In Budget 2009: Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government announced the launch of the Extraordinary Financing Framework (EFF). Through the EFF, the Government provided up to $200 billion to help Canadians and Canadian businesses obtain financing during the deepest and most synchronized global recession since the Great Depression.
The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), an element of the EFF, was a temporary initiative to improve access to financing for Canadian businesses by providing new resources and flexibilities to Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) combined with enhanced cooperation between private sector lenders and those financial Crown corporations.
Through this program, EDC and BDC were expected to provide at least $5 billion in direct lending and other types of support and facilitation at market rates to businesses with viable business models whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted. By working in close cooperation with private sector lenders, this program was intended to help fill gaps in market access and lever additional lending by private sector institutions in cases where joint participation facilitated private action.
Participating private sector lenders committed to:
- working with the financial Crown corporations to find solutions for creditworthy business clients who would otherwise have had insufficient access to credit.
- ensuring that the extension of credit by financial Crown corporations was incremental for Canadian businesses and did not displace or substitute for private credit in aggregate.
BCAP was steered by an oversight group of representatives of the Department of Finance Canada, the Bank of Canada, EDC, BDC, and Canadian financial institutions. The steering group met regularly to share information and search for more effective ways to collaborate.
BCAP successfully increased the collaboration of the financial Crown corporations and private sector lenders, which has benefited small and medium-sized businesses across Canada. Indeed, as of the end of March 2011, EDC and BDC reported total activity under BCAP of over $11 billion, helping more than 10,000 businesses across the country and in all sectors of the economy, with a particular focus on small businesses. The amount of financing provided to Canadian businesses through the program easily surpassed the target of at least $5 billion that was set out in Budget 2009.
BCAP, as a temporary initiative, has wound down as a formal program – consistent with other temporary elements of the first phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan.