2017-18 Departmental Plan
Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Raison d’être

Established in 1987 (Part I of the Government Organization Act, Atlantic Canada 1987, R.S.C., 1985, c.41 [4th Supp.], also known as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act), the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is the federal department responsible for the Government of Canada’s economic development efforts in the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Agency works to create opportunities for economic growth in Atlantic Canada by helping businesses become more competitive, innovative and productive, by working with diverse communities to develop and diversify local economies, and by championing the strengths of the region. Together with Atlantic Canadians, ACOA is building a stronger economy.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is responsible for this organization. 

Mandate and role

ACOA plays an important role in developing and supporting policies and programs that strengthen the region’s economy. The Agency’s legislation mandates the organization “to increase opportunity for economic development in Atlantic Canada, and, more particularly, to enhance the growth of earned incomes and employment opportunities in that region.”[1] Although the Agency’s policies and program tools have evolved since its inception, the overall goal remains constant. ACOA is dedicated to helping the Atlantic region realize its full economic potential in terms of productivity, innovation, competitiveness and growth. This is achieved by addressing structural changes in the economy, helping communities and businesses to overcome challenges, and capitalizing on opportunities.

The Agency provides services through its Head Office in Moncton, N.B., and throughout the Atlantic provinces, with four regional offices located in the provincial capitals, and 23 local field offices. Through its Ottawa office, ACOA ensures that Atlantic Canada’s interests are understood and reflected in the policies and programs developed by other departments and agencies of the federal government.

For more general information about the Agency, see the Supplementary Information section of this report. For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the ministers’ mandate letters on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website.

[1] Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. 41, 4th Supp.

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