Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-63. It is an honour to do so.
Small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, are the backbone of the Canadian economy. They employ 10.5 million Canadians and contribute to roughly 40% of the country's gross domestic product. They are indeed engines of job creation.
The government is committed to making sure that businesses have the resources that they need to invest, innovate, grow, and create jobs. The Business Development Bank of Canada, BDC, is helping Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their full potential by facilitating their access to tailored solutions, including financing and consulting at each stage of their development. BDC services support the start-up and growth of small businesses across Canada.
BDC is mandated to support Canadian entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on SMEs. It does so by offering financing and advisory services. BDC financing provides business loans with flexible financing options, such as principle postponements and pre-authorized working capital, which help to protect the company's cash flow.
Before I go any further, I would like to inform this House that I am honoured to be splitting my time with the member for Parkdale—High Park.
Through its investments in a broad range of services, from venture capital to quasi-equity and securitization, BDC supports innovative and high-growth companies as they expand operations and scale up.
BDC's advisory services, which include a broad range of business support and consulting provided through a network of consultants, help businesses scale up, improve productivity, and export. Through its pan-Canadian reach, BDC serves nearly 49,000 clients, active in all industries nationwide, through a network of 118 business centres located across Canada.
To further expand its reach to entrepreneurs, BDC leverages its support to SMEs through more than 290 partnerships, strategic relationships, and memberships. Among other things, these partnerships allow BDC to improve support for underserved entrepreneurs, including young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses in Canada's north, social entrepreneurs, immigrant entrepreneurs, and rural entrepreneurs.
BDC also extends its reach and visibility to SMEs by organizing the annual BDC small business week, which was successfully held across Canada this year during the week of October 16. The BDC small business week celebrates entrepreneurship at local, provincial, and national events. It attracts close to 10,000 entrepreneurs at hundreds of events held across Canada.
As an instrument of public policy, BDC also responds to the direction from the government on areas with the most priority. For example, recognizing the importance of venture capital to Canada's economic prosperity, the Government of Canada introduced the venture capital action plan, VCAP, in 2013 and directed BDC to act as an agent of the government in managing the VCAP.
BDC also participates in the development and deployment of the accelerated growth service, AGS, which delivers coordinated, client-centric federal support, including financing, advisory services, and export and innovation support from participating federal organizations. As part of its role in the AGS, BDC collaborates with other organizations in the federal family to operationalize its concept, and to offer coordinated access to government services and programs.
The proposed changes in Bill C-63 to the Business Development Bank of Canada Act will allow the BDC to deliver on key initiatives in budget 2017, and thus improve access to capital for innovative SMEs operating in emerging sectors of the Canadian economy.
SMEs will be the Canadian job creators of the future. In particular, BDC will also be making available new financing to clean technology firms, including SMEs, to help them hire new staff, develop innovative products, and support domestic and international sales. Innovation in clean technology will lead to products and services that will have an impact on all sectors of the Canadian economy. Clean tech has the potential to create thousands of well-paying jobs for Canadians.
The legislative change will also allow BDC to administer the venture capital catalyst initiative, VCCI, which will increase the late-stage venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs, and help Canadian start-ups grow and succeed. Venture capital is an essential source of financing for innovative, growth-oriented firms, and VCCI will support the continued growth of Canada's innovative companies.
I am very pleased to see that the Government of Canada is making smart and responsible investments that will result in better jobs and opportunities for all Canadians. The amendment to the Business Development Bank of Canada Act will enable the government to make the required investments in BDC to allow it to implement these important initiatives.
As our economy evolves to a more innovative clean tech-oriented economy, it is important that we make investments today that will pay off for the future generations. Equally important, I believe, is Canada's growing trade economy. Canada's ability to export to foreign markets needs to be leveraged. It is the way the economy of the future will grow, and it is the way Canada and Canadians can diversify their customer base in a changing global environment.
My riding of Newmarket—Aurora is home to many SMEs. I have had conversations with a number of them who already access the services of BDC. It is an important tool and lever in the Canadian economy that, in my frank assessment, is underutilized at this point.
Many SMEs are not aware of the services offered by BDC. I believe that changing the Business Development Bank of Canada Act, creating investment, particularly venture capital investment, will be the way for those SMEs to tap into and access federal government support, and also to access venture capital support, both at early age as start-ups and as they mature when they need additional capital to expand their already successful operation.
I hope that all sides of the House will agree that supporting SMEs, supporting innovation, and supporting the creators of jobs today and what will be the creator of jobs in the future is something that we can all get behind. I urge all members to support Bill C-63, particularly those with an affinity and fondness for the proposed changes to the BDC, because these investments will improve the BDC, thereby improving the opportunities for SMEs across Canada.