Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to Canadians regarding this budget.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Hébert.
Since forming government just over two years ago, we have made a commitment to put the needs of Canadians first by increasing equality, fairness, and competitiveness. We did this by making investments that strengthen the middle class and investments that grow our economy. Thanks to the hard work done by Canadians, those investment decisions are paying off.
My riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville is a riding made up of hard-working Canadians. It is diverse and multicultural. I would like to touch on how our government is taking the next steps in its plan to grow and strengthen the middle-class by promoting equality and investing in the economy of the future. We are doing this by building on our successful innovation and skills plan, launched in 2017 through budget 2018. This plan, which was introduced in last year's budget, was an ambitious effort by our government to place Canada as the place for innovation. It is a plan to help create more good, well-paying jobs that will help strengthen and grow the middle class. It is a plan that builds toward making Canada home to the most skilled workforce in the world, a nation of innovators, and a world leader in the innovation economy.
At its core, the innovation and skills plan is about improving and sustaining an economy that works for everyone to ensure that Canadians have access to high-quality jobs. It is also a plan to ensure that Canadian businesses are well placed to compete in a rapidly evolving and competitive global world.
In budget 2017, our government announced a review of all business-facing innovation programs, with the aim of making them more simple and client-centred, leading to better support for Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs. The review took place across 20 federal departments and agencies, making this the first review effort to date of the entire Canadian business innovation program suite. As a result, in budget 2018, our government is proposing a historic reform of business innovation programs, as well as $2.6 billion over five years in additional support to help create competitive advantages for our Canadian businesses. That means that our government will be increasing total funding while reducing the number of business innovation programs by up to two-thirds. Specifically, the reforms will streamline business support programs, in part by designing four flagship platforms that will bring together multiple programs.
First, to help Canadian entrepreneurs and small business owners develop innovative technologies and successfully commercialize them in a global marketplace, our government will provide $700 million over five years, and $150 million ongoing, to the industrial research assistance program, IRAP. IRAP has proven to be an effective resource for growing Canadian companies and innovative entrepreneurs. It is well positioned to support funding for larger projects, above the current contribution threshold of $1 million. That is why our government will also raise the project contribution threshold to $10 million. This will enable IRAP to support business research and development for these larger projects. Widening the range of financial support would allow entrepreneurs and small business owners who live in my riding to access support more easily as their businesses grow, alongside assistance to help develop and get products to market.
Second, to allow more focused support for business research and development projects over the $10-million mark, the strategic innovation fund will move away from supporting smaller projects in favour of larger projects that can lead to significant job creation and shared prosperity for Canadians. The fund's role in facilitating the growth and expansion of firms and attracting large-scale, job-creating inventions will remain unchanged. At the same time, the fund's role in advancing research and development through collaboration among academia, not-for-profits, and the private sector will be expanded.
Third, to help Canadians firms unlock growth opportunities through exports, the Trade Commissioner Service will undergo transformative enhancements to simplify the client experience, modernize tools, and offer innovative services. With the recent decision to sign on to the CPTPP and CETA and to explore other opportunities for trade, it is providing new markets for our businesses to join and succeed in.
There is a lot for business owners and entrepreneurs to do, know, and navigate to reach their full potential. It will help businesses in my riding, such as Borges Food Store and Tavora Foods and others, to succeed in a marketplace that is tilted towards the bigger companies.
The fourth and final flagship platform is the regional development agencies. Our government recognizes that all regions of the country do not always have the same needs. Canada's six regional development agencies support economic and community development by leveraging local networks and abilities. To foster economic growth in communities across Canada, the government proposes to provide an additional $511 million, on a cash basis, over five years, to the regional development agencies to support the innovation and skills plan across all regions in Canada.
This initiative will also provide nationally coordinated, regionally tailored support for women entrepreneurs and will help workers and communities in the west and the Atlantic region adapt to Canada's transition to a low-carbon economy.
In addition, as part of the broader review of innovative programs, over the next year the government will explore ways to simplify the existing suite of 22 programs offered by the regional development agencies. Our government's proposed reforms to streamline business support programs will benefit Canadian workers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners, as well as Canadians employed by large companies, over the long term through stronger growth and less paperwork.
Providing Canadians with the opportunity to realize their full potential is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do for our economy.
We know that women entrepreneurs face unique barriers, such as limited access to capital, supply chains, and export programs, compared to their male counterparts. Women entrepreneurs may also have a harder time receiving training and finding mentorship. To address these ongoing barriers, the government is announcing a new women's entrepreneurship strategy. It is a comprehensive and coordinated approach to supporting women-owned businesses across the country.
To improve skills, mentorship, and networking opportunities, important factors for all growing businesses, the government proposes to provide $105 million over five years to the regional development agencies in support of women-led businesses. In addition, for women-owned companies, our government will make available $1.65 billion in new financing over three years through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to improve access to capital.
Finally, to give businesses the confidence they need to grow and take risks, budget 2018 proposes measures in support of a new intellectual property strategy to help Canadian entrepreneurs better understand and protect intellectual property and get better access to useful and relevant intellectual property. This includes increasing the intellectual property literacy of Canadian entrepreneurs, reducing costs, and creating incentives for Canadian businesses to leverage their intellectual property.
This all builds on our plan. Over the last two years, we have seen our economy grow. We are leading the G7, with 3.7% growth and 600,000 jobs. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. What we need to do is double down. With that success, we need to work harder.
The measures proposed in this budget will secure a more prosperous future for all Canadians. I therefore urge all members to give their full support, because this budget will not only ensure prosperity today but for future generations to come. I wholeheartedly support this budget, knowing full well that it will grow our economy and bring more women into the labour force. We need everyone at their best, and this budget is here to do that.