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ARCHIVED - RPP 2006-2007
Western Economic Diversification Canada

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SECTION II – Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Analysis by Program Activity

Strategic Outcome: Entrepreneurship & Innovation – A competitive and expanded business sector in Western Canada and a strengthened western Canadian Innovation System

Program Activity – Business Development and Entrepreneurship

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009

Financial Resources

($ thousands)




Human Resources - FTEs

108 108 108

The expected result of WD's entrepreneurship and business development activities is the growth of small businesses in Western Canada and their improved capacity to remain competitive in the face of rising global competition. WD’s activities are resulting in improved access to business information, training, business advisory services and capital for all western Canadian SMEs, including those located in rural communities.

WD has always recognized the critical importance that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in the western Canadian economy. Small business (< 50 employees) is the economic engine of Western Canada and is responsible for creating approximately 80 per cent of new jobs. The number of small businesses per capita in Western Canada is 40 per cent higher than in the rest of Canada.2

The predominance of small businesses in Western Canada’s economy, their importance as a source of job creation, and the current limited participation by many SMEs in international markets raises concerns about their ability to grow and remain competitive in the face of expanded competition from foreign firms. Increasingly, western Canadian firms are not only facing competition in their key domestic markets, but also in those crucial markets such as the US, which is the destination of the majority of western Canadian exports, and in the large and fast-growing Asian markets that represent significant growth potential for many western Canadian firms.

Statistics Canada research concludes that the slower rate of diffusion of best-practice technology in Canada is the primary reason for Canada’s declining productivity in the past twenty years. This is especially true of Western Canada, where, with the exception of Alberta, the growth in manufacturing excellence has not kept pace with other regions of the country. Canada’s focus on technology commercialization has meant limited resources for increasing productivity and competitiveness of manufacturers and exporters.3

Addressing these challenges by ensuring that western Canadian industry is able to take advantage of new opportunities in high-growth markets requires an aggressive strategy to develop a more competitive, productive and expanded business sector in Western Canada. This strategy must help western Canadian industry and research and development organizations to secure and expand their position in US markets, to identify and access niche markets and become a part of global supply chains within the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific market. With a growing number of international travellers and the rising interest in sports and eco-related tourism, Western Canada must also find ways to market itself as a destination of choice to both foreign investors and leisure visitors to take advantage of its natural attractions and major international tourism generators, such as the 2010 Winter Olympics.

WD works to achieve results that support small business growth in the West primarily by providing assistance to industry or business associations for projects that have systemic benefits, or through third party delivery organizations. To create a better business climate, WD funding and service support is not provided directly to entrepreneurs but rather to non-profit organizations such as those making up the WCBSN, industry associations, and financial institutions. Leveraging of service and capital support for entrepreneurs is key to WD’s business development strategy.

Services to SMEs and entrepreneurs are provided through the more than 100 offices of the WCBSN. Links to organizations affiliated with the WCBSN can be found at:

WD has created new and alternative sources of capital for SMEs by working closely with financial institutions to create a specialized series of loan programs under the Loan and Investment Program. These loan funds target industry sectors important to Western Canada, including micro-lending and other target groups, and provide patient and flexible debt capital on terms especially suited to the unique needs and cash flow requirements of these small businesses. Loans are provided on commercial terms by financial institutions such as chartered banks, credit unions, and trust companies, using their own capital and making lending decisions using their own expertise while sharing the increased risk with WD.

To enhance overall support for trade and market development, WD partners with other federal departments, the provincial governments and local organizations to work with western Canadian industry groups and associations to improve their export readiness and to support market development activities directed primarily at key US and Asia-Pacific markets.

The department has identified four program sub-activities in an effort to classify WD investments according to the outcome expected to be achieved through WD’s funding of a project. The following chart identifies these sub-activities, the expected results, and provides examples of types of projects the department typically supports:

Program Sub-Activity Expected Results Types of WD project investments

Improve Business Productivity

Increase in productivity

  • support for industry associations to enhance business management capacity within the SME community;
  • support for training and skills development relating to business development and entrepreneurship; or
  • support for increased productivity and competitiveness of existing businesses/business sectors.

Market/Trade Development and Foreign Direct Investment

Increased participation in international markets and an increase in foreign direct investment in Western Canada

  • projects that expand the range of information, advisory and market development tools available in the West thereby improving the capacity of western Canadian industries and research organizations to take advantage of the US ERI; or
  • support for increased western Canadian awareness of and access to new Asia-Pacific markets.

Industry Collaboration

Increase in number of successful partnerships and strategic alliances

  • partnerships/strategic alliances that capitalize on emerging opportunities in the Asia-Pacific Rim;
  • support for the expansion of BC as North America’s Pacific Gateway and assists Western Canada and federal partners to capitalize on new opportunities the national Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative offers; or
  • business sector association initiatives that provide systemic benefits.

Access to Capital

Increased investment to targeted western Canadian firms

  • projects with capital providers (financial associations, venture capital organizations, etc.) to leverage increased risk capital available in the West; or
  • initiatives that address other access to capital issues.

Program Activity – Innovation

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Financial Resources ($ thousands) 53,627 54,026 59,686
Human Resources - FTEs 78 78 78

The expected result of WD's innovation activities is an increase in knowledge-driven and value-added economic activities, built on both traditional and emerging industries, that creates a more diversified and resilient economy in Western Canada. The emergence and growth of technology clusters in key areas for Western Canada such as environmental technologies, life sciences, information and communications technology and value added resources will lead to:

  • a more dynamic research community;
  • increase in highly qualified people;
  • additional venture capital investments leading to increased technology commercialization in both new and existing firms;
  • increased productivity; and
  • enhanced collaboration among innovation system players.

Support for innovation and the commercialization of new discoveries and ideas are fundamental components of the federal government’s agenda for economic development, growth and prosperity. A strong, innovative and vibrant economy, built on traditional and emerging industries, that fosters and rewards innovation allows innovative companies and researchers to thrive and succeed in the increasingly competitive global economy of the 21st century.

In Western Canada, where provincial economies are highly dependent on natural resources, innovation and the growth of knowledge-based industries can support the diversification of provincial economies, increase value-added production and exports, and create skilled jobs. Over the past decade the federal government has made significant investments in expanding the level of research activity and research infrastructure in Western Canada. These investments are often made in partnership with provincial and municipal governments, industry, and universities, and play an important role in fostering the formation and expansion of technology and knowledge-based clusters across the West that are important drivers of sustained economic and industrial growth.

While investments made to date have resulted in an expansion of research and development activity, Western Canada’s innovation performance and capacity remains low in comparison to Ontario and Quebec, and when compared with many countries with which Canada competes for new investment, skills, and markets.

The following chart illustrates specific expected results WD anticipates achieving through investments that support innovation, and gives examples of types of projects supported under each of the program sub-activities:

Program Sub-Activity Expected Results Types of WD project investments

Technology Adoption and Commercialization

An increase in the number of technologies developed in research institutions that have commercialization potential, and an increase in technologies adopted by existing firms

  • technology demonstration, benchmarking products/capability leading to adoption; or
  • projects that focus on commercialization of technologies.

Technology Linkages

Increased connections and synergies among innovation system members

  • support for networks, industry associations and other knowledge-sharing/ networking initiatives or events; or
  • initiatives that build linkages between researchers and investors.

Technology Research and Development

Applied R&D leading to technologies with commercialization potential

  • applied research and development leading to a new product or process with near or mid-term commercial potential.

Community Innovation

Increased technological capacity in a community

  • planning, cluster or competitive studies used by the community for economic development.

Technology Skills Development

Increase in training, education and skills building of highly qualified people

  • projects that support training, education and skill building in new economy sectors.

Knowledge Infrastructure

Increase in physical assets for R&D or training

  • creation or expansion of infrastructure such as buildings and equipment dedicated to R&D or training; or
  • planning studies regarding facility feasibility.

Strategic Outcome: Community Economic Development - Economically viable communities in Western Canada with a high quality of life.

Strong and viable communities contribute to strong economic growth. Despite the West’s strong economic performance, or perhaps because of the rapid growth of many cities and communities, there has been a marked increase in complex socio-economic issues in a number of communities. WD plays a key role in addressing these issues in the West by forging partnerships between governments, community organizations and other stakeholders that combine strengths and resources to create collaborative solutions to these issues and to promote sustainable communities and community development in Western Canada. The intent in all these initiatives is to develop purposeful partnerships with other governments and local groups to support the growth of western Canadian communities.

During this fiscal year, WD will continue to implement major program activities, including those programs that the department delivers on behalf of other federal departments such as the Urban Aboriginal Strategy and infrastructure programs. WD will also work with other federal government departments and partners to develop a long-term approach within the federal government to address community economic development priorities.

Program Activity: Community Economic Planning, Development and Adjustment

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Financial Resources ($ thousands) 137,212 82,991 54,655
Human Resources - FTEs 99 93 93

The expected result of WD's community economic planning, development and adjustment activities is to ensure strong and viable communities in urban and rural areas of Western Canada capable of responding to challenges that hinder competitiveness, opportunities, and quality of life.

WD addresses the needs of communities by assisting them to assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential for new economic activity, and to implement community plans. The process involves community-based consultations/facilitation and includes support for projects that strive to integrate federal programs, services and horizontal initiatives directed towards western Canadian communities, such as community economic development processes and projects, and WD’s UDAs. In rural Western Canada, WD’s network of CFDCs, as members of the WCBSN, provide community economic planning, development and adjustment assistance, as well as providing business services such as information, business advice, training, and access to capital.

Other assistance is provided to projects that support the viability of the local economy, enhance available facilities and/or increase the participation of communities, (particularly members of Aboriginal communities), and assist communities facing severe adjustment impacts due to changing economic circumstances, including identifying options and responses that will create new economic opportunities and assisting the communities to implement the plans.

The following chart identifies program sub-activities, their expected results, and provides examples of types of project investments WD makes to achieve the intended results:

Program Sub-Activity Expected Results Types of WD project investments

Community Planning

Enhanced community planning

  • initiatives that involve strategic community planning; or
  • capacity building within communities.

Community Development

Increased viability and diversification of local economies

  • Urban Aboriginal Strategy Projects4; and
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan Centenaries projects5.

Community Economic Adjustment

Successful community adjustment to mitigate economic crises

  • assistance to communities facing severe economic adjustment impacts due to changing economic circumstances, such as WD’s ongoing implementation of the Whiteshell Community Adjustment Fund in Manitoba, which was created because of the closure of AECL’s office in Whiteshell.

Program Activity: Infrastructure

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Financial Resources* ($ thousands) 91,750 29,922 1,990
Human Resources - FTEs 16 15 15

*WD delivers the Infrastructure Canada Program in Western Canada and both grants and contributions (G&C), and operations and maintenance (O&M) funding is included in WD’s resource allocations for 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. O&M funding for both MRIF and CSIF is included in WD’s resource allocations from 2006 – 2009. G&C resource allocations for MRIF and CSIF are included in the RPP of Infrastructure Canada.

The expected result for WD's infrastructure program activity is to improve and expand sustainable public infrastructure that enhances the quality of the environment and allows for long-term economic growth.

WD will continue its contribution to the renewal of Canada’s infrastructure through the delivery of the Infrastructure Canada Program (ICP), the new Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF), and key Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) projects in the West on behalf of the Office of Infrastructure Canada.

With a primary focus on communities with less than 250,000 people, the MRIF improves and increases the stock of core public infrastructure in areas such as such as water, wastewater, solid waste management, public transportation, cultural, recreation, tourism and connectivity. The CSIF complements the ICP and MRIF in that it addresses infrastructure projects that are of regional priority, but exceed the scope and capacity of the other infrastructure programs. In its role in administering MRIF and select CSIF projects, WD will manage contribution agreements, program implementation, review claims, and monitor projects.

WD’s infrastructure activities for the coming year will include:

  • the implementation of the MRIF in the West;
  • the continued administration of the ICP and approved CSIF projects such as the Manitoba’s Red River Floodway ($80 million), Vancouver’s Convention Centre ($222.5 million), and Saskatoon South Downtown Redevelopment ($13.7 million);
  • working with Infrastructure Canada to finalize WD’s role in the delivery of CSIF projects such as the Winnipeg Wastewater Treatment System ($42 million) and Saskatchewan’s Regional Rural Water Supply Systems($27.3 million);
  • completing a program audit of WD’s delivery of the ICP; and
  • work to review delivery options.

The following Program Sub-Activities apply specifically to the ICP, where almost all funding has been committed. The program was extended until March 31, 2008 to allow for the completion of ICP projects.

Program Sub-Activity Expected Results Types of WD project investments

Green Infrastructure

Improved green infrastructure such as water quality, wastewater systems, solid waste management and/or energy efficiency of municipal buildings.

  • projects that result in:
    • improved water quality;
    • improved wastewater systems;
    • improved solid waste management; or
    • improved energy efficiency of municipal buildings.

Local Transportation Infrastructure

Better local transportation such as safer local roads and transportation infrastructure and/or new or improved public transportation.

  • projects that support local transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rail, and intelligent transportation systems technology.

Other Infrastructure

Improved infrastructure such as increased cultural and recreation facilities, infrastructure supporting tourism, rural and remote telecommunications, high-speed access for local public institutions and/or increased affordable housing.

  • includes cultural and recreational facilities, infrastructure supporting tourism, rural and remote telecommunications and affordable housing.

Strategic Outcome: Policy, Advocacy and Coordination - Policies and programs that support the development of Western Canada

WD’s Policy, Advocacy and Coordination function embraces a range of activities that are designed to result in effective strategies, policies and programs addressing the economic development needs, opportunities, and aspirations of Western Canada.

As part of its policy development activities, WD sponsors research projects related to its economic development mandate and the department’s strategic outcomes. Many of WD’s policy research activities and outputs are intended to foster increased regional collaboration among economic development stakeholders in Western Canada and the development of pan-western perspectives and approaches to policy issues. At the same time, these activities take into consideration the variance of economic circumstances across the region. Collaboration and coordination, advocacy, and research and analysis, are the activities that WD undertakes in support of this strategic outcome.

WD will engage in activities and fund projects that help bring people, ideas, communities and resources together. The department’s efforts will emphasize partnerships, collaboration and strategic investments that optimise opportunities for western Canadians. WD will continue work within federal policy and decision-making structures to ensure the views and concerns of western Canadians are taken into account in the development of national policies, priorities and programs.

Program Activity: Collaboration & Coordination

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Financial Resources ($ thousands) 5,242 5,282 5,282
Human Resources - FTEs 35 35 35


The expected result of the collaboration and coordination activity is better coordinated economic development activities and programs in the West.

Collaboration and coordination encompasses the network of relationships, contacts, and partnerships that WD has put in place throughout Western Canada, nationally, and beyond, to support the implementation of its mandate. It is reflected in the work the department does by organizing and coordinating meetings, conferences or other events with other levels of government, other federal departments, industry (in particular industry associations), academic institutions, or the not-for-profit sector in order to discuss, plan, develop, and implement policies, programs, and initiatives that result in a greater degree of development and diversification of the western economy.

Program Activity: Advocacy

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Financial Resources ($ thousands)   2,650   2,672   2,671
Human Resources - FTEs 22 22 22

The expected result of the advocacy activity is an improved understanding and awareness of western issues and increased access to and participation in federal programs by the region.

WD’s mandate requires that the department “…advance the interests of Western Canada in national economic policy, program and project development and implementation.”

Specific examples of WD’s advocacy efforts include:

  • intervening in and providing western perspectives and input into submissions to Cabinet based on an assessment of western-orientated items on the Cabinet Agenda;
  • working on behalf of western Canadian firms and industries seeking to access government programs such as major Crown projects, granting council funding, Canada Foundation for Innovation initiatives, and funding offered by other federal departments and agencies;
  • establishing and participating in western-based consultation forums such as the federal-provincial Deputy Ministers’ Economic Development forum, Senior Western Innovation Officials forum, as well as the Federal Councils in each province;
  • advocating in support of specific regional projects or issues such as WD’s work in establishing the Nanotechnology Centre at the University of Alberta, or the Canadian Light Source, the national synchrotron facility at the University of Saskatchewan; and
  • engaging western Canadian stakeholders on the development and implementation of national priorities.

WD’s advocacy activity supports the department’s strategic outcomes and in 2006-2007 will focus on ensuring that:

  • Western Canada’s interests are promoted abroad through Government of Canada trade and investment activities such as the US ERI;
  • western interests and priorities are heard through forums such as Public Policy Forum roundtables held in the West;
  • national programs aimed at enhancing research and development and technology commercialization offer appropriate access to western Canadians; and
  • a strong western Canadian presence and influence in the development and implementation of initiatives to promote Asia-Pacific trade and economic opportunities, and the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

As a separate priority item, the department will update and refine WD’s advocacy strategy to reflect current priorities and implement it over the coming year.

Program Activity: Research and Analysis

  2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Financial Resources
($ thousands)
4,144 4,173 4,172
Human Resources - FTEs 32 32 32

The expected result of the policy research and analysis activity is an enhanced dialogue around and understanding of western issues, challenges, opportunities and priorities.

Policy research and analysis involves preparing and disseminating information that results in an increased understanding of western Canadian challenges, opportunities and priorities. This activity provides the factual intelligence necessary to undertake internal or external policy and program development. Policy research and analysis can involve WD sponsoring externally generated research through organizations such as the Canada West Foundation, the Western Centre for Economic Research, or the Conference Board of Canada. It also includes in-house research and analysis products such as economic overviews, environmental scans, and sectoral or issue analyses that support departmental policy, planning or program development.

Research priorities for 2006-2007 include analysis of: western challenges, opportunities and factors affecting regional prosperity; regional trade and investment patterns; small business and its role in the regional economy; the participation of Aboriginal people in the region’s economy; an analysis of economic sectors pertinent to the current and future western economy (with particular emphasis on health innovation as a potential economic driver), as well as research that will support policy development in national or international forums such as rural and northern development models and mechanisms, and factors contributing to regional competitiveness.