Western Economic Diversification Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

About Western Canada

As Canada's regional economic development agency for Western Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) strives to maintain Western Canada's competitive position. WD invests in projects and activities that help improve productivity and competitiveness through the development, adoption and commercialization of new technologies and business processes. WD also supports growing value-added production and access to international markets.

Abundant natural resources, thriving technology and services sectors, and low business costs make Western Canada an attractive place to do business. Its proximity to Asian markets, access to inland and sea ports, and excellent connectivity with North American transportation systems have enabled increased efficiencies in exporting to international markets.

Western Canada is a significant contributor to the overall Canadian economy. In 2015, Western Canada accounted for 36 percent of both Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) and its exported goods.1,2 Western Canada’s export activity is also closely linked to the world’s largest economy, the United States, and increasingly to the large and growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The United States is Western Canada’s largest trading partner. In 2015, trade with the United States accounted for roughly 72 percent of Western Canada’s total exports. In the same year, trade with the Asia-Pacific region accounted for roughly 18 percent of Western Canada's total exports.3,4

Economic growth in Western Canada is anchored by the natural resources sector, with resource-based goods accounting for approximately 61 percent of total exported products in 2015. The sector has benefited the economy by supporting the creation of industry clusters in sectors such as mining, forestry, oil and gas and agriculture.

Geography

Western Canada consists of the country’s four westernmost provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It covers 2.9 million square kilometers – almost 29 percent of Canada’s land area – making it the seventh largest land mass in the world. It is bordered by Canada’s three territories, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut to the north; Ontario and Hudson Bay to the east; by the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota to the south; and Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Approximately 11.1 million people, roughly 32 percent of Canadians, call Western Canada home.5 The majority of the population lives in urban areas, dominated by our cities, which include:

British Columbia (Provincial population 4,648,055)

  • Vancouver – 2,463,431
  • Victoria* – 367,770
  • Kelowna – 194,882
  • Abbotsford-Mission – 180,518

Alberta (Provincial population 4,067,175)

  • Calgary – 1,392,609
  • Edmonton* – 1,321,426

Saskatchewan (Provincial population 1,098,352)

  • Saskatoon – 295,095
  • Regina* – 236,481

Manitoba (Provincial population 1,278,365)

  • Winnipeg* – 778,489

* Population of census metropolitan areas listed in order of size with capital city indicated by a star.


[1] GDP Expenditure-based at current prices.
[2] Statistics Canada, CANSIM Tables 384-0038 and 228-0060.
[3] Includes only Asian countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
[4] Industry Canada, Trade Data Online.
[5] Statistics Canada, 2016 Census, Population and Dwelling Counts.