Evaluation of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Communities and Inclusive Growth Programming

2012-2013 to 2017-2018

Evaluation, Risk and Advisory Services

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

February 2019

Table of Contents

Acronyms

Figures

Tables

Summary

  1. Introduction
  2. Program description

2.1. Objectives of the CIG Programming

2.2. Eligible recipients

2.3. Logic model

2.4. Program implementation context

2.5. Intervention approach

2.6. Program alignment and financial resources

  1. Evaluation methodology

3.1. Data collection methods

3.2. Evaluation Advisory Committee

3.3. Evaluation strengths and limitations

  1. Findings

4.1. Relevance

4.2. Performance: Effectiveness

4.3. Performance: Efficiency and economy

  1. Conclusions
  2. Recommendations

Summary of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

Appendix A: Summary of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

Appendix B: Management Action Plan

Appendix C: CIG Evaluation Framework

Acronyms

ACOA Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

AGS Atlantic Growth Strategy

BDP Business Development Program

CAS Consultant Advisory Services (through CBDCs)

CBBD Community-based Business Development programming

CBDC Community Business Development Corporations

CEED Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development

CFP Community Futures Program

CIG Communities and Inclusive Growth

CIP 150 Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program

CIIF Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund

DCBA Destination Cape Breton Association

DRF Departmental Results Framework

EDI Roadmap for Official Languages 2013-2018: Economic Development Initiative

FTE Full-time employees

G&C Grants and contributions expenditures

GBA+ Gender-based analysis plus

GCPM Grants and Contributions Program Management system

ICF Innovative Communities Fund

ISED Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

JEDI Joint Economic Development Initiative

NB New Brunswick

NL Newfoundland

NS Nova Scotia

O&M Operations and maintenance expenditures

PAA Program Alignment Architecture

PE Prince Edward Island

RDÉE Le Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité

REDO Regional economic development organizations

SME Small and medium-sized enterprises

WBI Women in Business Initiative

Figures

Figure 1: Communities and Inclusive Growth logic model (excluding the Community Futures program)

Figure 2: Types of CIG projects by funding allocation, 2012-2013 to 2017-2018

Figure 3: Client survey – Satisfaction with ACOA service features

Figure 4: Client survey – Extent ACOA programs contribute to economic development in communities

Tables

Table 1: Implementation context

Table 2: Annual CIG expenditures by fiscal year, 2012 to 2018

Table 3: Summary of data collection methods

Table 4: Evaluation limitations and mitigation strategies

Acknowledgements

This evaluation provides the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s ( ACOA) management with objective, neutral evidence on the relevance and performance of the Communiites and Inclusive Growth programming. ACOA’s Evaluation, Risk and Advisory Services Unit completed this evaluation of Communities and Inclusive Growth programming with advice from an evaluation advisory committee (EAC).

The evaluation team thanks the members of the EAC for their advice and support throughout the study. Their contributions helped to ensure the relevance and usefulness of the evaluation. Very special thanks go to the external member of the EAC, Dr. Ather H. Akbari, St. Mary’s University, Program Coordinator, Masters in Applied Economics and Chair, Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity. Internal members of the committee are Dave Boland, Laurie Cameron, Richard Cormier, Colleen Goggin, Jeanetta Hill, Francis Jobin, Marilyn Murphy and Tom Plumridge.

We are also grateful to the external key informants as well as the many ACOA employees from across Atlantic Canada who provided their time and knowledge in support of this evaluation.

Paul-Émile David A/Director, Evaluation Risk and Advisory Services

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Summary

The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the relevance and performance of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Communities and Inclusive Growth (CIG) programming over a six-year period, from 2012-2013 to 2017-2018. The evaluation fulfills Government of Canada accountability requirements and provides the Agency’s management with systematic, neutral evidence to support continuous program improvement. The methodology includes focus groups or interviews with 127 key informants, a client survey with an overall response rate of 56 percent, six case studies, a document and literature review, and an analysis of available performance data.

ACOA’s investments through CIG programming aim to increase the competitiveness of Atlantic Canada’s rural communities and businesses. Projects and initiatives focus on the following objectives: improving infrastructure to attract and retain investments and labour; building and maintaining partnerships; and developing skills and conducting strategic planning for the economic development of communities, regions and sectors.

Over the period of the evaluation, ACOA supported over 1600 CIG projects across Atlantic Canada through grants and contributions expenditures (G&C) and non-financial supports. The Agency expended $452.8M with 87% of this spending through G&C and the remaining to support delivery costs.

Relevance

The evaluation finds that there is a continued need for ACOA’s CIG programming. Challenges to community economic development in rural Atlantic Canada exist to the same degree or are greater than reported in the previous evaluation. In particular, the evaluation reports: an increase in demographic trends such as an aging population, a declining workforce, and the out-migration of young people; labour force and sectoral challenges, including skills shortages; inadequate infrastructure and planning capacity; and declining provincial funding for community economic development. In response to changing needs, the Agency has demonstrated an ability to adapt its programming in fostering opportunities to enhance participation in new and emerging sectors. It has also focused more attention on the convening and pathfinding roles of its staff to leverage new financial resources, and develop new partnerships for community economic development.

The CIG programming aligns with ACOA’s role and federal government priorities. It is complementary and unique to programming offered by other organizations. With a clear focus on community economic development, the programming offers both financial and non-financial supports. It offers flexibility in the amount and type of funding support. The programming is Atlantic-wide in scope and recognizes the specific opportunities and challenges of the region. The CIG programming offers on-the-ground supports for clients throughout the region and is coordinated with other Agency programming and policy functions.

Community development facilitates broader economic impacts. Initiatives that improve infrastructure and quality of life amenities attract residential and business investment. Skills development activities enhance the community’s overall capacity to respond to economic challenges. They provide opportunities for entrepreneurship or career progression to retain younger generations, attract new residents or make it possible for those that have left rural areas to return.

Performance: Effectiveness

The evaluation finds that projects have achieved the immediate outcomes expected of the CIG programming. These results focus on partnership development, capacity building and infrastructure improvement.

ACOA’s support for the development of partnerships facilitates the achievement of CIG and other economic development results. ACOA works with a range of business, community and government partners and stakeholders. It capitalizes on its capacity to collaborate and engage with partners to strengthen the region’s economy. ACOA contributes to capacity building to address skills gaps by funding a variety of projects with universities and other third-party organizations that focus on business skill development in Atlantic Canada.

As with previous evaluations, the majority of funded CIG projects support improved community and sector-based infrastructure. Community-based infrastructure, including that related to culture and recreation, supports livability and population growth. Sector-related infrastructure initiatives support tourism. Key informants and case studies indicate that these projects have led to sustained economic growth in communities in Atlantic Canada. Key informants indicated strong client demand for infrastructure supports. This includes funding through short-term infrastructure programming, such as Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150) and Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).

ACOA continues to support strategic planning for communities and sectors. While there was a decrease in G&C projects focused on planning compared to previous evaluations, internal key informants noted an increased demand by clients for ACOA’s advice, guidance and assistance in convening stakeholders to support strategic planning and implementation of community economic development initiatives.

CIG programming contributes to inclusive growth. Inclusive growth includes promoting the participation of diverse groups and rural communities to support economic development in the region. Historically, CIG programming has included projects that address the needs of some diverse groups, including women, Indigenous communities and language minorities. With newer priorities that include focusing more directly and on a broader range of diversity groups through gender-based analysis plus (GBA+), there are opportunities to continue to enhance the depth and consistency of ACOA’s approach to inclusive growth.

Performance: Efficiency

The evaluation finds that ACOA delivers the CIG programming in a cost-effective manner. Internal costs were proportionate to the amount of funding delivered. ACOA support enabled projects to leverage substantial funds from other organizations at a level consistent with the previous evaluation. There was a high degree of client satisfaction with ACOA’s service features. To ensure efficient program delivery, there is a need to improve the internal understanding of how Agency programming supports newer Government of Canada priorities and evolving roles and approaches.

Since the last evaluation, the Agency has developed new performance measurement tools and processes that have contributed to better collection and reporting of program information to support decision making. However, there are information gaps that present challenges to the strategic, results-based management of the CIG programming. There is a need to enhance performance information on project outcomes, newer ACOA priorities, reach to diversity groups, and the nature and impacts of non-financial supports.

CIG programming is incremental to the implementation of client projects and to obtaining investments from other partners. Most surveyed clients (94%) indicated that if ACOA funding had not been available, there would have been major negative impacts on their projects. More than half of these clients (56%) indicated that their project would not have proceeded or their project would have proceeded with smaller scope (31%). Key informant interviews and case studies confirmed that ACOA’s investments and convening role have had a strong influence on the participation of other partners.

Recommendations

Based on the findings and conclusions, the evaluation makes two recommendations for senior management attention.

Recommendation 1: Continue to improve program performance and the integration of government priorities across ACOA programming by drawing upon change management principles to: articulate direction and engage staff; explore innovative approaches to engage and collaborate with external stakeholders and clients; and enhance understanding of inclusive growth.

Recommendation 2: In tandem with current Grants and Contributions Program Management System development and Departmental Results Framework integration, ensure that adequate Agency performance measurement information is available to inform decision making for program direction and strategic investment. In particular, identify ways to better report on program outcomes, integration of Government of Canada priorities, and non-financial support provided to clients, a key facilitator to the achievement of results.

1. Introduction

This report provides the results of the evaluation of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s ( ACOA) Community and Inclusive Growth (CIG) programming. ACOA conducts evaluations of programming to meet accountability requirements as well to support senior management information needs for program improvement.

The evaluation covers a six-year period, from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2018. It addresses the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of community economic development programming under the Diversified Communities1and Inclusive Growth program pillars of ACOA’s Departmental Results Framework (DRF).

The report contains seven sections:

Appendices contain additional information: summary of the evaluation analytical framework, the evaluation’s findings, conclusions and recommendations, and the management action plan.

2. Program description

2.1. Objectives of the CIG Programming

The objective of ACOA’s CIG programming is to support communities across Atlantic Canada in addressing a variety of economic challenges and opportunities. According to program documentation, the CIG programming addresses core economic issues in the region, including:

The Agency works with communities, key sectors and a range of other partners on initiatives to support:

2.2. Eligible recipients

ACOA directs its CIG programming to non-commercial clients, including:

2.3. Logic model

A logic model represents a program’s theory, showing the links between program activities and expected results. The logic model for the CIG programming, as shown in Figure 1, identifies the following components:

Figure 1: Communities and Inclusive Growth logic model (excluding the Community Futures program)

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2.4. Program implementation context

Implementation of the CIG programming falls within an ever-changing operational and organizational context that can have both direct and indirect impacts on delivery. Table 1 outlines key contextual changes and impacts on the programming over the period of the evaluation.

Table 1: Implementation context

Context Implementation environment of the program Impacts on the program
Federal government context Changes in governmental priorities include greater emphasis on innovation, shared activities as part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy ( AGS) 2016, and supporting diversity and inclusiveness
Dissolution of the Regional Economic Development Organizations (REDOs) in 2012-2013
Adaptation of CIG priorities to be aligned with government priorities Larger draw on CIG staff non-financial supports related to planning and convening stakeholders
Provincial government context Shifting provincial government priorities, approaches and availability of financial resources to support regional economic development Need for ACOA to work with new funding partners and to implement program with less financial support from other levels of government
Departmental context Implementation of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150) through existing ACOA staffing resources Impact on ACOA capacity to deliver ongoing programming in addition to time-limited funding programs

2.5. Intervention approach

Assistance provided

ACOA’s financial assistance is typically provided in one of two ways:

The Agency delivers the CIG programming through a continuous intake model. Proponents submit projects to ACOA at any point through the year and proposals are analyzed as they arrive against program guidelines and government priorities. Agency program officers in regional offices across Atlantic Canada work with clients to develop projects, including identifying and convening partners, leveraging other sources of funding, and providing advice and guidance. They evaluate applications for grants and contributions and manage approved projects through to the delivery of results.

Project types2

As illustrated in Figure 2, more than half of all CIG project funding (65%) supports community and sector-specific infrastructure. The program also funds projects for skills development, marketing, research and development, and strategic planning.

Figure 2: Types of CIG projects by funding allocation, 2012-2013 to 2017-2018

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2.6. Program alignment and financial resources

All federal departments must have a Departmental Results Framework (DRF) that outlines their core responsibilities, expected results and programs. CIG programming is part of ACOA’s DRF under the “Communities” pillar with the expected result that “communities are economically diversified in Atlantic Canada.” At a programming level, CIG falls within diversified communities with investments that support physical infrastructure, community strategic planning, and partnerships, and inclusive communities with investments that support small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) ownership by targeted groups (i.e., women, youth, Indigenous communities, newcomers/immigrants, and language minorities).

This evaluation of CIG programming includes 1600 projects. It encompasses all of ACOA’s community development expenditures, with the following exceptions:

While the CIG programming provides significant support to the tourism industry in Atlantic Canada, the Agency completed an evaluation of its tourism investments in 2016.4 Therefore, the evaluation scope does not include a focus on this sector.

CIG programming expenditures include two grants and contributions (G&C) funding programs, the Innovative Communities Fund (ICF) and the Business Development Program ( BDP) as well as operating and maintenance (O&M). As shown in Table 2, between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2018, there was almost $393M in G&C expenditures, with just over $60M in O&M. Most of the O&M expenses supported ACOA salaries (89%), with the remaining spending (11%) for travel and other program implementation requirements. In 2017-2018, there were approximately 68 full-time employees (FTEs) directly delivering CIG programming at ACOA5.

Table 2: Annual CIG programming expenditures by fiscal year, 2012 to 2018

Fiscal year G&C ($M) O&M ($M) Total ($M)
Salaries Other Operating
2012-2013 $ 59.5 $ 8.5 $ 1.5 $ 69.5
2013-2014 $ 57.4 $ 8.0 $ 1.5 $ 66.9
2014-2015 $ 66.6 $ 8.9 $ 0.9 $ 76.4
2015-2016 $ 63.7 $ 9.3 $ 0.9 $ 73.9
2016-2017 $ 69.8 $ 9.3 $ 0.9 $ 80.1
2017-2018 $ 75.7 $ 9.4 $ 0.8 $ 85.9
Total $ 392.7 $ 53.7 $ 6.5 $ 452.8

3. Evaluation methodology

This section outlines the approach for evaluating the CIG programming, including scope, methods, governance, and methodological strengths and limitations.

3.1. Data collection methods

The evaluation used both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods (Table 3). The choice of methods was determined based on their relevance and reliability, data availability and costs.

Table 3: Summary of data collection methods

Data collection tools and objectives Sources
Internal data and documentation:
Document program design and implementation
  • ACOA Financial data (GX)
  • ACOA Performance data (QAccess)
  • Community Investment Framework and supporting documents
Literature review:
Validate program needs and alignment with government priorities
  • Speeches from the Throne, federal budgets, other strategic priority documents
  • Academic literature on community economic development (75 sources)
Key informant interviews:
Assess relevance and performance from the perspective of various stakeholders
  • 127 interviewees, including 12 external stakeholders, regional and Head Office program officers, management representing program and policy units
Case studies:
Inform understanding of the factors that lead or contribute to program impacts
  • Six case studies, reflecting geographic, funding program, and project type representation
Online client survey of proponents:
Assess relevance and performance from clients’ perspective
  • Online survey of funded clients with a 56% response rate (n=375/669 total clients)

3.2. Evaluation Advisory Committee

ACOA’s Head of Evaluation created and chaired an advisory committee to provide advice and guidance to the project team. The committee members commented on the evaluation framework, preliminary findings, and reports. They also facilitated access to program data, and provided advice at various stages of the evaluation process to maximize a clear reflection of the programming, targeting of specific information needs, and the usefulness of recommendations for decision making and programming improvement. The committee comprised ACOA community development program directors, a representative from the performance measurement unit, and an external issue expert in regional economic development and diversity.

3.3. Evaluation strengths and limitations

A credentialed evaluator led the CIG evaluation and designed the study based on current best practices and protocols, including those outlined in the TBS Policy on Results. The study offers a number of other strengths, including stakeholder engagement, mixed-method design, detailed case studies to examine needs and longer-term impacts, and high response rate to the client survey. ACOA’s program evaluations reflect gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) considerations, including in the scope of each evaluation project, the design and implementation of data collection methods, and the synthesis of findings.

These practices helped to mitigate the common limitations that occur as part of most program evaluations. The evaluation team considered the limitations of the study and implemented a number of mitigation strategies (Table 4).

Table 4: Evaluation limitations and mitigation strategies

Limitation Mitigation Strategies
Lack of information on project outcomes – performance data
  • Validated the program logic model linking activities with expected results.
  • Included targeted performance questions in the client survey and in the key informant interviews.
Short timelines for conducting the evaluation
  • Leveraged existing data vs. collecting new data as possible.
  • Focused on addressing key questions and information gaps identified through extensive consultation during the planning phase.
Key informant interviews are retrospective and subjective in nature
  • Used triangulation of other lines of evidence (literature and document review, client survey, etc.) to substantiate, gather further information.
  • Took a mixed-method approach.
Self-selection bias: people who participate may be different from those who decline or are not invited to participate
  • Invited a range of internal stakeholders for interviews and all clients to complete survey.
  • Sent notifications to potential key informants explaining evaluation purpose and encouraging participation.
Changes underway to respond to new priorities toward the end of the evaluation period
  • Leveraged internal interviews to gain an understanding of the impact of changes on program delivery.
  • Reflected on this changing context in the analysis of findings, conclusions and recommendations.

4. Findings

This section outlines the findings for each of the 10 evaluation questions related to relevance and performance (effectiveness, efficiency, economy). The evaluation team identified findings through a process of triangulation of evidence from the collected data.

4.1 Relevance

Overall, the evaluation identifies the continued strong relevance of the CIG programming, considering the needs that exist in Atlantic Canada, alignment with government priorities, and the level of complementarity with other initiatives.

Question 1: To what extent is the CIG programming addressing a unique need?

Finding 1: Community economic development challenges exist to at least the same degree or are greater than what was reported in the previous evaluation.

There is a strong and continued need for the CIG programming. There are broad economic development challenges facing many communities in Atlantic Canada. A review of current literature indicates:

Interviews with key informants and a review of the literature both indicate that provincial funding for community economic development declined during the period of this evaluation. Most provincial governments in Atlantic Canada are under increasing strain as they cope with major deficits and debt.19

Through the client survey, ACOA’s clients indicated that the factors that presented the greatest challenge to the success of CIG projects were a lack of funding (30%) and sustainability (18%). Clients identified a number of broader economic development issues: access to funding (51%); declining population from out-migration, urbanization, and aging (30%); difficulty attracting new businesses or investments (25%), and shortage of skilled labour or declining workforce (22%).

Finding 2: The Agency is aware and has adapted to some extent to the evolving needs in the region.

The evaluation finds that ACOA is aware of changing economic development needs. The Agency’s decentralized delivery model, close partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, and policy functions facilitate its awareness and the development of responses to changes and opportunities in the region. ACOA demonstrated flexibility through some adjustments to programming. For example:

Finding 3: The program is unique and complementary to programming offered by other organizations.

The document review and key informant interviews identify that there is complementarity with programming delivered by other federal departments, and provincial and municipal governments. There was no evidence of duplication of ACOA’s CIG programming with that offered by other organizations.

Factors that set ACOA’s CIG programming apart from other programming include: the amount, type and flexibility of funding support; Atlantic-wide scope of intervention; targeted focus on community economic development; decentralized delivery model, which brings knowledge of local context and stakeholders; and coordination with the Agency’s enterprise development programming.

Other than ACOA, provincial governments are the most regular co-funders of community development projects. However, according to key informants, provincial departments in Atlantic Canada often have smaller budgets and less capacity for project assessment and development. Clients confirmed the importance of ACOA’s role in providing non-financial supports, such as project assessment and development, which often influences the decisions of provincial governments and others to invest in community economic development initiatives.

The Agency’s regional presence allows for better relationships with a range of local stakeholders and clients. It supports understanding and consideration of contextual factors that influence economic development. Clients and other key informants noted that ACOA plays a key role in fostering collaboration and coordination, as well as the development of strategies and investment projects among federal partners. (See additional details in Section 4.2, Finding 7.)

Question 2: To what extent does CIG’s programming support for community economic development align with current federal government priorities and ACOA’s DRF priorities?

Finding 4: CIG programming addresses Government of Canada priorities related to rural economic development.

ACOA addresses broad Government of Canada priorities through the CIG programming. The CIG programming aligns with expected results outlined in ACOA’s Departmental Results Framework (see also Section 2.6). The programming helps communities respond to economic business development opportunities and challenges and supports strengthened and expanded businesses. Analysis of CIG projects and key informant interviews show that ACOA supports projects related to the community capacity and sector growth, including physical infrastructure, partnership building, skills development and strategic planning. CIG programming has also supported priorities through projects aimed at diversity groups, such as women, Indigenous communities and language minorities. ACOA focused some more recent CIG projects on newcomers and new immigrants.

The programming reflects objectives outlined in key federal priority framework documents:

Internal key informants indicated that there have been challenges with the integration of some newer ACOA and Government of Canada priorities in community economic development programming at ACOA. They indicated that it was not always clear how the community development programming should best incorporate and address priorities in innovation, advanced manufacturing and diversity. (See additional details in Section 4.5, Finding 14.)

Finding 5: The program supports community capacity and sector growth for broader economic development.

The CIG programming contributes to the development of core community capacity and infrastructure that facilitates broader and effective economic development. A substantial body of literature outlines the multiple impacts of community development activities.

4.2. Performance: Effectiveness

Overall, this study identifies that the programming contributes to the achievement of expected outcomes. ACOA’s delivery approach, particularly its work to develop collaborations and leverage supports for initiatives, facilitates the achievement of results. Given changes in the federal government and regional context, there are some opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of programming through continued efforts related to priorities, communication, coordination, and the availability of meaningful information to support decision making and reporting.

Question 3: How have partnerships contributed to the achievement of CIG programming goals?

Finding 6: ACOA is recognized as a trusted partner. Partnerships have been impactful in a variety of ways, including in leveraging alternative sources of funding through provincial governments, other national programs, and the private sector.

The Agency works in partnership with a range of business, community, and government stakeholders to leverage support, coordinate economic development, and react to economic challenges. All lines of evidence confirm that partnerships are critical to the success of ACOA’s programs:

Finding 7: The nature of ACOA’s partnerships is changing to address gaps in the ecosystem. CIG staff are playing increasingly complex roles related to convening and pathfinding.

ACOA’s pathfinding role includes convening and seeking additional funding partners. The Agency capitalizes on its facilitation and convenor capacity to collaborate and engage with partners to advance the region’s economy and fill gaps in the ecosystem.

The Agency’s role in convening funding and other partnerships for community economic development is not new, but it is increasing and evolving. Key informant interviews and a review of internal documents highlight a variety of factors in the ecosystem that have contributed to ACOA’s increasingly complex role in supporting community economic development:

These gaps have contributed to an increased demand for non-financial support by ACOA staff, including general advice and guidance, as well as increasingly complex convening and pathfinding roles. Internal stakeholders highlighted shifts in approach over the period of the evaluation:

Question 4: To what extent has the CIG programming undertaken capacity building activities to address skills gaps?

Finding 8: The program has contributed to addressing business skills gaps, including entrepreneurship, through both financial and non-financial supports to clients and other stakeholders.

ACOA funds a variety of projects that focus on business skill development. A review of program documents shows that ACOA funded universities, colleges and other third-party organizations to deliver entrepreneurship and community economic development training.

Case studies illustrate several examples of how projects support skill development at different levels. For example, the Ulnooweg Financial Education Centre (UFEC) assists First Nation decision-makers by enhancing skills in governance and financial decision making to opening up opportunities for greater participation in the Canadian economy. The LearnSphere model addresses duplication in services and inefficiencies in delivering business management skills training to SMEs.

Key informants and case studies indicate that the role of ACOA staff has shifted to the provision of more non-financial support to help to mitigate skills gaps in community capacity for economic development. Specifically, key informants highlighted the non-financial supports ACOA provides to clients for project, proposal and partnership development and implementation. Case studies indicate that ACOA staff are instrumental in the early developmental stages of proposals and planning for projects.

A challenge in the ecosystem relates to awareness and coordination of services and supports for skill development in the region. Key informant interviews indicate that information about local business skills development service providers is not always readily available to program staff across the Agency or to external stakeholders.

Question 5: To what extent has the programming contributed to enhanced community infrastructure?

Finding 9: CIG programming makes a valued contribution to the enhancement of community and sector growth infrastructure, which supports sustained economic growth in communities.

Consistent with previous evaluations, the majority (65%) of ACOA’s CIG programming investments are infrastructure-related, with 38% coded to community infrastructure (e.g. multi-functional buildings, streetscapes, trails) and 27% to sector growth infrastructure (e.g. tourism, marine) (see Figure 2). These infrastructure projects improve the ability of communities to respond to economic opportunities and to attract and retain residents and skilled workers.

Finding 10: Short-term programming (e.g. CIP 150, CIIF) facilitated the achievement of results related to infrastructure.

While not a focus of this evaluation, there is strong demand and benefit to clients for the funding received through short-term infrastructure programming in Atlantic Canada.

Question 6: To what extent are clients developing and implementing strategic investment plans?

Finding 11: ACOA supported fewer projects focused on planning through CIG programming compared to the previous evaluation period. However, other planning supports emerged in the Atlantic ecosystem and demand continued and increased for planning supports offered by ACOA staff.

ACOA supported strategic planning for communities and sectors. While there was a decrease in funding for projects focused on planning, ACOA staff contributed to strategic planning in a variety of ways.

Finding 12: Strategic investment plans built client capacity and partnerships, and supported decision making.

Survey findings and case studies support the importance of strategic planning for greater economic development impacts.

Question 7: To what extent do program activities contribute to or limit inclusive growth (language minorities, youth, Indigenous, newcomers, etc.) and gender equality in communities in Canada?

Finding 13: CIG programming has contributed to inclusive growth in communities to some extent.

ACOA has contributed to some degree to achieving results through the CIG programming. Historically, ACOA community development programming has considered needs and opportunities for diverse groups, including youth, women, Indigenous communities and language minorities. More recently, the programming has supported initiatives focused on newcomers to Canada to align with priorities outlined in the Innovation and Skills Plan and the Atlantic Growth Strategy.

Finding 14: Inclusive growth is a relatively new priority and concept for ACOA. The Agency has not yet fully developed its approach and capacity to meet the needs of diverse groups through its programming.

The Government of Canada is committed to incorporating the needs of diverse groups in program design and delivery. Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences to acknowledge other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.45

Program documentation, internal key informant interviews and case studies indicate that there are opportunities to enhance the depth and consistency of ACOA’s approach to inclusive growth.

4.3. Performance: Efficiency and economy

This section explores the extent to which ACOA uses CIG programming resources (i.e., G&C, and O&M [including human resources]) to maximize program results.

Question 8: To what extent are performance measurement structures effective in reporting on the achievement of program outcomes?

Finding 15: ACOA has made improvements to performance measurement structures since the previous evaluation, particularly related to project coding. However, there are gaps in the information available related to program outcomes, ACOA priorities such as inclusive growth, and the non-financial supports offered by the Agency.

The availability of useful and timely performance measurement data for decision making facilitates program efficiency. ACOA implemented new tools and processes since the last program evaluation to improve the availability of performance information.

Key informants report challenges in accessing performance data for program management and reporting. A review of current measurement and tracking tools highlights the continued need to address gaps in the collection and use of performance data, in particular with respect to reporting on current priorities and broader outcomes.

Question 9: In the context of the results being achieved, to what extent are the allocated resources (e.g. FTEs, financial) efficiently utilized?

Finding 16: Delivery costs are comparable to amounts reported in previous evaluations.

Overall, ACOA delivered CIG programming in a cost-effective manner. Its financial and non-financial supports enabled projects to leverage substantial funds from other organizations. Mechanisms that fostered efficient and economical delivery include changes in structure and governance, physical presence in communities, and redesign of the Agency’s project approval form. Factors challenging the efficiency of delivery include changes in expectations around the pathfinding role, and the need for more modern tools and technology in the field.

Finding 17: There is a high degree of client satisfaction with ACOA service features.

Client survey respondents indicate that ACOA staff are proactive, efficient and generally helpful at all stages of the project life cycle, including completing forms and navigating the applications and claims process. They describe ACOA as the cornerstone of many projects and stressed the importance of the physical presence of an ACOA representative in their community.

Figure 3: Client survey – Satisfaction with ACOA service features

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Finding 18: There is a lack of clarity about the role of community development programming in supporting newer ACOA priorities, which may lead to inefficiencies in program delivery for the achievement of results.

Uncertainty around recently changing and competing ACOA priorities may have an impact on the efficiency of program delivery. Internal key informants indicate:

Question 10: What impact would the absence of program funding have on community strategic planning and development?

Finding 19: CIG programming has an incremental effect on clients’ ability to proceed with their projects, as well as the quality, scope and timeliness of projects, and the leveraging of funds. The absence of CIG funding would have had significant negative impacts in the community.

ACOA’s financial investments lead directly to the achievement of project results and allow projects to proceed as planned, including through the leveraging of other funding. Key informant interviews and client survey results reflect that ACOA supports have a notable impact in communities in Atlantic Canada.

Figure 4: Client survey – Extent ACOA programs contribute to economic development in communities

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5. Conclusions

Overall, the evaluation finds that ACOA’s CIG programming remains relevant to current needs and government priorities and is achieving expected outcomes related to community economic development in Atlantic Canada. There are some areas for attention to ensure ongoing and strengthened strategic investments through the programming. The evaluation concludes:

  1. ACOA’s CIG programming is relevant to current needs and priorities. There is a continued need for CIG programming and this programming is aligned with government priorities. Community development investments lay a foundation for future economic growth.
  2. ACOA is a valued and trusted partner in economic development in Atlantic Canada. Partnerships have been an integral part of ACOA’s approach and critical to its success. Results achieved are facilitated by ACOA’s regional delivery model and non-financial supports provided by ACOA staff. ACOA staff are playing an increasingly complex role in facilitating local community economic development, including convening, pathfinding and skill development.
  3. Activities have contributed to the achievement of intended outcomes. ACOA continues to play a key role in supporting community and sector partnerships, skills, infrastructure, and planning. These strategic investments are a catalyst to attracting investments and future economic growth. Leveraging other programming (including short-term infrastructure funding) will continue to be necessary to meet ongoing needs.
  4. There are opportunities to solidify ACOA’s approach to integrating new Government of Canada priorities, including diversity, in current programming. ACOA can further strengthen its leadership, strategic planning and direction, engagement of staff, and results monitoring to better address key government priorities through the programming.
  5. ACOA delivered CIG programming in a cost-effective manner. Internal costs are proportionate to the corresponding level of G&C funding expended. CIG program funding was incremental to the implementation of projects.
  6. There are ongoing performance measurement gaps. While availability of performance data related to project types is improving, there is inconsistency in knowledge about, and use of, performance measurement as a tool to support program management. There are opportunities across ACOA to enhance the quality of performance information on broader program outcomes, results for diverse groups, and non-financial supports.

6. Recommendations

Based on the evaluation findings and conclusions, the evaluation makes two recommendations to ensure continued and enhanced programming relevance and operational effectiveness in the future. Appendix A presents a one-page summary of key findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Recommendation 1: Continue to improve program performance and the integration of government priorities across ACOA programming by drawing upon change management principles to: articulate direction and engage staff; explore innovative approaches to engage and collaborate with external stakeholders and clients; and enhance understanding of inclusive growth.

Recommendation 2: In tandem with current Grants and Contributions Program Management system development and Departmental Results Framework integration, ensure that adequate Agency performance measurement information is available to inform decision making for program direction and strategic investment. In particular, identify ways to better report on program outcomes, integration of Government of Canada priorities, and non-financial support provided to clients, a key facilitator to the achievement of results.

ACOA senior program management has agreed with the evaluation’s recommendations. It has developed a management action plan (MAP) that details the actions that the Agency will take to address each of the two recommendations. Appendix B presents the MAP.

Appendix A: Summary of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

Summary of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations
FINDINGS (19) CONCLUSIONS (6) RECOMMENDATIONS
RELEVANCE A. ACOA’s CIG programming is relevant to current needs and priorities. There is a continued need for CIG programming and this programming is aligned with government priorities. (1, 5) Community development investments lay a foundation for future economic growth. (5, 9, 12)

B. ACOA is a valued and trusted partner in economic development in Atlantic Canada. Partnerships have been an integral part of ACOA’s approach and critical to its success. (4, 6) Results achieved are facilitated by ACOA’s regional delivery model and non-financial supports provided by ACOA staff. ACOA staff are playing an increasingly complex role in facilitating local community economic development, including convening, pathfinding and skill development. (2, 7, 8, 12, 19)

C. Activities have contributed to the achievement of intended outcomes.  ACOA continues to play a key role in supporting community and sector partnerships, skills, infrastructure, and planning. These strategic investments are a catalyst to attracting investments and future economic growth. Leveraging other programming (including short-term infrastructure funding) will continue to be necessary to meet ongoing needs and address gaps. (8, 10, 18)

D. There are opportunities to solidify ACOA’s approach to integrating new Government of Canada priorities, including diversity, in current programming. ACOA can further strengthen its leadership, strategic planning and direction, engagement of staff, and results monitoring to better address key government priorities through the programming. (2, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17)

E. ACOA delivered CIG programming in a cost-effective manner. Internal costs are proportionate to the corresponding level of G&C funding expended. CIG program funding was incremental to the implementation of projects. (10, 16, 18, 19)

F. There are ongoing performance measurement gaps. While availability of performance data related to project types is improving, there is inconsistency in knowledge about, and use of, performance measurement as a tool to support program management. There are opportunities across ACOA to enhance the quality of performance information on broader program outcomes, results for diverse groups, and non-financial supports. (14, 15)
  1. Continue to improve program performance and the integration of government priorities across ACOA programming by drawing upon change management principles to: articulate direction and engage staff; explore innovative approaches to engage and collaborate with external stakeholders and clients; and enhance understanding of inclusive growth. (A, B, D)
  2. In tandem with current GCPM development and DRF integration, ensure that adequate Agency performance measurement information is available to inform decision making for program direction and strategic investment. In particular, identify ways to better report on program outcomes, integration of Government of Canada priorities, and non-financial support provided to clients, a key facilitator to the achievement of results. (A, B, F)
1. Community economic development challenges exist to at least the same degree or are greater than what was reported in the previous evaluation.
2. The Agency is aware and has adapted to some extent to the evolving needs in the region.
3. The program is unique and complementary to programming offered by other organizations.
4. CIG programming addresses Government of Canada priorities related to rural economic development.
5. The program supports community capacity and sector growth for broader economic development.
PERFORMANCE – EFFECTIVENESS
6. ACOA is recognized as a trusted partner. Partnerships have been impactful in a variety of ways, including leveraging alternative sources of funding through provincial governments, other national programs, and the private sector.
7. The nature of ACOA’s partnerships is changing to address gaps in the ecosystem and CIG staff are playing increasingly complex roles related to convening and pathfinding. 
8. The program has contributed to addressing business skills gaps, including entrepreneurship, through both financial and non-financial supports to clients and other stakeholders.
9. CIG programming makes a valued contribution to the enhancement of community and sector growth infrastructure, which supports sustained economic growth in communities.
10. Short-term programming (e.g. CIP 150, CIIF) facilitated the achievement of results related to infrastructure.
11. ACOA supported fewer projects focused on planning through CIG programming compared to the previous evaluation period. However, other planning supports emerged in the Atlantic ecosystem and demand continued and increased for planning supports offered by ACOA staff.
12. Strategic investment plans built client capacity and partnerships, and supported decision making.
13. CIG programming has contributed to inclusive growth in communities to some extent.
14. Inclusive growth is a relatively new priority and concept for ACOA. The Agency has not yet fully developed its approach and capacity to meet the needs of diverse groups through its programming.
PERFORMANCE – EFFICIENCY & ECONOMY
15. ACOA has made improvements to performance measurement structures since the previous evaluation, particularly related to project coding. However, there are gaps in the information available related to program outcomes, ACOA priorities such as inclusive growth, and the non-financial supports offered by the Agency.
16. Delivery costs are comparable to amounts reported in previous evaluations.
17. There is a high degree of client satisfaction with ACOA service features.
18. There is a lack of clarity about the role of community development programming in supporting newer ACOA priorities, which may lead to inefficiencies in program delivery for the achievement of results.
19. CIG programming has an incremental effect on clients’ ability to proceed with their projects, as well as the quality, scope and timeliness of projects, and the leveraging of funds. The absence of CIG funding would have had significant negative impacts in the community.

Appendix B: Management Action Plan

Management Action Plan: January 17, 2019

PROJECT TITLE: Evaluation of Communities and Inclusive Growth (excluding CFP)

RESPONSIBILITY CENTRE: Head Office, Programs

RESPONSIBILITY CENTRE MANAGER: Bill Grandy, Director General, Programs

Recommendations Management Responses Planned Actions Responsibility Target Date
1. Continue to improve program performance and the integration of government priorities across programming by drawing upon change management principles to: articulate direction and engage staff; explore innovative approaches to engage and collaborate with external stakeholders and clients; and enhance understanding of inclusive growth (diversity, GBA+). Agree
  • Integrate Communities & Inclusive Growth priorities and issues into Program Delivery Staff Session. Key objectives:
    • Demystify “Inclusive Growth” for staff
    • Communicate importance of CIG in generating and advancing commercial activities and priorities – using the Departmental Results Framework as part of the basis for this discussion
  • Integrate CIG within Champion file action plans where opportunities arise, and promote innovative engagement approaches with external clients – particularly Immigration and Indigenous, building on best practices. Key opportunities:
    • Use existing joint ED/CIG Director fora
    • Work with the HO Strategic Development, Coordination and Implementation unit to identify and maximize CIG synergies within Champion files
  • GBA+ Champion to continue and renew dialogue with ACOA regional management teams and managers’ communities.
    • Meet with PE and NL management to complete pan-Agency regional engagement
    • Reinvigorate internal GBA+ working group to coordinate and improve upon the availability and use of data for inclusive growth decision making.
  • ACOA CIG to identify and capitalize on opportunities to communicate the impact and economic value of CIG projects
    • Build projects into the series of Impact Stories on Rendezvous (target a minimum of four stories per year)
    • CIG directors to lever internal networks to showcase projects
DG Programs (HO), supported by DG OPS
  • Session to be delivered in Q1 2019‑20
  • Action plans finalized by Q4 2018-19
  • Regional visits completed by Q4 2018-19
  • Ongoing
  • Ongoing
2. In tandem with current GCPM development and DRF integration, ensure that adequate Agency performance measurement information is available to inform decision making for program direction and strategic investment. In particular, identify ways to better report on program outcomes, integration of Government of Canada priorities, and non-financial support provided to clients, a key facilitator to the achievement of results. Agree
  • With the successful use of Project Types for “Community Investment” projects in the past, ensure integration with GCPM going forward.
  • As part of the roll out of new programming tools (e.g. GCPM, policy and procedure guidelines, dashboards), Programs will reinforce the value and use of Performance Measurement.
  • Building on the use of “Qualitative Reviews” in reporting on outcomes for ACOA Policy projects, CIG will seek to formalize a similar tool to help capture and demonstrate the non-financial support to clients.
    • Model current process used for Policy projects for use in CIG.
DG Programs (HO), supported by DG OPS
  • Planned GCPM implementation (04/2019 to 02/2020)
  • March 2019 and Ongoing
  • Use for 2018/19 reporting year

Appendix C: CIG Evaluation Framework

Evaluation Questions Indicators Existing information New information
Literature Review Document Review PM data (QAccess) Financial Data (GX) Interviews/FocusG Survey(s) Case Studies
1. To what extent is the Communities and Inclusive Growth program addressing a unique need?
  • Nature and evolution of needs
  • Program is responding to emerging needs
  • Extent of duplication, overlap and/or complementarity compared to other stakeholders
X x     x x x
2. To what extent does Communities and Inclusive Growth’s programming support for community economic development align with current federal government priorities and ACOA’s DRF priorities?
  • Extent of alignment between current Government of Canada priorities and CIG program
  • Extent of alignment between ACOA priorities and CIG program
X x     x   X
3. How have partnerships contributed to the achievement of Community and Inclusive Growth program goals?
  • Immediate outcome: Partners are investing in projects
  • Intermediate outcome: Communities, regions and sectors have the capacity to respond to economic and business development opportunities and challenges
  • Nature of partnerships and collaborations (compared to previous evaluation)
  • Impact of partnerships
  x x   X X X
4. To what extent has the Community and Inclusive Growth program undertaken capacity building activities to address skills gaps, including contributing to SMEs and entrepreneurs gaining business development skills and knowledge?
  • Immediate outcome: Business development services are provided in the following areas: information, counselling, referrals and training
  • Intermediate outcome: SMEs and entrepreneurs gain business development skills and knowledge
  • Nature and impact of business skills investments
  • Nature, linkages and impacts related to entrepreneurship
  x x   X X X
5. To what extent has community infrastructure been enhanced?
  • Immediate outcome: Community infrastructure is enhanced
  • Intermediate outcome: Physical infrastructure is in place to support economic development
  • Nature and impact of community infrastructure investments
  • Facilitators and barriers impacting effectiveness
  x x   X X x
6. To what extent are strategic investment plans being undertaken and acted upon by clients?
  • Immediate outcome: Strategies, plans and feasibility studies (strategic investment plans) are undertaken by clients
  • Nature and impact of strategic investment plan investments (compared to previous evaluation)
  • Facilitators and barriers impacting effectiveness
  x x   X X  
7. To what extent do program activities contribute to or limit inclusive growth (language minorities, youth, Indigenous, newcomers, etc.) and gender equality in communities in Canada?
  • Intermediate outcome: Communities, regions and sectors have the capacity to respond to economic and business development opportunities and challenges
  • Program targets diverse groups
  • Extent of program impact on diverse groups
  x x   X X X
8. To what extent are performance measurement and reporting structures effective in reporting on the achievement of program outcomes?
  • There has been an enhanced articulation of project types and outcomes since the last evaluation
  • Performance measurement information is delineated by diversity groups
  • Performance measurement information is adequate for reporting on outcomes and is used by ACOA to support decision making
  x X x x x  
9. In the context of the results being achieved, to what extent are the allocated resources (e.g. FTEs, financial) efficiently utilized?
  • Current internal operational structure is efficiently organized and managed (governance)
  • ACOA clients’ opinion of efficiency of program delivery
  x     X X  
10. Incrementality: What impact would the absence of program funding have on community strategic planning and development (with a focus on partnerships, skills development, inclusive growth, and infrastructure)?
  • Potential impacts of absence of ACOA funding
x x x X x x x

Note: A bolded X refers to the leading line(s) of evidence. A small x refers to supporting line(s) of evidence


1 With the exception of the Community Futures Program, which was evaluated separately through a horizontal evaluation led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

2 Includes all ICF and BDP projects coded to the Community Investment and Community-based Business Development sub-programs with project type specified for 2012-2013 through 2017-2018, representing 67% of all approved CIG contributions over the period. A further 33% of approved contributions have no Project Type specified. The Agency introduced project types in 2014-2015 as part of the Community Investment Framework.

3 The CIG evaluation considered the impact of the delivery of short-term programs on questions related to efficiency. 

5 ACOA FTE numbers do not include vacant positions or support staff.

6 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, Atlantic Report, Fall 2017.

7 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, “The Urban-Rural Divide in Atlantic Labour Markets,” APEC Report Card, May 2012.

8 Laurent Martel, Statistics Canada, “Recent Changes in Demographic Trends in Canada,” Insights on Canadian Society. Oct. 2015.

9 René Morissette, Statistics Canada, “The Effect of Labour Demand on Regional Demographics,” Economic Insights, January 2018.

10 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council,The Aging Workforce in Atlantic Canada,” APEC Report Card, July 2014.

11 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, “How Well Are Atlantic Youth Doing in the Labour Market?” APEC Report Card, July 2017.

12 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, “Is There a Skills Shortage in Atlantic Canada?” Atlantic Report, Summer 2013.

13 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, “A Profile of Atlantic Manufacturing,” APEC Report Card, February 2015.

14 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, “The Urban-Rural Divide in Atlantic Labour Markets,” APEC Report Card, May 2012.

15 Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Beyond Freefall: Halting Rural Poverty, Chapter 6, Addressing the Rural Infrastructure Deficit, June 2008.

16 Sobey School of Business, Factors for Success in Atlantic Canadian Growth Companies, 2017.

17 Marguerite Cassin and Tamara Krawchenko, Agency at the Local Level: Capturing Community and Economic Development Practices in Rural Atlantic Canada, 2013.

18 Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Canada.

19 Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, Atlantic Report, Fall 2017.

20 Investing in Regional Innovation and Development (RDA 2.0) (2017) https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/ised-isde/documents/pdf/newsroom/2017-04-14_eng.pdf

21 Atlantic Growth Strategy Year 2 Report Update to Atlantic Canadians (2018) http://www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/ags-sca/assets/AGS-update_EN_web.pdf

22 Equality and Growth, A Strong Middle Class (2018) https://www.budget.gc.ca/2018/docs/plan/budget-2018-en.pdf

24 Canada’s Tourism Vision (2016) https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/095.nsf/eng/home

25 Jamie McIntyre, The Northern Policy Institute, Places to Grow: Best Practices for Community-based Regional Economic Development in Ontario’s North, 2018, p. 6.

26 Canadian Chamber of Commerce, The Business Case for Investing in Canada’s Remote Communities, 2011, p. 3.

27 OECD, Greg Clark, Joe Husley and Debra Mountford, The New Rural Paradigm: Policies and Governance, 2006.

28 Public Policy Forum, The People Imperative: Come from Away and Stay: Strategies to Grow Population and Prosperity in Atlantic Canada, 2018, p. 6.

29 Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth, Rural Economic Development: A Review of the Literature from Industrialized Economies, Geography Compass 4/6 (2010): p. 517.

30 Jamie McIntyre, The Northern Policy Institute, Places to Grow: Best Practices for Community-based Regional Economic Development in Ontario’s North, 2018, p. 16.

31 Nikolay Mihaylov and Douglas D. Perkins, Community Place Attachment and its Role in Social Capital Development, 2013. In Place Attachment: Advances in Theory, Methods and Research, Chapter 5, Publisher: Routledge, Editors: Lynn Manzo, Patrick Devine-Wright, pp. 61–74. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287103163_Community_place_attachment_and_its_role_in_social_capital_development

32 Kelly Vodden, Heroes, Hope and Resource Development in Canada’s Periphery: Lessons from Newfoundland and Labrador, Chapter 17 in The Next Rural Economies: Constructing Rural Place in Global Economies. Edited by Greg Halseth, Sean Markey and David Bruce, 2010.

33 Nancy Thompson, Useful Community Development, Community Attachment Research is a Game Changer. https://www.useful-community-development.org/community-attachment.html (last accessed June 27, 2018).

34 David J.A. Douglas, editor, Rural Planning and Development in Canada, 2012, p. 299.

35 Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth, Rural Economic Development: A Review of the Literature from Industrialized Economies, Geography Compass 4/6 (2010): p. 516.

36 Rob Greenwood and Candice Pike with Wade Kearley, A Commitment to Place: The Social Foundations of Innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador, The Harris Centre, 2011.

37 World Economic Forum, The Inclusive Growth and Development Report, 2017, p. vii.

38 Scottish Sea Farms, with Imani Development, Impact Summary 2018: Measuring 10 Years of Farming Orkney Waters, 2018, p. 18.

39 Tamara Krawchenko and Marguerite Cassin, Agency at the Local Level: Capturing Community and Economic Development Practices in Rural Atlantic Canada. Produced for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Atlantic Policy Research Initiative, May 2013, p. 81.

40 Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth, Rural Economic Development: A Review of the Literature from Industrialized Economies, Geography Compass 4/6 (2010): 518.

41 Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Wake-Up Call: The National Vision and Voice We Need for Rural Canada: The Federal Role in Rural Sustainability, 2009, p. 5.

42 S. Wilson-Forsberg, “The adaptation of rural communities to socio-economic change: Theoretical insights from Atlantic Canada,” Journal of Rural and Community Development 8,1 (2013): 160–177.

43 Evaluation of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Community Mobilization and Community Investment Sub-Programs.

44 More information about the nature of these programs can be found in Section 4.2.

45 Status of Women Canada. Retrieved on December 18, 2018. https://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/gba-acs/index-en.html

46 The ACOA Community Investment Framework (2015) and Community Development Project Types and Results-Tracking Guideline (2014).

47 Clients were asked to respond to the question using a five-point scale with 1= very unsatisfied and 5= very satisfied.

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