2018 marks the start of exciting things for women in business — at least according to the proposed federal budget. If you’re a woman in Canada, the new budget includes a variety of programs and policies that can benefit you directly. Whether you’re a business owner or a future entrepreneur, these programs can help you do everything from find startup funding to gain entry into fields that are traditionally dominated by men.
Improved Parental Leave Policies
It’s no secret that female entrepreneurs often face a dilemma when they have children. Who takes care of the business in your absence? If you go back to work early, do you give up the rest of your parental leave? To help you balance professional and personal responsibilities between both parents, the 2018 budget is introducing a new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit.
Under this new plan, you and your partner can get an additional five weeks of parental benefits when you agree to share the leave. That means that you can go back to work earlier, if you want, and your partner can continue to stay home with your little one. With this extra flexibility, the government hopes to make it easier for women to have children without sacrificing their careers. The budget allocates $1.2 billion over five years for these benefits.
Women in the Trades
If you’re hoping to build a business in one of Canada’s Red Seal trades, the 2018 budget can help. To help you break into these male-dominated areas, the government created the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women. With this program, you can get $3,000 per year for two years of training in a Red Seal field, which include welding, machining, and pipe fitting. This is in addition to the current Apprenticeship Completion Grant, which gives you $2,000 for finishing a training program. With these funds, it’s easier to get certification and experience so you can start your own business faster.
Do you want to start a construction company? The government is also spending $10 million over three years for the Women in Construction Fund. This program can help you get mentors and coaches as you go through construction training programs.
Creating Opportunities for Women-Led Businesses
One of the big goals of the 2018 federal budget is to start helping more women become business leaders in Canada. Part of that initiative is closing the pay gap, but the government is also finding ways to give women-led businesses a leg up. The budget includes $10 million for the Business Women in International Trade Program, which helps your company break into exporting. Another option is Export Development Canada, which can expect to see $250 million in government funding set aside specifically for businesses that are owned or led by women.
If you need venture capital, look to the Business Development Bank of Canada — it’s getting $1.4 billion in funding for women entrepreneurs in just three years. To support women-led tech startups, the BDC Women in Technology Fund is getting $200 million.
Although women don’t currently enjoy equality in Canada’s labour market, the 2018 Canadian federal budget is a promising start. With these new and expanded government programs, you may find it easier to start and grow your woman-led business.