Mr. Speaker, this morning's La Presse reported that R and D expenditures had increased in Quebec. I want to take this opportunity to state that Canada Economic Development had an important role to play in this excellent news.
Canada Economic Development has made innovation one of its top priorities. The relative share of financial assistance granted by the agency to innovation projects has increased considerably over the past five years. In 1999-2000, it was 24% of total financial assistance, while in 2003-04, it reached 61%, for a total of $113.5 million that made it possible to conclude 585 new partnerships.
These figures clearly demonstrate the need for initiatives by Canada Economic Development and confirm our commitment to helping small and medium size businesses in Quebec to develop innovative projects in the coming years, including in the riding of Gatineau.