Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Section I: Organizational Overview

Raison d’être

Our Vision

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

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) was established in 1987 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.

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 set out in the Western Economic Diversification Act, is to support the development and diversification of the western Canadian economy. This broad mandate allows the department to implement diverse programs and initiatives across the West to help western Canadians create strong, competitive and innovative businesses and communities.

WD helps build on the West’s traditional economic strengths while supporting the transition to a more diverse, modern economy.

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 foster extensive partnerships with business and community organizations, research and academic institutions, as well as provincial and municipal governments across the West.

WD works to convey western perspectives to national economic policy and program decision-makers, working within the federal system to ensure that western interests and perspectives are brought to bear in federal decision making.

WD delivers programs that strengthen the economy of Western Canada in the following areas:

  • Business Development: 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. Each year, the more than 100 partners in WD’s Western Canada Business Service Network (WCBSN)1  provide thousands of western entrepreneurs with the information, training and capital they need to start and grow their businesses. In addition, WD supports SMEs to become more productive and engage in international business through other key project investments;
  • Innovation: 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. The department’s investments help to provide the foundation for future economic diversification and growth; and
  • Community Economic Development: WD helps rural and urban communities sustain their local economies, adjust to changing economic circumstances and invest in public infrastructure. The 90 Community Futures2  organizations supported by WD in the West play a role in leading community economic development activities and initiatives to help rural communities compete in a changing global economy.

To ensure that its programs have the greatest impact on the West, WD focused its investments in priority areas–business productivity and growth, trade and investment and technology commercialization. In addition, the department continued to advance western interests in national economic policy, program and project development and implementation.

WD also delivers national initiatives on behalf of the Government of Canada in the West. These have included the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) under Canada’s Economic Action Plan (EAP), programming to upgrade and expand western Canadian infrastructure, as well as the Economic Development Initiative (part of the federal Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008–13) aimed at supporting businesses and economic development in western Canadian francophone communities. WD’s flexibility and ability to implement programs such as these enables it to respond quickly to the priorities and needs of the federal government in the West.

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture3

In 2012–13, WD supported the programs and sub-programs listed below to achieve its strategic outcome of developing and diversifying the western Canadian economy. These programs, comprising the department’s Program Alignment Architecture (PAA), help ensure that Western Canada continues to make a strong contribution to Canada’s economic success.

Strategic Outcome Programs Sub-Programs
The western Canadian economy is developed and diversified Business
Improve Business Productivity
Market and Trade Development
Industry Collaboration
Foreign Direct Investment
Access to Capital
Innovation Technology Adoption and Commercialization
Technology Linkages
Technology Research and Development
Community Innovation
Technology Skills Development
Knowledge Infrastructure
Community Economic Development Community Planning
Community Development
Community Economic Adjustment
Community Infrastructure
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination Collaboration and Coordination
Research and Analysis
  Internal Services Governance and Management Support
Resource Management Services
Asset Management Services


Organizational Priorities

In 2012–13, WD focused on the six priorities described below. These key areas of focus are at the core of the department’s efforts to develop and diversify the western Canadian economy.

Summary of Progress Against Priorities
Priority Type4 Program

Technology Commercialization



Summary of Progress

Trade and Investment


Business Development

Summary of Progress

Business Productivity and Growth


Business Development

Summary of Progress
  • 36.0% of WD’s core G&C expenditures was related to business productivity and growth (target was 33.5%).
  • WD supported 14 new projects in this priority area, totaling $14.0M, directed at SMEs to create jobs, improve business processes, adopt best practices, create business networks and improve access to skilled labour. This includes funding for Parkland Regional College15,Portage College16 and Camosun College17.
  • The WCBSN provided a total of 417,931 business information, advisory and training services to SMEs in rural and urban areas, as well as $84.98M in loans that leveraged an additional $124.83M. The impacts included: 6,391 jobs created or maintained through lending18 and 2,221 jobs created or maintained through business services19; and 1,515 businesses created, maintained or expanded through lending and 1,114 businesses created, maintained or expanded through business services.

Advancing the Interests of Western Canada


Policy, Advocacy and Coordination

Summary of Progress
  • To help advance and address the needs and interests of western Canadians, WD, through its newly implemented policy framework, identified key areas of focus to help guide policy engagement on key national priorities.
  • WD influenced national policy discussions at the most senior levels of government decision making, including engagement with caucus, and central agencies on emerging isssues such as the Government of Canada’s response to the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission investigation. WD also engaged in various Deputy Minister-level committees.
  • WD strengthened business connections and facilitated networking across the shipbuilding industry through activities outlined in Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan20.
  • WD facilitated business development opportunities and access to international markets by leveraging Canada’s Industrial and Regional Benefits policy to respond to 18 supplier development requests and to conduct eight supplier development tours and events on behalf of international aerospace and defence firms.
  • WD identified opportunities for economic growth or diversification by representing western interests on all Major Crown Procurements and participating in 12 aerospace and defence-related tradeshows and events.

Performance Measurement


All programs

Summary of Progress
  • The department’s PAA and Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) were streamlined, reducing the number of programs from five to four, reducing the number of sub-programs from 20 to 13 and reducing the number of performance indicators from 106 to 35.
  • Employee training was initiated in March 2013 on the changes to the department’s PAA and PMF, as well as the changes to the departmental systems, in order to enhance performance data capture, measurement, reporting and the use of performance results in decision making.

Managing in a Changing Environment


All programs

Summary of Progress
  • WD implemented an investment strategy and reviewed operating resources to ensure that WD has allocated resources to areas that have the greatest impact on the western Canadian economy.
  • The Deputy Minister led a staff engagement process to develop a vision for WD 2015 that focused on improving the workplace, employee development and improving programs and services.
  • WD began the consolidation of its accounting operations to the Saskatoon office and its procurement functions to the Edmonton office. The department also adopted a lifecycle approach to managing its G&C projects; this involves having the same staff member assigned to a project from conception to completion, ensuring better continuity in developing and monitoring funded projects.
  • WD managed the transition to a new operating model for information management and technology (IMT) by signing a memorandum of understanding with Shared Services Canada and initiating the re-alignment of remaining IMT resources.
  • WD collaborated with other Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) on common systems and tools for G&C programs to improve efficiency and service to clients. Examples include: hosting Canada Economic Development for Regions of Quebec’s CIIF application form on the WD server; and facilitating other RDAs’ testing of the Client Relationship Management (CRM) software system through WD’s test environment.
  • In response to the 2011 Public Service Employee Survey, WD identified departmental actions and activity leads and outlined milestones to assess progress against those actions.


Risk Analysis

Risk Summary Table (with a focus on external risks)
Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to Program Alignment Architecture Link to Organizational Priorities

Low rate of investment in research and development (R&D) and adoption of technologies by SMEs

  • Supported nine new Technology Adoption & Commercialization projects totaling $15.0M
  • Development of the WINN Initiative
  • Innovation
  • Technology Commercialization

Declining competitiveness and slow productivity growth of SMEs

  • Supported 14 new Improve Business Productivity projects totalling $14.0M
  • Business Development
  • Business Productivity and Growth

Small domestic market and increasing global competition

  • Supported 15 new Market and Trade Development projects totaling $9.4M


  • Business Development
  • Trade and Investment

Not achieving satisfactory client focused delivery results with the launch of the new WINN Initiative

  • Development and adoption of Client Relationship Management software to manage a higher expected volume of applications and clients
  • Enhance internal processes and train staff appropriately
  • Innovation
  • Technology Commercialization
  • Trade and Investment

WD and other federal government policy and programs do not reflect the needs of western Canadians

  • Support research that assists in the development of relevant policy options
  • Collaborate with key internal and external stakeholders
  • Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
  • Advancing the Interests of Western Canada


Organizational Context for Risks

The risks and mitigation strategies outlined in the table above are consistent with those outlined in the 2012–13 Report on Plans and Priorities, as well as WD’s Corporate Risk Profile and mitigation plan.

The economic challenges or risks facing Western Canada—low rates of R&D, declining competitiveness, slow productivity growth, a small domestic market and increasing global competition—have been long-standing. By pursuing new investments (described in this Departmental Performance Report (DPR)) in the priority areas of technology commercialization, business productivity and growth, as well as trade and investment, WD will help to diversify and grow the western Canadian economy.

WD’s programs and approaches continue to evolve to meet client needs and expectations. The development in 2012–13 and introduction in 2013–14 of the WINN Initiative will more directly help SMEs to commercialize and market their technologies. WINN will involve working directly with a new client base, managing repayable contributions and an increased volume of applicants. Given that this is a new initiative for WD, the department is taking steps to ensure that it achieves satisfactory client focused delivery results. This includes the development and adoption of CRM software to manage a high volume of applications and clients, as well as enhanced internal processes and training for staff.

An important part of WD’s mandate is to advocate for Western Canada in the development of national policies and programs. As part of its Policy, Advocacy and Collaboration activities, WD has developed a policy framework to guide departmental policy engagement on key national policy priorities. The department works to ensure that western Canadian interests are considered by central agencies and other government departments. 


Summary of Performance

Financial Resources – Total Departmental ($ Thousands)
Total Budgetary Expenditures
(Main Estimates)
Planned Spending
Total Authorities
(available for use) 2012–13
Actual Spending
(authorities used)
Difference (Planned vs. Actual Spending)
176,307 176,307 199,762 183,718 (7,411)

Note: Planned Spending varies from Total Authorities due to timing difference between appropriation approvals versus Budget 2012 announcements for the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).  Actual Spending varies from Planned as a result of time required in responding to new expenditure targets in the WD Investment Strategy, as well as a transfer of funds to Infrastructure Canada.


Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents-FTEs)
408 368 40

Note: The difference between planned and actual FTEs for 2012–13 is attributed to greater efficiencies in program delivery and administration.


Performance Summary Table for Strategic Outcome and Programs ($ thousands) – Excluding Internal Services
Strategic Outcome: The western Canadian economy is developed and diversified
Program Total Budgetary Expenditures
(Main Estimates 2012–13)
Planned Spending Total Authorities
(available for use) 2012–13
Actual Spending (authorities used) Alignment to Government
of Canada Outcomes
2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2012–1321 2011–12 2010–11
Business Development 63,019 63,019 47,980 46,440 65,620 57,741 53,745 48,160 Strong Economic Growth
Innovation 62,259 62,259 45,248 42,867 57,902 59,830 66,545 77,102 An Innovative and Knowledge-Based Economy
Community Economic Development 20,832 20,832 57,605 34,419 43,220 35,377 39,889 304,492 Strong Economic Growth
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination 8,190 8,190 8,613 8,741 8,897 8,539 7,631 8,658 Strong Economic Growth
Strategic Outcome
154,300 154,300 159,446 132,467 175,639 161,487 167,810 438,412  

Note: Actual Spending under Community Economic Development (CED) is greater than Planned Spending amounts for 2012–13 by $14.5 million primarily due to increased spending for the CIIF, which was offset by a decrease in spending related to a funding transfer to Infrastructure Canada. Planned Spending under CED increases from 2012–13 to 2013–14 as a result of increased spending for the CIIF, as well as realignment of project spending under the new Program Alignment Architecture (PAA) for 2013–14. The variance in Actual Spending from 2010–11 to 2011–12 is due to the wind down of funding for the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) and Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) initiatives.


Performance Summary Table for Internal Services ($ thousands)
Internal Services Total Budgetary Expenditures
(Main Estimates 2012–13)
Planned Spending Total Authorities (available for use)
Actual Spending (authorities used)
2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2012–13 2011–12 2010–11


22,007 22,007 20,755 17,737 24,123 22,231 27,473 28,079
Sub-Total 22,007 22,007 20,755 17,737 24,123 22,231 27,473 28,079


Total Performance Summary Table ($ thousands)
Strategic Outcome and Internal Services Total Budgetary Expenditures
(Main Estimates 2012–13)
Planned Spending Total Authorities
(available for use)
Actual Spending (authorities used)
2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2012–13 2011–12 2010–11
  176,307 176,307 180,201 150,204 199,762 183,718 195,283 466,491
Total 176,307 176,307 180,201 150,204 199,762 183,718 195,283 466,491

Total Authorities of $199.8 million for 2012–13 were greater than planned spending of $176.3 million by $23.5 million, as new funding was received through Supplementary Estimates. This consisted of $23.1 million for the CIIF; $3.4 million from collections of repayable contributions; $2.5 million for severance pay, parental leave benefits and leave payout; $2.2 million for operating budget carry forward; $1.5 million for the International Policy Program at the University of Calgary; and $0.6 million for various other minor adjustments. This was offset by reduced appropriations of $9.8 million.

Actual Spending for 2012–13 is lower than Total Authorities, due to a $6.0 million surplus from the Western Diversification Program; a $4.9 million surplus in WD operating expenditures (Vote 1); and a $5.1 million transfer from 2012–13 to meet commitment requirements in future years, including $4.3 million for the CIIF.


Expenditure Profile

Departmental Spending Trend

graph: Departmental Spending Trend

WD's actual spending, including sunset programs, for 2012–13 was $183.7 million. Compared with actual spending of $195.3 million in 2011–12, this represents a decrease of six percent, or $11.6 million. The difference between total spending in 2012–13 and 2011–12 is due to a decrease of $6.7 million in operating expenditures and $4.9 million in grants and contributions (Gs&Cs). The net decrease in Gs&Cs is due in part to the completion of programs and is explained in more detail as follows:

  • An increase of $18.8 million under the CIIF;
  • A decrease of $12.4 million under the EAP for the Recreational Infrastructure Canada initiative;
  • A decrease of $8.4 million under WD's core programs related to reduced appropriations; and
  • A decrease of approximately $2.9 million resulting from normal program fluctuation.

The figures presented in the above chart do not include funds spent through Other Government Department (OGD) suspense accounts on behalf of other federal departments. For example, in fiscal year 2012–13, WD expended approximately $77.9 million on behalf of Infrastructure Canada under the Building Canada Fund, Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund and the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund.


Estimates by Vote

For information on WD’s organizational Votes and/or statutory expenditures, please see the Public Accounts of Canada 2013 (Volume II)22.  An electronic version of the Public Accounts 2013 is available on the Public Works and Government Services Canada’s Web site.


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. WD ensures that consideration of these outcomes is an integral part of its decision-making processes. WD contributes to the following FSDS themes as denoted by the visual identifiers and associated programs below:

i) Program 2: Innovation:

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


ii) Program 5: Internal Services:

Shrinking the Environmental Footprint of Government

Theme IV:
Shrinking the Environmental Footprint -
Beginning with Government

For further information on WD’s activities to support sustainable development and strategic environmental assessment, please visit the departmental Web site. For complete information on the FSDS, please visit the Environment Canada Web site23.