because they make it highly complex, and for indigenous entrepreneurs, some of the barriers they create make it highly complex to even get in the door. We just have to improve everything, and if we have that opportunity, this organization can work with the government to make sure we take down these barriers.
My last question is for Mr. Wanuch.
Mr. Wanuch, 18 years ago now, I supported Innu students in a major pan-Canadian indigenous entrepreneurship competition that was organized in conjunction with a section of the Business Development Bank of Canada that was committed to supporting indigenous entrepreneurs. I don't know if that section still exists or if it has changed its name, but the competition was called E‑Spirit.
Throughout the year, the students would learn the different steps towards creating a product and a business. Then, at the end of the year, they would go to a location to share with first nations from across Canada what they had done and how they had done it. In our case, it was in Prince George, British Columbia, and it was amazing. I still get chills just thinking about it.
Is this competition, or one like it, still going on to your knowledge?
If it no longer exists, would it be wise to re‑establish it to encourage indigenous youth to go into entrepreneurship?
That's a good question. I don't know if it still exists. However, I think there are variations of entrepreneurship going on throughout Canada. Shannin may be able to offer up an answer on that too.
It's vitally important. I think where we try to come across is that it has to be in balance, meaning that, yes, you can have entrepreneurship, but when you're within our communities, it's more about job creation and sustaining a livelihood, rather than profit being the main motivator.
I think there are options for that. You're finding communities going through the additions to reserve process now, or starting to develop profitable businesses in urban centres and taking those profits and bringing them back to the community for social programming and for educational purposes, such as becoming an entrepreneur or, in our case, an economic development officer, which all still brings it together. There are so many entrepreneurship programs for our indigenous youth, but there still have to be more specialized programs depending on the age and depending on the region and what industry they are in. We have to look at all of this.
We're going to have our national conference out at Membertou next year. Look at Clearwater Industries and what happened there, where the First Nations Finance Authority was able to provide capital so that indigenous groups could buy out that corporation and have a lot of input into that local economy. There are examples like that one that we have to cite and continue the process.
Through our 35 years of providing entrepreneurs with access to capital, indigenous entrepreneurs have covered all industries. Over the last 35 years, we've seen more service-type businesses, for sure, because we're in the community. We're providing service-type businesses—contractors, builders, transportation, food services—but we're gradually getting into the more complex, such as IT or professional services.
Indigenous entrepreneurs will respond. Twenty years ago, the Government of Canada had this big drive for procurement, and it said there was going to be this big opportunity, so indigenous entrepreneurs invested time and money into accessing procurement. However, the government never responded by providing contracts to indigenous entrepreneurs, so they went back just to the market within their regions. They did not spend time going through the process of submitting any other contract requests through the Government of Canada.
We need to do this right, because the market is there and they will respond in kind. They are waiting, willing and able. We just have to have the right enablers.
I want to highlight that, over 35 years, the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association has seen a 70% decline in the support for its programs and services for IFIs. That eliminates the nice youth program that you mentioned. All these programs that were in place have been reduced to minimal levels.
If we support it—and I said that it's an investment in our community—you'll see businesses ramping up and getting ready for this.
Previously, we were focused on entrepreneurs regardless of whether they were young or seasoned. We are getting more input from young entrepreneurs who are coming. We work with JEDI, which is a joint economic development initiative based out of New Brunswick.
We spoke last week to a forum of young entrepreneurs who are starting their businesses, and we work with them. We also provide young entrepreneurship awards, and I think that's really helpful to indigenous businesses. Any time our people can be recognized for the success we've had, it makes us proud to see someone who looks like us succeeding and making a difference.
We provide grants to small businesses. A lot of them go to the young entrepreneurs. They're small grants. We've been fortunate enough to get funding from our corporate members. It's a $2,500 grant. We're lucky that the grants that have been given to us allow the indigenous businesses to spend so much time programming our grants.
There are a lot of requirements or barriers to what they could utilize that money for. I think the partners we have realize that indigenous businesses know what they want. If you're going to say that we can spend this money but we can only do that, is it really beneficial to our businesses?
We work. We do networking. Networking is the most important thing. The more you can get out there, the more confidence you can build. It's hard to get a contract over the telephone. You build that relationship and it's going to grow over time. Networking is something that's very important, and we really want to promote our indigenous businesses.
An area we really want to focus on is young indigenous entrepreneurs. The federal government can help. They can provide programming and support. We're not a government-funded organization. We get some project money, but overall, it's hard. Resources are limited out there, but I think the federal government can step in and do more.
Thank you, Mr. Housefather.
Witnesses, thank you very much for joining us today. Thank you for your feedback. As I mentioned, we have studied this before in this committee, but we've heard a lot of new things today. I've heard a lot of new things today, so it was very valuable. I really appreciate everything you've shared with us today.
We are done with this study portion. We're going to go on to some committee issues.
Witnesses, you're welcome to sit and listen to us vote; otherwise, you can sign off.
We're staying public, colleagues.
Today is the last day of the committee. We can vote on the supplementary estimates (B) and report them back to the House. In all, there are nine votes in the supplementary estimates (B), 2022-23 referred to this committee. Unless anyone objects, I will seek the unanimous consent of the committee to group the votes together for decision.
Do we have that consent, please, to group them all together?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES
Vote 1b—Operating expenditures..........$192,728,830
(Vote 1b agreed to on division)
NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION
Vote 5b—Payments to the Commission for capital expenditures..........$33,000,000
(Vote 5b agreed to on division)
Vote 1b—Program expenditures..........$11,214,622
(Vote 1b agreed to on division)
Vote 1b—Operating expenditures..........$18,177,411
(Vote 1b agreed to on division)
TREASURY BOARD SECRETARIAT
Vote 1b—Program expenditures..........$36,222,157
Vote 10b—Government-wide Initiatives..........$1,200,000
Vote 15b—Compensation Adjustments..........$385,380,126
Vote 20b—Public Service Insurance..........$536,506,604
Vote 25b—Operating Budget Carry Forward..........$415,000,000
(Votes 1b, 10b, 15b, 20b and 25b agreed to on division)
The Chair: Thank you.
Shall we report them to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Wonderful. Thanks very much.
There's just one other item, the Governor General's travel expense study. The deadline for submitting the next group of documents is Sunday, January 15, 2023. I'm not sure why we picked a Sunday, but there we have it.
There's also no specific time on January 15 when the documents are due. Obviously, it's difficult to submit them on a Sunday. I'm wondering if we wish to change that to an alternative date, perhaps January 16, and a specific time, such as noon. Are you good with January 16 at noon?