Western Economic Diversification Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Raison d’être

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. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is responsible for this organization.

Mandate and role

WD's mandate, derived from the Western Economic Diversification Act, is to grow and diversify the western Canadian economy. This broad mandate allows the department to implement diverse initiatives across the West and make strategic investments that build on regional competitive advantages.

Our Vision

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

WD has offices in each western Canadian province, as well as an office in Ottawa. Its western base enables the department to foster relationships across Western Canada with business and community organizations, research and academic institutions, Indigenous groups, as well as provincial and municipal governments. These connections assist the department to identify and support economic opportunities in the West and to leverage its investments to benefit the western Canadian economy.

In addition, through its connections with other federal departments, WD ensures that western interests and perspectives are reflected in national policy development and decision making.

WD works to build on the West's traditional economic strengths while supporting the transition to a more diverse economy to ensure prosperity for western Canada.

WD focuses its activities in three program areas:

Business Development and Innovation: WD helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow, create jobs, expand their markets, increase their exports and become more innovative and productive. The department assists SMEs with international business activities 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 builds strategic relationships with key decision makers across Canada and works with western Canadian industry on defence-related procurement opportunities.

WD supports regional economic diversification and inclusive growth through investment in projects under the Western Diversification Program (WDP) in areas of innovation; business growth; community economic growth; and through policy, advocacy and coordination. The WDP provides funding to not-for-profit organizations for projects directly supporting one (or more) of the four departmental priorities, as presented in WD's 2016–17 Report on Plans and Priorities.  Under the WDP, through the Western Innovation (WINN) InitiativeWD provides repayable contributions to SMEs to support the commercialization of knowledge-based products, services and processes. WINN has been an important tool in helping western SMEs to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies and stimulate greater private sector investment.

WD programming contributes to the following Government of Canada priorities:

  • Innovation and Skills;
  • Trade and Investment;
  • Indigenous Peoples; and
  • Infrastructure.

In addition, WD supports the Western Canada Business Service Network (WCBSN), which is a network of over 100 independent organizations providing business services to foster inclusive sustainable growth of small businesses across the West. The WCBSN network includes the Canada Business Network (CBN), Community Futures, Women's Enterprise Initiative, Francophone Economic Development Organizations, Indigenous Business Development Services, and Entrepreneurs with Disabilities.

Further, WD serves western Canadian stakeholders by delivering national initiatives on behalf of the federal government in Western Canada. These include the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program to renovate, expand, and improve existing community infrastructures, the Strategic Partnerships Initiative that coordinates the Government of Canada’s investments across a range of departments to boost Indigenous participation in economic development opportunities, as well as the Economic Development Initiative that supports economic development in western Canadian Francophone communities.

For more general information about the department, see the "Supplementary information" section of this report. For more information on the department's organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister’s mandate letter.