Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the member for Ottawa—Vanier.
Cooperatives are important economic drivers that support development in all regions of Canada. Our government is taking decisive steps to ensure that Canadian cooperatives can prosper.
Industry Canada offers an array of services to support small businesses and cooperatives, including training, information and funding. For example, the Canada small business financing program seeks to increase the availability of loans to establish, expand, modernize and improve small businesses.
The Business Development Bank of Canada also provides support to small and medium-sized businesses. The BDC has provided financing to cooperatives in the past and will continue to do so. The BDC partners with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to extend its reach to small businesses. The CYBF is an important source of financing and support for young entrepreneurs, including those within cooperatives.
The Canada Business Network is a multi-channel government information service for start-up entrepreneurs and cooperatives, as well as small businesses.
Cooperatives can also access BizPal, an online service that provides corporations with information on the registration and licenses needed to start and operate a business.
In addition, regional development agencies and the innovation commercialization program, with an initial commitment of $40 million, aim to help demonstrate new products developed by Canadian small businesses and cooperatives.
Quebec cooperatives are a significant source of lending for small and medium-sized business. They have an important role to play in fostering the economic and social fabric of Quebec and are a major source of job creation. As the member opposite noted, the Quebec government recently announced its intention to create a Fonds de co-investissement COOP financing alliance. This alliance would foster the development of cooperatives in Quebec. More specifically, it would increase and simplify the access to financing for cooperatives in the province. The BDC is one of the members that will participate in this worthwhile initiative.
In 2012, the International Year of Cooperatives, it is particularly important to take note of the many initiatives that Canada has in place to foster the development of cooperatives. I encourage the member opposite to look to those opportunities that are available to cooperatives across the entire country.