OTTAWA - A record number of businesses went to the Business Development Bank of Canada for loans during the first quarter of the Crown corporation's current financial year.

The total dollar amount of the bank's loans jumped 37 per cent to just over $1 billion in the first quarter ended June 30, BDC announced Monday.

That's up from $738 million in the same period last year - and it's the largest quarterly increase in Business Development Bank's history.

The BDC says the amount of loan applications it accepted in the month of June alone was 57 per cent higher than the same month last year.

Economies around the world have been battered by a banking crisis, a crumbling housing market and a credit crunch that has dried up pools of capital for lending.

In January, the federal government set aside $5 billion for a program that lends money to businesses whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said Monday the increase in BDC loans shows the program is working.

"Today's result shows that the stimulus our government is making available is doing exactly what it was intended to - creating jobs and saving businesses in Canada during this global recession," he said in a statement.

However, Clement's office wasn't able to say how many borrowers stayed in business and didn't lay off staff.

The BDC says loans were up across the country, with every region posting an increase.

"Right across the country, our teams have worked flat out to help entrepreneurs put together the financing they need to develop their businesses," said BDC executive Edmee Metivier.

"These results were achieved by working closely with our colleagues from private sector financial institutions to ensure that viable enterprises have access to the financing they need to keep growing."