Restructuring of Investissement Quebec Aimed to Increase Foreign Investment in Quebec and Increase Number of SMEs

Within the next five years, the Québec government hopes to double foreign investment in the province and significantly increase the number of small and mid-size enterprises.[1] To this end, the National Assembly of Québec adopted Bill 27 (the “Act”) on December 6, 2019, which provides for the restructuring of the Québec Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade and Investissement Québec.[2]

Investissement Québec was formed in 1998 and merged in 2010 with Société générale de financement in 2010. Its mission is to stimulate Québec's economic development by offering various financial services, including equity investments, credit facilities and suretyships.

We will review the main changes made by the Act to Investissement Québec's services and highlight some aspects to follow in the coming months. These changes will impact foreign investment transactions in the province.

Economic Development

The Act reinforces Investissement Québec's position as a key player in the economic development of new and existing companies.[3] One of the initiatives set out in the Act is the creation of the “Québec Enterprise Growth Fund”. With a budget of $1 billion, this fund aims to finance projects whose main activities are carried out in the province of Québec and which either have “high growth potential” or are “strategic to Québec’s economy”.[4] The financing will be provided through equity participations of a minimum of $5 million by the fund in selected projects.[5]

Furthermore, the Act stipulates that Investissement Québec's general investment policy – which is set to be revised in the coming months – must now include economic development objectives, in addition to its traditional performance objectives.[6]

Finally, the Act, in addition to amending Investissement Québec's governing legislation, also enacts the Act respecting the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. This new legislation gives the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade the authority to establish various programs to support economic development and innovation, and entrusts Investissement Québec with the implementation of these programs.[7]   

Support, Innovation and Exportation

The Act amends Investissement Québec's mission to “stimulate innovation in enterprises, entrepreneurship and acquisition entrepreneurship” and “stimulate exports”.[8]

In terms of support for entrepreneurs, the Act extends Investissement Québec's activities to the provision of support products and services and the creation of “financing chains” based on traditional financial services.[9] The objective is to “simplify the carrying out” of investment projects by providing strategic advice, guidance and project management services “to assist entrepreneurs in their dealings with government departments and bodies”.[10] Therefore, when a company requires the services of another ministry, Investissement Québec must share with that company the information it holds, thus facilitating the company's access to government. [11]

The Act implements various structural changes to Investissement Québec, aiming to make the organization a vehicle for innovation. First, the consulting services implemented will include a range of technological support, including assistance with the implementation of new technologies and the commercialization of new processes or technological innovations.[12] Second, as of April 1, 2020, Investissement Québec will merge with the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec – an organization that offers various support to companies aiming to transition to “innovative manufacturing”.[13] In addition, since Investissement Québec must now carry out its mission with a view to sustainable development, the scope of its “Natural Resources and Energy Capital Fund”[14] is being broadened to support the development and commercialization of technologies that promote energy transition and innovation.[15] Investissement Québec is is now also tasked with granting loans and subsidies under the Energy Transition Québec programs.[16]

The Act also aims to strengthen Investissement Québec's international operations. A “deployment plan” will be put in place by the Minister of Economy and Innovation and the Minister of International Relations to establish (i) the sectors and markets to be prioritized in terms of foreign investment, (ii) the objectives and performance indicators and (iii) the resources allocated to achieving these objectives.[17] This plan will be implemented by Investissement Québec, under the name “Investissement Québec International”, which will have to work in collaboration with the Québec Ministry of International Relations.[18]

Next steps

Some of the new features introduced by the Act are subject to the development of certain structuring documents. In this regard, to better understand the impact of the reorganization of Investissement Québec and the Québec Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, it will be necessary to monitor the following over the coming months:

  • the deployment plan, which will set objectives for foreign investment in Québec and coordinate Investissement Québec’s international efforts with those of the Ministry of International Relations to achieve these objectives;
  • the modification of Investissement Québec’s investment policy, which will also establish economic development objectives;
  • the amendment of Investissement Québec’s by-laws, which will determine which projects will be submitted to the regional development committees, in order to promote regional economic development; [19] and
  • the Minister's strategies and policies, including economic development objectives.

 

 

[1] See Jocelyne Richer, “Les moyens de ses ambitions”, Le Devoir (13 June 2019), online: <ledevoir.com/economie/556576/investissement-quebec-plus-de-pouvoirs-a-fitzgibbon>.

[2] An Act respecting mainly government organization as regards the economy and innovation, L.Q. 2019, c. 29 [Bill 27].

[3] See Investissement Québec, “Réforme d’Investissement Québec : de nouveaux outils pour la croissance économique du Québec” (12 June 2019), online: <investquebec.com/quebec/fr/salle-de-presse/communiques/Reforme-d-Investissement-Quebec-de-nouveaux-outils-pour-la-croissance-economique-du-Quebec.html>.

[4] Bill 27, supra note 2, cl 30 (cl 35.18 of the Act respecting Investissement Québec [AIQ]).

[5] See ibid, cl 30 (cl 35.18, 35.19 AIQ).

[6] See ibid, cl 9 (cl 13 AIQ).

[7] See ibid, cl 1 (cl 6 of the new Act respecting the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation [AMÉI]), cl 11 (cl 19, 2o AIQ).

[8] Ibid, cl 2 (cl 4 AIQ).

[9] See ibid, cl 3 (cl 5, 0.1o, 5, 1o AIQ).

[10] Ibid, cl 5 (cl 8.1 AIQ).

[11] See ibid, cl 5 (cl 8.4 AIQ).

[12] See ibid, cl 5 (cl 8.1 AIQ) comes into force on April 1, 2020.

[13] See ibid, cl 48, 56 come into force on April 1, 2020.

[14] Formerly “Mining and Hydrocarbon Capital Fund”.

[15] See Bill 27, supra note 2, cl 20 (cl 35.1 AIQ).

[16] See ibid, cl 14 (cl 21, 2 o AIQ).

[17] See ibid, cl 1 (cl 12 AMÉI).

[18] See ibid, cl 1 (cl 13 AMÉI), 13 (cl 20.1 AIQ).

[19] See ibid, cl 4 (cl 5.3 AIQ), cl 33 (54.1 AIQ).

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