As the Chair of Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), I would like to note the many aspects of the 2017 budget that address current issues of gender inequality. Among other things, we are very pleased to see the recognition of the importance of measuring gender disaggregated data that will have a significant influence on policies designed to ensure women’s equal access to government programs. The gender lens will clarify many of the underlying inequities in our systems and we are grateful that this government has heard our voice in establishing this very important metric.

We applaud the availability of debt and venture capital accessible to women entrepreneurs that will certainly benefit many women-owned businesses. We also acknowledge the efforts made in this budget to recognize the need for additional child care supports to enable women to participate more fully in those activities that benefit family and community.

While recognizing and appreciating the efforts being made to address these essential gender issues, we are also hopeful that there will be thought given to both start up and growth oriented women-owned enterprises. In particular, we hope that some of the funds put aside for innovation and entrepreneurial development will result in additional funding for women’s business development. We hope for supports for the programs and services that have been proven efficacious in assuring successful women-led enterprises that have both domestic and international impact. These are both the grassroots programs that benefit new Canadians, indigenous women, and women in non-traditional businesses and growth oriented programs that help women to overcome the barriers to accessing growth capital and provide peer mentoring and coaching.

As the leading national organization in this ecosystem, we hope to continue to work in collaboration with the government to find the resources that, paired with access to capital, will result in strong growth- oriented women-owned businesses that contribute to the economy in jobs, taxes, and exports. Women entrepreneurs are also major supports for their communities and families and the provision of services to this sector will result in increased economic security for women which I know is a fundamental tenet of this administration. I look forward to working with our organizational members and our colleagues, and with Minister Chagger and others in government to achieve this most important objective.

Sandra Altner
Chair, Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada
CEO, Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba