Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to your first meeting.
I've been asked to do a bit of an overview of the department. I will start by noting my two colleagues: Simon has been with us for over a year now, and Kelly has been with us for two or three years.
I'd like to give a brief overview of what the department does and speak briefly about the industry portfolio, which encompasses the granting councils and so forth.
Now, first things first. We note on the first slide that we work with and support four ministers:
Mr. Paradis, who is the current minister; Mr. Goodyear, who is the Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario); Mr. Bernier, who is the Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism); and Mr. Clement, who has maintained his responsibilities for FedNor.
If you come and visit the department, you will see that, as public servants, we support the work of four ministers.
If you turn the page to Industry Canada's mandate, I'd like to focus on each of our mandates and then discuss with you some of the initiatives we are involved with in each.
The department in the portfolio seeks to achieve three overarching and interrelated objectives. First is to develop and administer sound marketplace policies and programs. Second is to foster and encourage a knowledge economy. Third is to support small, medium, and large business. Let me speak to each one of those.
In terms of the marketplace, it is important that all modern economies have sound, effective marketplace policies. People need to know what the rules are; people also need to know what the framework policies are. The department contributes in a number of ways to this. I'll give you a few examples. Within Industry Canada lies the Competition Bureau, which is very active in making the marketplace work. It is currently involved, for example, in reviewing the Maple Group's desire to acquire TMX. Recently it got involved in and sought to take remedial action against the Canadian Real Estate Association for anti-competitive rules that it thought the association was imposing on real estate agents. So the Competition Bureau is one framework policy program.
We also work with the Department of Canadian Heritage on a very important piece of legislation dealing with copyright. That's important framework legislation.
We also administer—and my colleague Simon is the lead on this—the Investment Canada Act to ensure that transactions which are subject to the act are of net benefit to the country.
Other offices within Industry Canada include the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, where we issue patents and trademarks; Measurement Canada; and Corporations Canada. So there is a whole series of small agencies whose purpose it is to make sure that marketplace programs and policies work to the benefit of Canadians, both consumers and businesses.
Second is the knowledge economy. In 2007 the government released its science and technology strategy on maximizing its investment in S and T for the benefit of all Canadians. The department is very directly involved in this, but also with partner organizations in the portfolio, which I'll speak about in a few minutes.
I'll give you a few examples of the initiatives that the department has taken to encourage and support the knowledge-based economy.
We managed the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. As part of the Economic Action Plan, within the department we spent $2 billion, which resulted in further spending of $3 billion for post-secondary institutions and the private sector. In total, $5 billion was invested to increase the quality of the infrastructure in colleges, CEGEPs and universities across the country. Some 500 projects have been supported through this program.
We also launched the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program. With a third party, we designated 19 recipients around the world and invited them to come to Canada. They were granted chairs worth $10 million over seven years. I think that we found a fairly extraordinary class of individuals.
We have other programs, including the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. All of this is intended to support the knowledge-based economy.
Third is support for business. As I said, the department is involved in supporting small, medium, and large businesses. We work on a wide range of projects and initiatives. Obviously, the department was quite involved during the auto restructuring in working closely with the U.S. government, as well as with GM and Chrysler, to assist in their restructuring, which I think has turned out to be a good initiative.
We also work closely with the aerospace sector. We have a program that supports partnerships, which contributes to Canada punching above its weight in regard to civil aviation market share in international matters. This program has supported a number of initiatives across the country--Magellan in Winnipeg and Pratt & Whitney in Montreal--and I think it's an essential part of our tool kit to support the aerospace industry in order to always achieve higher degrees of productivity and innovation.
We also have programs in the department that support small-business financing, whereby we will insure some loans that are provided by financial institutions.
So that's it in a nutshell, and I say “in a nutshell” because I've appeared before some of you in the past to discuss certain specific programs, and this is a very brief overview of what the department does.
Let me briefly talk about some of the policy and legislative initiatives that we are working on presently.
On the digital economy strategy, including spectrum auctions, the department released last year a discussion paper about auctions pertaining to both the 700 megahertz and the 2,500 megahertz. The minister recently had further consultations. The assumption is that over the course of the next two or three months some fundamental orientation will be identified, so either later this year or early next year, some decisions around the spectrum should be made public.
Building the critical infrastructure is one of the major pillars of the digital economy strategy. Other pillars include enhancing skill sets and ensuring that there is a very solid statutory framework. I can refer in that respect to the spam bill that was passed. I can refer to the copyright bill, which will be, I believe, shortly reintroduced, and to our PIPEDA legislation. Those are important statutory pillars.
There's also another pillar that is related to improving ICT adoption. One of the key aspects that explains the difference in productivity between Canada and the United States is the lack of ICT adoption by small and medium-sized businesses. We are working with the Business Development Bank to enhance awareness among SMEs regarding the usefulness, from productivity and competitiveness perspectives, of higher ICT adoption.
Speaking of the BDC, we are also working on the BDC's legislative review. Every five to ten years, the BDC act must be reviewed, so we're in the process of looking at how well it has done over the last five to ten years and identifying possible enhancements to its legislative mandate to support more effectively Canadian SMEs and Canadian entrepreneurs.
The department is also working under Mr. Bernier's stewardship on a federal tourism strategy to bring together in a more focused manner the various elements that are in play at the federal level to support tourism.
Lastly, in terms of policy initiatives, I would note that the government asked Mr. Tom Jenkins, chairman of OpenText, to launch a panel on research and development last October. We expect him to be submitting his report in October of this year. This panel will focus on the expenditures of the federal government in support of R and D in order to make sure we have the right mix between tax expenditures and program expenditures.
Overall the government spends about $7 billion in this area; $3 billion or $4 billion of that is for tax expenditures, and the rest for a series of programs.
In terms of legislative initiatives, I mentioned copyright and PIPEDA. They are two of our major initiatives in regard to our digital economy strategy. I believe these pieces of legislation will be reintroduced shortly.
Let me say a word on the Industry Canada portfolio. I would draw your attention to pages four and five. If you look at those two together, it will be more productive.
I would now like to speak about Industry Canada's portfolio.
First, with regard to the obligation to be accountable, all these agencies and corporations are headed by executives or presidents whose position is at a level equal to that of the deputy ministers, meaning that they do not work for me; they are part of the Industry Canada portfolio. As deputy ministers, Simon and I have some duty to supervise what they do and how they do it. If things are not going well, that clarifies our interventions a little. Still, these organizations are independent entities. I am sure that these people would be pleased to meet with you and tell you about their activities.
Please allow me to give you an overview of these institutions.
The National Research Council, which has been around for 90 or 100 years, is focusing on two interventions: the IRAP, a very useful program for supporting SMEs and launching new businesses, and institutes across the country that aim to increase the commercialization and the participation of the private sector in certain targeted sectors.
We have two granting councils: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. They support fundamental research in universities. In the case of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, we are talking about approximately $1.1 billion, and with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, it's approximately $700 million. A large part of this is recouped by the Indirect Costs Program. The grants they are awarded equal about $300 million. As part of the Science and Technology Strategy, these are obviously important partners, given that they work with the universities and, increasingly, with colleges.
There is also the Canadian Space Agency, in Saint-Hubert, which aims to support space exploration and the space industry.
I spoke earlier about the Business Development Bank of Canada, in Montreal, which supports some 29,000 or 30,000 clients annually through loans. It played a significant role during the economic crisis by increasing the credit available to entrepreneurs to ensure that the money was circulating in the economy.
The portfolio also includes Statistics Canada, which has just completed the census and the National Household Survey. As you know, the census went well, and the participation rate was high at 98.1%, which is very good. I think that Statistics Canada will soon make public the results of the national survey.
There is also the Canadian Tourism Commission, located in Vancouver, and it promotes tourism.
I'll stop now.