Thank you, honourable members.
I am pleased to be here today before your committee.
Madam Chair, you have already introduced my colleague Doug McConnachie, who is our department's chief financial officer.
This is my first time appearing before this committee in some years, and I'm pleased to be back in front of all of you to answer your questions.
Everyone at ISED appreciates the work your committee does on important matters of economic policy.
Everyone at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada appreciates the work your committee does on important economic policy matters.
Allow me to move on to what we're here to discuss today, the tabling of the supplementary estimates (B) for 2019-20. I hope to be able to support you in your work by clarifying these estimates, briefly discussing the department's priorities and answering your questions.
Madam Chair, I am happy to report that, despite a challenging global economic environment, Canada's economy remains resilient.
Our recent macroeconomic performance has been solid, with GDP growth expected to be second among the G7 countries for 2020 and 2021, behind only the United States.
Unemployment rates are near historic lows, and corporate profits are stable.
What's more, in addition to strong employment gains, wages have increased. At 3.4%, 2019 marked the strongest wage growth of the decade. Sustaining this employment growth and the wage gains will be crucial to supporting incomes for Canadian households.
ISED's objective is to support economic growth for the benefit of all Canadians through smart policies and investments to promote a more dynamic and innovative Canadian economy. Many of these investments are reflected in the supplementary estimates that we are here to discuss today. They support key government priorities, such as science, research, clean technology, tourism and women entrepreneurs.
These investments include funding for Canada's digital research infrastructure strategy, the women entrepreneurship strategy and the Canadian experiences fund. The estimates also include investments in the RADARSAT constellation mission to help provide a better picture of our planet from space and the sustainable development technology fund to support clean tech.
I will now discuss my department's priorities in support of the government's economic agenda.
Let me begin with the government's support for science and the application of new knowledge. Modern economies, as this committee would well know, depend heavily on the generation and application of new ideas, which make investment in science and research critical.
That is why our department has focused on applied and discovery-based science and on ensuring that we do everything we can to remove barriers that stand between research and commercial success.
Since 2016, the government has invested more than $10 billion in science and research activities. This includes significant funding for key institutions engaged in the Canadian science enterprise, such as the National Research Council.
These new investments in science are being complemented by other federal efforts to strengthen industrial ecosystems across the country.
The innovation superclusters initiative is a good example. The aim of this initiative is to accelerate innovation and foster stronger connections among all players in the ecosystem, from large anchor firms to start-ups.
To date, the superclusters have enlisted more than 1,700 member organizations. They have also invested in 40 projects. To date, this initiative represents an $85-million investment, which has leveraged $143 million from industry and other partners.
Another of our major instruments to support innovation and job creation is the strategic innovation fund, SIF. Through the SIF, my department is making investments to strengthen and expand the role of Canadian firms in regional and global supply chains, supporting economic strategies and attracting investments to create new and well-paying jobs.
Since the program was launched in 2017, the strategic innovation fund has supported 65 projects, including 22 projects directly supporting the scale-up of Canadian-owned small and medium-sized businesses.
With a federal investment of $2 billion, the SIF has leveraged more than $43 billion in total investment and helped to create and maintain more than 67,000 jobs. Nearly $1 billion of this investment will support 26 projects that contribute to the adoption and development of clean technology by Canadian business.
Clean technology is another important emerging area of strength for our economy, and the department is working to support the growth of Canadian clean-tech firms. Let me highlight one key program in the efforts to support the clean-tech industry: Sustainable Development Technology Canada, SDTC.
As of March 2019, SDTC has invested in almost 400 companies supporting more than 13,000 jobs. Estimates indicate that these companies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 18 megatonnes annually.
Beyond our major departmental initiatives, we are also making a sustained effort to improve Canadian entrepreneurs' access to our programs and services.
You will probably not be surprised to learn that some entrepreneurs have told us they have had difficulty navigating federal innovation programming.
In response, the department developed the Innovation Canada portal to make it easier and faster for Canada and its innovators and entrepreneurs to find the federal, provincial and territorial government programs that will help them grow and innovate. Since its launch just over two years ago, 1.5 million business people have received a tailored list of government supports through that website in less than three minutes.
We are also working to improve services for early stage innovators and high-growth firms by doubling the number of innovation advisers who, in partnership with other government officials, offer accelerated growth service, AGS. The AGS is a whole-of-government advisory service delivered directly in boardrooms, stores and plants in communities across Canada.
I mentioned the importance of supporting clean tech earlier.
To advance this aim, the government also launched the clean growth hub, a whole-of-government focal point for clean technology, in January 2018.
Since its launch, the clean-tech hub has helped more than 1,400 businesses and organizations at all stages of innovation and growth find the programs and services that fit their needs.
Finally, our department is working to support the government in its efforts to modernize the rules for the digital economy and ensure that Canadians can have confidence in the digital world.
Canada's digital charter is a principles-based framework that sets modern rules for a digital and data-driven economy. It is designed to rebuild the trust of Canadians.
I think it's obvious that Canadians need to be able to live, work and play safely and securely in the digital world, and our businesses must be able to take full advantage of the online economy. I am pleased to report the department is working towards changes that will help achieve those goals.
In parallel, to help ensure that Canadians have access to the digital economy in all parts of the country, our department is working to support the government in its effort to lower wireless prices. We will also continue to roll out programming to bring high-speed broadband coverage to Canadians in more rural areas.
Let me close by emphasizing that ISED is committed to working closely with industry, academia, other stakeholders and certainly your committee to build an innovative, prosperous and sustainable Canadian economy.
Thank you, Madam Chair and committee members, for your time and for providing me with the opportunity to highlight our priorities and to update you on what we're doing.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you very much.