Six months after announcing a $130 million envelope to support businesses in digital transformation, the Quebec government is allocating 52 million of that envelope to six partners, in construction, hotels, retail and construction. Undergraduate research to assist SMEs in their transformation.
The remaining 78 million will be committed when other serious partners are found, according to Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon. “Digital transformation is an important issue and we hope that 12,000-15,000 companies can benefit from it, but it is not a race. You have to be careful and find partners that you connect with and that is the main challenge.”
For the Minister, this stage of diagnosis and recommendation is not the only project in which we should invest in order to accelerate the digital transformation. Training skilled workers and applying research should also be part of the solution.
Quebec does well in research, but it should do better in terms of development. We have to build a bridge between research and business.
Pierre Fitzgibbon Minister of Economy
Without forcing educational institutions to make internships mandatory, Pierre Fitzgibbon believes it is more necessary than ever to encourage this type of initiative. “Our young people need to understand what is going on in companies.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomes the government’s initiative and believes it addresses a real need. There is a lack of knowledge on the part of many SMEs in the service sector. “They say they don’t know how to integrate e-commerce into their business model,” said Francis Biroby, senior policy analyst at CFIB.
For CFIB, this is the first step, but it remains to be seen how many companies will actually be affected by this program. The problem is that SMEs often don’t realize this. There has to be a lot of communication work to be done on the ground to announce an OTN attack,” says the analyst.
Advertising has its limits
Minister Fitzgibbon is categorical, there is no doubt that the government will pay to implement digital transformation systems. The only help that is provided is in the form of a loan. Pour la FCEI, il s’agit là d’un enjeu important pour l’adoption du commerce en ligne, car les coûts d’élaboration d’une plateforme de vente en ligne et de traitement des paiements dissuadent un certain nombre d’entreprises de kicks off. Francis Birobi suggests: “Government can work with online commerce platforms to reduce their operating costs so that small and medium businesses can make online sales easier and at a lower cost.”
For CFIB, the need for diagnosis is more than ever, but the money invested in it in no way erases the financial inequality that exists between internet giants and Quebec SMEs. In fact, 88% of small business owners say the dominance of e-commerce giants, such as Amazon, threatens Canadian small businesses. Also, according to a CFIB survey, eight out of ten small business owners believe that online purchases made from foreign businesses should always receive the same tax treatment as purchases made from Canadian businesses. “We must tackle this problem, and that can be done through tax credits,” suggests Francis Birubi.
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