Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Western Economic Diversification (WD), as the federal department with the mandate for developing and diversifying the western Canadian economy, plays a key role in supporting western Canadians to participate in international markets given Trade and Investment's important contribution to economic growth. In recognition of these critical linkages, international trade and foreign direct investment has been a strategic priority for the department since 2007–08. Under the previous departmental Program Activity Architecture (PAA)1, the department's Trade and Investment activities belong to the Business Development program activity, under the two sub-activities of Market and Trade Development and Foreign Direct Investment. Within the department, there is also a designated horizontal International Competitiveness Team (IC Team) that leads and coordinates the majority of planned Trade and Investment activities in the department. The IC Team developed an International Trade and Investment Framework in 2008 and 2009 and a three-year Framework for 2010–13. The team has developed an annual work plan based on the three-year framework and prepared an annual report during this time period.

The Department for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)2 is the lead department for foreign relations and international trade policies and programs in Canada. WD works with DFATD to contribute to a whole-of-government approach that enables Canadians to participate in global commerce and build a strong, stable economy. WD's Trade and Investment activities are guided by the Government of Canada's Global Commerce Strategy and Advantage Canada. In supporting international commerce opportunities for western Canadians, WD also works collaboratively with other federal departments, provincial governments, municipalities and industry associations. The department, similar to other Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), focuses on supporting Trade and Investment initiatives that address service gaps or enhance existing services in the region. WD, unlike other RDAs, does not work directly with small and medium-sized enterprises, but instead supports not-for-profit organizations as a way to provide indirect assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Purpose of the Evaluation

The purpose of this project was to conduct an evaluation of WD's Trade and Investment activities over the past five years. In accordance with the 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation, the evaluation focused on relevance and performance (efficiency, effectiveness and economy).

The department's Trade and Investment activities were previously evaluated in 2008 as part of the Western Diversification Program evaluation. The scope of the current evaluation encompasses the following:

  • All WD Trade and Investment activities from 2007–08 to 2011–12 fiscal years defined as all Grants and Contribution projects in Trade and Investment funded under the Western Diversification Program authority;
  • The evaluation draws upon the findings in the 2012 North American Platform Program Evaluation and the 2012 Western Economic Partnership Agreement evaluation.

A list of the specific questions is provided in the following table.

Evaluation Issues: Evaluation Questions:
Need For The Program 1. What are the key needs of Western Canada with regards to Trade and Investment (i.e. global readiness services)? Are the needs documented and complete? Is WD aware of the key Trade and Investment priorities in Western Canada?

2. Given WD's Trade and Investment priority, are actions focused and responding to emerging needs and core markets? Has WD adequately responded to the changing Trade and Investment environment?

3. To what extent are activities undertaken as part of the Market and Trade Development, and Foreign Direct Investment sub-activities consistent with the Trade and Investment needs in Western Canada and expected results of the department?

4. To what extent are WD's Trade and Investment activities aligned with departmental plans and priorities as well as government-wide priorities and strategies?
  • Is there a legitimate and necessary role for the department in activities directed at increasing the export capacity for small and medium-sized enterprises in Western Canada and their international sales?
  • Is there a legitimate and necessary role for the department in trying to increase awareness and interest in investment opportunities?
Achievement Of Intended Outcomes 5. How successful have the activities supported under Trade and Investment been in achieving the expected results?

6. To what extent do the results achieved through WD's Trade and Investment activities contribute to the achievement of strong small and medium-sized enterprises in Western Canada with an improved capacity to remain competitive in the Canadian economy and global marketplace?

7. What factors have facilitated and/or impeded the success of WD's Trade and Investment activities? How have these factors impacted the evolution of the department's involvement in Trade and Investment over time?
Demonstration Of Efficiency And Economy 8. What mechanisms are in place to promote communication, share information and coordinate WD's Trade and Investment activities and resources within the department? How effective are these mechanisms in coordinating activities, sharing information and best practices, and limiting overlap and duplication?

9. To what extent are the resources allocated to Trade and Investment efficiently utilized? What improvements (e.g., alternative design/delivery options) can be made to increase efficiency? Are there changes that WD needs to consider to effectively address new and emerging issues in Trade and Investment? What is the level of client satisfaction with respect to approval processes and the level and type of support and services provided to clients?

10. To what extent is performance measurement being undertaken and used to link outputs, expected results and outcomes for WD's Trade and Investment activities?

Structure of the Report

Section 2 presents a profile of the department's Trade and Investment activities while Section 3 provides a description of the methodology employed to conduct this evaluation. Section 4 describes the key findings of the evaluation and recommendations.


[1] A new departmental PAA was implemented in FY2013-2014. Under the new PAA, the Market and Trade Development and the Foreign Direct Investment sub-activities were merged into the Trade, Investment and Market Access sub-program.

[2] This is the new name of the department; it was formerly known as the Department for Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).