COVID-19: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency launches Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support local economies

News release

Businesses across Atlantic Canada unable to access existing relief measures can now apply for funding under new initiative

Moncton, New Brunswick, May 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty and anxiety for businesses and their employees. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of our economy and our communities. As a source of local jobs and pride, they play a key role in the well-being of communities across the country. That is why the Government of Canada has implemented a series of concrete and tangible measures to help them retain their employees, pay rent and access capital to pay their bills.

Building on these measures, the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered through the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and local economies. RDAs are best positioned to provide this additional support because they work closely with communities across the country every day and are familiar with diverse local realities.

Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced that Atlantic Canadian businesses that are unable to access other existing measures can now apply for RRRF support through ACOA. As the RDA for Atlantic Canada, ACOA will work with key partners, such as Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) across the region to help Atlantic Canadian businesses get through these difficult times. A total of $110 million will be available for Atlantic Canadian businesses.

The Government of Canada’s efforts are making a difference for many local businesses, but some are still falling through the cracks, and are still ineligible, particularly in rural and remote communities. This is where the RRRF comes in, with $962 million – including $110 million for Atlantic Canada – to support businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the case, for example, for SMEs in the tourism sector that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and are, in some cases, ineligible for other federal programs.

Canada’s businesses are as diverse as Canadians are, and the immediate and concrete support available to them through the Fund will be tailored to their unique needs. In the months to come, they will be able to play a meaningful role in our economic recovery.

More information on the Fund is available on ACOA’s website.


"No matter how wide we extend the safety net, businesses across Canada continue to slip through the cracks. Many entrepreneurs are still anxious about whether they will get help. With nearly a billion dollars in support across the country, the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund will fill in some of the gaps. Our message to Canadians is clear: we are here for you now; we will be here for you in the weeks and months to come; and we will get through this together. We’ve got your back."

    – The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA

“Small and medium-sized business are very important to Atlantic Canada’s economy and they are taking the brunt of the impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. RRRF is there to help those businesses that cannot access other federal supports to make it through these difficult times and get back on track when the recovery begins.”

    – René Arseneault, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (ACOA and Official Languages)

“We know rural small business owners are struggling right now and we’re pleased to see this much needed fund put in place to help them through this unprecedented time. We hope this fund provides a lifeline to stabilize businesses so they can make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. CBDCs are looking forward to being on the front line of our economic recovery.”

    – Neville Robinson, President, Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations

Quick facts

  • The six regional development agencies (RDAs) ensure that Canada’s regions are heard in Ottawa, and that local economies and businesses get the support they need to grow and prosper.

  • Canada’s RDAs focus on developing and diversifying regional economies to help communities thrive. Already a major presence in communities, they know where additional support is needed most.

  • Businesses and organizations that applied for but were unable to access existing federal COVID-19 relief benefits as well as those that received benefits but are still experiencing cash flow issues are encouraged to contact ACOA for more information on the RRRF before applying.

  • Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) are not-for-profit community-based organizations that provide targeted services to entrepreneurs who require customized financing not normally available from traditional sources.

  • There are 41 CBDCs in Atlantic Canada.

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Alexander Cohen
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official

Lisa Gautreau
Media Relations
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

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