Mr. Speaker, the 2004 budget recognizes the importance of the social economy, which is based on values we hold dear: sustainable development, equality of opportunity, inclusion of the less fortunate and community action.
This is a growing sector all across the country. In Quebec, for example, 10,000 collective businesses and community organizations employ more than 100,000 people. These enterprises produce goods and services for the market economy, but direct their surpluses to the pursuit of social and community goals
We will be investing $162 million over 5 years in this dynamic sector; $100 million to increase lending to social economy enterprises; $47 million for pilot projects supporting strategic planning and capacity building; and $15 million for community-based research on the social economy.
Our government wishes to improve the social infrastructure of communities in all corners of the country, and the 2004 budget will provide us with the means to bring this about.