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Analysis

Investor Service Department Spends Millions Assisting ‘Confidential’ List Of Foreign Business Owners

Invest In Canada did not respond when PressProgress asked if it charges foreign business leaders for these services

Invest In Canada, the federal agency set up to boost foreign direct investment into Canada, can’t point to concrete results of the millions it’s spent — because the list of business owners its helped network for is “confidential commercial information.”

IIC’s mandate is to promote investment in Canada and offer services to help investors navigate Canada’s legal and business landscape.

IIC was announced with a total estimated expense of $218 million, over five years, according to CBC News. However, IIC Communications Officer Termeh Ataei told PressProgress just over $60 million of that was actually allocated to increasing “trade commissioner representation.”

Nevertheless, According to its 2019-20 Departmental Plans, IIC budgeted to spend $3.1 million in 2017-18, $23.1 million in 2018-19 and, most recently, $36 million in 2019-20.

Asked which businesses IIC has been in contact with, a spokesperson for the government wrote:

The names of these companies have been withheld on the grounds that it constitutes confidential commercial information.

But PressProgress did get a sense of the scope of services offered to foreign investors by the public department.

Communications director Susan Wong told PressProgress IIC offers “coordinated support to investors.”

Wong told PressProgress this includes “developing a business case with unique offerings, data and insights; identifying partners with links to education, government and business; designing custom site visits and setting up meetings with stakeholders and potential partners; and supporting business openings in Canada.”

Representatives of IIC did not respond when PressProgress asked if it charges foreign business leaders for these services.

Although, Wong did tell PressProgress IIC has, so far, met with the leaders of 175 companies around the world. Wong further said, without naming any companies, “The team is also working with several companies that are actively working to expand or establish their footprint in Canada. ”

Robin Tress, democracy campaigner with the Council of Canadians told PressProgress “The lack of transparency about which companies are being wooed and how this would benefit actual Canadians should raise questions about who is really going to benefit from the Invest in Canada project.”

When asked what portion of the federal department’s multi-million budget goes towards individually-tailored investment support, Wong directed PressProgress back to the 2019-20 departmental plan.

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

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