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ARCHIVED - Western Economic Diversification Canada


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SECTION IV - OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

Official Languages

WD continued to successfully fulfil its obligations under the Official Languages Act, through its role in implementing the Government of Canada’s Action Plan on Official Languages, 2003-2008, and the implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act, as outlined in the departmental Action Plan.

In the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages 2007-2008 Annual Report, WD earned an overall B or "good" rating in his 2007-2008 Report Card, a significant improvement from the previous one. The Commissioner commended WD for its "exemplary" contributions toward the development of the Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) and its promotion of linguistic duality within the Department.

In 2007-2008, the final year of the five-year Action Plan for the Implementation of Section 41 of the OLA, WD invested over $5M in order to:

  • Build partnerships to address priorities identified by the OLMCs;
  • Support the Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs); and
  • Support projects with OLMCs.

Partnerships

Over the course of the year, WD has been able to support the goal of long-term economic development and sustainability. WD partnered with Canadian Heritage (PCH) through the Interdepartmental Partnership with the Official Languages Communities (IPOLC) to fund projects resulting in long-term sustainable community and economic advancements for the OLMCs. For example, in British Columbia, WD and PCH co-funded the Socit de dveloppement conomique de la Colombie-Britannique to develop "Corridor touristique Francophone de l'Ouest" (CTFO), which supports Western Canada's bilingual tourism industry through the development and dissemination of French-language promotional tools. This project will capitalize on the international attention resulting from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

WD also partnered with Industry Canada through the Government of Canada Action Plan on Official Languages to implement a series of tele-education pilot projects and youth internships in the West. In 2007-2008, WD funded a consortium of four western Canadian educational institutions, led by the Collge universitaire de Saint-Boniface, resulting in the development of six on-line courses in French. In 2007-2008, WD also assisted Francophone organizations across Western Canada in hiring 16 interns for lengths of time ranging from two to 12 months.

Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs)

WD ensured a consistent level of high quality service to Francophone entrepreneurs and small businesses, through the provision of operating funding to the four FEDOs. This partnership, under the broader umbrella of the WCBSN, provides enhanced services to Francophones, including training, access to capital, information services, networking, and marketing advice. The results of an impact assessment of the work of the FEDOs, initiated in March 2008, will be available in Fall 2008.

Project Funding and Support

In 2007-2008, WD supported the creation of valuable international relationships in order to strengthen global commerce opportunities for Canadian businesses. Through l'Agence nationale et internationale du Manitoba (ANIM), WD is supporting the following trade development and investment attraction activities: the identification and establishment of partnerships in France, Belgium and Tunisia; export development services for Manitoban businesses wishing to trade with these French-speaking countries; and provision of services for businesses abroad wishing to invest in Manitoba.

Implementing a Modern Management Agenda

Strengthening Accountability to Canadians

Considerable effort has gone into improving management practices resulting in strengthened accountability to Canadians. Key to this effort has been significant improvement in departmental planning processes that require greater integration of departmental activities, particularly human resources planning, and consistency in planning across regions and corporate units. All plans must demonstrate a clear alignment and contribution to the Department’s objectives. Executive and staff performance agreements reflect targets set through the planning process.

WD has reorganized and revitalized the Department’s audit and evaluation functions to address shortcomings in both audit and evaluation activities as identified by the Department and through the annual Management Accountability Framework assessment process. Emphasis has been on ensuring compliance to the new Treasury Board policy on internal audit and on building a performance measurement framework that will facilitate measurement of the results of WD’s activities in accordance with Treasury Board’s MRRS policy.

Integrating Risk Assessment

In 2007-2008, the Integrated Risk Management Steering Committee developed and implemented a series of initiatives, which included the completion of a departmental Corporate Risk Profile (CRP) by a senior executive committee and the integration of risk management statements in key reporting documents. As a result, the 2008-2009 WD Corporate Business and Human Resources Plan, for example, aligns the CRP to the PAA and is posted on the WD public web site under Reports and Publications.

Eight key risks were identified in the CRP and an action plan was constructed to capture mitigation measures, identify responsibilities, and define accountabilities. While the Department has made significant strides to address all eight risk areas, three tangible examples of planned activities stemming from the CRP are highlighted in the management practices, below: more integrated human resources planning, augmented learning initiatives, and improved information management and performance measurement. Although it is too early to comment on the impact on WD's performance as a result of the implementation of these risk mitigation measures, performance enhancement due to risk mitigation will be addressed in future DPRs.

Integrating Human Resource Planning

Building on the work begun in the Manitoba Region in 2005-2006, WD developed a Corporate Business Plan for 2007-2008 with a departmental Human Resource Plan as a companion. For the 2008-2009 fiscal year, WD continued to improve on its Business Plan and Human Resource Plan integration and completed a fully integrated Business and Human Resource Plan.

In 2007-2008, WD Manitoba Region fully implemented the succession planning pilot in the region for executive and management-level positions. All other WD regions began their executive succession planning exercises in 2007-2008 and continue to roll out succession planning for other levels in fiscal year 2008-2009.

Learning Initiative Results

WD continued its focus on continuous learning and development with the development of a learning policy, learning strategy and priorities for 2007-2008. Accompanying these documents was a corporate learning calendar, widely available to employees through the internal web site. Ninety-one per cent of the Department’s employees completed personal learning plans (an increase from 70 per cent in 2006-2007).

WD continued its focus on mandatory training with the implementation of authority delegation training for all managers, and the identification and training of functional specialists. The Department also completed its commitment to deliver core competency, "Giving and Receiving Feedback," and labour relations courses.

One of WD’s objectives was to develop an orientation package for new employees, including an on-line orientation module, a Managers’ Guide to Employee Orientation, an Employee Passport, and a one-day in-person orientation session. These modules were validated in early 2007-2008 and launched in July 2008.

Improving Information Management

WD continues to enhance its custom developed web-based G&C project information system, called Project Gateway. This year it was rapidly adapted to support the reporting of Service Standards, and management of the Mountain Pine Beetle initiative. Project Gateway contributes to standardization of common business practices and processes across the Department, enabling greater efficiency, consistency, transparency, and accountability.

In addition, the RedDot web content management system was implemented for WD’s public web site as part of the Department’s Information Management (IM) Agenda. As a result, greater efficiencies have been achieved to produce and publish public information with the new functionality available. It has also enabled WD to ensure its compliance with Government of Canada Common Look and Feel requirements.

Moving forward sees further planned functionality for Project Gateway, and preparation for department-wide electronic document management in compliance with both the Government of Canada's IM and IT Policies.

Lessons Learned

Evaluation

Two evaluations were completed during 2007-2008 of initiatives led by other government departments, of which WD was an active participant. A third evaluation was completed in November 2008 of the Western Diversification Program authority, for which WD is solely responsible:

  1. Formative evaluation of Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF) led by Infrastructure Canada (INFC) - The evaluation results indicate while it is too early to objectively assess outcomes, the design and delivery of MRIF is generally appropriate as a federal funding mechanism to support rural municipal infrastructure development in collaboration with various partners. However, the evaluation also identified the following "lessons learned" for improving the effectiveness of MRIF, which WD will implement:
    • Performance measurement - The original MRIF performance indicators were not consistently used in either the application or the monitoring stage. As well, the reporting requirements between INFC and the Regional Management Committees were unclear. The evaluator recommended that a set of mandatory performance indicators be established and that the performance reporting requirements be clarified.
    • Risk management - Although risk management had been taken into account during application review, it was an informal, reactive process during the project monitoring stage. Municipalities did not seem to have a clear understanding of risk management during the implementation of infrastructure projects. The evaluator recommended that future program design promote the capacity of municipalities to identify and manage risks proactively.
  2. Summative Evaluation of US Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI) led by DFAIT - As an emerging "whole of government initiative", ERI has the potential to be a relevant engine for ensuring that Canada’s broader policy goals in the US are pursued in a holistic fashion that reflects the complexity of the Canada-US relationship. However, several lessons were learned from this initiative:
    • Design - Although partners have accepted the Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF), the evaluation raised concerns about the willingness of partners to implement aspects of the RMAF. The evaluators concluded that in the new ERI there needs to be a re-commitment to the vision and intent of the program and this should be articulated in the RMAF, governance, staffing, etc.
    • Governance - Given the importance of governing horizontal initiatives, the evaluation concluded that more emphasis needs to be placed on the role of the deputy minister and assistant deputy minister committees. These committees should complement the present role of the director general committee in implementing the initiative.
    • Performance management - Although ERI has a performance management framework in place, its partners have not been able to develop a process to implement the framework, which is a crucial part of the accountability and learning approach needed for horizontal initiatives.
  3. Western Diversification Program (WDP) - The evaluation made the following recommendations for improving the effectiveness of WDP, which WD will implement:
    • Relevance - The Department needs to maintain the current flexibility within the WDP in future design and delivery of the program.
    • Success - The Department should improve performance measurement processes to capture linkages between strategic outcomes and program activities. The Department should also develop a system to follow-up on projects after WDP funding ends to track long-term benefits. Finally, the Department should continue to use the WDP to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones.
    • Design and Delivery - The Department should improve the monitoring process to ensure that client reporting demonstrates results achieved against project indicators. The Department should also improve databases to ensure that all pertinent information is collected and updated.

Audit

Five audits were completed during the period. Three were related to WD G&C programs: the audit of the Loan and Investment Program, the audit of the Women’s Enterprise Initiative and the audit of the administration of G&C funding. The remaining two related to the operating and administration expenditures of travel and hospitality. The audit of the Administration of G&C found that overall procedures at WD were effective and improvements are being made on an ongoing basis as a result of previous audit work. All audits found the Department to be meeting Treasury Board and departmental policy requirements and only had recommendations related to minor administrative improvements, which are being implemented as a result of the audits.

Performance Measurement

WD continues to address the challenges relating to performance measurement and continuous learning occurs with each step of the implementation of the Department’s performance measurement framework developed in support of the PAA. Challenges result primarily due to the fact that, for the most part, results are obtained over a long period of time through recipients of departmental funding rather than as a result of direct WD interventions. Work to resolve performance measurement challenges consists of constant review of the existing framework and indicators, improvements to the database that captures and reports on results and ongoing training of all staff. The Treasury Board Secretariat and other government departments, particularly the other Regional Development Agencies, are consulted frequently and adjustments are made based on these consultations.

Stakeholder Input

WD continues to engage stakeholders in various forums to look for opportunities and gauge risk from an external perspective. In 2007-08, Ekos Research Associates conducted a client satisfaction survey on behalf of WD, designed according to Common Measurement Tool guidelines. Three hundred and eighteen clients were interviewed who had an interaction with WD within the last 12 months. Eighty-seven per cent of clients were satisfied with both the overall quality of the service delivery and the accessibility of services, while 75 per cent were satisfied with the amount of time it took to get service. Seventy-six per cent of clients said that in the end they got what they needed. WD’s areas of strength identified include customer relations and knowledgeable staff. Areas for improvement included length of bureaucratic application process and providing timely information.

All evaluations conducted by the Department include surveys and the engagement of stakeholders and key informants. The Western Diversification Program evaluation indicated that, overall, 76.6 per cent of the survey recipients agreed that they were satisfied with the project screening, approval and monitoring and payment processes currently in use by the WDP. Twenty-three point three per cent reported satisfaction with the level of communication they had with staff. Dissatisfaction largely pertained to the complicated nature of the reporting process (4.2 per cent) and the length of the approval process (4.1 per cent). Preliminary findings from the Community Futures Program evaluation in progress reflect a high degree of support for this WD program authority and a high level of satisfaction with WD’s program administration and delivery. The final results will be known once the final report is approved and posted on WD's public web site.

In early 2008, WD engaged with external stakeholders and experts in a proprietary interactive process call the Challenge Dialogue System, which facilitates multiple opportunities for exchange of ideas. In total, 215 informed stakeholders were asked for their contribution, with a 25 per cent response rate, in three areas: rural diversification, value-added processing, and productivity and competitiveness. This process has identified opportunities that will be used by WD's executive committee in their formation of policy, strategies and action plans to guide WD's efforts in these three areas.