Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Results: what we achieved


Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) works to grow the western Canadian economy by helping to build businesses that are productive, innovative and export-oriented, while diversifying the base of the western Canadian economy.

In 2016–17, WD's mandate was advanced through three programs:

  1. Business Development and Innovation;
  2. Community Economic Growth; and
  3. Policy, Advocacy and Coordination.

WD sets targets annually for all performance indicators at the program and sub-program level in the departmental performance measurement framework (PMF).  Progress is tracked against targets based primarily upon results that grants and contributions multi-year projects report during the fiscal year.  In addition, WD collects information on several non-PMF performance indicators to support accountability and programming decision making.

Program 1.1: Business Development and Innovation


Business Development and Innovation supports western Canadian businesses, industry, and research organizations to enhance business innovation, productivity, and global engagement. Value-added production is strengthened through the introduction of new products, technologies, or innovations to existing processes, as well as through efforts to pursue global markets and increase investment in Western Canada. Additionally, this program supports some members of the Western Canada Business Service Network and related partners to provide business services and access to capital in Western Canada in support of increased entrepreneurism. Transfer payments in support of this program are made under the authority of the Women's Enterprise Initiative and the Western Diversification Program. Funding support of the Canada Business Network is comprised of operations and maintenance funding.


WD tracks three indicators to capture the impact of the Business Development and Innovation program:

  • value of international business activity facilitated by WD;
  • number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that increase gross margins; and
  • number of instances of protection of intellectual property exercised.

WD met or exceeded its targets for two of the three program performance indicators (see Performance Results table on page 12).

The target for value of international business activity facilitated by WD was $392 million and the actual result was $680 million. The target for the number of SMEs that increase their gross margins was 18 and the actual result was 20. For these two indicators, the variance is due to the multi-year nature of the projects funded with results sometimes being realised or reported earlier than anticipated.

In 2016-17, WD funded projects reported

  • 1,342 jobs created [1]
  • $13.6 million in value of business expenditures on research & development [2], and
  • $66 million of sales tied to knowledge-based products, processes, services or technologies being commercialized in support of the Government of Canada Innovation & Skills Plan

The target for the remaining indicator, which captures the number of instances of protection of intellectual property exercised, was 26 and the actual result was 13. The variance for this indicator is attributable to a small number of projects that are taking longer than anticipated to produce results.

WD invested $24.1 million in 55 clean technology projects in support of the Budget 2016 commitment to double the Regional Development Agencies’ aggregate investments in clean technology to $100 million. WD’s areas of investment include growing clean technology companies, greening industry, greening communities, and capacity building.

WD also approved $56.4 million in multi-year assistance for 45 Business Development and Innovation projects to commercialize new innovative products, processes and services; enhance exports to new international markets; and attract investment to Western Canada. The projects are strengthening regional clusters in the areas of clean technology, information communication technologies, health and life sciences, and value-added manufacturing.

In October 2016, WD supported the Foreign Direct Investment Canada Forum in Calgary. This forum promoted Western Canada as a destination of choice for foreign direct investment to potential international investors. It profiled potential business opportunities and hosted speakers to help investors understand the best areas for investment in Western Canada. This forum led to $25 million in international business activity facilitated by WD.

WD also supported the BC Export Assistance Project, which enables SMEs to become successful, profitable exporters. With funding from the Province of British Columbia, WD and Small Business BC, this initiative offers SMEs access to community-based export specialists who identify the specific needs and export readiness of participating businesses and offer a tailored export approach. To date, this initiative has assisted 61 participants across a variety of sectors including agrifood, manufacturing, and consumer goods.

WD completed refocusing the Indigenous Business Development Services (formerly known as the Aboriginal Business Services Network). This involved implementing a more targeted approach to support early stage entrepreneurship for new and existing Indigenous entrepreneurs and business organizations in Western Canada.

Under the overall Government of Canada theme of experimentation and innovation, WD conducted a pilot project to test the Community Futures (CF) program loans impact assessment methodology on smaller-scale Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI). WEI provides loans to support women entrepreneurs to start and expand their businesses. The study was based on the latest available Statistics Canada data from 2007 to 2012 and compared the business performance of WEI women-owned business loan clients to similarly-sized, women-owned incorporated companies in Western Canada. The study found the following results[3] :

  • Employment Growth: WEI-assisted firms grew at a compounded rate of 5.76 percent per year compared to a negative growth rate of 0.25 percent for non-assisted firms.
  • Sales Growth: WEI-assisted firms grew at a compounded rate of 10.67 percent per year compared to 1.21 percent for non-assisted firms.
  • Firm Longevity: WEI-assisted firms also exhibited stronger firm longevity than firms in the comparable group, especially in the long run. There was a 60.24 percent survival rate after five years for WEI-assisted businesses versus 45.26 percent for non-assisted firms.

WD commenced an evaluation of its innovation programming in 2016-17. The findings and recommendations from the innovation evaluation will be reported in next year’s departmental results report. WD also identified key lessons learned on the WINN call-for-proposals (CFP) process which include enhancing the timeliness of the intake process in terms of predictability, increasing the proposal submission period between call for proposals and proposals closing, and providing greater feedback to the unsuccessful applicants. WD will consider these recommendations as part of the WINN review currently underway.

Results achieved
Expected results Performance indicators Target Date to achieve target 2016–17 Actual results 2015–16 Actual results 2014–15 Actual results
Western Canadian small and medium-enterprises (SMEs) are engaged in international business Value of international business activity facilitated by WD $392M March 31, 2017 $680M $550M $72.8M
Western Canadian SMEs are competitive Number of SMEs that increase gross margins 18 March 31, 2017 20 10 25
Western Canadian SMEs are innovative Number of instances of protection of intellectual property exercised 26 March 31, 2017 13 9 24

Note: Not all WD projects report on these indicators and overall results are therefore understated. WD is in the process of revising its reporting framework to allow better reporting in the future. Results are based on active projects reporting during the fiscal year and are not cumulative from previous year(s). Consequently, trends analysis would not be an accurate way to assess these results.

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
2016-17 Main Estimates 2016-17 Planned spending 2016-17 Total authorities available for use 2016-17 Actual spending (authorities used) 2016-17 Difference (actual minus planned)
95,135,450 95,135,450 97,106,096 96,821,013 1,685,563


Human resources (full-time equivalents)
2016–17 Planned 2016–17 Actual 2016–17 Difference (actual minus planned)
103 94 (9)

Note: Actual full-time equivalents (FTE) utilization is less than planned as a result of re-alignment of FTEs to the Community Economic Growth program in support of Canada 150 activities and related project development work.



This measure is an aggregate of number of HQP jobs created, SME employment growth, and number of skilled workers hired as a result of training or skills certification.
This measure is an aggregate of value of applied R&D undertaken related to initial technology development, and value of applied R&D undertaken related to intermediate technology development.
Women’s Enterprise Initiative Pilot Project Performance Report (2007–2012), October 2016