Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to recognize the 2003 small business week, which runs from October 19 to 25. This year's theme is, “You're the power behind the Canadian economy, let's share the energy”.
Small business is the fastest growing business sector in Canada and in this sector women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment. Based on the 2001 census, the number of women entrepreneurs grew by 208% from 1981 to 2001 compared to a meagre 38% increase for men.
In fact, there are more than 821,000 women entrepreneurs in Canada and their businesses contributed over $18 billion to the Canadian economy in 2001. According to the OECD, Canadian women have the highest participation rate in the world for owning their own businesses.
To focus on this burgeoning increase in women who own businesses, I have been honoured to chair the Prime Minister's task force on women entrepreneurs and I am pleased to inform the House that our report will be released next Wednesday.