Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I really am pleased to be here in front of such esteemed colleagues and committee members. I truly do appreciate the opportunity to speak about my mandate letter, as you mentioned, and of course, about budget 2016 and the main estimates.
I'd like to take this opportunity to also acknowledge my colleagues here with me this afternoon: Minister Chagger, responsible for small business and tourism; and Minister Duncan, who is responsible for science; and of course my deputy minister John Knubley and my associate deputy minister Kelly Gillis.
Mr. Chair, I am here today as Canada's first Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. As you know, this is a department that over the years has had different names, most recently Industry Canada. The new name underscores that innovation and scientific discovery are key drivers of economic growth across Canada.
Our new name is also a clear signal of this government's recognition that the global economy is changing and changing fast. The speed and scope is absolutely phenomenal. Thankfully, Minister Duncan is helping shoulder a great deal of responsibility for making sure science has a strong place in the business of government; and Minister Chagger is working to stimulate economic development for small businesses across the economy and particularly in the tourism sector, where we're seeing tremendous growth opportunities. Of course, all of us do this with a keen eye on encouraging innovation across the economy, Mr. Chair.
Since being appointed last November, I have had an opportunity to engage my colleagues as we tackle our mandate and work to deliver on our priorities. For the first time in Canadian history, our mandate letters were made public. Our government is about openness and transparency; about performance and results. We are focused on outcomes.
Immediate action was taken to address many items in my mandate letter, including my announcement on the first official day.
I must confess, Chair, that this was a point of pride. The first official government announcement was to reinstate the mandatory long-form census, coupled with ongoing work to update legislation governing Statistics Canada whereby we're reinforcing the institution's independence.
I must say I've been quite impressed with the breadth and talent within the portfolio, including that in our department, the regional development agencies, and regional offices. As minister, I've had the opportunity to travel the country and visit our public service. I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and to say how much we value their input.
When the Prime Minister decided to bring together all the regional development agencies under one portfolio, it made a lot of sense to me. I strongly believe that effective collaboration is one of the best ways to drive innovation. I happily accepted the responsibility of representing our RDAs at the cabinet table. Every year they invest close to $1 billion in communities across the country, helping to develop and diversify our economy.
As you know, this is a new portfolio with a new name, and we're building on a solid foundation. It's clear to me that Canada is well positioned for success. We have world-leading research institutions, we have the most creative and innovative entrepreneurs, and we have businesses and incubators and accelerators that transform breakthroughs in the laboratory into products that enhance the lives of millions of Canadians. We make R and D investments for the development of leading-edge technologies, including in the most traditional Industry Canada sectors, which continue to make a vital and an important contribution to our economy in sectors such as automotive—I know Brian will be happy to hear that and I support it—aerospace, and defence.
Another important initiative that we are supporting is the promotion of a stronger engagement in the digital economy, including by continuing to expand and improve broadband Internet access across the country, and by providing computers for schools and not-for-profit organizations to better teach digital literacy.
We understand the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. As a father of two young girls, I must say we must encourage more participation of more young women when it comes to STEM.
In terms of making investments, this is very key in budget 2016.
Ours is a forward-looking government. We know there is far more to do, as the Minister of Finance made clear on March 22 in our first budget.
We are taking a positive and optimistic approach to our future. That is why, in my first months on the job, I reached out to hundreds of CEOs from both small and large companies and in a variety of sectors. Fundamentally, they are looking for government to invest in people, in infrastructure and in innovation. And the response I received from them was very positive.
As I have told the CEOs, my number one priority is to build Canada as a centre of global innovation that is renowned for its science, technology, creativity, entrepreneurial citizens, and globally competitive companies. It's all part of our department's mandate.
I want to emphasize the word “our” because this truly is a team effort, and it's strongly reflected in the budget. The title of the budget 2016, Mr. Chair, as you know, is “Growing the Middle Class”. It is clear recognition that for Canada to succeed, our middle class needs to succeed and that we as a government can and must do more, not simply for those people in the middle class but for those who want to join the middle class as well.
For our part we're defining a bold new plan to help achieve that goal, our innovation agenda. Through this plan we will redefine how we support innovation and growth in the economy and this will be undertaken in collaboration and coordination with the private sector; the provinces, territories, and municipalities; as well as universities, colleges, and the not-for-profit sector, civil society. It truly will be a holistic approach.
I think most important for today's discussion is that we're looking forward to working with the members of this committee, which has a long history, a tradition of providing intelligent and insightful analysis on some of the most pressing issues that face our economy.
I note with great interest, Mr. Chair, that the committee will soon undertake—as you mentioned earlier today to me—a study of Canada's evolving manufacturing sector. As one of the largest investors in R and D annually in Canada, this is a sector that understands the importance of innovation and technology for its continued success into the future. What's more, manufacturing today is not what it was 30 years ago. New entrepreneurs, new approaches, and new markets—in other words, innovation—has reshaped the sector. I look forward to seeing the results from your work.
Beyond the manufacturing sector, Mr. Chair, I'd like to take some time to talk about how the government is taking action through the budget to help realize this vision of Canada as an innovation nation. For example, we are providing a $2-billion commitment to enhance and modernize research and commercialization facilities on Canadian campuses.
Minister Duncan can also tell you that we are providing the highest amount of new annual funding for discovery research in more than a decade, through an additional $95 million per year to the granting councils. This recognizes the fundamental role of investigator-led discovery research in an innovative society.
What's more, to promote clean technology and climate change adaptation we're providing over $1 billion to encourage investment in clean tech in the forestry, fishery, mining, energy, and agriculture sectors. Clean technology is key to sustainable economic growth and will play a critical role in Canada's transformation into a low-carbon, globally competitive economy. By supporting clean tech, we're seeking to reduce the environmental impacts of energy production in a way that will create jobs and leave future generations of Canadians with a sustainable and prosperous future.
To bring new forms of these technologies to market faster we're investing $50 million to support an organization new to the ISED portfolio, and that's Sustainable Development Technology Canada and its new SD tech fund. Specifically the money will go toward developing and demonstrating new technologies that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil.
We will also deliver on the government's priority of increasing high-speed broadband coverage by investing $500 million for a new program to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote regions across this diverse and broad country.
Of course finally in this budget we have a mandate whereby we made a downpayment on one of the signature elements of our innovation agenda, supporting firms with an ambition to grow beyond our borders, ensuring they have the resources and support they need to reach their potential. Specifically we will invest $800 million to support innovation networks and clusters, and we will boost the highly successful industrial research assistance program, known as IRAP, by $50 million. This was really well received by small businesses.
I hope that it is clear that we have an ambitious goal of enabling innovation in all ways possible. This budget is right for its time, a time to be building our economy and investing in our future.
We believe a long-term approach will improve productivity and competitiveness across our economy.
I firmly believe that innovation is the key to the kind of sustainable and inclusive growth that we need to thrive in the global economy. That is why you see it at the core of our mandate and at the heart of everything we're doing across this portfolio. Ours is an ambitious set of goals, but I have every confidence in the capacity, ability, and talent of Canadians to work together to achieve them.
Again, Mr. Chair, thank you very much.
I'd like to thank the committee members for your time, and I'd like to thank my honourable colleagues, Ministers Duncan and Chagger, who will now say a few words.
I'd be happy to answer any questions following their remarks. Thank you very much.