Home ownership has become more difficult across the country with the introduction of new financial stress tests, not to mention home prices that seem increasingly unattainable in some markets. Backwoods Energy Services (Backwoods), however, is looking to reduce some of those roadblocks for Indigenous employees. One of the largest Indigenous-owned business in Canada, Backwoods has launched the province’s first program that provides financial support to Indigenous employees seeking to purchase their first home. This unique program is also the first time a private business has engaged with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) on a housing program for Indigenous employees in Alberta.
“Indigenous people often face unique barriers when it comes to purchasing a home,” said Paul Poscente, president and CEO, Backwoods. “For many people, their home is their largest asset, and it’s our belief that by helping our employees attain home ownership we can impact their lives for the better.”
Through the Home Ownership Program for Indigenous Employees, online training, support enrolling in an RRSP program and significant down payment contributions to a maximum of $20,000 per participant are available. Ultimately this program will ease access to the assets and credit facilities required during the path to home ownership.
Backwoods has partnered with the CMHC, First Nations Bank of Canada and Capital Region Housing Corporation to provide one-on-one support for participants throughout the program and to develop a comprehensive list of courses, reading materials, tools and financial calculators. The Home Ownership Program is designed to guide prospective first-time home buyers through the purchase process and provide the information required to make an informed decision.
“This program is certain to help make home ownership more accessible and we are pleased to contribute our expertise to Backwoods and lend our support,” said Nicole Church, senior manager, Indigenous and Northern Housing Solutions, CMHC.
Backwoods, via the inaugural Home Ownership Program, will match Indigenous employees’ RRSP savings to a maximum of $10,000 per employee and offer an additional $2,000 per year of employment to a maximum of $10,000. Backwoods has a preferred partnership with the First Nations Bank of Canada, an organization familiar with the requirements of this program in order to assist employees in selecting an RRSP program.
“First Nations Bank of Canada remains focused on meeting the financial needs and services required of Indigenous communities to enhance the lives of their members,” said Leigh Solomon, VP retail banking. “With this project being consistent with that, we are proud to play a role in making this happen.”
The Home Ownership Program is a huge step towards achieving the Backwoods mission to drive economic opportunities by empowering Indigenous people and communities.
Backwoods Energy Services is a leading service provider for utilities, forestry and oil and gas companies in Western Canada. Based out of Edmonton, Backwoods was acquired by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation (ANSN) in 2015 and won the prestigious 2019 Waterstone Most Admired Corporate Culture Award in Canada. For more information, please visit backwoodsenergy.ca.