“Minor clarifications” made to the PACTE after criticism

Investissement Québec (IQ) will specify the terms of an assistance program for companies affected by the pandemic which recently placed the Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, on the defensive due to the use of his discretionary power in certain files.

Some changes will soon be made to the information available on the IQ website about the Temporary Concerted Action Program for Enterprises (PACTE), the spokesperson for the state-owned company, Isabelle Fontaine, said on Monday.

“Minor details on the terms of the program should be made shortly on the PACTE page”, she replied by email while adding that these terms “remain the same”.

Last week, when the government initiated the tightening of health measures, Mr. Fitzgibbon recalled that the PACTE, as well as the Emergency Aid program for small and medium-sized enterprises (PAUPME), were available to companies whose the situation would be affected.

“Difficult situation for some companies, the PACTE and PAUPME are still in force to support them,” said the Minister on social networks. We are monitoring the situation closely and we continue to adapt according to the evolution of the pandemic. “

Ten cases identified

In her most recent report, Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc highlighted the lack of transparency in the criteria used to award loans or loan guarantees under the PACTE.

Mme Leclerc more particularly noted ten problematic cases where aid totaling 68 million was authorized by Mr. Fitzgibbon thanks to his discretionary power, even if the beneficiary companies did not meet the criteria of the aid program.

The minister later explained that he had relied on a guide with no criteria for making his decisions. Mr. Fitzgibbon, however, argued that IQ, the government’s representative for the PACT, had submitted analyzes to him.

In his report, Mme Leclerc also highlighted large differences in the way aid was allocated under PAUPME by regional county municipalities (MRCs), which managed the program under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy and Innovation ( MEI).

The MEI, as responsible for the program, had to ensure that the MRCs would apply the terms of the program adequately and that the process would be fair from one MRC to another, underlines the document.

“This lack of uniformity has led to inequity for some companies, who saw their request refused when it could have been accepted if they had been located in another MRC”, indicates the audit report.

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