Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Minister's Message - The Honourable Rona Ambrose

Rona Ambrose

In the past four years, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has supported four pilot projects in French-language distance education in the West. These projects are broadening post-secondary programs for Francophone and bilingual students, improving their education and enhancing their career opportunities.

The pilot projects helped WD fulfill its commitments under the Government of Canada's Action Plan for Official Languages. Launched in 2003, the Action Plan is promoting English-French linguistic duality throughout Canada. Under the plan, the Government is providing $33 million over five years to advance the economic development of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) in Canada.

WD undertook the pilot projects in partnership with Industry Canada, which is the lead department in increasing the capacity of OLMCs to participate in the knowledge-based economy. The institutions participating in the pilot projects are Collège Éducacentre in B.C., Campus Saint-Jean in Alberta, Collège Mathieu in Saskatchewan, and Collège universitaire de Saint Boniface in Manitoba.

Eventually, Francophone and bilingual students throughout the West will have access to a vast range of online French-language programs. This access will allow them to retain their language and culture and improve their employment opportunities.

These initiatives have helped WD further its mandate of promoting the development and diversification of the western Canadian economy, and of advancing the interests of the West in national economic policy.

We're keeping the momentum going. Through our partnerships with these educational institutions, the Government of Canada will continue working to enhance the sustainability of the western Francophone community, and to expand the economic prosperity of official language minority communities. Boosting the economic fortunes of these communities is building a stronger West, and a stronger Canada.