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Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology


NUMBER 105 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, May 3, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1630)  

[English]

    We are in meeting 105, in which, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), we are continuing with the main estimates.
    Today, we have the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism; along with John Knubley, deputy minister; and Paul Thompson, associate deputy minister.
    Minister, you have up to 10 minutes.
    Mr. Chair and members of the committee, I thank you for the invitation to join you this afternoon in my role as Minister of Small Business and Tourism.

[Translation]

    As you know, small business is the backbone of our economy. Small and medium-sized firms account for 99% of all businesses in Canada and just over 90% of all private sector jobs—that's more than 10 million Canadian workers.

[English]

    In my role as minister, I am the voice at the cabinet table of this strong and growing community, and I take this job very seriously.
    Since 2015 our government has taken strong action to support these businesses. We know that when we invest in the economy, we are investing in the middle class and those working hard to join it. The results are already being felt right across the country.

[Translation]

    Canadians have created more than 600,000 jobs, most of which are full-time positions. The unemployment rate is at a 40-year low. Our economy is the fastest growing in the G7.

[English]

    Canadians can feel rightly optimistic about what the future has in store, and yet there is still more work to do. Canada is in a global competition. Our new progressive free trade agreements with the European Union and the 10 countries in the CPTPP bloc will open up new markets for Canadian goods and services. Innovation is also reshaping our economy, creating new sectors such as app development, while revolutionizing others such as manufacturing.

[Translation]

    We must take steps to build a modern economy, one in which Canadian businesses are developing innovative goods and services that are the envy of the world.

[English]

    Small businesses are central to this transformation. That is why our government is cutting the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019, as we committed to doing in 2015. This will put up to $7,500 per year back in the pockets of small business owners so that they can reinvest in their businesses.

[Translation]

    We are also taking clear actions to create a world-leading business environment, one that fosters innovation and business growth.

[English]

    Our accelerated growth service is supporting growth-oriented businesses by helping them access such key government services as financing, exporting, innovation, and business advice in one place.

[Translation]

    We also launched Innovation Canada. This new web portal—at innovation.canada.ca—provides business owners with all the information they need on programs and services available to them.

[English]

    More than 120,000 Canadians have already visited the site since its launch in January. They reflect Canada's diversity. They are urban and rural. They are men and women. They are new Canadians and indigenous entrepreneurs.
    For entrepreneurs just starting up, landing a procurement contract with the Government of Canada can make a world of difference. Through our new program called innovative solutions Canada we are specifically engaging these start-ups to help develop innovative approaches to new and complex government challenges.

[Translation]

    It's a win-win: the businesses get a reliable customer while the government gets innovative solutions to tough challenges.

  (1635)  

[English]

    Of course, as you heard from Minister Bains, the six regional development agencies are doing great work to promote economic development and to support small businesses in every corner of this great country.

[Translation]

    We have accomplished a lot. However, as the Prime Minister often reminds us, better is always possible.

[English]

    One area in which better is possible and necessary is that of supporting women's entrepreneurship. Less than 16% of businesses are owned by women. We think it's about time women had a fair shot at starting and growing a business. That is why, as part of this year's budget, we announced Canada's first women's entrepreneurship strategy.

[Translation]

    This is a coordinated national plan that will support hardworking, passionate women entrepreneurs at every stage of business.

[English]

     It is based on four areas of work. It starts with helping women start businesses by supporting skills development and closing gaps throughout the entrepreneurial ecosystem, so that a woman entrepreneur in Kelowna has the same opportunities as a woman entrepreneur in St. John's. It also requires increasing access to financing and recognizing that women face unique barriers when applying for financing. It requires improving access to innovation programs, such as the kinds of government programs I mentioned earlier, which can make all the difference in a start-up's development. Finally, it means that we must invest in better data and knowledge so that we can properly measure our progress.
    We're investing close to $2 billion over the next five years in this women's entrepreneurship strategy. Of this, we will invest $105 million to provide nationally coordinated, regionally tailored support for women entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast.
    Under our leadership, we have also given the Business Development Bank of Canada an ambitious goal to make available $1.4 billion in financing to support women-owned firms by 2021. We are confident that this target, while ambitious, is very much achievable. But it is a target, a goal; it is not a quota.
    The BDC will also expand its women in technology fund to $200 million. This fund started at just $50 million in 2016, the largest of its kind in Canada. I announced an increase to the fund of $20 million just last year, making it the largest of its kind in North America.

[Translation]

    The demand is so great that we will invest another $130 million, making this fund now the largest of its kind in the world with a total of $200 million.

[English]

    Through our strategy, our goal is to double the number of majority women-owned businesses by 2025. This is our target, our goal; once again, it is not a quota.
    Mr. Chair, I also want to touch on Canada's tourism sector, where we have a great story to tell as well.

[Translation]

    Last year was the best year ever for international tourism in Canada.

[English]

    We set a new record. Almost 21 million people came to Canada, and total tourism revenues for the year surpassed $97 billion, also a new record.
    Through Canada's new tourism vision, our government has been working to deliver a whole-of-government plan to support this vital industry. When we talk about small businesses and exporting, Canada's tourism sector is the leader. Tourism is Canada's largest service export. It is larger than agriculture, mining, and forestry combined.

[Translation]

    The industry comprises more than 200,000 small businesses, and the sector itself supports more than 1.8 million jobs from coast to coast to coast.

[English]

    Though we are setting records, we think there's still tremendous room to grow. Through our vision, and with the help of all of our partners, such as Destination Canada, we will increase international visitation by 30% and double visitation from China, the world's largest outbound tourist market, by 2021.

[Translation]

    This year is also the Canada-China Year of Tourism, which will help further increase the number of Chinese tourists coming to Canada.
    Last year, Chinese travellers spent more than $1.5 billion while visiting Canada. They typically spend more here than the average tourist.

[English]

    In 2017 we welcomed more than 680,000 Chinese tourists. That was a new record. To build on this momentum, we will make targeted investments to attract even greater numbers of Chinese visitors during the Canada-China year of tourism.
    This includes hosting a number of high-level government and business events and helping tourism operators become more China ready, in other words, helping them prepare to welcome more visitors in general. When Chinese tourists visit, they are not just coming to take a picture; they are visiting our local businesses and supporting the local economy.

[Translation]

    Tourism is a wonderful way to showcase our beautiful country to the world while also supporting communities large and small.

  (1640)  

[English]

    That's also why our government is committed to supporting this vitally growing economic sector.

[Translation]

    The government has a clear plan to support Canadian small businesses. That plan will help our tourism industry flourish, ensure that all Canadians have the same opportunities to participate in our diverse economy, and build a strong middle class and support those working hard to join it.
    I am happy to now take questions from my esteemed colleagues.
    Thank you once again for inviting me to testify.

[English]

    Thank you very much, Minister.
    We're going to move right to questions.
    Mr. Longfield, you have seven minutes.
    Thanks, Mr. Chair.
    It is great to see you, Minister, and Mr. Knubley and Mr. Thompson.
    I'm also very interested—it's a lifelong passion—in small business and tourism, most recently with the chambers of commerce in Canada.
    We just completed a study on intellectual property and we know that many small and medium-sized enterprises are not taking part in IP management, development, or ownership.
    How are we looking at rolling out IP promotion to SMEs? Is that included in the estimates in any way?
     To commence, what I would like to do is thank you for your work not only in your community, but with chambers. We work closely with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce as well as local chambers.
    When it comes to IP, I know that Minister Bains talked about the fact that only about 9% of small businesses have an IP strategy. That's about 106,000 businesses across the country. We're talking about the backbone of our economy. We know that only 10% of small businesses hold formal IP, so we really do want to make sure that we create a plan, a strategy that works. He was really excited to launch it. We are really grateful for the work of this committee and the input that you were able to provide.
    When it comes to the estimates, I'll turn to my deputy.
    In terms of the estimates, the $85.5 million over five years was in budget 2018, so that is not yet included in the estimates.
    Okay. I think that also speaks to a new process. I'm a little confused about the process in its first time around. Could you help us to align the estimates with the budget process?
    I think what's different this year is that the overall contribution from budget 2018 has been rolled up into a vote, if you like, in the Treasury Board context.
    Mr. Lloyd Longfield: That's right.
    Mr. John Knubley: The total number for budget 2018 is included, but we will need to reconcile the departmental investments—like this particular one, for example—as we move forward in the next year.
    Right, so it's a bridging year.
    If I could add to that, it means that it is a line item within the estimates, which can give Canadians and you the confidence that this is the money that will go to the strategy.
    It's committed for it.
    Another part of what we looked at was the work-integrated learning and how that might apply to small businesses. Also, we've done the study and have looked at manufacturing.
     Since we've done that, I've been thinking about indigenous people and women in trades. I'm always thinking of larger businesses, but we have the opportunity to talk in terms of smaller businesses. Are they different pots or is it the same programs that would be applied to...? I know that we have a new website around Innovation Canada to access funding programs.
    Innovation Canada is part of the innovation skills plan. It's a one-stop shop for government programs and services to match Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs.
     As the Minister of Small Business, I will tell you that small businesses don't always have the resources they need. They need government programs and services to work for them, and they need easy access to those programs and services so they can access those resources that are available to them. That's why we thought that a one-stop shop would help them better utilize those programs.
    When it comes to work-integrated learning and the importance of skills development, entrepreneurship is going to be a huge part of the economy of tomorrow. We need to ensure that our young people understand entrepreneurship. We need to make sure that more women are considering entrepreneurship and that more under-represented groups take entrepreneurship more seriously.
     That's why you see the work that the BDC, the Business Development Bank of Canada, is doing. They've done a better job of actually tracking where the money and investments are going. When it comes to the indigenous entrepreneurial loan program, for example, we know that $325 million has gone to 600 indigenous clients and is helping to create opportunities in their communities. It's also encouraging for the next generation to see strong leadership.

  (1645)  

    We're keeping track of those numbers in terms of investment to return on jobs. I read the blues last time, since I wasn't here for the meeting, and I know that one of the members opposite was quite concerned about getting a return on investment in terms of numbers of jobs. That is being tracked.
    That's an important way of looking at it, because we know that when it comes to the jobs in the economy, it matters to Canadians. As a government, we take it very seriously. We need to look at how we are collecting that data. You'll notice that when it comes to our investments in tourism and our investments across the board, data and collection of knowledge are key, as I mentioned in my opening comments. We want to see the results of those investments.
    With the little time I have left, I'm thinking of the southwest Ontario economic development plan and the goal of developing to our highest potential in southwest Ontario. The FedDev organization has just been refunded. That's included in the estimates. Could you speak to that?
    When it comes to the regional development agencies, RDAs, they now come under the Innovation, Science and Economic Development portfolio of Minister Bains.
     Where we have seen a lot of progress and a lot of opportunities is that when we talk about diversity, yes, regional diversity matters, but there is an opportunity to share best practices. I remember the first meeting in which the presidents of the RDAs came together. It was the first time that they were in a room together. They are now able to learn from each other and to teach each other, to ensure that we have greater economic potential in all communities.
     Budget 2018 provided an increase of $511 million over five years. Of that, $105 million is for an ecosystem fund to really support the women's entrepreneurship strategy.
     In working with chambers of commerce, business improvement areas, and tourism agencies, we have to do a full-court press here.
    That's right. I do believe that the chamber does a fabulous job of ensuring that the voices of their stakeholders are heard. We need to ensure that we're doing a better job working with chambers to ensure that their stakeholders are also learning about government programs and services. We'll continue to encourage the chamber to be a two-way street so that they continue to push the government to do better and to do more. That's exactly what we expect. We want their stakeholders to also be able to benefit from the programs and services so that we know which ones are working and which ones we need to modernize.
    I met with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce this morning. They're very excited to be working together. I'm looking forward to being a bridge between the two, the Government of Canada and the chambers, so thank you for your input.
    They are good people indeed.
    Yes, they are good people.
    Thank you very much.
    We'll move to Monsieur Bernier.

[Translation]

    You have the floor for seven minutes.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    I want to let you know that I will share my time with Mr. Lloyd.
    Minister, thank you for joining us today.
    I have a few questions, and I ask that you answer them fairly quickly, so that we could have a good discussion.

[English]

    What is your definition of small business?
    I know you want me to go quickly, but I first have to give you some kudos. The office I now hold is the one that you were in, so in terms of some of the results we're seeing when it comes to tourism, I thank you for the work you did there. We'll continue to hold that portfolio strongly, I know, together.
    With regard to small businesses, there are different ways to look at it. We do tend to look at the number of jobs. Small businesses tend to have 100 employees or less. That would be the ultimate definition.
    Do you know how many small businesses we have in Canada?
    We know that 99% of all businesses are small businesses. We can provide you with the number, which is 1,152,769.
    Thank you very much.
     Minister Bains was with us last Tuesday. He said that his department gave $5.5 billion in grants and financial aid to for-profit corporations. Do you know how much was given to small businesses out of that $5.5 billion?
    No, that's a number that we will need to come back to you on. As we indicated at that meeting as well, we will be coming back with further clarifications on the $5.5 billion.
    Can you come back at the same time with how many jobs that money created in small and medium-sized businesses?
    I'll just quickly add that this is something that's close to my heart. It's something that I am pushing every minister to really be able to advance. When we were looking at the supercluster strategy and making choices as to which superclusters we'd be supporting, one thing we looked at was the number of small businesses that were part of those clusters. I look forward to sharing those numbers as well.

  (1650)  

    Perhaps you can give us the data also by province in terms of jobs created in small businesses with respect to that $5.5 billion.
    Do you know Frédéric Bastiat?
    Personally?
    No. Do you know this economist?
    Yes.
    Yes? I'm very pleased that you know him, because your policy is not in line with what he said and believed in. As you know, Frédéric Bastiat was an economist from France, born in 1801, so I don't think you had the opportunity to meet him.
    That being said, he wrote the parable of the broken window, where he talked about what was seen and unseen. What you're doing right now is what is seen. We see all the money that you're giving to small businesses, but we don't see what happens when you tax small businesses to have that money and to give that to other small businesses. Frédéric Bastiat was a very well-known economist, and he said that what is unseen is not creating any wealth, because you are destroying wealth when you tax small businesses and all these corporations. We don't know how many jobs these corporations would have been able to create.
    That being said, that has an impact. Do you believe in that parable of the broken window, that when you're giving money to businesses, you're actually destroying jobs in the private sector?
    I will commence by saying that we lowered the small business tax rate to 9%. We committed to doing that by 2019. As I responded to my colleague, I recognize the importance of collecting data. That's something we're taking seriously. Not only are we taking seriously the collection of data so that we have those numbers, but we also recognize the importance of having a full voice for small business at the cabinet table so that every decision that is made I am able to confirm—
    You must argue for all the small businesses.
    If I could finish—
     Yes, I know, but you must argue for all the small businesses, because what you're doing right now is a little bit unfair. You are taxing all businesses. You gave grants to some specific businesses. A fair policy, and a policy that will create wealth, would be to lower taxes a bit, as you did for small businesses.
    We have a huge challenge in Canada. As you know, Statistics Canada has told us that in the last five years private investment in Canada went down by 17%. We know that investment is the engine of economic growth, so we need more private investment. What do you think you're going to do for that?
    I will tell you that if you look at the investments which the government is making in small business and into the economy—because it's Canadians who create growth—our economy is in the best health we've seen in a long time. Our unemployment rate is the lowest we've seen in 40 years.
    If you look at the return on the dollar—I'll go back to the supercluster strategy really quickly—we invested $950 million, expecting to have a return—
    Can you tell me how many small businesses receive money in the superclusters?
    Mr. Bernier, I think you asked for a respectful conversation. I think we need to be able to have one.
    Yes, but we know that time is very—
    I know—
    Hon. Maxime Bernier: Yes.
    Hon. Bardish Chagger: —but as you know, I'm never far.
    Yes.
    Minister, I think I can say that there are 450 firms in the supercluster program and—
    Who receive grants?
    —of those, 300 are small and medium-sized.
    You give a privilege to 300 small business firms and corporations in Canada. There are a lot of small businesses. As you said, there are more than a million small businesses. Don't you think it's unfair to do that, to tax them after giving this to only 300 small businesses?
    That being said, did you do—
    We lowered the small business tax rate.
    I know that. That's why you must lower rates for everybody. The best thing would be to abolish your department. That way, you don't create any distortion in the economy.
    That being said—
    Government is good—
    Yes, but that being said, did you do an analysis of the cost of the carbon tax for small businesses? I know that your government did an analysis of the carbon tax for families in Canada, but for small businesses in Canada, do you know how much it will cost to be in line with your Liberal carbon tax?
    I will start by saying that what's clear—and I started by giving you some recognition—is we that have different approaches. Your previous government's approach was a different one. We believe that you do need to take the environment seriously—
    You don't know what the cost will be for the small businesses?
    We believe that we need to take the environment seriously, and we believe that we can actually make strategic investments to create conditions for growth. That is what Canadians are expecting. When we talk about perspectives—
    You think you know better than a small business owner? You know better what to do with their own money?
    Respectfully, when we are talking about a diversity of opinions, it's important to note that, yes, you have an opinion, that of somebody who was born in 1801.
     We are preparing for the economy of tomorrow. Something that has not been done is that we had not seen a government in a long time, until this government came in, that was visionary—

  (1655)  

    He is one of the best economists that we ever—
    On that note, time is up. There is no time for Mr. Lloyd.
    We're going to move to Mr. Angus for seven minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's a great honour to be at your committee.
    Madam Chagger, I believe this is the first time that I've had a chance to speak with you on these issues.
     When I was listening to your speech, what stuck out was that you gave a shout-out to the six regional development agencies that are doing great work to promote economic development in every corner of this great country, so I started to count: the Atlantic region, western economic development, the southern Ontario development, the Quebec agencies, and then the far north development agency.
     That's great, but that's not every corner of the country. Northern Ontario is completely left out of your map. FedNor is not recognized. If you're going to just count the other six, Madam Chagger, I want to know, what is it about FedNor such that you don't even say it plays an important role in economic development?
    Honourable member and honourable Chair, FedNor is a part of the department, as are the other RDAs. It does have somewhat different machinery insofar as FedNor—
    I understand that.
    Mr. John Knubley: —is directly in the department, as opposed to in the portfolio. It is part of the department and works directly with all other RDAs.
    Mr. Charlie Angus: I guess my concern is that in previous practice—
    In addition, the funding of northern Ontario was increased.
    I understand that, but you don't even.... My concern is that when I look at what you're presenting us, when you talk about being China ready, app development, and superclusters, it speaks nothing to the people I represent, who are rural, who are blue collar.
     You talk about the middle class. I represent the industrial working class. What I've seen from FedNor is the incredible work they've done that's been allowed to stagnate. Past practice was that there was a FedNor minister for the north. Your government got rid of that. The past practice was that FedNor was always identified in the minister's documents and spoken of. We're told, well, you're going to consolidate.
     I just want to understand how it is that your approach is going to respond to rural, northern, isolated, blue-collar communities when you don't even mention this part of our economy.
     I will respond by saying to you that I thank you for bringing that to my attention.
    Northern Ontario is important to me, and it should be important to all. I will definitely take that as constructive feedback. It is definitely something that we will continue to follow up on. There's no reason that we can't share the monies that are being invested in FedNor so people are able to see that. We do believe that this information should be available, not only for your constituencies.... I will go one step farther and say that you represent more than northern Ontario because you're quite well known across this country.
    Well, thank you. I'm known for fighting hard for our people.
    Hon. Bardish Chagger: That's what we have in common.
    Mr. Charlie Angus: I want to do a shout-out.
    FedNor, with the limited budget it has, goes to the Prospectors and Developers Association convention every year, which is the biggest mining expo in the world. The northern Ontario booth is extraordinary. We're bringing in international investors. People want to participate. However, 72% of FedNor's budget is spent before the year begins. We've lost 30% of our staffing. The internal documents show lower and lower morale because they're unable to answer. When I look to see where your government is on this, I see that the government is saying that it's going to consolidate regional development. That doesn't work for us because northern Ontario is not southern Ontario. Resource-based communities are not supercluster communities. What of this plan of consolidation? What stage is it at, and how does that include FedNor?
    I'd be happy to answer that, Mr. Chair.
    In terms of the mains, there's $36.4 million dedicated to FedNor. In terms of a northern strategy, Minister Bains, I think it was three weeks ago, was in northern Ontario and announced a new northern Ontario development plan as part of the work that they're doing.
    Yes, I heard that. The $36 million puts us at less than 50% of where we were with FedNor's budget 10 years ago, so that's very troubling. However, I'm very concerned about this announcement, that it's all out of Minister Bains' office. Hey, I like Minister Bains. He's a great guy. But I don't believe that a minister in Mississauga is going to be making decisions for the small communities of the north, because your government tells us that these decisions are going to be in line with its national priorities. The reality in a rural isolated community in the far north is completely different. We need small development. When a mine shuts down and we lose 300 jobs, we don't get 300 jobs back. We get five. We get six. We get eight. However, I see that your priority—and it's been said by Mr. Bains—is to have investments in larger projects and in superclusters. Where are my superclusters in northeastern Ontario?

  (1700)  

    I recognize that we each have an important role to play, and it includes rural and urban. It includes remote regions. It includes Canadians and indigenous. I know that we have work to do. We will continue pushing to do more. I will tell you that when it comes to the supercluster strategy, yes, there were five superclusters announced. Many communities—like the one I represent, Waterloo—are working closely with people that you represent as a member of Parliament. So, I can tell you that there is more to these communities than having the announcement made directly within them.
    There are greater benefits. However, one thing is clear, and I will take that from your comments. It is that our country has to work together as a country. We have to recognize that there are huge opportunities—
    I totally get that.
    —and for you to make the comment that a minister from Mississauga cannot respect or appreciate FedNor—
    I didn't say “not respect”. It's that we have a different economic issue because you.... I'm just saying—
     —I think is unfortunate because I'll tell you that I did chair....
    The other comment I made was that for the first time we had presidents from all different RDAs, including yours that you were referring to, come together. Do you know what it made clear? It made it clear to each of them that what they saw wasn't the whole country.
    Okay, I get that. Sorry, I'm running out of time here.
    The issue is that—
    It made them take things seriously. We can't just look in our backyard. We have to look at the whole country.
    I'm sorry if I insulted the minister. However, to take away the FedNor minister, to not mention FedNor, and to tell us that a minister can run all this out of his office in Mississauga and understand the realities in communities like Red Lake, to me, is not credible because when I look at what you're presenting to me, I see that you're looking at your national priorities, which are to be China ready and to have superclusters.
     I'm sure there are great jobs in Waterloo, but it doesn't reflect the reality of isolated rural communities. We need that rural lens. We need a FedNor agency, and we have less and less from your government all the time.
    You've been here a long time, so you know that there is a FedNor agency. You know that it's located in northern Ontario. You know that they know the community very well—
     But if the minister is running it—
    Thank you all very much for playing.
     Rather than have the government of the day, the elected official, change priorities, that community is able to represent themselves very well.
    Thank you very much.
    We're going to move to Mr. Sheehan.
    You have seven minutes, please.
    Thank you very much.
     Minister, speaking of northern Ontario, when you were in Sault Ste. Marie about a month and a half ago, you had the opportunity to have a round table with small business and tourism businesses. There were a lot of things that were discussed at that particular time, including FedNor. It actually has received an increase for the first time in a decade: $53 million over the last two years. In 2016 and 2017, it was $25 million and then $28 million.
    You also heard about the strategic innovation funding for northern Ontario that Minister Bains brought: $87 million for the colleges and universities located in Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay. You also had an opportunity to visit Bon Soo. Bon Soo is one of the best winter carnivals in Canada.
     Minister, could you please share with this committee some of the remarks that you made in regard to small business and tourism as it relates to northern Ontario and all businesses across Canada?
    I thank you for that invitation to the north to have that visit. It was great, because there were so many communities to visit. What was fascinating to me, and I hope people really absorb this, was that when I spoke to local people in those communities, especially young people, they wanted to know that they're part of the solution. They wanted to know that the government takes them seriously, and we do. Every single time, when they hear about “not opportunity” or “not investment”, they don't see the opportunities for them.
    What we wanted to share, and what we will continue to do, is to have confidence in FedNor people, who know those communities better than any elected official. They know what strategic investments we can make to ensure there's maximum benefit to those communities.
    This government is not going to be about announcement; this government is going to be about results. That's why we see our economy growing the way it is. That's why we see that Canadians have created 600,000 jobs. That's why we're seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years, because there are huge opportunities there.
     The people who are in your riding and ridings across the country are hard-working Canadians, and what they need is a government that listens to them. Our doors will remain open. We will continue to communicate with them.
    I'll tell you, at Bon Soo the bum slide was quite an adventure. I've seen nothing like it, and I too will say that it was probably one of the best festivals I've been to. That festival is an economic driver, bringing people in from across the country.
    For the first time in the history of our country, we have a government that takes the tourism industry seriously. We're talking about 1.8 million Canadians employed in the tourism industry, 200,000 small businesses across this country, including in small communities and big communities. It's the lifeblood of our small communities, and we'll continue to ensure that industry continues to succeed.

  (1705)  

    At that round table, we had representation from women entrepreneurs there as well. As you know, I worked with the Economic Development Corporation. I was the manager of entrepreneurship. I had my own small business, and I also taught entrepreneurship at the college.
    Women traditionally...I mean they're over half of the population percentage-wise, but they represent a very small amount of small business owners and entrepreneurship. In your presentation, I think you said it's 16%, and in some areas it's smaller.
    What is this government doing to try to increase that opportunity? I can tell you that those women you met with are probably some of the most successful entrepreneurs I've ever worked with.
     That round table was an essential one because of that conversation and because of the regard and respect in that room. I've heard from a couple of them since with regard to the women entrepreneurship strategy, because they heard their feedback reflected right in the strategy that we are advancing. We're talking about close to $2 billion for the women entrepreneurship strategy, because we want to see the number of women-owned businesses double by 2025. The 16% just isn't good enough. We want to do that in the right way.
    The women entrepreneurship strategy is making strategic investments, including in regional development agencies, so $105 million will be committed to women entrepreneurs to ensure that in regions across the country they are benefiting.
    The Business Development Bank of Canada has been given a goal to really be able to invest $1.4 billion over three years in new financing to women-owned, majority-owned businesses. Once we pushed the Business Development Bank of Canada to do that in our early days, it was able to surpass its goal of $700 million in just under two years, which made it actually end up putting, I think, $826 million into businesses owned by women.
    We've also increased the women in technology fund, which benefits every single community across the country, because technology is everywhere. That's why I will say it is good when members ask about the definition or about what we see. Technology is a source for good. We need to embrace it. The $200 million over five years will see women in business, in tech businesses across the country, encouraging the next generation to see themselves in those businesses that want to help grow their communities and create jobs in their communities.
    That conversation is why we travel the country and why we consult. We need to hear the nuances of every single community. It comes back to the RDAs needing to work better together, because their region is a part of the country. We need the entire country to succeed, and that means the approach of this government is to ensure that the person who needs the hand up gets the hand up. If it is rural and remote communities that we need to make sure we are representing better, we are going to ensure that we reach out and engage with those communities so that their voices are being heard in Ottawa and so that the programs and services reflect them.
    Great. We also heard from Ian McMillan, the head of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, that you had announced that in the Sault Ste. Marie area, the tour train was a part of the Rendez-vous Canada experience.
    The Asian market has increased significantly in northern Ontario. Japan has picked the area as one of the top 10 destinations. What other efforts and opportunities are there to penetrate the Asian market in these upcoming estimates?
    You have about 20 seconds.
    One of them is clearly the Canada-China year of tourism. What we've done is rather than going after the typical centres, we're showcasing the entire country. The Chinese market is the largest source for tourists. What is clear is that we need to find the tourists that want to make sure that they are visiting the Soo or going to the north. We are working better with Destination Canada to ensure that the people who want the information to get to these other communities in our country are able to obtain that information. The tourism vision is helping to do that to ensure that we are focusing on marketing, access, and products. I look forward to those communications.
    When you have, I think, 1.7 billion people in China, I can promise you that they're not all looking to go to a large urban centre. They want to see the open land. They want to see the Soo, and I will encourage them to come and visit communities across the country.

  (1710)  

    Thank you very much.
    We're going to move to Mr. Lloyd.
    You have five minutes.
     Before I start, Mr. Chair, I want to say I'll be splitting my time with my colleague.
    Minister, I've had the pleasure of travelling across this country, including out in Sault Ste. Marie, and everywhere I go it's difficult to find campground space. You mentioned that your government is cutting small business tax rates, but your government's regulations have also increased taxes on some campgrounds by up to 300% by removing the small business tax deduction.
    How do you square your commitment to increase tourism by $21 million by 2021, when your government's policies have resulted in the shutting down of private campgrounds across this country?
    I would respectfully disagree. This government will continue to fight for small businesses. We know that they are job creators. They create jobs in every single community.
    The Minister of National Revenue has clearly stated that when it comes to the one-offs that you're referring to, they're working closely with them. We will continue to do that.
    We want to ensure that we have a fair tax system that works for the very people who create jobs. We want to ensure that the small business tax rate works for small businesses because, once again, they are the backbone of the economy, and we are going to ensure that their voices are heard.
     With all due respect, you say you support small businesses, but your government's regulations are changing the definition of small business. You're talking about women entrepreneurs. I had the pleasure of meeting with a young woman, a family woman, from north of Calgary, and her small business is a campground that involves three to five people and operates about six months of the year in the summer. Your government has increased taxes on them by 300%, and has also made those taxes retroactive, going back three years, resulting in a massive tax bill that could shut down this campground. How do you square your support of small business with this damaging policy you put in?
    I would encourage this person, who I'm assuming is your constituent, to continue working with your office, but to also work with the minister's office. We want to ensure that programs and services work for those very people, and I welcome the opportunity to speak to your constituent. That's what we're here to do. When we choose public life, we say we want to make sure those voices are being heard. Obviously there are nuances that we need to be made aware of. That's why we make ourselves available, and that's why we have consultations. We want to hear from those very people.
    Thank you, and I'll pass on my time.
    I wanted to talk about some other stuff, but I think there's another opportunity, so I think I'm going to follow up on this a little bit.
    I heard you make the suggestion about following up with the revenue minister. Obviously both of you are rookie members of Parliament, and it's challenging to be thrown into the role of minister right away.

  (1715)  

    [Inaudible—Editor] about women.
    No, certainly not. Obviously for rookie MPs it's a challenging role. I was a rookie MP too, and I know what it's like to even learn those things on the job, and to be thrown into a ministerial role is very difficult.
    I wanted to give you a compliment because we've been able to work really well together as tourism minister and tourism critic. We may not always necessarily agree on things, and certainly you've had to be the messenger for the government on some things that I found pretty frustrating, but there are times when we are able to work together. I do believe that means you are probably someone who, when something is raised with you, is prepared to go back and take a look at things to see if there's something you may be able to do to be better. That's something I appreciate about you. Unfortunately, I have not found the revenue minister to be the same way. I've raised this issue with her over and over again, as I know a number of my colleagues have, and we continue to get back the exact same talking points over and over again, which are probably written by a bureaucrat, and she hasn't gone back and challenged that. However, I'm hoping it's different in your case, and I believe it probably is.
    I know I've raised this issue with you before, and I just wanted to get your sense on this. I raised this issue with you in this committee almost a year ago now, and a recommendation was made by the finance committee dealing with the issue of the campgrounds and the way they're being treated as passive income when they're certainly anything but passive. That was a unanimous recommendation of the finance committee, and it included all parties, and we continue to get the same talking point from the revenue minister that nothing has changed. Clearly that's not the case when we hear stories like we just heard, and I've heard a number of them.
    Short of telling them to work with the revenue minister, who I don't think is listening, what else can you suggest as an opportunity for these campgrounds to deal with this issue, so that their businesses survive and don't have the huge new tax bills they are facing?
    I appreciate your words, and I appreciate the efforts you've put forward. I'll tell you that I am the voice for small businesses at the cabinet table, and I need to hear what you are facing.
     The campgrounds that have had challenges have contacted me, and we've worked closely with the Canada Revenue Agency and with the minister. In my experience, I've had the opportunity to have fruitful dialogue. Does that mean everyone comes away with exactly the answer they want? No. However, it is important that we follow the rules and that the rules work for our job creators, especially in communities where camping is essential.
    I have to say really quickly that, with Canada 150 last year, we opened up our national parks for free. We saw more people frequenting those parks than ever before, and there are a lot of opportunities when it comes to our national historic sites as well. If we can be of assistance, I can assure the member and all colleagues, as well as anyone watching, that we want to hear from you and we want to be part of the solution, because we know that they too want nothing different.
    Thank you very much.
    We're going to move to Mr. Fragiskatos. You have five minutes.
     Minister, thanks for being here. I don't sit on this committee but I like to take part when there's an opportunity so I wanted to engage with you today.
    April is a great month for me. It's my birthday—
    Hon. Bardish Chagger: It's mine too.
    Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: Okay, there we go.
     On top of that, we had the lowest unemployment rate since the mid-1970s. Speaking as the son of small business owners, I can tell you that when people are working it means there's more purchasing power. They can go out, buy products, stimulate the Canadian economy. I think it's important. You pointed it out. We've pointed it out as a government, but members across the way, I think, are playing with the numbers and playing with arguments that don't amount to putting forward an accurate perspective.
    I want to ask you a question that relates to the main estimates. There is $349 million for the Canadian Space Agency for 2018-19, and I promise you this is a small business question, not a research question. Many Canadians, perhaps many in the opposition as well, will look at that and say that $349 million is a lot of money. They may wonder what exactly that's going toward. In the past, when we have allocated money to the CSA, this government has supported projects that encourage the development of innovative technologies in the Canadian space sector. Many of the businesses in this sector are small businesses. They employ more than 10,000 people on the whole, with revenues in excess of $5.4 billion.
    Will that money that has been allocated to CSA in the main estimates go towards these same sorts of projects that encourage the growth of emerging technologies in the sector? Will it support businesses that way? When we look at an investment like this, we wonder where it is going, how it will benefit Canadian society. We've seen how it's benefited in the past. I just want to make sure that continues.
    Indeed, I would say in one word, yes, we will continue to see programs like that. We know that the supply chain of big business is made up of small businesses, and we really need to recognize whom we're benefiting. We're benefiting communities and Canadians across the country.
    You're right that when we put more money into the pockets of Canadians we're going to see more purchasing power, just like when we welcome more international visitors to our communities we're going to see them supporting our small businesses and our communities. That's how you create opportunities. That's how you create motivation for Canadians to want to do more, because they know they're receiving that return. When it comes to that money, you will see it benefiting communities across the country. You will see it benefiting small businesses. You will continue to see programs such as the ones you referred to.
    That's great because when people hear the term “space sector” they think of some large labyrinth of companies outside of their reach, but these are small businesses in many cases. As I said, they're employing Canadians right across the country, generating revenues in excess of $5 billion, according to recent estimates. That needs to be encouraged and I'm glad to see that the thinking is there.
    They are innovative and they are visionary. I think that's where we're trying to get to. Rather than living in the past, we need to see where the global economy is going, how we create the opportunities for tomorrow, and how we ensure that our young people are equipped for success in the jobs that they create and work in. We want them to be able to gain the Canadian work experience that they need.
    That's why we're making investments in programs like CanCode. These young people we are investing in will be our entrepreneurs. They will be our job creators. They will have the tools, resources, and opportunities they need not only to succeed but to compete as well. We know that when it comes to Canadian products and services they are the best in the world. That's why we're also putting a lot of focus on helping our small businesses export to new markets.
    We know that when Canadian start-ups have the Government of Canada as their first customer they'll be better able to succeed in Canadian markets as well as international ones. We have made more procurement opportunities available to them through innovation solutions Canada. In budget 2017, there was $50 million to set up the program to ensure that it was able to succeed. It works with 20 departments. We're talking about innovative ideas across the country and Canadians applying these solutions to complex government challenges within 20 departments. I know that's an opportunity creator and it's been really well received.

  (1720)  

    Thank you very much.
    Thank you very much.
    We're going to go back to Mr. Richards.
     Thank you.
    I want to move to a different topic, but I want to close off, because I didn't get a chance to finish our conversation before.
    A little over a year ago, there was a letter that was received by the Canadian Camping and RV Council on that topic of the campgrounds, which was co-authored by you, the Minister of National Revenue, and the Minister of Finance. You all indicated that nothing had in fact changed in regard to these campgrounds. That's not accurate.
    What I'm hearing from you is that you want to be collaborative and to be a champion for these small businesses. I appreciate that, and I take you at your word on that. I certainly hope that you'll go back and have a good look at this, and determine for yourself that it's not true that nothing has changed, that there actually has been some change here and that's impacting these campgrounds, and that you will be a champion for them.
     I'll certainly be letting them know that they should be in contact with you, and I hope you will keep that promise to them.
    Actually, I want to speak about—
    Tourism?
    Well certainly tourism, but specifically related to tourism is the labour. There are obviously some challenges within the industry, specifically in seasonal parts of the year in certain parts of the country with regard to labour challenges.
    One of the things I noticed when your tourism vision came out...was it last year?
    Last year in Calgary.
    There were a lot of similarities to the federal tourism strategy that we had introduced. As you said earlier, much of the work you're doing is kind of carrying on some of the things that were being done under our government. I was appreciative of that.
    We had four key themes in our strategy, which were “Increasing awareness of Canada as a premier tourist destination”, facilitating the “ease of access and movement” for travellers, “encouraging product development and investments in...tourism assets”, and the fourth one for us was “fostering an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor experiences through quality of service and hospitality”.
    I noted in your tourism vision that you had three key themes, the first three being the ones I just mentioned, but the labour part, and the supply and skills of it, was noticeably absent as one of those key themes.
     I wonder if you could elaborate on why that is, and whether you do or don't see meeting those challenges to ensure we provide those quality experiences to our guests as an important aspect of things.
    I know that we were both at the all-party tourism caucus where Tourism HR Canada, among others, was able to raise these points.
    There are obviously issues that we take seriously. When it comes to the temporary foreign worker program, we are definitely doing a review of that program to make sure it is reflecting the industries that need the support of that program.
    There is $80 million in 2018-19 and $150 million in 2019-20 to help workers in seasonal industries through federal-provincial labour market development agreements, which will support those employed in the tourism workforce as well.
    You might not see it in the vision. The vision was created by provinces and territories. You will see areas that are similar, which is not a bad thing. I think when it comes to the Government of Canada, we represent all Canadians. Some of us choose to be a lot more partisan than others. I believe when it comes to tourism, that is one reason why I think we're able to work together. Everyone is an advocate for tourism. That was created with provinces and territories. It also has the indigenous focus.
    What we've done, as a government, since taking office is to make an investment in Destination Canada to return it to predictable funding so that it can work in markets.

  (1725)  

    Sorry, I'm getting a signal from the chair that I have less than a minute, and I have a follow-up question that I want to ask. I agree with you completely that it's good that we can work together on tourism.
    When the human resources committee studied this issue, in the minority report we put forward, there were a couple of things that we raised as ideas. I'd like to hear your thoughts on those.
    One of them centres around this idea of the regions that are set up for determining...basically they are the employment insurance regions. One of the challenges is that they're so large, they fail to catch some of the micro economies that exist in tourism. I've pointed out to Minister Hajdu a couple of examples of that in the past.
    I want to get your thoughts on that. Is there some way we might be able to target our tourism regions a little better so that we can ensure they have the ability to utilize the program in areas where maybe they need it but the broader area doesn't allow that? The second one is on your thoughts on the creation of a specific stream for tourism in the temporary foreign worker program to meet some of those seasonal challenges that exist, much like with the agriculture industry.
     You've left her with no time to answer the question, but—
    Maybe you'll allow her.
    Very quickly, Minister, if you want to make a comment.
    There is the review of the temporary foreign worker program coming on. I know we've had this conversation between ourselves as well. That conversation resulted in some input being provided to Minister Hajdu's office. I know they're looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the review. We're working closely with the Minister of Immigration as well. Once again, it's a whole-of-government approach.
    Any feedback that we're hearing from Canadians, from colleagues, we take very seriously. Once again, will everyone have the outcomes that they want? Not always, but can we strive for better? Yes. That's what the Prime Minister expects of every single one of us.
    I can assure you that I take this file very seriously. I know, as much as you want to believe that these notes are coming from the centre or from the service only—we have a lot of respect for the service—but what is clear is that the approach of the previous government was very different from the approach of this government, because your experience is not mine. I can understand why you are projecting on many of those comments, but I can assure you that many things have changed for the good of the country.

[Translation]

    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Robillard, I give you the floor for the five last minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I want to thank the minister and her advisors for being with us.
    My questions come from Frank Baylis, of course, but I'm also very interested in tourism.
    In the 2018-2019 main estimates, the Canadian Tourism Commission is asking for $95.7 million in voted appropriations for the destination Canada program.
    How will that funding affect tourism in Quebec?
    What percentage of that $95.7 million will be invested in Quebec?
    Thank you for the question.
    I know that tourism is important for everyone. The investments we made in the destination Canada program have borne fruit. For example, the number of people visiting Canada is increasing annually.
    Destination Canada is working with Tourisme Québec. We actually have tourism associations in every province and territory. We can provide you with figures for Quebec.
    An investment of $37.5 million has been made, but there are other programs, as well as co-investments. The objective was for partners to match every dollar invested by Canadians in terms of contribution, but the ratio achieved is rather 1.1:1. In other words, those investments are generating profits.

[English]

    It's really about partnerships.

[Translation]

    We have to work better together.

[English]

    I know that, when it comes to tourism, the number of international visitors we have seen come to Canada has increased year after year. We know that the number of jobs that are being created has continued to increase in communities across this country, including in Quebec.
    Our investments would be for international markets, for people coming to Canada, and then Destination Canada works with the provincial tourism associations.

  (1730)  

    Thank you very much. I'll leave time for others.
    Ms. Ludwig, you have two minutes.
    Thank you, Minister, Mr. Knubley, and Mr. Thompson, for being here.
    My question is more specific to really small businesses.
    In Atlantic Canada, roughly 50% of our businesses have one to four employees. There is the challenge of finding new markets, but I'm wondering if there's a strategy, particularly for female entrepreneurs, of how to access and even be aware of the services and the new investments that are available and that have come forward from the 2018 budget.
     Especially for the Atlantic region, CETA is going to be an amazing opportunity to open up a market unlike any others. It's the greatest market of its kind and that's why, as part of the women's entrepreneurship strategy, $10 million is being put in just for businesswomen in international trade. There is the accelerated growth service, which we kicked off in June 2016, the Business Development Bank of Canada, with the Export Development Bank of Canada, NRC, IRAP, the consular services, trade commissioner service, and then the RDAs— in your case, it would be ACOA. We know these small businesses do not have the people power to access programs.
    The AGS takes high-growth, high-potential firms, because there is a lot of potential there, they just can't access the programs and services that the government offers. It provides tailored services, because it gets to know the business, to ensure that it is using its time to apply for programs that are going to deliver results, plus it's connecting the business with the right people in international markets.
    There's more work to do there. We've been taking a lot of feedback on the trade commissioner service, which ones do well. We work closely with Minister Champagne on that as well. In budget 2018, EDC invested $250 million for women-led SMEs, but you're seeing more and more trade missions taking place with women in business. We make sure there are people from across the country, and then we encourage those people to make sure they're sharing that information within their networks, especially in small communities like in the Atlantic region, because people talk to people.
    I will give a shout-out to ACOA. My visits to the east have been quite motivational because we don't talk about the successes of the people there. Rendez-vous is taking place in Halifax in May. I have to give a quick shout-out—I know I'm running out of time—that at Rendez-vous in Calgary, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada brought a group of people, a group of businesses, to Rendez-vous for the first time. This year, they're bringing 41 businesses to Halifax. Not only are they going to be discovering a new market within Canada, but people are going to be there who are really proud of their market that they will be able to showcase, plus we want to open up others.
    Thank you.
    Thank you very much, Minister.
    I know we're tight on time, so I'm going to ask for consent that all the votes be called together. Are we okay with that? Yes, that's excellent.
ATLANTIC CANADA OPPORTUNITIES AGENCY
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$66,292,642
ç Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$252,896,893
CANADIAN NORTHERN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$11,976,317
Vote 5—Contributions..........$16,650,297
CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$170,769,731
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$112,229,900
ç Vote 10—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$56,411,000
CANADIAN TOURISM COMMISSION
Vote 1—Payments to the commission..........$95,655,544
COPYRIGHT BOARD
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$3,022,473
DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$390,623,885
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$5,983,000
ç Vote 10—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$2,313,338,869
ç Vote L15—Payments under subsection 14(2) of the Department of Industry Act..........$300,000
Vote L20—Loans under paragraph 14(1)(a) of the Department of Industry Act..........$500,000
DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$35,965,364
ç Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year........$109,773,000
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF CANADA FOR THE REGIONS OF QUEBEC
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$38,634,370
ç Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$233,365,446
FEDERAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGENCY FOR SOUTHERN ONTARIO
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$25,158,031
ç Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$159,188,390
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF CANADA
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$348,097,344
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$62,983,970
ç Vote 10—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$395,679,820
NATURAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH COUNCIL
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$46,122,469
ç Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$1,202,907,659
SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$26,186,289
ç Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$756,932,935
STANDARDS COUNCIL OF CANADA
ç Vote 1—Payments to the Council that are referred to in paragraph 5(a) of the Standards Council of Canada Act..........$14,943,000
STATISTICS CANADA
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$373,200,126
    (Votes agreed to on division)
     Shall I report the votes on the main estimates to the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Thank you for another entertaining day.
    The meeting is adjourned.
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