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Black Entrepreneur Support Announcement: Well Intentioned but not Black and White

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“There shall be maintained in the Department an Indian Register in which shall be recorded the name of every person who is entitled to be registered as an Indian under this Act.”

– Subsection 5(1) of the Indian Act (Canada)

In the tax and business community, we are used to seeing targeted government programs for various groups to provide support. Examples include (but are not limited to) support for:

  • Low income
  • Seniors
  • Students
  • Young families
  • Single parents
  • Northern Residents
  • Farming and Fishing
  • Technology sector
  • Investment in Environment-friendly areas
  • etc.

The above list are described usually by specific definitions of what the terms mean. Age, industry type, geographic location, education status, marital status, dependant status, energy consumption/efficiency, etc.

We occasionally see other support for things like (again, not an all inclusive list)

  • Women in business
  • Small businesses
  • People with Disabilities
  • Indigenous supports

Require a little more clarification of the definitions on gender vs sex, size of business (number of staff, amount of revenue, etc), ownership, disabilities, and of course an example I led with – a definition of ethnic background.

So the recent announcement of creating additional support for “Black Entrepreneurs” while the intent would be to be help those that need it – the definitions are yet to be determined – which is where the problem lies.

I started this article by quoting from legislation called the Indian Act. This legislation is far from perfect, has many problems, not the least of which is the creation of a list of a type of people.

However, as flawed as the legislation is, it has attempted to create a definition of what an Indian (the word defined in Subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act) is.

Canada does not have a “Black Register” or a list of “Black-status” individuals. It does not have a legal definition of the word “Black”.

Now please don’t take things out of context.

I applaud anything that will help small business owners, and hope that this program will work as well. However, with my experience in tax legislation and interpretation I can already see the problems that can arise when layman words are used instead of legally defined terms.

What classifies as a “Black-owned Business” or a “Black Entrepreneur” for this program? This has yet to be defined.

In a country as diverse as Canada, we have many different backgrounds from all over the world living side-by-side in (relative) “peace” (by comparison to other conflict regions in the world).

But what does it mean to be “Black” for the purposes of this program?

Now I know that I am not likely to meet the future legislated definition of what it means to be “Black”. I’m of european descent on both sides, as far back (that I know of), and I’m sure the announcement by the government is not intending for me to get this support as an entrepreneur.

There may be simplicity in those situations that are, like me, of 100% “non-Black descent”. But, like the Indian Act has tried to do – and has been challenged in court for decades – it is not that easy to define someone’s ethnic background.

How do I advise my business-owning client, that has one “Black parent”, and one “White parent”? Do they qualify for the program because they have one “Black parent” – or do they get disqualified because they have one “White parent”?

What about one grandparent?

How far back to we look? Great-Grandparents? Does ancestral place of birth matter? etc.

How will they assess eligibility?

Is it solely based on skin pigment? How would that be fair to those that may otherwise meet the criteria, but don’t look “Black”?

Will there be blood tests?

I know you are thinking to yourself, ‘Cory, that’s pretty extreme’ … you’re right and that is my point.

I really do want this program to succeed, and I will help my clients that qualify for it to get it, but do you have a concrete suggestion for how to define what “Black” actually means for this program?

Every government program has the devil in the details, and without a clear definition of what a “Black Entrepreneur” is, we can expect the administrators and financial institutions implementing such a program to be in a nightmare from the beginning.

We’ve already seen the problems with the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) when they expanded the program but went away from defined terms like amount of 2019 payroll, and moved towards subjective terms like “non-deferrable expenses”.

When you open things up to subjective interpretation, things become less clear and you end up with a lot of “grey area” as a layer of complexity not wanted.

The Indian Act has been around since 1876 as a combining of the Gradual Civilization Act (1857) and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act (1869).

Scholars more intelligent than myself have battled with this flawed piece of legislation but this is the closest we have in Canada to a prior government attempt to define a race of people.

I want support for entrepreneurs that need it, however when my client asks me on whether or not they qualify for this vague announcement I want to be able to give them a simple “Black” or “White” answer.

Note: I used “quotation marks” throughout this commentary to emphasize the lack of a standard legal definition for any of these terms.

Cory G. Litzenberger, CPA, CMA, CFP, C.Mgr is the founder of CGL Strategic Business & Tax Advisors (CGLtax.ca). Cory is an advocate for small business; converts legislation into layman terms; and provides Canadian tax advisory services to other CPA firms and their clients across Canada.

Biography of Cory G. Litzenberger, CPA, CMA, CFP, C.Mgr can be found here.

CEO | Director CGL Tax Professional Corporation With the Income Tax Act always by his side on his smart-phone, Cory has taken tax-nerd to a whole other level. His background in strategic planning, tax-efficient corporate reorganizations, business management, and financial planning bring a well-rounded approach to assist private corporations and their owners increase their wealth through the strategies that work best for them. An entrepreneur himself, Cory started CGL with the idea that he wanted to help clients adapt to the ever-changing tax and economic environment and increase their wealth through optimizing the use of tax legislation coupled with strategic business planning and financial analysis. His relaxed blue-collar approach in a traditionally white-collar industry can raise a few eyebrows, but in his own words: “People don’t pay me for my looks. My modeling career ended at birth.” More info: https://CGLtax.ca/Litzenberger-Cory.html

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Run/Hike for Red Deer Hospice Takes Place This Sunday at Bower Ponds

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News release from Red Deer Hospice

Red Deer Hospice’s 16th Annual Run/Hike event, presented by RSM Red Deer, will take place at Bower Ponds this Sunday.

Registration will open at 9:00am and those wishing to run, walk or stroll the 1km, 3kms or 5 kms will start at 10:00am. A light breakfast and hot, post-race lunch, provided by Mr. Mikes, will be available to participants and live entertainment will be provided by the band Fun House in the amphitheater.

“This will be a day to remember and reflect, while taking in the natural beauty of the trails in and around Bower Ponds,” said Jerri Taylor, Executive Director of Red Deer Hospice. “As our main fundraiser for the year, our goal is to raise $38,000.” Proceeds and donations will go towards Red Deer Hospice’s mission of supporting a peaceful and compassionate end-of-life journey.

Online registration on the Red Deer Hospice website will close at 3:00pm on Friday, May 26, 2023. Those interested in participating in this year’s Run/Hike event who have not registered can do so in person on Sunday morning at Bower Ponds.

For more information, visit www.reddeerhospice.com.

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Glendale Skatepark now includes on-site mentors from the YMCA

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News release from the YMCA of Northern Alberta

With consistent fair weather and summer right around the corner, skateboarders, BMXers and scooter-riders are excited to return to Red Deer’s skateparks. Glendale Skatepark in Red Deer’s north side is a popular choice, and has the added benefit of being staffed by Northside Community Centre YMCA’s skatepark mentors.

The Y’s skatepark mentors are experienced skaters and BMX bikers who want to help make sure the skatepark remains a safe and inclusive space for kids and youth of all skill levels and backgrounds to enjoy. They hang out at the park every day after school and on weekends, offering encouragement, teaching skills and providing water and snacks to anyone who wants it.

“The biggest part [for me] is just creating community engagement and connections,” one skatepark mentor explained in a video on the YMCA’s social media channels, adding, “engaging with the kids, teaching what you love to do… just being a positive influence on everyone and trying to make this place a better community.”

The YMCA Skatepark Mentorship program was piloted in 2021, and after a successful season Border Paving Ltd. stepped up with a generous donation to make it possible for the Y to staff the park all summer long in 2022 and 2023. The Y has since expanded the program, and will have skatepark mentors and youth workers at the Red Deer Skatepark downtown in addition to Glendale, starting in July.

Youth can find YMCA skatepark mentors at the Glendale Skatepark Monday to Friday from 2:30 to 7:30pm, and noon–4pm on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of June. Starting in July, their weekday hours will expand to 12:30 to 8:30pm and they can be found at the Red Deer Skatepark downtown from 10am to 1pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Visit ymcanab.ca/skatepark to meet Northside Community Centre YMCA’s skatepark mentors for 2023 and learn more about youth programs at the Y.

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