Mr. Chairman, membres du comité, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today. It's really an honour for us to be here.
CEDEC is Canada's largest organization with a mandate to pursue economic development, including entrepreneurship and labour force development for the English-speaking official language minority community.
On March 31, 2013, the expiration date of the current road map, CEDEC will have received almost 70% of the total investments identified in the road map dedicated to economic development for the English-speaking communities in Quebec.
CEDEC is one of thirteen sponsors for the enabling fund for official language minority communities, which is managed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The other recipients of the enabling fund include RDÉE Canada and members of its network across the country.
The road map has contributed enormously to our community's vitality and has enabled CEDEC to play a critical role, optimizing the economic potential of English-speaking communities in Quebec and seizing opportunities for job creation and economic growth. Our primary levers in the road map include the enabling fund and the economic development initiative investments managed by Industry Canada and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.
One of CEDEC's key roles is building leadership capacity within communities to identify and build on assets through research, comprehensive community plans, and targeted projects. These plans ensure that the English-speaking community can leverage resources to remain competitive and innovative and contribute to the economic prosperity of Quebec and Canada.
Since 2008, CEDEC has leveraged over $7 million in direct investment in community-based economic development initiatives. These funds are generated by partners, thanks to the $2.7 million per year received from HRSDC's enabling fund, an important component of the road map. During the last fiscal year alone, CEDEC has leveraged directly $2.9 million, or $1.07 for every dollar contributed by the enabling fund.
Throughout the first four years of the road map, the federal government has contributed 47% of our leveraged resources, and a good portion of this can be attributed directly to support from the road map and specifically Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. Resources leveraged from provincial sources over this period are about 30%, which underlies our ability to build constructive partnerships with the provincial ministries, agencies, and organizations. This cooperation is essential to economic development for Canada’s English-speaking minority community, and this is made possible by virtue of the road map and the impressive work of the 8,500 volunteer hours alone last year that contributed to our initiative.
CEDEC always seeks to generate opportunities for the English-speaking community of Quebec and beyond. In the examples of community economic development that I'll share with you today, each one of them illustrates a leverage effect for the majority population and OLMCs across Canada.
In the Magdalen Islands, CEDEC has provided direct support for the development of comprehensive community plans around tourism in order to diversify the vulnerable fishing economy. These plans are serving as the beacon for community economic development, and CEDEC is keeping partners and stakeholders focused as they search for resources to enact the plans. Coming out of the overall economic downturn that we've recently experienced, CEDEC has helped to broker $824,000 to realize various tourism projects in this area alone.
Some other examples include the business vitality initiative, which is a process that brings together the business community with other stakeholders to measure the business friendliness or readiness of a community. Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions has supported this process in two communities so far: Campbell's Bay, in the Outaouais area, and the City of Témiscaming. This bilingual tool can be used in other communities, thanks to funds from Industry Canada that have allowed us to create resources and train Quebec-based facilitators.
In May 2012 we will be presenting the business vitality initiative to 180 rural development agents of the Solidarité rurale du Québec, who are situated across the province. We already have a strong relationship with this organization, both at the Réseau level and directly in some communities. We see great opportunity to leverage the BVI through relationships such as this one.
In 2008 Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions supported the start-up of Bikes in the Bay Motorcycle Festival in Campbell's Bay, which is still going strong and inspiring neighbouring communities to partner at a regional level. CEDEC built the community's capacity to conceptualize and organize this festival over several years. The demonstrated capacity built through this catalytic event was a contributing factor to the introduction of the business vitality initiative in Campbell's Bay.
In 2010 Industry Canada financed a study of small and medium enterprises within Quebec’s English-speaking community. This report confirmed that SMEs need English language networking and support services to help them thrive and grow in Quebec and be in a position to innovate, create jobs, and play a part in diversifying local economies.
Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, through the economic development initiative, is helping us to expand, in geography and in scope, the CEDEC small business support network. This investment is exponentially increasing our ability to build economic prosperity for small businesses within English-speaking communities, the broader Quebec economy, and OLMCs across Canada.
CEDEC’s mature workers initiative is addressing issues and opportunities related to the English OLMC’s rapidly aging population. We are breaking new ground with a study of English-speaking mature workers, as well as with surveys targeting employers, recruitment agencies, and employment service providers. Through these studies, CEDEC is building a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with supporting a mature worker to obtain employment.
Community economic development is a long-term process that requires effective planning supported by sustained financial commitments from the federal government. This is essential if we are to establish meaningful partnerships that generate tangible results for our communities. All of these successful initiatives are a direct result of the investments of the road map.
At a broader level, CEDEC engages federal government partners through the National Human Resources Development Committee for the English Linguistic Minority, which we often simply call the national committee.
This March, for the first time, the national committee met jointly with Le Comité national de développement économique et d’employabilité and RDÉE Canada. This meeting set the stage for cooperation and ongoing dialogue about how we can leverage the competitive advantage represented by all of Canada’s OLMCs within the national and global economy.
In closing, I would like to respond to Mr. Weston’s question posed to HRSDC in a previous session, where he asked about the impact of the road map on the hearts and minds of Canadians. I think this quote is quite telling. Let me share this quote from one of our valued stakeholders, Mr. Bill Stewart, mayor of Campbell's Bay, in the Outaouais area:
CEDEC was instrumental in the revitalization of Campbell’s Bay and our neighbouring municipalities want to tap in to this tourism opportunity as well. Without CEDEC’s leadership, expertise and vision, our community wouldn’t have gotten as far as it has with this economic opportunity. We’re more than just partners now; we’re like family.
Thank you very much for this opportunity.