Evidence of meeting #11 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was smes.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Cathy McCallion  Board Member, Canadian Business Information Technology Network
Jeff Lynt  Former Chair, Canadian Business Information Technology Network
Sue Abu-Hakima  Chief Executive Officer, Amika Mobile Corporation
John Rivenell  President, SageData Solutions Inc.
Petr Hanel  Associate Professor, Départment of Economics, University of Sherbrooke

3:30 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

I would like to call this meeting to order, please.

Today we're continuing with our study of the effectiveness of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Canadian innovation commercialization program.

I would like to welcome our witnesses. We have representatives from four organizations: Amika Mobile Corporation; Canadian Business Information Technology Network; Sage Data Solutions Inc.; and the University of Sherbrooke.

I would like to ask each of the witnesses to give us an introduction for five to ten minutes. Then we will proceed to questions.

Sue Abu-Hakima is not here. I would ask Cathy McCallion of the Canadian Business Information Technology Network to take the floor. Welcome.

3:30 p.m.

Cathy McCallion Board Member, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

Thank you.

My colleague is going to begin.

3:30 p.m.

Jeff Lynt Former Chair, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

We have a two-part speech. It was designed for me to start, if you don't mind, Mr. Chair.

3:30 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

That's very good.

3:30 p.m.

Former Chair, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

Jeff Lynt

Good afternoon. My name is Jeff Lynt.

3:30 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

I'm sorry. There is one procedural thing I forgot to mention. We have a motion by me on the agenda, but since I'm chairing, we'll defer consideration of that motion until next Tuesday.

Mr. Lynt, please proceed. I'm sorry about that.

3:30 p.m.

Former Chair, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

Jeff Lynt

Thank you again, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon. My name is Jeff Lynt. I'm the past president of the Canadian Business Information Technology Network, also called CABiNET. With me is Cathy McCallion, also a fellow CABiNET board member.

Our CABiNET may be slightly less influential than the other one that meets here on Parliament Hill, but nonetheless, we're here to speak today.

We represent about 100 small and medium-sized businesses in the IT professional services sector. Most of the companies are based in Ottawa.

I own a small business in Ottawa, and we employ people, provide innovative solutions, and retain a very satisfied group of clients in the government and private sectors. A couple of years ago we were also named the fastest-growing IT business in Ottawa by Ottawa Business Journal.

CABiNET is not here to criticize. We feel that there are a lot of things OSME is doing well. However, as with any organization, there are opportunities to improve, so we're here to present solutions to what we see are some issues with the way OSME presently functions.

There are many challenges SMEs face. Those that offer products and services to the government want something simple: fair access to government contracts. Let us compete, and we'll be happy. Let us have the chance to prove we can do the job, and we'll be satisfied. Give us an opportunity to help the government be more effective and save money, and we'll do so. Simply put, that is what we really need.

Let me be clear. We do not want set-asides for small companies. We do not want special deals. We're not looking for made-for-SME solutions. We want to compete with large companies. In most cases, SMEs win contracts against large companies based upon their lower prices, innovation, flexibility, and capacity to adapt. To do this, we have to be allowed to compete, and on occasion, contracts are bundled in order to stop SMEs from being able to compete.

There are other ways to exclude SMEs, such as the request for references going way beyond the level of the contract. A lot of excuses are used, but for the real fact, it is the intent to stop SMEs from competing, because some bureaucrats mistakenly believe that it is easier to deal with one organization than a few companies.

It doesn't hurt that hundreds of lobbyists representing large companies spend their time meeting with senior bureaucrats to convince them that only they can be part of the solution. We don't have these resources.

We need OSME to be more effective when it comes time to convince senior mangers that SMEs can provide them innovative solutions at lower costs. We don't want it to be just an advocate for SMEs, or a public relations effort for the government. We want it to be a real proponent for SMEs. It should facilitate contacts. It should help us to be present when senior officials plan for large projects in order for us to provide them with information on how we can help. It should be more active. It should be independent from the procurement side of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Big changes in government departments are happening today with the creation of Shared Services Canada. The plans are being drafted, actions are being taken, and large companies are jockeying for position.

We would like to see OSME facilitating meetings with SME associations and the leadership of Shared Services Canada in order to make sure that contracts are structured in a way that SMEs can provide their services to this new agency. We're not interested in a few token contracts, but rather, in the ability to provide real solutions to this great initiative. Again, we want it to be a fair, open, and transparent process for SMEs.

As for OSME'S role, we know they're trying, but they need to have a louder voice. When we talk to senior procurement officials and senior IT officials, they tell us OSME is not on their radar.

Mr. Chair, some people may view this as an Ottawa-centric issue, with which they're tired of dealing. We heard that comment last time this committee met, while someone was getting coffee. At that time, one of the members of the committee mentioned that he was tired of dealing with this Ottawa-centric issue.

If all contracts are given to large integrators, then yes, Mr. Chair, this will become a very Ottawa-centric issue. There won't be any of us left to make presentations and no small companies to provide solutions to Service Canada offices in Winnipeg, which is the riding of the chair, who is not here today. The small businesses in his riding will not be successful in winning contracts, and in that riding, they won't be able to defend themselves either.

They may not be as vocal as we are, because they're far from Ottawa, but the impact on their operations will be as serious if contracts are bundled and OSME isn't there to make a strong case for SMEs.

We want to continue to employ people in all of your ridings. We want them to continue to be part of the regional economic development framework.

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Board Member, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

Cathy McCallion

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.

3:40 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

Thank you, Ms. McCallion and Mr. Lynt, for that very clear presentation.

I wonder if Ms. Abu-Hakima would like to make an opening statement of five to ten minutes.

Thank you.

October 20th, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.

Dr. Sue Abu-Hakima Chief Executive Officer, Amika Mobile Corporation

My name is Sue Abu-Hakima. I am the CEO and co-founder of Amika Mobile Corporation. This company in its current form was founded in 2007. This is my second start-up, my second company, and my second SME. The first one was built up as a compliance company. It was acquired by Entrust and had 18 patents behind it.

My companies have contributed over $18 million to the local economy in investments and revenues and have created approximately 200 high-tech jobs. According to OCRI, that resulted in four spin-off jobs per high-tech job for a total of 800 service jobs.

My current company is self-funded, funded by angel investment, and focuses on emergency mass notification. It has had approximately $3 million worth of investment since its inception. Members of our current team are all angel investors, so our team are committed to the company. We are raising $1.5 million in this poor investment climate and find that there is definitely an absent venture capital market. Only 4% of companies ever get venture capital, and female-led ventures get 0.1%. That's very little, but that's another story altogether.

We've had an excellent channel to market in the United States through the PSA Security Network, with over 300 system integrators in the United States focused on security, as well as our recent integration with the UTC-Chubb-Lenel folks and their OnGuard system for access control, fire panels, etc. That allows us to receive direct sensor input so we can save people's lives.

At a recent U.S. security trade show, over 80 customers came up to us, from a lot of blue-chip companies looking for our capability, and 120 channel partners have asked to sell our products. Of course, we can't deal with all of this, because after all, we're but an SME.

We've won 12 awards. We've won four for innovation in security over other international players. One was judged by FEMA and emergency management folks in the United States. IDC has named us one of their 10 companies to watch, and we're part of the Branham 300.

We have innovative and unique technology. With this company, we now have 12 patents. I'm happy to say that our second U.S. patent has been granted.

What we can do is automatically discover wired and wireless people. For example, we can discover your mobile devices in this facility without having your e-mail addresses. So if there is an emergency at the airport, a shopping centre, in a hospital, on a campus, etc., we can reach you and save your life.

Let's talk about government programs. We've benefited from government programs, of course, such as SR and ED, Precarn, and IRAP. IRAP has been a godsend. So has SR and ED.

We have supported universities and colleges through collaborative research funded through the Ontario Centres of Excellence and NSERC to help train students and make professional research more relevant. I'm on the boards of both. I'm actually the vice-chair of the board of directors of the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and I'm on NSERC's private sector advisory board. I really don't have time, but I do this because I'm trying to help the community.

Over the last 12 years we've responded to at least 30 RFPs from the Government of Canada. We have not won a single one. Even in our first company, which was a compliance-based company with content analysis, our products were always selected as the top technical innovative products in an RFP. However, we were never awarded the contracts. The reason for it, I have to tell you, is that we're an SME. It's that simple.

Once Entrust acquired our compliance business, where we were selling a compliance server that can look through your e-mail and tell if your secrets are being sent out, the Government of Canada then bought the product and bought a site licence for over 250,000 government users for several million dollars. But they did not buy this product from us as an SME. The technology was obviously good enough for the government, but not from an SME.

Last year we found out about OSME--and thank you very much for setting it up--and we immediately signed up for their excellent training. They then announced the CICP. I've spent 13 years being an entrepreneur and, in my opinion, CICP is a fantastic idea. It is the natural next step in getting innovative technology into trials in government departments, especially for a company like ours that has leveraged IRAP, SR and ED, and other government grants.

While in trial with the testing departments at CRC, our product for emergency mass notification was able to successfully evacuate buildings in a haz-mat type of emergency at Shirley's Bay. There's no better proof that this is a good product. This product has given us our first customer and what would be considered our first significant revenues. It'll also give us feedback on the product so we can improve it for all these other customers who are asking for it.

The other thing about CICP is that it has also really helped to us understand the PWGSC process for contracting, which in itself is a full-time job. I spent four months, full time, working on the CICP contract. In any case, in round one, over 375 companies applied. Amika Mobile was chosen as one of the 26 that was awarded. With a pool of only $4 million, this is a very small amount of money from a government procurement perspective when the government spends billions and billions of dollars annually on large companies like IBM and CGI.

The CIC program, which I understand is $40 million over three years, should be expanded, in my humble opinion, to at least $250 million. Canada has over one million SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises of our size, that contribute a good chunk to the country's tax revenues, and they need to be better leveraged for Canada and the government departments to become more innovative.

CICP at OSME should become the gateway program for innovative SMEs to enter the federal government and be guided to various departments that can procure their products.

Thank you very much.

3:45 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

Thank you very much, Ms. Abu-Hakima.

Now we'll go to Mr. Rivenell, please.

3:45 p.m.

John Rivenell President, SageData Solutions Inc.

Good afternoon. My name is John Rivenell. I arrived in Canada at the age of 35. It is therefore difficult for me to speak to you in French, and it would be even more difficult for you to understand me. That is why I will speak in English. I apologize.

I'll introduce you to my company, a little bit to me, and to our experience with the CIC program, or CICP. This will set the context for any questions you may have, so you can better understand our answers.

My company, SageData, which is my second company, has been in business for 20 years. We're based here in Ottawa. Up until some years ago, the majority of our clientele was with Nortel, Alcatel, JDS, and so forth. When they disappeared, it was a bit of a bump for us.

But we survived that and we're still here. Our major clients include pretty much every part of the federal government. In fact, the TVs in the corner have my bar codes on them; we're tracking your assets here. We have a couple of other projects going on with the House of Commons and the other place, as I believe you call it, which also uses our kit. DND, RCMP, and Atomic Energy of Canada use our systems.

What are our systems? We build on three base technologies: mobile hand-held computing, bar code technology, and radio frequency identification, i.e., the magic chips that tell you where you are. This business naturally leads to materiel management applications. Within the federal government, that would be IT tracking. When Nortel was here, we had a bar code on every computer in the national capital region.

To move on, for the RCMP, we supported them through the Olympics and through the G-8 and G-20. As well, our systems are in Kandahar with the troops. We have a wide range of systems everywhere from Agriculture Canada through the alphabet to the Wheat Board, with hundreds of government installations. That's a little bit about the company.

The thing we found, especially with the high-tech sector disappearing, is that we're okay. We're a company that can survive and we're profitable. This year has actually been a good one for us.

But there's been a problem of breaking out. A lot of clients come to us with specific requirements, and we think that if only we had the time and the money, we could make some changes and sell to a wider audience. We're a small company and totally self-funded. I started the company on a cash advance from my VISA card some 20 years ago. It's difficult for us to find the time and money to move out. That's why this program is very attractive to us.

I'll tell you little bit about me. I would be a professional engineer in Canada, but I was educated in the U.K., so I'm a chartered engineer. I'm also a member of the Institute of Quality Assurance. In addition, we're members of the Institute of Asset Management. In fact, I'm a contributor to their national magazine. That's a U.K., European, and Australian concept that has not yet come to Canada. I think it's coming. My background covers all of those areas. I guess my prime job is running the company and making sure we have the funds for the new projects.

Let me turn to CICP. GTEC was yesterday, as we've come straight from GTEC. Our first contact with the CIC program was about one year ago. The big-picture story is that I'm quite happy. I think this is a good program. It's excellent. We found out about it one year ago. We had to move quickly, because we found out about it a little too late, so we moved very quickly to get our application in. I think we first heard about the program in October and put in an application in November. We got a verbal say-so around January or February, or maybe in February or March, and I think the final documentation was cleared by July.

So yes, there's a lot of paperwork, and yes, it was kind of a horrendous process. If I'd had to do it, I think I wouldn't have done it, but I have someone in my company who enjoys doing this sort of work, so he ran with this project and ran it through. We've had excellent support from the small business office, from the folk on the other side of the wall, and a lot of conversations with PWGSC. I think there were some bugs in the process, but first time around, that's to be expected, so I have no criticism. We also have very good feedback, in that people are asking us to tell them how it went and what they can do better next time.

So kudos to the people who are running the program. I think it's very good.

Where are we now? Our first test department, as it's called under this program, is the Correctional Service of Canada. I'm going to jail next Thursday, I believe, to install one of our systems there. We'll make sure that all the folk who are our guests—is it still “guests of Her Majesty”?—are served food that is safe. That's part of the program.

Where do I think it's going? I'm very pleased about this because it does give us the opportunity to break away from the sort of hand-to-mouth existence a lot of small companies have, and it gives us a little bit of strength to plan for the future and to make some investment.

What practical difference does it make on the ground? I have more people working for me today, I am paying wages, and I guess you guys are taxing these folks, so you get a little bit of money back as well. That's all working well. We look forward to good things in the future from the program.

In listening to this today, there was one extra thought that occurred to me after I arrived. With regard to government funding of business, I would not be here were it not for the Canadian government's attitude towards business and its support. I worked for a British multinational. We had a vendor in Ottawa that was in trouble. We came across.... We didn't know whether to pull the plug and walk away or quite what to do.

We had the Foreign Investment Review Agency, which some of you may remember, and without wishing to poke fun, I had two meetings, one in the morning when the Foreign Investment Review Agency said, “We're not going to let you support this company because you're foreigners and we don't want your money”, so I was ready to go back to England. But in the meeting in the afternoon, Industry Canada said, “If you don't save them, no one else will, so here's a quarter of a million dollars”. If Industry Canada hadn't coughed up, we wouldn't have saved that company. We saved 30 jobs. And as for what was supposed to be a three-day business trip…you still have me here all these years later. I would not be here today if it were not for government support for industry.

Thank you.

That might not be a good thing, of course.

3:50 p.m.


Oh, oh!

3:50 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

No, you're most welcome here.

Thank you, Mr. Rivenell.

Last but not least, I have Professor Hanel, please.

3:50 p.m.

Petr Hanel Associate Professor, Départment of Economics, University of Sherbrooke

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to begin by thanking you for inviting me to take part in the work of this committee.

I will begin by introducing myself. I have a combined background in engineering and economics. I have been teaching economics at the University of Sherbrooke since 1971. I am currently retired, but I am still active in the area of research, which I supervise and which is carried out by my students.

I am a regular member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Science and Technology, which goes by the acronym CIRST. I was a member of the Advisory Committee on Science and Technology Statistics at Statistics Canada from 1992 to 1999, that is, for a period of seven years. Since 2006, I sit on a similar committee at the Institut de la statisque du Québec.

As a professional, my main area of interest in research is the economy of technological change, focused more specifically on two interconnected subjects: the evaluation of the economic repercussions of research and development, innovation and the dissemination of new technologies, and the evaluation of public support for research and development and innovation. I imagine this is why I have been invited to appear before the committee today. Again, thank you very much for having invited me and for the confidence you have expressed in me.

Before answering your questions, I cannot resist the temptation to yield to my instinct as a professor, and to say a few words which, I hope, will help put the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program into the context of a policy supporting the creation and dissemination of new technologies.

From an economic point of view, the main justification for public support for the creation and dissemination of technological change is based on the fact that if left to market forces alone, individuals and businesses would not invest as much as would be desirable for the good of society. Why?

First, these are very risky activities. It is impossible to find insurers who would insure the risk inherent in innovation. It is therefore difficult, if not impossible, for small enterprises to find financing on the financial market.

Second, even if small businesses manage to market their new product or process, innovators do not get the full benefit of their innovation for at least two reasons. In fact, there are several reasons, but the two main ones are that, first, they are often pre-empted by competitors, which drives down price and allows the imitators to grab a share of the innovator's profits; and, second, consumers, who may be other businesses or households, benefit from the situation by paying less than the real economic value of the invention. The other reason is that society as a whole benefits from the dissemination of new technologies, which increases everyone's productivity, well-being and general standard of living.

Therefore, public support for innovators closes the gap which exists between the benefits to innovators and the greater benefits for society.

Depending on their objectives, there are two types of programs to help support innovation.

The first one seeks to stimulate the offer of innovations by subsidizing part of the innovation. In this case, there are two categories: subsidies or other means of paying for direct costs, and indirect support in the form of tax incentives, such as the Scientific Research Experimental Development Tax incentive Program.

The second one seeks to stimulate demand, which leads us to the subject at hand.

One of the objectives of this type of program is to encourage the government to buy, which has at least two main advantages. The first objective is to reduce the risk for eventual buyers, who could be from the private sector or from the public sector. The second objective, perhaps more important, is to show that the new technology has lived up to the promise of its creators.

Since the 1980s, Canada has gradually reduced its subsidies and instead implemented tax credits, perceived as being more neutral and less subject to often misinformed bureaucratic decision-making. The actual result of this policy choice is that Canada leads all industrial nations in having the most generous tax credits. Indeed, tax credits reduce the after-tax cost of each dollar spent on research and development to about 50¢, and this figure can be even lower for small companies.

However, this policy, which aims to stimulate the offer of new technologies, has not met its objectives. Our business sector has fallen to the 20th place in world rankings for spending on research and development. The common diagnosis is that there is not enough demand for new technologies and innovations in Canada. The Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program seeks to stimulate demand for innovations through government buying. Similar programs with far greater resources have proved their mettle long ago in the United States under the Small Business Administration, as well as in Japan, Germany and other countries.

The Jenkins report, entitled “Review of Federal Support to Research and Development”, which came out on Monday of this week, on October 17, recommends a fundamental reorganization in the way Canada supports research and development, and innovation. As you probably already know, one of the recommendations says:

Make business innovation one of the core objectives of procurement, with the supporting initiatives to achieve this objective.

More specifically, the report recommends making the CICP permanent, and increasing its resources to stimulate demand, thus making the government the first entity to use new technologies and products.

I completely support this recommendation.

Thank you for your attention.

4 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

Thank you very much.

We will now move on to questions. Each of you has five minutes, including answers.

We will begin with Mr. Ravignat from the NDP.

4 p.m.


Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First, let's just remind ourselves of the context. As members of the opposition party, one of our important roles is to ask whether programs are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and what can be done to improve them. It is in light of this context that I will ask my questions.

My first question is for the representatives of the Canadian Business Information Network, CABiNET.

First, thank you for being here. I am very pleased to hear from you. What you have said is very interesting.

You explained how the office could do more to encourage SMEs. Ms. Shereen Benzvy Miller testified before the committee, I believe it was last week. I asked her a question with regard to the definition of a small and medium size enterprise. She replied that an SME was defined as being a business with 500 employees or fewer, regardless of business revenues.

Do you think that the government should change the definition in order to reach more SMEs?

4 p.m.

Former Chair, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

Jeff Lynt

I'll answer that. Certainly, I think, the larger the organization, the better the opportunities they have in the federal government. I've always kind of chuckled at the definition, because 500 employees is a fairly sizable organization, in my opinion. It's certainly a lot bigger than my company. I wish to be that big some day.

I would hope that Shereen is focusing her efforts on all small and medium-sized enterprises. My opinion is that in the past their voice has not been loud enough for us smaller companies. I don't know if, in her explanation to you, she is satisfying those 500-sized companies, but I would hope that she is trying very hard to satisfy the small ones too.

4 p.m.


Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

I can tell you that she did not distinguish between a tiny company and one which employs 500 people. I can confirm that.

If we do not have a definition that takes into account business income, in your opinion, does this provide an advantage to companies that have the financial resources to apply for government funding, for instance, by hiring people to make these applications?

4 p.m.

Former Chair, Canadian Business Information Technology Network

Jeff Lynt

Clearly, I think, the larger the company, the more opportunity they have. I mentioned specifically in my remarks that the large companies employ lobbyists who have a tremendous amount of influence in government and among senior bureaucrats. The more revenues you bring into your company, the more opportunity you have to do this kind of stuff. That's why we would like the OSME to be a louder voice for us.

4:05 p.m.


Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Do I have any time left?

4:05 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal John McCallum

You have a minute and a half.

4:05 p.m.


Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC


My next question is for the professor. First, thank you for being here.

You mentioned that the United States were investing more effort in research and innovation. Over the last 10 years, did you see a trend within government to reduce investment in basic research, which is necessary for innovation?

4:05 p.m.

Associate Professor, Départment of Economics, University of Sherbrooke

Petr Hanel

It is clear that after the period around the year 2000, that is, after the speculative Internet bubble burst, research and development in Canada fell, especially in the private sector. This was partly compensated by an increase or a levelling out of research and development spending funded by the federal government and in part by the provinces, for post-secondary institutions.

However, the problem is that the private sector generally decreased its spending as a proportion of GDP. So there was less research and the situation in Canada worsened compared to the way it had been 10 or 11 years ago.

4:05 p.m.


Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Therefore, in your opinion, should it be the role of the government to fill that void?