Western Economic Diversification Canada
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WD’s Role with Official Languages Minority Communities (OLMC)

Through a number of mechanisms, including the Western Diversification Program (WDP), the Economic Development Initiative under the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008-13: Acting for the Future (the Roadmap), WD has allocated and will continue to allocate direct funding for projects with Official Languages Minority Communities (OLMCs) related to community economic development, projects with francophone academic institutions and services to francophone entrepreneurs.

Roadmap 2008-2013
Canadians enjoy the benefits of linguistic duality; live and work in communities that reflect Canadian values with respect to the use of English and French, and have access to government services in the language of choice.
WD Vision
To be leaders in creating a more diversified western Canadian economy that has strong, competitive and innovative communities and businesses.



Government of Canada (GC) Result:
Improved social and economic development for OLMCs (for GC OL Priority: capitalizing on economic benefits of linguistic duality)
WD OL Result:
diversified, competitive, strong economies in (sustainable) OLMCs of Western Canada (for WD OL Priority: supporting and facilitating the economic development of OLMCs in the West)


Economic Development Initiative (EDI)
Develop new expertise through innovation, diversification of activities, partnerships, and support to small businesses


Although growing in population, OLMCs across Western Canada continue to face both challenges and opportunities in the areas of community economic development and services to francophone entrepreneurs, and within francophone academic institutions. Population demographics indicate the following distribution of francophones across Western Canada:

Table 1.2 - Population according to mother tongue, Canada, provinces and territories, 2006
Region Mother Tongue
Total English French Other languages
Total Aboriginal Non-Aboriginal
Note: The statistics in the last two columns refer to single responses.
This is why their totals are slightly lower than the figures in the preceding columns.
Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population.
Number in thousands
Manitoba 1,133.5 845.6 45.5 242.4 35.7 200.6
Saskatchewan 953.8 815.4 16.8 121.7 34.1 84.3
Alberta 3,256.4 2,593.4 64.7 598.2 27.0 556.5
British Columbia 4,074.4 2,900.9 58.9 1,114.6 13.1 1,078.5
Canada 31,241.0 18,055.7 6,892.2 6,293.1 210.1 5,937.8
Composition in %
Manitoba 100.0 74.6 4.0 21.4 3.2 17.7
Saskatchewan 100.0 85.5 1.8 12.8 3.6 8.8
Alberta 100.0 79.6 2.0 18.4 0.8 17.1
British Columbia 100.0 71.2 1.4 27.4 0.3 26.5
Canada 100.0 57.8 22.1 20.1 0.7 19.0

It is also interesting to note that the number of francophones has increased at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent from 1971 to 2006, and such a trend is expected to continue.1

WD recognizes the value and contribution of francophone OLMC s to the economy of Western Canada. Within the context of the department’s mandate, support for their economic development and diversification is a priority.

Historically, WD has been very active in the development of a strengthened OLMC and francophone economic development and capacity in the West.  Initially, this was through the inclusion of Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs)2 in April 2001. FEDOs enhance the vitality of minority language communities in Western Canada and assist in their economic development.  These independent entities have their own boards of directors with broad representation from their respective provinces. Board members are knowledgeable about business as well as the challenges facing francophone entrepreneurs. Support from WD enables these regional organizations to provide enhanced services to Francophone entrepreneurs including training, business and community economic development, access to capital, information services, marketing advice, networking and mentoring.

WD has also successfully engaged OLMC s in Special Economic Development Initiatives, partnership arrangements with other federal and provincial departments and agencies, as well as academic institutions and projects specifically responding to identified OLMC needs.

Integrating the program development and delivery component, WD recognizes the need for tools to assist project officers in the development of initiatives focused on OLMCs or projects that have an impact on OLMC .

WD project officers can actively contribute to the economic advancement of the francophone community through project review. An established “OL lens”, now part of WD ’s project due diligence, has been developed specifically to assist in determining whether and how to support the economic development of the francophone community in every project considered by WD.

WD collaborates with other federal institutions (such as Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, and the other regional development agencies), and its Western Canada Business Service Network partners, such as the FEDOs, to maximize the impacts from resources committed and the economic results for OLMCs.

This Action Plan aims to coherently deliver and report on all of WD ’s OL activities, which are aligned with our departmental priorities and strategic outcomes, and are reported on annually.


1 www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/lo-ol/pubs/npc/109-eng.cfm, New Canadian Perspectives Languages in Canada, 2006 Census

2 www.wd.gc.ca/eng/257.asp