Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do
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 Economic Development and Official Languages 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 WD to deliver a wide range of initiatives across the West, and make strategic investments to build on regional competitive advantages and help grow the western economy. WD also contributes to the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, other government-wide priorities, and ministerial mandate letter commitments.
WD has offices in each of the four western Canadian provinces and in Ottawa. Its western base enables the department to foster strong partnerships with business and community organizations, research and academic institutions, Indigenous Peoples, and provincial and municipal governments. These connections help WD reflect western perspectives in national decision-making.
WD supports western Canadian economic diversification and inclusive growth through investments under the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) Initiative to fuel economic growth through innovation and create high quality personnel jobs. REGI has two program streams, the Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) stream, and the Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) stream. The Business Scale-up and Productivity stream supports businesses seeking to accelerate their growth, scale-up, and be more productive and competitive in both domestic and global markets. The Regional Innovation Ecosystems stream aims to create, grow, and nurture inclusive regional ecosystems that support business needs throughout the innovation continuum.
WD will also continue to foster community economic development and diversification opportunities in western Canada through the Western Diversification Program (WDP).
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, Community Futures program, Women's Enterprise Initiative, Francophone Economic Development Organizations, Indigenous Business Development Services program, and Entrepreneurs with Disabilities program.
Further, WD serves western Canadian stakeholders by delivering national initiatives on behalf of the federal government in western Canada. Some of these include:
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy to help western women entrepreneurs grow their businesses through access to financing, talent, networks, and expertise.
- The Canadian Experiences Fund that supports western Canadian businesses and not-for-profit organizations in creating, improving, or expanding tourism-related infrastructure as part of the Federal Strategy on Tourism and Jobs.
- The Canada Coal Transition Initiative that supports skills development and economic diversification activities to help communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan transition to a low-carbon economy. This will assist Canada in achieving its goal of 90% non-emitting electricity by 2030.
- 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.
- 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.
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