Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Performances (Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy)

Efficiency in Program Delivery

According to key informants, the EDP does not appear to consume significant departmental resources for oversight or program management. The Association model and the Community Futures organizations were seen as efficient; the urban delivery was viewed as less efficient in relation to the total expenditures relative to perceived benefits. Efficiency could potentially be increased by improving coordination between urban and rural models. Some interviewees felt that more proactive program management of the part of departmental staff would strengthen the EDP. Key informants from the delivery agents indicated that the EDP funding fits well with their overall operations and economies of scale and efficiencies were gained.

Key informants mentioned the existence some overlap in programming and services, both on the loan side and on the business services side as a result of the integration of the EDP services with other core services. Therefore, there is an opportunity for consolidation of the EDP with some of their core services. However, key informants strongly supported a separate EDP funding stream as necessary for providing that incremental support and enhanced access to loan funding for entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Program Design

The EDP was designed to be delivered in the rural and urban areas. Key informants indicated that the best feature of the program design was its flexibility in providing services. The most frequently identified challenges of the program design by key informants included:

  • Lack of clarity around expectations; performance management framework; definitions; and the need for more proactive departmental management of the contracts.
  • Inconsistency of delivery from region to region.
  • Overlap in what is developed and delivered, and opportunities for more coordination and sharing of resources (example for coordination in web-based resources).

In comparing the EDP to other initiatives, the program was seen as a small program, with an overall budget of approximately $600,000 for the four provincial associations, and another $1 million for the seven urban delivery agents. The comparative analysis resulted in the following conclusions about the efficiency of the EDP:

  • Limited resources. Other organizations that serve entrepreneurs have access to significant resources compared to the EDP. The EDP essentially enables an enhancement to existing services, by increasing the capacity of those organizations to serve entrepreneurs with disabilities.
  • Centralized funding is efficient. The funding provided to the Provincial Community Futures Associations to support the Community Futures Organizations in their respective provinces, appears to be an efficient usage of funds.
  • A fragmented service delivery network. The service delivery network of the EDP is fragmented. In BC, two different Credit Unions provide EDP-related service in the same community, along with the Community Futures Organizations. An urban delivery agent may serve a large population, but may not have loan funds available compared to a Community Futures Organizations that serves a much smaller population. Some provincial associations have dedicated resources to the EDP while others do not have such resources. Management of EDP funding varied among Urban Delivery Agents; Urban Delivery Agents also managed EDP funding differently than the Provincial Community Futures Associations and the Community Futures Organizations. The following delivery scenarios of EDP services were described by key informants from the Community Development Organizations:

    • Provide neither business coaching nor loan funding due to lack of resources. 
    • Provide business coaching but not loan funding (funding for business coaching provided by Provincial Community Futures Associations).
    • Provide business coaching and loan funding; and funding for business coaching is provided by the Provincial Community Futures Associations).
    • Provide business coaching, loan funding and additional funding and services, such as training and funding for adaptive equipment, coordinated through the Provincial EDP Coordinator employed by the Provincial Community Futures Associations.
  • The EDP has become highly integrated with related services. Compared to other program/service areas, the EDP does not have a strong identity as an independent program within most of the delivery agents, but rather is most often presented as an enhancement to related programs and services. For example, the British Columbia Credit Unions include the EDP as part of the Loan and Investment Program, and the program cannot be separated from the core activities of the Community Futures Organizations. This integration impacted the reporting of results for the program.

These challenges to the design of the EDP indicate the need for the department to examine the design of the program to improve upon program delivery.

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Client Satisfaction with Services

On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 represents “Very Dissatisfied” and 5 indicates “Very Satisfied”, over 75% of respondents assigned a value of 4 or higher in all service areas except mentoring. While still demonstrating strong levels of satisfaction and earning 61% favourable responses, mentoring exhibited a small opportunity for improvement. Figure 6 – 1 indicates the client satisfaction rate as against services assessed.

Text Version: Figure 5-2: Client Satisfaction with Services Offered

Figure 5-2   Client Satisfaction with Services Offered

In this figure, key informants indicate their satisfaction in different EDP services offered to clients.

Economy of the EDP

The EDP provides services for entrepreneurs with disabilities across the four western provinces for approximately $1.5 million/year. EDP funding includes approximately $500,000 for the provincial CF associations and approximately $1 million for the urban delivery agents, with minimal departmental overhead provided for project management and oversight. This approach was indicated as being economical in the comparative analysis from these perspectives:

  • It capitalizes on the existing departmental network of Community Futures Organizations, enhancing their capacity to serve people with disabilities by way of the support and funding provided to their provincial associations.
  • In British Columbia, it ensures that the department leverages existing programs such as the Loan and Investment Program to deliver the EDP.
  • In Alberta, it enables a strong urban delivery agent to strengthen and tailor its business services to people with disabilities including an active and successful loan portfolio.

The use of operating funds to support EDP activities was generally viewed as an effective use of resources by key informants. Due to the integration of EDP-funded resources and activities with related operational areas, it was difficult to assess the use of the EDP operating funds. To some extent, the EDP funding may be supporting other activities that have synergies with the EDP and its goals, such as funding assistive devices, or promoting employment of people with disabilities.