Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Section I: Organizational Expenditure Overview

Organizational Profile


The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Michelle Rempel, P.C., M.P.

Deputy head:

Daphne Meredith

Ministerial portfolio:

Department of Western Economic Diversification

Year established: 1988

Main legislative authorities:Western Economic Diversification Act5

Headquarters: Edmonton, Alberta


Vancouver, BC
Edmonton and Calgary, AB
Saskatoon, SK
Winnipeg, MB
Ottawa, ON

Organizational Context

Raison d'être

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) was established in 1988 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 Health, supported by the Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification), is responsible for this organization.

As the department responsible for regional development in Western Canada, WD develops and supports economic policies, programs and activities to promote economic growth throughout Western Canada.


WD's 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 has strong connections with other federal government departments throughout Canada, enabling the department to ensure that western interests and perspectives are included in federal decision making. WD's western base enables the department to foster extensive partnerships with western Canadian business and community organizations, research and academic institutions, and provincial and municipal governments.

WD focuses its activities in three areas:

Launched in October 2013, the Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative helps western Canadian SMEs bring innovative technology-based products, processes and services to market.

Business Development and Innovation: WD helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) 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 to 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.

Community Economic Growth: WD helps communities sustain their local economies and adjust to changing economic circumstances through departmental programs and by delivering national initiatives on behalf of the Government of Canada in Western Canada. WD also supports community-based organizations that provide western entrepreneurs with the information, training and loans they need to start and grow their businesses.

Policy, Advocacy and Coordination: WD identifies opportunities to strengthen the western Canadian economy and coordinate economic development activities, policies and programs across the West. WD works to build strategic relationships with key decision makers across Canada and works with western Canadian industry on defence-related procurement opportunities.

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture

Strategic Outcome: A growing and diversified western Canadian economy

  • 1.1 Program: Business Development and Innovation
    • 1.1.1 Sub-Program:Trade, Investment and Market Access
    • 1.1.2 Sub-Program: Business Productivity and Growth
    • 1.1.3 Sub-Program: Innovation Capacity Building
    • 1.1.4 Sub-Program: Technology Commercialization

  • 1.2 Program: Community Economic Growth
    • 1.2.1 Sub-Program: Infrastructure Programming
    • 1.2.2 Sub-Program: Community Development
    • 1.2.3 Sub-Program: Community Futures Program
    • 1.2.4 Sub-Program: Targeted Economic Initiatives
  • 1.3 Program: Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
    • 1.3.1 Sub-Program: Advocacy and Coordination
    • 1.3.2 Sub-Program: Economic Analysis

  • Internal Services

Organizational Priorities

In 2014–15, WD will focus on seven priorities to create jobs and promote economic growth while delivering on its mandate to develop and diversify the western Canadian economy.

Priority Typea Program(s)
Innovation Ongoing Business Development and Innovation
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination

Description – Strengthen Western Canada's innovation capacity by supporting SMEs to bring new technology-based products, processes and services to market, by supporting research and not-for-profit institutions with pre-commercialization investments, and by convening key stakeholders to facilitate discussions on innovation policy and create 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.
  • Increased support for the key drivers of technology commercialization and innovation is essential to the diversification of the western Canadian economy. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011, business expenditures on research and development in Western Canada6 were 0.5 percent of gross domestic product,7 compared to 0.8 percent for Canada as a whole.8
  • Innovation is a priority for the federal and provincial governments, as demonstrated in Budget 20139 and Canada's Science and Technology Strategy.10

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Implement the WINN Initiative to assist SMEs in Western Canada to move their new and innovative technologies from the later stages of research and development to the marketplace;
  • Invest in market-driven projects that develop and showcase new innovative processes and technologies or support innovation capacity building; and
  • Act as a convenor of industry, post-secondary institutions, major research facilities and government to facilitate the advancement of innovation policy, strengthen the innovation marketplace and support pre-commercialization opportunities.

[a] Type is defined as follows: previously committed to— committed to in the first or second fiscal year prior to the subject year of the report; ongoing—committed to at least three fiscal years prior to the subject year of the report; and new—newly committed to in the reporting year of the RPP or DPR.

Priority Type Program(s)
Skills New Business Development and Innovation
Community Economic Growth
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Description – Support market-driven skills development, including funding for projects to support skills training and facilitate the development of training partnerships between industry and post-secondary or other organizations.

Why is this a priority?

  • There is high demand for skilled workers in many of the fast growing sectors in Western Canada, including mining, energy, construction and manufacturing.
  • WD has an opportunity to complement the work of the western provinces and Employment and Social Development Canada.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Facilitate opportunities that bring together industry and post-secondary and other organizations to explore skills and training partnerships and increase training capacity for specific skilled worker shortages;
  • Support skills projects focused on increasing the availability of training equipment at post-secondary and other organizations, implementing on-site training programs and facilitating the sharing of skills training best practices; and
  • Invest in productivity initiatives that encourage the development and adoption of innovative business processes and practices.
Priority Type Program(s)
Aboriginal Economic Development New Business Development and Innovation
Community Economic Growth
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Description – Engage and work with Aboriginal entrepreneurs and SMEs to identify opportunities for economic development and enhance market-driven skills development for Aboriginal people or communities.

Why is this a priority?

  • WD is committed to collaborate with Aboriginal entrepreneurs and business leaders to accelerate opportunities for business development and growth.
  • Over the next decade, Canada may see up to $650 billion of investment in more than 600 major projects in the resource sectors across the country, many of which will be located in Western Canada.11 Under its mandate, WD can support projects that enable western Canadian Aboriginal people and communities to benefit from these investments and that complement programs delivered by Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada.
  • Improved labour market participation for Aboriginal Canadians is important to Western Canada's long-term prosperity.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Engage Aboriginal peoples across the West and key partners to identify opportunities for collaborative investment in support of economic development, such as participation in natural resource development opportunities;
  • Engage and work with Aboriginal peoples across the West to partner with industry, other government departments and post-secondary institutions and other organizations to increase opportunities for Aboriginal skills development; and
  • Provide funding to the Aboriginal Business Services Network and Aboriginal Community Futures organizations across Western Canada to enhance access to business information, services and training.
Priority Type Program(s)
Trade and Investment Ongoing Business Development and Innovation Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Description – Enhance SME participation in international business, particularly in emerging markets.

Why is this a priority?

  • Western Canada is focused on increasing exports to foreign markets for its goods and services. International exports account for a significant proportion of Western Canada's gross domestic product.12
  • 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 and emerging markets, innovative ideas, technology and capital. This, in turn, increases their long-term profits and promotes job creation.
  • International trade and investment enhances economic prosperity. Under the Global Markets Action Plan,13 the Government of Canada will concentrate its efforts on the markets that hold the greatest promise for Canadian business.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Strengthen the ability of western Canadian SMEs to access opportunities in international markets, both in North America and emerging markets;
  • Improve trade corridors of importance to Western Canada to support the flow of goods, services and people;
  • Strategically support western Canadian participation at international trade shows to raise awareness of the West's capabilities; and
  • Build awareness of Western Canada as a competitive investment destination to increase foreign direct investment into the region.
Priority Type Program(s)
Federal Defence Procurement New Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Business Development and Innovation
Description – Maximize the ability of western SMEs to capitalize on federal defence procurement.

Why is this a priority?

  • Canada's defence-related industries include more than 2,000 companies, 70,000 employees and $12.6 billion in annual revenues.14 With industrial and regional benefit opportunities in Canada projected to grow from $23 billion in 2011 to $49 billion in 2027, there are significant industrial opportunities for Western Canada.15
  • WD introduced and implements Western Canada's Shipbuilding Action Plan.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Work as a business facilitator to ensure western Canadian stakeholders are aware of federal defence procurement and what is required to successfully engage and maximize participation in global supply chains of prime contractors and key partners;
  • Strengthen the western Canadian aerospace, defence and marine sectors by identifying strategic investments that support innovation, international competitiveness and growth;
  • Support collaborative trade and investment opportunities, including an increased participation at international events and trade missions in the aerospace, defence and marine sectors as part of a unified Canadian presence; and
  • Represent western interests to key decision-makers in the development of national policies and strategies relating to the federal procurement process and the aerospace, defence and marine sectors.
Priority Type Program(s)
Modernization of the Western Canada Business Services Network (WCBSN) New Business Development and Innovation
Community Economic Growth
Description – Ensure WCBSN members are maximizing their impact in their communities and are aligned with Government of Canada and WD priorities.

Why is this a priority?

  • The WCBSN is a network of more than 100 offices funded by WD to provide business information and assistance, planning and implementation of community economic development initiatives and loans to SMEs. The WCBSN includes several organizations, including Community Futures organizations, Women's Enterprise Initiative offices, Francophone Economic Development Organizations and members of the Canada Business Network.
  • There is an opportunity to strengthen WCBSN's programs and services to maximize their impact and realize their potential to be economic drivers in their communities, and for WCBSN members to unlock economic opportunities that are aligned with Government of Canada and WD priorities.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Continue to work with WCBSN members to strengthen the structures, governance and accountability needed to provide value-added offerings in an environment where basic business information is readily available; and
  • Work with the WCBSN to enhance its support and promotion of the Government of Canada priorities of technology commercialization, innovation, job creation and the implementation of projects and activities that support sustainable economic growth.
Priority Type Program(s)
Managing for Excellence in a Changing Environment Previously Committed to All programs
Description – Capitalize on opportunities and implement strategies 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 and recognizes the need to adapt programs to address the needs of western Canadians and the western Canadian economy.
  • Canadians expect government to modernize its operations and ensure they are effective and efficient.

Plans for meeting the priority

  • Streamline and standardize business processes, including information management and technology;
  • Support knowledge management and employee development to maintain consistent program delivery, policy implementation and client service; and
  • Collaborate with other Regional Development Agencies in implementing common business processes to achieve program efficiencies.

Risk Analysis

Key Risks

Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to Program Alignment Architecture
Declining competitiveness and slow productivity growth in Western Canada Investment in projects that help businesses increase productivity and competitiveness; and
Delivery of the WINN Initiative to bring innovative technology-based products, processes and services to market.
· Business Development and Innovation
Small domestic market and increasing global competition for western Canadian businesses Work with western Canadian SMEs, industry associations and research institutes to improve access to global value chains; and
Support projects leading to enhanced international market access for western Canadian products and services.
· Business Development and Innovation

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. 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 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 2014–15, 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. In order to remain competitive in a global economy, western Canadian businesses will need to increase their presence in international markets, participate in global value chains and attract foreign direct investment. In 2014–15, 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 western Canadian products and services.

Planned Expenditures

Budgetary Financial Resources (Planned Spending—dollars)

Main Estimates
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
158,907,952 158,907,952 158,797,182 155,819,665

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents16 - FTEs)

2014–15 2015–16 2016–17
310 310 296

Budgetary Planning Summary for Strategic Outcome and Program(s) (dollars)

Strategic Outcome(s), Program(s) and Internal Services 2011–12 Expenditures 2012–13 Expenditures 2013–14 Forecast Spending 2014–15 Main Estimates 2014–15 Planned Spending 2015–16 Planned Spending 2016–17 Planned Spending
Strategic Outcome 1: A growing and diversified western Canadian economy
Program 1: Business Development and Innovation 120,289,876 117,571,416 101,828,131 100,598,774 100,598,774 100,528,650 99,450,441
Program 2: Community Economic Growth 39,889,572 35,377,579 62,169,344 34,432,043 34,432,043 34,408,041 32,956,127
Program 3:
Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
7,630,756 8,538,591 8,891,342 10,741,002 10,741,002 10,733,515 10,532,257
Strategic Outcome 1 Subtotal 167,810,204 161,487,586 172,888,817 145,771,819 145,771,819 145,670,206 142,938,825
Internal Services Subtotal 27,473,277 22,230,897 21,762,298 13,136,133 13,136,133 13,126,976 12,880,840
Total 195,283,481 183,718,483 194,651,115 158,907,952 158,907,952 158,797,182 155,819,665

WD's planned spending is $158.9 million in 2014–15, compared to the 2013–14 forecast spending of $194.7 million. The $35.8 million decrease in net spending includes a decrease in both transfer payments and operating costs. Factors contributing to the net decrease include:

  • Sun-setting of funding provided through the Economic Action Plan (EAP) program "Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund" (decrease of $27.4 million); and
  • Realization of savings identified as part of the Budget 2012 planned savings including statutory costs (decrease of $7.0 million).
  • Net adjustments sought during the 2013–14 fiscal year also contribute $1.4 million to the overall decrease in WD's planned spending, including:
    • A decrease of $3.6 million attributed to reduced operating budget carry forward and reinvestment of receipts from repayable contributions;
    • An increase of $1.5 million in funding to support the Rick Hansen Foundation in support of the research, programs and operations of the Rick Hansen Institute; and
    • An increase of $0.7 million in funding for the Economic Development Initiative of the 2013–2018 Federal Strategy for Official Languages.

Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes

2014–15 Planned Spending by Whole-of-Government-Framework Spending Area17

Strategic Outcome Program Spending Area Government of Canada Outcome 2014–15 Planned Spending (dollars)
1. A growing and diversified western Canadian economy 1.1 Business Development and Innovation Economic Affairs Strong economic growth 100,598,774
1.2 Community Economic Growth Economic Affairs Strong economic growth 34,432,043
1.3 Policy, Advocacy and Coordination Economic Affairs Strong economic growth 10,741,002

Total Planned Spending by Spending Area (dollars)

Spending Area Total Planned Spending
Economic Affairs 158,907,952
Social Affairs 0
International Affairs 0
Government Affairs 0

Departmental Spending Trend

Departmental Spending Trend (without EAP)

WD's spending will decrease in 2014–15 as a result of the sun-setting Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) program under Canada's EAP, as well as planned savings as identified in Budget 2012. Further details are provided in the section entitled "Planned Expenditures."

Estimates by Vote

For information on WD's organizational appropriations, please see the 2014–15 Main Estimates18 publication.

Contribution to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

The 2013–16 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), 19 tabled on November 4, 2013, guides the Government of Canada's 2013–16 sustainable development activities. The FSDS articulates Canada's federal sustainable development priorities for a period of three years, as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

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.

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 1.1: Business Development and Innovation;
    • Sub-Program 1.1.3: Innovation Capacity Building;
    • Sub-Program 1.1.4: Technology Commercialization; and
    • Internal Services

WD also ensures that its decision-making process includes a consideration of the FSDS goals and targets through the strategic environmental assessment (SEA). A SEA for policy, plan or program proposals includes an analysis of the impacts of the proposal on the environment, including on the FSDS goals and targets. The results of SEAs are made public when an initiative is announced or approved, demonstrating that environmental factors were integrated into the decision-making process.

For additional details on WD's activities to support sustainable development, please see Section II of this RPP and WD's website.20For complete details on the Strategy, please see the FSDS21 website.