Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Introduction

This chapter provides a brief overview of the Western Economic Partnership Agreements (WEPAs), the purpose of the evaluation, and the structure of the report.

Western Economic Partnership Agreements

WEPAs are a multi-year federal-provincial decision-making tool designed to select projects that strengthen economic activity. Through individual agreements signed with each provincial government in western Canada, the department and the respective provincial government provide a matching contribution, enabling significant investments to fund projects that support national economic priorities while recognizing the unique characteristics of each provincial economy.

WEPAs are based on the following principles:

  1. Cost-sharing with provincial governments on a 50-50 basis.
  2. Partnership and joint federal provincial planning and decision-making.
  3. Equal allocation of resources among the four provinces.
  4. Sustainable growth, not short-term relief.
  5. Building on strengths and enhancing competitiveness to achieve a more sustainable economic base.
  6. Recognition of unique characteristics of each provincial economy while at the same time being consistent with national economic development policies.
  7. Encouraging incrementality, private and institutional participation.
  8. Coordinating and enhancing ongoing federal and provincial government and industry activities.
  9. Reducing overlap and duplication by enhancing and coordinating economic development activities of the federal and provincial governments.
  10. Flexibility of delivery terms (i.e. unilateral, joint or third-party delivery). Both parties may fund individual projects equally, entirely by one of the parties, or some combination in between.

The term of the current round of WEPAs (WEPA III) is from 2008 to 2012. The expected completion date for funded projects is September 30, 2013. The department provides $25 million in funding for each of the western provinces, matched by the provincial governments, for a total investment of $200 million to stimulate opportunities for western Canadians. The program is governed by a management committee consisting of federal and provincial representatives. Various types of non-profit, Aboriginal, government and industry organizations (excluding individual businesses) are eligible to participate. Funded projects focus most commonly on innovation, business development, and market development.

Purpose of the Evaluation

The purpose of this project was to conduct an evaluation of WEPA. In accordance with the 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation, the evaluation focused on relevance and performance (efficiency, effectiveness and economy). A list of the specific evaluation questions under each evaluation issue is provided in the following table.

Table 1: Evaluation Questions by Evaluation Issue
Relevance: The extent to which the program addresses a continued need, is aligned with Government priorities, and is aligned with federal roles and responsibilities
  • Is there a continued need for the WEPAs? Are the needs documented and complete?
  • Is there a continued demand for the WEPA?
  • Is the program aligned to WD and federal government priorities?
  • Is the program consistent with federal roles and responsibilities?
Performance: The extent to which the program has achieved its expected outcomes
  • To what extent is the WEPA effective in meeting its objectives? What has happened as a result of implementing the WEPAs in western Canada?
  • What factors facilitate or impede the achievement of program results?
  • Did the WEPAs promote collaboration and strengthen partnerships between the federal and provincial governments? Do the agreements promote key aspects of the federal government agenda in western Canada?
  • INNOVATION: Has the WEPA strengthened innovation in western Canada?
  • BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Has business development and entrepreneurship been strengthened as a result of implementing the WEPAs in western Canada?
  • COMMUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Have communities been strengthened and made economically viable through implementation of the WEPAs?
  • PROVINCIAL PRIORITIES: Did the implementation of the WEPAs lead to the achievement of results in both federal and provincial strategic priorities? Do any of these provincial priorities conflict with the intended federal priorities?
  • Have there been any unintended (positive or negative) outcomes?
Performance: The extent to which the program demonstrates efficiency and economy
  • Is the program design appropriate for achieving expected program results?
  • Is the program undertaking activities and delivering products in the most efficient manner?
  • Are administrative and operational costs reasonable and funds being distributed at the lowest possible cost and risk?
  • How could the efficiency of the program’s activities be improved?
  • Did all parties contribute their share of resources?
  • Are there alternative, more efficient ways of delivering the program?
  • Is the program flexible in responding to funding opportunities presented?
  • How does program delivery vary from province to province?
  • Are outcomes and performance measures clear, quantifiable and consistent with departmental reporting requirements?
  • Is the program achieving its intended outcomes in the most economical manner?

Structure of the Report

Chapter II presents an overview of the current round and previous WEPAs while Chapter III provides a description of the methodology employed to conduct this evaluation. Chapter IV describes the key findings of the evaluation and Chapter V presents the major conclusions.