Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Sub-program 1.2.3: Community Futures Program

Sub-program Description

The CF Program[24] builds the capacity of rural communities to increase their economic activities by aiding the development and implementation of local solutions to local problems. This sub-program provides financial support to CF organizations to deliver a range of small business services, provide repayable financing to new and existing enterprises, and support development of strategic plans and community economic development projects to address community needs. Transfer payments in support of this sub-program are made under the authority of the CF Program.

Budgetary Financial Resources (dollars)
Planned Spending
Actual Spending
(actual minus planned)
29,642,630 31,906,741 2,264,111


Human Resources (FTEs)
(actual minus planned)
22 21 (1)


Performance Results
Expected Results Performance Indicators Targets Actual Results
Strong rural community strategic planning and implementation Value of community-based projects $6,980,000 $23,200,011
Rural access to business development services Number of businesses created, maintained or expanded through business services 1,200 766
Rural access to capital and leveraged capital Value of loans $63.3M $74.8M

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned

WD tracks three indicators to capture the impact of the CF sub-program: value of community-based projects, number of businesses created/maintained/ or expanded through business services and value of loans.

WD met or exceeded its targets for two of the three CF sub-program performance indicators (see Performance Results table above). The significant over-achievement of the indicator on the value of community projects, $23.2 million against a target of $7 million, is largely attributed to five CFs who were instrumental in facilitating access to capital for large infrastructure projects in their communities.  These five CFs initially projected $720,000 in leverage but successfully achieved approximately $11 million.  The high achievement of the indicator on rural access to capital as measured by the value of loans, over $74 million, is an indication of the strong impact of CFs in rural communities across the West. 

Actual results were lower than expected for the second indicator related to the number of businesses created/maintained/ or expanded through businesses services.  The variance is attributed to a reduction in available funding from other partners which in turn limited the ability of CFs to serve as many clients as planned.

WD engaged in several activities to enhance the effectiveness of the WCBSN programming. WD completed a CF Revitalization Initiative in 2013-14 which sought improvements in three areas: CF Associations' role and structure, governance and accountability, and performance and alignment.  The intent going forward is to ensure an increased economic impact of CF members in Western Canada and better alignment with Government of Canada and WD priorities.

WD also conducted an evaluation of the CF program[25] in 2013–14, which concluded that there is an ongoing and relevant need for the program as rural SMEs face barriers in access to capital and business development services. The program is needed in stable economic conditions as well as in economic downturns. An assessment of the long term impact of the program indicated that CF-assisted firms outperformed a comparable group of non-assisted firms in terms of employment growth, business survival rate and revenue growth. The evaluation provided three recommendations: 1) clarify CF activities that count as community economic development; 2) enhance the effectiveness and integration of the reporting systems of the program; and 3) continue to enhance reporting on long-term outcomes. The department has developed a management response action plan to address these recommendations. The actions to address these recommendations are part of the CF revitalization exercise.