Mr. Chair, my name is Cathy McCallion, and I also own a small business here in the Ottawa region. I also hope to have my company continue to grow, prosper, and do more for our country.
We are known for the quality of our work, and our team quickly gains respect from our clients when we win a new contract. We commend Shereen Benzvy Miller and her team at OSME for the work they do. This is not an attack on their office; however, their mandate is too small, and they report to the wrong people to be effective.
In the brief we presented to this committee, we made several recommendations designed to strengthen OSME and make it more relevant.
OSME should be moved from Public Works and Government Services Canada and placed at Industry Canada so the head of OSME can report directly to the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism.
The new OSME, as we see it, should be given real powers and tools to effect changes.
The new OSME should help the SMEs to foster relationships with senior government bureaucrats in the various branches of government to allow them to understand the role that SMEs can play.
OSME should be a real advocate, not only with PWGSC procurement officials, but also with the senior bureaucrats who work on the development of projects, to make sure they will include SMEs in their plans at the early stage.
We also believe that government should attempt to enhance the senior leadership at OSME by choosing individuals with a small business background.
Finally, OSME should attempt to build a group of advisers comprised of organizations representing only SMEs to help it shape its annual plan on activities and research.
OSME should not be a public relations agency. It should be a real agent of change. It should be a positive influence on the government decision-making process when it relates to SMEs.
Mr. Chair, we believe that OSME has a role to play--a greater role. At this point, it is not working for SMEs.
This week is Small Business Week. Small businesses are a powerful driver of our economy and employ millions of Canadians. Their contributions are more important than ever, given the fragile state of the global economy. This isn't me saying this. This is the Prime Minister saying this, on Sunday, October 16.
If SMEs are important to Canadians and to this government, let's make sure it proves that by making the necessary changes to strengthen the organization that it created to help these SMEs.
Thank you for your time.