Mr. Chairman, at the outset I should like to congratulate the minister for proposing amendments to this act. One thing that appeals to me is that for the first time this will allow businessmen to enter the money market with the expectation of a certain amount of government assistance. One thing loans under this act are to be used for is the acquisition of land necessary to carry on. At first blush it looks as though this measure might enable the Toronto Northmen, for example, to acquire a football playing field and thus frustrate the desires of the minister's colleague in the Department of National Health and Welfare.
There are a couple of anomalies that have struck me. Several days ago Bill C-20 was introduced to set up the Federal Business Development Bank under the aegis of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. According to Clause 4(1) of that bill the objects are as follows:
The objects of the Corporation are to promote and assist in the establishment and development of business enterprises in Canada by providing, in the manner and to the extent authorized by this Act, financial assistance, management counselling, management training, information and advice and such other services as are ancillary or incidental to any of the foregoing.
Then Subclause (2) states:
The Corporation in carrying out its objects shall give particular consideration to the needs of small business enterprises.
I must say I began to be curious because there is no discernible link between this bank which is set up to give assistance to business-as the bill says to give particular consideration to the needs of small business-and the bill which we are now being asked to consider which changes in some respects the Small Businesses Loans Act. I would be pleased if, at the conclusion of my remarks, the minister would clear up what would appear to be an anomaly in the government's approach to small business.
There are other programs which apply to small business. There is a multiplicity of such programs. I shall list some of them. The Federal Business Development Bank, which I have just spoken about, is to take over at least two existing programs.
One is the counselling assistance for small enterprise, the acronym for which is CASE. Another is the business management training program now under the manpower department. It will be taken over by the Business Development Bank. In addition to those two programs there are a few others which are not perhaps widely known to the community. One is called GAAP, the general adjustment assistant program. It was set up to help companies to take advantage of tariff cuts during the Kennedy round of
negotiations. It has now been expanded to include all companies which wish to improve their competitive international situation, or which are faced in the domestic Canadian market with stiff foreign competition.
Under the government's program to broaden aspects of GAAP it has undertaken in some cases to become a partner in the GAAP assistance projects and to take a considerable amount of risk in the process.
There is another program called the program for export market development. Under that program the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce will provide up to half the cost of forming a consortium of small businesses to trade in foreign markets, as well as some of the initial operating costs. It hopes to get the money back through a share of future sales.
I have outlined just a few programs which apply to small business. One of my colleagues said earlier there were something like 18 in all. I suggest through you, Mr. Chairman, to the Minister of Finance and to his colleagues that despite the fact that he was kind enough to send to my colleague, the hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth, an attractive and concisely articulated pamphlet, this is a pamphlet which never sees the light of the day in any branches of the chartered banks which I have visited, and that the small businessman .in this country is confused by the multiplicity of programs administered by a variety of departments, ministers, deputy ministers and departmental assistants. What is really needed is a rationalized approach by the establishment of a department of small business under a minister who would administer all the variety of programs which are directed toward the assistance of small business.
When I say "small business" I am talking about medium or smaller enterprises, and it must be remembered that three-fifths of the people of this country, 60 per cent of the working force, work for medium and small business. In the aggregate this is a large sector of the economy. I think the time has long passed when the people who trade in the market and pass as small business should have their relations with the government recognized through the establishment of a separate department. Lord knows how many different departments and ministers they have had to deal with for a long time. I think they deserve a special minister, ministry or department. Our party has pledged that it will set up such a department when we form the government.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the exuberant members across the way, who dined well earlier this evening, are having a chance to get it all out.
Mr. Chairman, the breakdown of loans granted in the various provinces during the period January, 1973, to December, 1973, shows that there is no coherent approach to the manner in which the federal government gives assistance to small business. For example, in the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland there were during that period 163 loans for a total of $1,605,000. That is for three provinces. That compares with $12,587,290 in the province of Quebec, $6,324,986 in the province of Ontario, and $5,268,859 in the province of British Columbia, the three richest provinces in this country. I suggest that there is no per capita justification for this discrepancy.
April 11, 1974
I am not suggesting that there are as many small businesses in the Atlantic provinces as in the other three provinces, but I do suggest it appears, as several of my colleagues have pointed out, that perhaps the government has not done as efficient a job as it might in making small businessmen aware of the facilities and services available to them.
It may very well be that the proper approach, as I have suggested, is a department of small business. I urge this as a consideration for the minister. These are all my remarks except that I would like an explanation from the minister concerning the apparent anomaly I mentioned at the beginning, that is, the connection or lack of it between this bill and the business development bank measure which was introduced a couple of days ago.
Subtopic: FARM IMPROVEMENT, SMALL BUSINESSES AND FISHERIES IMPROVEMENT LOANS ACTS AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND GOVERNMENT LIABILITY