Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Section I : Organizational Overview

Raison d’être

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) was established in 1987 and mandated to promote the development and diversification of the economy of Western Canada and to advance the interests of the West in national economic policy, program and project development and implementation.  The Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women along with the Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification) are responsible for this organization.

As the federal economic development department for Western Canada, WD develops and supports economic policies, programs and activities that promote economic growth and assist Western Canada in responding to the economic challenges and opportunities it faces.


WD’s mandate, which is outlined in the Western Economic Diversification Act, is to develop and diversify the western Canadian economy.  This broad mandate allows the department to implement tailored programs and initiatives to assist western Canadians create strong, competitive and innovative businesses and communities.  WD’s policy and programming efforts promote economic growth and ensure the department is positioned to deliver national programs in the West.

Our Vision

To be leaders in creating a more diversified western Canadian economy that has strong, competitive and innovative businesses and communities.

With offices in each western province and its headquarters in Edmonton, WD provides a strong federal presence in the economic development of the West.  Its western base has enabled the department to develop an understanding of Western Canada and foster extensive partnerships with business and community organizations, research and academic institutions, as well as provincial and municipal governments.

These connections enable the department to identify and support economic opportunities in the West and to leverage its investments to benefit the western Canadian economy.  WD’s strong ties to Ottawa, and the federal government across Canada, allow the department to communicate western perspectives to national economic policy and program decision-makers, working within the federal system to ensure that western interests and perspectives are considered in federal decision making.

WD programs strengthen:

An important contributor to a prosperous western Canadian economy, WD helps build on the West’s traditional economic strengths while supporting the transition to a more diverse, modern economy.

  • Business Development and Innovation: WD helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop and grow, create jobs, expand their markets, increase their exports and become more innovative and productive.  The department assists SMEs with international business engagement and works to attract investment to the region, as well as assist western Canadian SMEs access opportunities linked to government procurement.  Further, WD promotes the development and growth of the knowledge-based economy by building innovation capacity and supporting the commercialization of new knowledge-based products, processes and services.  Overall, the department’s investments have contributed to the strengthening of Western Canada’s economy and will provide the foundation for future economic diversification and growth.

  • Community Economic Growth: WD helps rural communities sustain their local economies, adjust to changing economic circumstances and invest in public infrastructure.  Community Futures[1] (CF) receive operating funds to provide western entrepreneurs with the information, training and business loans they need to start and grow their business.

  • Policy, Advocacy and Coordination: WD engages in activities that strengthen the western Canadian economy by promoting access to economic opportunities for Western Canada. Primarily, WD works to build strategic relationships with key decision makers across Canada and internationally, coordinates economic development activities, policies and programs across the West, and ensures western Canadian SMEs are positioned to compete for federal procurement contracts with industrial and regional benefit obligations.  WD pursues policies and programs that strengthen the western Canadian economy.

WD also delivers national initiatives on behalf of the Government of Canada in Western Canada. These have included the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) to upgrade and expand western Canadian infrastructure, the Economic Development Initiative aimed at supporting businesses and economic development in western Canadian Francophone communities, as well as programs within the Economic Action Plan (EAP).  WD’s flexibility and ability to implement programs such as these enables it to respond quickly to the priorities and needs of the West.

To ensure that its programs have the greatest impact on the West, the department will continue to focus on a pan-western approach in strategic areas—business productivity and growth, trade and investment, technology commercialization and advancing the interests of Western Canada.

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture

The Program Alignment Architecture (PAA) provides an overview of how a department’s programs and activities are aligned, and how their expected results are organized to contribute to achieving the department’s strategic outcome.  It provides a structure which links the allocation and management of financial and non-financial resources with the results achieved.  Effective April 1, 2013, WD will implement a new, streamlined PAA, which will enable the department to improve its focus on objectives and outcomes in planning and reporting, allow it to improve the communication of results and benefits to the public, and assist it to strengthen the capacity to evaluate outcomes and results that will improve management capacity to allocate resources.

Strategic Outcome Programs Sub-Programs
A growing and diversified western Canadian economy Business Development and Innovation Trade, Investment, and Market Access
Business Productivity and Growth
Innovation Capacity Building
Technology Commercialization
Community Economic Growth Infrastructure Programming
Community Development
Community Futures Program
Targeted Economic Initiatives
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination Advocacy and Coordination
Economic Analysis
  Internal Services Governance and Management Support
Resource Management Services
Asset Management Services

Organizational Priorities

In 2013–14, WD will focus on the five priorities described below.  These key areas of focus are at the core of the department’s efforts to diversify and grow the western Canadian economy.

Priority Type[2] Program(s)
Technology Commercialization Ongoing Business Development and Innovation
Description — to facilitate the translation of knowledge and technology into commercial opportunities

Why is this a priority?

  • The commercialization of new technologies is important to economic growth, diversification and prosperity.  The global economy is driven increasingly by new ideas and knowledge-based industries.
  • Business expenditures on research and development (BERD) – a key driver of technology commercialization – are lower in the West than the rest of Canada and much of the developed world.  According to Statistics Canada (2010), BERD in Western Canada was 0.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product, while for the rest of Canada, BERD was 1.1 percent.
  • Technology commercialization is a priority for the federal and provincial governments, with initiatives such as Canada’s Science and Technology Strategy, the expert panel report on the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development[3] and the Science, Technology and Innovation Council’s report entitled State of the Nation 2010 – Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation System.[4]

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Undertake new approaches to assist SMEs to commercialize new technology products, processes and services for domestic and international markets, with a particular focus on creating market-ready technologies.  This will ensure that the department’s investments continue to support job creation and enable western businesses to be more productive and competitive in the global economy; and
  • Support projects that enable and facilitate technology commercialization in emerging sectors in Western Canada.
Priority Type Program(s)
Trade and Investment Ongoing Business Development and Innovation

Description – to enhance SME participation in global markets, create value-added opportunities through Western Canada’s trade gateways and corridors, and raise Western Canada’s visibility as a competitive investment location

Why is this a priority?

  • Western Canada’s long-term prosperity depends on its ability to successfully engage in the global economy and to diversify into new international markets.  An open, strong and resilient global economy creates trade and investment opportunities for businesses, leading to economic growth, jobs and lower prices for Canadians.  With a small domestic market, Western Canada is heavily reliant on exports to foreign markets for its goods and services. International exports account for nearly 30 percent of Western Canada’s gross domestic product.
  • Supporting trade and investment activities helps SMEs increase their competitiveness and productivity.  Businesses can take advantage of economies of scale, enhance their skills and expertise and gain access to new markets, innovative ideas, technology and capital.  This, in turn, increases their long-term profits and promotes job creation.
  • WD contributes to the success of the Government of Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy[5]through its trade and investment priority.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Increase grants and contributions (G&C) support for trade and investment projects;
  • Strengthen the ability of western Canadian SMEs to access opportunities in international markets, both in North America as well as in new, emerging markets;
  • Assist western Canadian companies in accessing business opportunities related to federal defence procurement and the associated Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRBs);
  • Build awareness of Western Canada as a competitive investment destination to increase foreign direct investment into the region; and
  • Strategically support western Canadian participation at select international trade shows to raise awareness of the West’s capabilities as a provider of high-value added goods, technologies and services.
Priority Type Program(s)
Business Productivity and Growth Ongoing Business Development and Innovation, and Community Economic Growth

Description — to support the growth and competitiveness of western Canadian small business

Why is this a priority?

  • Productivity growth is crucial for ensuring long-term economic growth and improving the overall standard of living of western Canadians.
  • Western Canadian SMEs need to produce goods in an increasingly efficient and cost-effective manner to compete in a global marketplace, or risk losing market share in both domestic and international markets.
  • Canada and Western Canada in particular, lag in business productivity when compared to other major industrialized economies.  In 2011, Canada’s labour productivity ranked 15th among major economies, performing at only 78.4 percent of the level of the United States.[6]
    The productivity gap is largely due to differences in the rate of adopting new technologies, business practices and innovations, research and development expenditures, as well as machinery and equipment investments.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Continue to strengthen the impact and accountability of the Western Canada Business Service Network (WCBSN)[7] to increase SMEs technology adoption, improve productivity and ensure that SMEs have access to business services;
  • Invest in productivity initiatives that encourage the development and adoption of innovative business technologies, processes and practices, including efficiencies in strengthening regional supply chains; and
  • Support capacity-building initiatives, including skills training in critical sectors where there are growing labour shortages in Western Canada.
Priority Type Program(s)
Advancing the Interests of Western Canada Previously Committed to Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Description — to advance the interests of Western Canada in national economic policy, program and project development and implementation

Why is this a priority?

  • Current national economic policy issues will have a profound impact on Western Canada.
  • The Western Economic Diversification Act mandates WD to advance western interests in national economic policy, program and project development and implementation.
  • Attention in this area will help ensure advocacy and policy engagement efforts are pursued at an early stage to respond to opportunities or challenges and influence national policy development that is relevant to Western Canada.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Represent western interests to key decision-makers in the development of national policies and strategies (e.g. federal Industrial and Regional Benefits policy and the Global Commerce Strategy);
  • Build connections with SMEs and major international aerospace and defence companies, particularly where there are significant IRB opportunities (e.g. Western Canada Shipbuilding Action Plan);
  • Identify opportunities for economic growth or diversification;
  • Support economic and policy analysis to enhance understanding of western Canadian economic issues, challenges, opportunities and priorities; and
  • Focus department-wide economic and policy analysis on government strategies related to supporting entrepreneurs and innovators, responsible resource development and expanding trade and opening new markets, as those issues affect Western Canada (e.g. creating value added jobs through innovation, trade and investment and clean energy and oil sands).
Priority Type Program(s)
Managing for Excellence in a Changing Environment Previously Committed to All programs

Description – to capture the opportunities and strategies needed to respond to risks and changes in WD’s management environment

Why is this a priority?

  • WD is working in an increasingly dynamic and complex environment, including the changing economic environment and the need to adapt programs to address the needs of the western Canadian economy.
  • The public and Parliamentarians expect government to modernize its operations, ensuring that they are effective and efficient, and following recommendations of the Red Tape Reduction Commission and the Report of the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grant and Contribution Programs.
  • The department’s Corporate Risk Profile identifies “managing during government wide restraint” as a key risk driver of initiatives linked to business transformation and renewal, expenditures, and values and ethics.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Streamline and standardize business processes, including information management and information technology;
  • Develop staff training and other tools to support transition;
  • Implement the department’s revised PAA and Performance Measurement Framework (PMF); and
  • Collaborate with other regional development agencies in implementing common business processes to achieve program delivery efficiencies.

Risk Analysis

External Environment

Over 30 percent of all Canadians now reside in Western Canada, and the western Canadian economy accounts for over one third of Canada’s economic output.  Due to the size of its population and strong economic performance, western Canadian opportunities and challenges have a significant impact on national economic performance.

Economic growth in Western Canada is expected to outpace the national average in both 2012 and 2013.  Despite the positive economic outlook for 2013, Canada’s economic situation will continue to be affected by the continued volatility of the global economy and its challenges.

Economic growth and prosperity in Western Canada continues to be largely resource-driven and the West has benefitted from prolonged periods of high demand and prices for commodities. Furthermore, growth has supported the creation of commodity-based industry clusters in sectors such as mining, forestry, oil, gas and agriculture.  While the West's natural resources provide a strong foundation for future economic growth, the resource-driven growth has masked a number of fundamental challenges facing Western Canada's long-term economic prospects.

Compared to Western Canada’s competitors, businesses in Western Canada suffer from declining competitiveness and slow productivity growth, due in part to comparatively low levels of investment in research and development (R&D) and slower rates of adoption of new technologies and equipment, particularly outside of the major resource sectors.  This is due in part to low levels of risk capital financing observed in Western Canada.  Innovative start-up firms in the West face greater challenges in accessing sufficient financing for technology commercialization priorities; this funding gap is particularly pronounced for early-stage firms.  In 2013–14, WD will continue to invest in projects and activities that help businesses increase their productivity and competitiveness through the development, commercialization, and adoption of new technologies and business processes.

Western Canadian businesses also face the challenge of a small domestic market and increasing global competition.  Expanding trade and market opportunities for western Canadian businesses is an important component of economic prosperity.  The Government has reinforced its commitment to expanding trade and market opportunities for Canadian businesses through deeper Canada-China ties, a Canada-European Union Trade Agreement, a Canada-India Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, active and ongoing engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, and Canada in the Americas.  In order to remain competitive in a global economy, western Canadian businesses will need to increase their presence in these markets.  In addition, firms in Western Canada will need to participate in global value chains and attract foreign direct investment.  Foreign direct investment can help address gaps in risk capital in Western Canada by providing access to the financial base of parent companies, an important way to provide greater access to funding for R&D and technology commercialization.  In 2013–14, WD will continue to work with western Canadian SMEs, industry associations and research institutions to improve access to global value chains, strengthen international partnerships and encourage foreign direct investment, leading to enhanced international market access for Canadian products and services.

To pursue its strategic outcome in the West, WD works with a number of partners and stakeholders that bring tremendous strengths, resources and capacity to the economic development and diversification of Western Canada.  These partners and stakeholders include businesses, industry associations, non-profit organizations, research and academic institutions, provincial and municipal governments and other federal organizations.  The department must ensure that its programs and initiatives are aligned with and sensitive to the needs of key partners and stakeholders to maximize the department's impact on the western Canadian economy.

Internal Operating Environment

In response to government fiscal priorities with regard to strategic review, Budget 2012, and operating budget restrictions, WD has found efficiencies and will realize savings in internal services through the implementation of common business processes for information technology, finance, materiel, and human resources, centralization of finance and procurement functions, and other initiatives.  This will result in a reduction of the number of full time equivalent staff currently required to deliver these services and will generate operational savings.

WD has taken important steps to transform its grants and contributions delivery model.  Building on its investment strategy, introduced in 2012–13, the department will pursue a more aggressive outreach strategy in 2013–14.  Internally, the department is streamlining its operational approach to managing grant and contribution projects by moving to a project lifecycle model and has increased collaborative efforts with the other regional development agencies to achieve internal service and program delivery efficiencies in areas such as financial and project management systems.

In 2013–14, WD is transitioning to a more simplified PAA and PMF that will alter the way WD categorizes and describes its investments and activities, facilitate better communication of benefits to Canadians, and ensure greater ability to evaluate outcomes and allocate resources.  This change will also require the establishment of new performance indicators and targets in 2013–14 for WD’s updated programs.

Corporate Management of Risk

As part of its risk management approach, WD integrates risk information into its key decision-making and planning activities.  To help facilitate this integration, the department updates its corporate risk profile annually to reflect its external and internal operating environment.  Key risks and mitigation strategies are assessed to determine the residual risk that could affect the achievement of the department’s strategic outcome.  Specific risks for 2013–14 are rooted in the department’s efforts to manage and transform the department during government-wide restraint.

Planning Summary

Financial Resources

WD invests its core resources in the following activities to support the development and diversification of the western Canadian economy:

  • Administering G&C programs authorities[8] that advance business development and innovation, and community economic growth throughout the western provinces;
  • Strengthen the impact and accountability of the WCBSN to promote economic growth activities across Western Canada;
  • Advancing western interests in the development and implementation of national economic policies, programs and projects by advocating for Western Canada on important economic matters; and
  • Undertaking and supporting research, consultations and other activities to improve understanding of the western Canadian economy.

WD’s planned spending for 2013–14 is $180.2 million.

Financial Resources (Planned Spending — $ thousands)
Total Budgetary
(Main Estimates)
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
178,701 180,201 150,204 150,222


Human Resources

The commitment and expertise of WD’s staff enables the department to deliver results to western Canadians.  With offices in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Ottawa, WD has staff with extensive local knowledge and connections with key stakeholders in Western Canada.  WD also maintains the presence and capacity needed to advance western interests in national economic decision making.

The following table provides a summary of the total planned human resources for WD over the next three fiscal years.

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents—FTE)
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
370 325 325


Planning Summary Table ($ thousands)
Strategic Outcome Program Actual Spending 2010–11 Actual Spending 2011–12 Forecast Spending 2012–13 Planned Spending Alignment to Government
of Canada Outcomes
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
A growing and diversified western Canadian economy Business Development and Innovation  125,262  120,290  123,304 93,228 89,307 89,313 Strong Economic Growth
Community Economic Growth 304,492 39,889 40,219 57,605 34,419 34,421 Strong Economic Growth
Policy, Advocacy & Coordination  8,658  7,631  10,152  8,613  8,741  8,742 Strong Economic Growth
Sub –Total  438,412  167,810  173,675 159,446 132,467 132,476  


Planning Summary Table for Internal Services ($ thousands)
Program Actual Spending
Actual Spending
Forecast Spending
Planned Spending
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
Internal Services  28,079  27,473  23,006  20,755  17,737  17,746
Sub–Total   28,079   27,473   23,006  20,755   17,737   17,746


Planning Summary Total ($ thousands)
Strategic Outcome Programs, and Internal Services Actual
Planned Spending
2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
Total  466,491  195,283  196,681  180,201  150,204  150,222


Expenditure Profile

WD’s planned spending is $180.2 million in 2013–2014, compared to 2012­–2013 forecasted spending of $196.7 million.  The $16.5 million decrease is a result of a number of normal business practices and procedures, including the conclusion of funding for certain programs and initiatives.

Completion of programs:

  • $4.5 million decrease due to the sun-setting of funding to support the Rick Hansen Foundation for the operations of the 25th Anniversary Campaign of the Man in Motion World Tour and the operations of the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions Network.

Normal cash flow variations from 2012–2013:

  • $0.8 million increase due to the completion of a transfer agreement with Foreign Affairs and International Trade for funding to support the North American Platform Program;
  • $0.3 million increase related to the transfer of funds to Infrastructure Canada for the Royal Alberta Museum;
  • $0.3 million increase related to the transfer of funds from Treasury Board Secretariat for collective bargaining;
  • $6.0 million decrease for Budget 2012 reductions related to the Deficit Reduction Action Plan and Strategic Review;
  • $6.5 million decrease from what was available in 2012­–2013, including an operating budget carry forward, WD’s revenue collections, and eligible pay-list expenses reimbursed through Treasury Board Vote 30;
  • $0.8 million decrease due to the completion of a transfer agreement with Industry Canada for funding to support the Economic Development Initiative: 2008–2013 Federal Strategy for Official Languages; and
  • $0.1 million decrease in operating funding for delivery of infrastructure programming.

The department’s planned spending is at the same level for the following two fiscal years, specifically $150.2 million for 2014–2015 and 2015–2016.

The decrease of $30.0 million in funding available in 2013–2014 compared to 2014–2015 relates primarily to the conclusion of the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund ($23.1 million), and a further decrease in funds as a result of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan ($6.9 million).


Departmental Spending Trend
Departmental Spending   ($ Millions) Actual Spending
Actual Spending
Actual Spending
Forecast Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Without Economic Action Plan 234.3 204.0 181.2 173.6 157.1 150.2 150.2
Economic Action Plan 187.0 262.5 14.1 23.1[9] 23.1 - -
Total 421.3 466.5 195.3 196.7 180.2 150.2 150.2

Spending Trend

Estimates by Vote

For information on WD’s organizational appropriations, please see the 2013–14 Main Estimates publication.

Contribution to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) outlines the Government of Canada’s commitment to improving the transparency of environmental decision-making by articulating its key strategic environmental goals and targets.  The government will be consulting the public in 2013–14 regarding the second three-year cycle of the FSDS (2013–16).  The 2013–16 FSDS will be finalized in 2013–14.  It will be presented as part of year end performance reporting for 2013–14.

WD ensures that consideration of these outcomes is an integral part of its decision-making processes.  In particular, through the federal Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process, any new policy, plan, or program initiative includes an analysis of its impact on attaining the FSDS goals and targets.  The results of SEAs are made public when an initiative is announced, demonstrating the department’s commitment to achieving the FSDS goals and targets.

WD contributes to Themes I - Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality; II - Maintaining Water Quality and Availability; IV - Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government as denoted by the visual identifiers below.

WD contributes to Themes I: Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality; II: Maintaining Water Quality and Availability; and IV: Shrinking the Environmental Footprint - Beginning with Government, as denoted by the visual identifiers below.

Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality


Theme I: Addressing Climate Change
and Air Quality

Maintaining Water Quality and Availability


Theme II:
Maintaining Water Quality
and Availability

Shrinking the Environmental Footprint of Government


Theme IV:
Shrinking the Environmental Footprint -
Beginning with Government

These contributions are components of the following programs and are further explained in Section II:

  • Program 1: Business Development and Innovation;
  • Program 4: Internal Services;

For additional details on WD’s activities to support sustainable development please see Section II of this RPP and WD’s Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy 2011–14.  For complete details on the Strategy, please see the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy website.