2014-15 Departmental Performance Report
Section II: analysis of programs by strategic outcome

 

Strategic outcome: a competitive Atlantic Canadian economy

Performance Measurement:

Performance Indicator Five Year Target
(2013-14 to 2017-18)
Actual Result
Increase in Atlantic Canada’s GDP for every $1 of ACOA expenditure in direct support of business   $4.50 To be reported in the 2017-18 Departmental Performance Report[i]

 

A competitive economy increases opportunities for economic development through the growth of earned incomes and employment opportunities. Productivity is an important determinant of competitiveness and a source of long-term prosperity for a region. Competitiveness and productivity are critical factors that allow economies to adapt to changing market conditions. The Agency supports and works with businesses and communities to help them become more competitive, innovative and productive and to enable them to position themselves for the future. It also develops initiatives that support the distinct economic development needs of Atlantic Canadian rural and urban communities.

During 2014-15, ACOA continued to focus efforts on increasing competitiveness through investments in areas such as innovation, business skills, community infrastructure and development, and international business development. To help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) become more competitive, the Agency targeted productivity drivers, including innovation and commercialization, technology adoption, business and management skills, and access to capital for firms and communities. ACOA also emphasized trade and investment activities to assist firms to expand in global markets and encourage international trade.

ACOA develops collaborations with businesses, governments and other stakeholders to ensure that SMEs will be able to capitalize on major opportunities occurring in the region over the coming years. Through these collaborations, attention is focused on investments and activities that promote Atlantic Canada businesses and on the development of strategies to address key challenges. It also helps reposition both urban and rural communities so they can deliver more value-added products, better jobs and high-value exports.

ACOA continues to have a positive impact on the competitiveness of the Atlantic Canadian economy. One measure of this impact can be seen through the increase in regional gross domestic product (GDP) linked to ACOA investments. Over the five-year period from 2008 to 2013, Atlantic Canada’s real GDP is estimated to have been almost $1 billion higher than it would have been without the Agency’s expenditures to support businesses in the region. During this period, direct ACOA support to business for commercial projects produced over $5.40 in GDP gains for every dollar of ACOA expenditures.[ii]

Program 1.1: enterprise development

Description:

Despite recent economic progress and some promising opportunities on the horizon (e.g. energy, shipbuilding), some significant challenges remain for the region to maximize positive growth. One of the most telling indicators of this is that, in a number of sectors, productivity remains significantly lower than in leading countries and other regions of Canada. The Agency works in partnership with Atlantic Canadian businesses, stakeholders, industry and institutions to improve the growth and productivity of Atlantic Canada’s economy, leading to increased competitiveness, higher earned incomes and job creation. The Agency works to improve the capacity of Atlantic Canada’s rural and urban areas for economic growth through a variety of strategically focused mechanisms: assisting businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, to start, expand or modernize and to establish or expand export activities; partnering with universities and other institutions to increase the region’s research and development capacity, commercialization and productivity; and promoting and participating in the region’s transition to a knowledge economy.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15
Main
Estimates
2014-15
Planned
Spending
2014-15
Total
Authorities
Available
for Use
2014-15
Actual
Spending
(authorities  
used)
Difference:
(actual
minus
planned)
164,581,549   164,581,549   180,673,455   173,992,156 9,410,607 *

*Enterprise Development planned spending was increased by $16.1 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year, bringing total authorities available for use to $180.7 million, mainly as a result of ACOA assuming the responsibility of former ECBC economic development activities, the reinvestment of excess collections, and the approval of incremental funding from Budget 2014 initiatives. The variance between total authorities available for use and actual spending of $6.7 million is explained by a variation in programming demands.

Human resources: (full-time equivalents – FTEs)

2014-15
Planned  
2014-15  
Actual  
Difference
(actual minus planned)
216 218 2

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target
2014-15
Actual Result
Improved growth and competitiveness of Atlantic Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises   Percentage points by which the business survival rate of ACOA-assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms not assisted by ACOA 10 9
Percentage points by which the labour productivity growth of ACOA-assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms not assisted by ACOA   0.3 7.3

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, ACOA continued to work on improving the productivity and competitiveness of Atlantic Canada enterprises. The Agency provided assistance through the three sub‑programs within Enterprise Development in order to fuel innovation and commercialization, improve productivity and business skills, expand international markets and provide the capital needed to sustain growth and deliver expected results.

The business survival rate is used to measure ACOA’s contribution to increasing companies’ competitiveness. A company’s survival depends on many factors, such as the age of the business, location and size. The Agency was very close to its target for this performance indicator; the five-year business survival rate for ACOA-assisted firms was nine percentage points higher than the rate for comparable firms not assisted by the Agency.[iii] In fact, for the 2002 to 2012 period, the business survival rate for ACOA-assisted firms was 76% after the crucial fifth year following start-up, compared with 67% for unassisted firms. This result seems to show that the economic downturn that occurred in 2008-09 has affected ACOA-assisted companies less severely. ACOA helped businesses in the start-up process by providing access to financing, information and advice as well as business tools and guides, which helped them weather the difficult business environment.

D


Another measure of competitiveness is growth in labour productivity. Labour productivity in ACOA-assisted firms, which is estimated using sales per worker, experienced healthy growth between 2007 and 2012. Sales per worker rose by 5.3% per year[iv] in ACOA-assisted firms, which is 7.3 percentage points above the group of comparable firms not assisted by the Agency. This performance indicator is being used for the second time and is monitored to ensure the target represents a good benchmark.

Sub-program 1.1.1: innovation and commercialization

Description:

Raising the levels of research and development (R&D) and of innovation in the region is fundamental to increasing Atlantic Canada’s competitiveness and to closing the productivity gap with the rest of the country. The Agency invests in innovation and commercialization by supporting the R&D of new products, services and processes, and their commercialization in the marketplace. As well, the Agency provides support for the adoption and adaptation of leading-edge technologies in businesses. Clients include businesses and organizations such as universities and research institutes. This sub‑program uses funding from the following transfer payments: the Atlantic Innovation Fund and the Business Development Program.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending    2014-15 Actual Spending    Difference: (actual minus planned)
86,168,660 81,372,221 (4,796,439)

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned    2014-15 Actual    Difference (actual minus planned)
81 80 (1)

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target 2014-15 Actual Result
Strengthened innovation and commercialization capacity in Atlantic Canada Amount leveraged per dollar invested by ACOA in innovation projects $1.00 $1.42
Number of key collaborators for technology development and commercialization through Atlantic Innovation Fund projects 45 4

Four-year Target 2011-12 through 2014-15

Dollar amount of revenues resulting from commercialization* $150 million (cumulative) $192 million (estimate)

* “Dollar amount of revenues resulting from commercialization” is expressed on a typical-year basis. An estimated average annual amount of $48 million is based on extrapolated client survey data for ACOA‑assisted projects between 2005-06 and 2012-13. By extrapolating this annual average, the revenues from commercialization are estimated at $192 million over four years.

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, the Agency implemented enhancements to its innovation and commercialization programming. Improvements included moving the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) to a continuous intake of project proposals; increased emphasis on technology soundness for AIF projects while continuing to support breakthrough science; allowing smaller-scale AIF commercial projects; and creating a commercialization program element under the Business Development Program (BDP).

Through the AIF and BDP, the Agency invested $48.9 million in 158 innovation and commercialization projects. These investments helped Atlantic Canadian SMEs increase their productivity and improve their competitive position by enabling them to develop new products, services or processes, gain efficiencies, reduce production costs, acquire skills, leverage additional private‑sector investments, or commercialize their ideas.

As for revenues resulting from commercialization, the evaluation of this sub-program, dated January 2015, estimates an annual average of $48 million. By extrapolating this annual average, the revenues from commercialization are estimated at $192 million over four years, which exceeds ACOA’s target.

With regard to innovation specifically (excluding commercialization projects), the Agency approved $28.6 million in funding for new projects toward total costs of $68.8 million. This means that the Agency exceeded its target by leveraging $1.42 for every dollar invested by the Agency from sources such as the private sector, universities and research institutes, national programs and Atlantic provincial governments.

Under the AIF, the Agency provided $10 million in funding for one project in 2014-15 to Forest Protection Limited. This project, which is strategic for Atlantic Canada, focuses on researching, developing and integrating pest-control techniques and products in order to manage and suppress the outbreak of the spruce budworm population. Four partnerships with universities, industry and government stemmed from this project. During 2014-15, the Agency focused on adapting its programming and processes to the clients’ needs; on informing and engaging its stakeholders to stimulate innovation; and on working with proponents to develop meaningful partnerships that would lead to the commercialization of outcomes. Given the changes to the AIF application process and the scope and nature of desired projects, the previously established 45 partnerships target is no longer valid. A new target will be informed by 2015-16 activity.

Sub-program 1.1.2: productivity and growth

Description:

The Agency invests in productivity and growth to enhance Atlantic Canadians’ access to the information, business skills and financing they require to start and/or grow a business. This enables businesses to get established, become more productive and grow, which generates wealth and jobs in the economy. Investments in productivity and growth are made directly by helping businesses to increase competitiveness through activities such as productivity improvement, expansion, modernization, business skills development, training, hiring skilled personnel, and indirectly through contributions to non-profit organizations such as business and economic development associations that undertake activities that foster business productivity and growth. The Agency also administers Canada Business, which acts as a comprehensive source of information on government services, programs, regulations and resources for businesses. By reducing the complexity of dealing with various levels of government, Canada Business plays a role in the business development process. This sub-program uses funding from the following transfer payment: the Business Development Program.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
53,295,707 72,822,873 19,527,166

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
84 86 2

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target 2014-15   Actual Result
Enhanced Atlantic Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises' productivity and growth capacity   Amount leveraged per dollar invested by ACOA in commercial Productivity and Growth projects $2.00 $1.64
Percentage of participants in business skills development activities indicating that the activity improved their business skills 85% 87%
Percentage points by which the growth in sales of ACOA-assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms not assisted by ACOA   0.5 3.9

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, the Agency approved $57.5 million in direct assistance to SMEs. These investments enabled Atlantic entrepreneurs to have access to opportunities to grow their businesses and become more productive. The Agency invested in projects that assisted SMEs with hiring skilled personnel, with modernizing and expanding their operations and with incorporating lean manufacturing initiatives so they can prosper. Each dollar invested by ACOA in these projects helped to leverage an additional $1.64 from other sources, thus helping to reduce the Agency’s risk while increasing the economic activity in the region – mostly meeting the target of two-to-one. The results demonstrate that, despite softer economic conditions, ACOA’s ability to leverage assistance from other capital suppliers remained strong when funding projects for Atlantic SMEs.

As well, sales by ACOA-assisted firms totalled $26.3 billion in 2012,[v] up from $21.5 billion in 2007,[vi] representing an average increase of 4.1% per year. In comparison, sales at unassisted firms grew at a rate averaging 0.2% per year.[vii] As a result, ACOA-assisted firms outperformed unassisted firms by 3.9 percentage points, allowing ACOA to surpass its target of 0.5 percentage points.

To help entrepreneurs start and grow a business, the Agency approved an additional $16.6 million in non-commercial projects for activities that allowed participants to further develop their business and management skills. Activities undertaken included advisory services to address specific business challenges and various initiatives supporting youth entrepreneurship, such as business plan competitions. Out of the 10,510[viii] participants in ACOA-supported business skills development activities who responded to a survey, 87%[ix] indicated that the activity improved their business skills.

Sub-program 1.1.3: international business development

Description:

Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy identifies global value chains and new economic forces as offering opportunities while recognizing increased competition for Canada. To strengthen the country’s position in international markets, the strategy prescribes taking advantage of emerging global opportunities and reinforcing Canada’s image internationally as a preferred business partner and premier investment destination. Consistent with this strategy, the Agency pursues international opportunities with a view to increasing the number of exporters and the volume of export sales, to attracting foreign direct investment and to supporting the international commercialization of technology. Further, the Agency promotes Atlantic Canada abroad as a world leader in energy production, export and research, as a centre of innovation, as a skilled labour pool, as a reliable supplier of quality products at competitive prices and as the gateway to the North American market. The Agency also plays a role in coordinating the efforts of federal, provincial and private-sector organizations in Atlantic Canada in pursuing international business opportunities. Clients include businesses, non-profit organizations, learning and research institutions, and provincial governments. This sub-program uses funding from the following transfer payment: the Business Development Program.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
25,117,182 19,797,062 (5,320,120)

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
51 52 1

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target 2014-15 Actual Result
Expanded export activity by small and medium-sized enterprises in Atlantic Canada Percentage of small and medium-sized enterprises that expanded their international sales within 12 months of participating in an International Business Development activity 50% 64%
Percentage of commercial International Business Development projects that met expectations, thus contributing to expanded export activity 75% 67%
New foreign direct investment opportunities in Atlantic Canada Number of foreign direct investment transactions completed (deals closed) where ACOA’s support contributed to bringing the project to fruition 3 17

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

During the 2014-15 fiscal year, the Agency contributed to the Government of Canada’s efforts to foster business relations, attract foreign investment and nurture technological co‑operation. With the support of ACOA programs and the International Business Development Agreement, Atlantic Canada’s SMEs participated in activities to identify and develop opportunities in new markets such as the Americas, China, and India while maintaining a footprint in traditional markets such as the United States and Europe.

ACOA played a key catalyst role in helping Atlantic Canadian companies expand in key international markets by investing $14.8 million in 158 international business development activities. For example, with ACOA’s support, an Atlantic Canadian delegation of 21 companies, universities and research organizations involved in bioscience attended the BIO 2014 International Convention held in San Diego, California from June 23 to 26, 2014. These delegates participated in over 125 prescheduled meetings, resulting in immediate sales of $1.9 million and anticipated sales of $5.2 million.

To measure the expanded export activity of SMEs in Atlantic Canada, ACOA implemented two new performance indicators in 2014-15. These were based on internal data collected directly from clients. The Agency exceeded the first target: 64% of SMEs participating in an international business development activity expanded their international sales within 12 months. It scored just below the second target: 67% of commercial international business development projects contributed to expanded export activities.

New foreign direct investment opportunities in Atlantic Canada are measured through the performance indicator “number of foreign direct investment transactions completed.” ACOA far exceeded its target, with 17 foreign direct investment transactions.

Program 1.2: community development

Description:

The Atlantic economy is built on the region’s many geographic, linguistic and cultural communities. From rural areas to larger urban centres, the opportunities and challenges vary significantly. Communities are the foundation of economic development and are critical for economic prosperity. The Agency recognizes the importance of communities and supports their efforts to develop the resources they need to contribute fully to their economic development. For those reasons, the Agency focuses community development efforts and strategies to create dynamic and sustainable communities with increased economic and business activities as well as quality public infrastructure. The Agency develops and delivers programming that meets the unique economic development needs of rural areas in Atlantic Canada and that contributes to a stronger region. The Agency collaborates with the private sector, other levels of government, other federal government departments, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and communities to leverage support, coordinate economic development, identify and capitalize on emerging opportunities and react to economic challenges across the region. This requires a flexible approach based on the realities of a given community’s capacities, strengths and challenges.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Main Estimates   2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Total Authorities Available for Use   2014-15 Actual Spending (authorities used)   Difference: (actual minus planned)
87,408,010 87,408,010 90,536,110 90,659,999 3,251,989*

*Community Development planned spending was increased by $3.1 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year, bringing total authorities available for use to $90.5 million, mainly as a result of ACOA assuming responsibility for the former ECBC’s economic development activities. The variance between total authorities available for use and actual spending of $0.2 million is explained by a variation in programming demands.

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
92 95 3

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Actual Result
Dynamic and sustainable communities in Atlantic Canada with increased economic and business activity Percentage of Community Development (CD) projects that met expectations, thus contributing to the CD expected result 80% 91%
Percentage points by which the business survival rate of clients assisted by Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) exceeds that of comparable firms not assisted by CBDCs 10 24

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, ACOA worked closely with communities, community economic development networks, and provincial and municipal governments to stimulate the economic development of Atlantic Canada’s rural and urban areas. ACOA invested $71.2 million in 337 community development projects that are well aligned with the economic priorities and distinct needs of the various communities. Of these, over 91% achieved expected results, which exceeds the target of 80%.

The Agency continued its focus on increasing the economic impact of investments made under the Innovative Communities Fund (ICF). These efforts resulted in ACOA collaborating with communities and stakeholders in strategic projects related to community capacity building and to emerging sector development.

ACOA invested over $13.5 million to support the network of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) in 2014-15. The business survival rate is an indicator for measuring ACOA’s performance in terms of community development. The survival of SMEs is essential for dynamic and sustainable communities in Atlantic Canada. The Agency exceeded its target in this regard: the five-year business survival rate for CBDC-assisted firms is notably higher than that for unassisted firms. For comparison purposes, “unassisted firms” are those of similar size, sector and geographic region that did not receive a direct monetary contribution from a CBDC. In fact, for the 2002 to 2012 period, the business survival rate for CBDC-assisted firms was 71% after the crucial fifth year following start-up, compared with 47% for unassisted firms.[x] This represents a variance in the five-year business survival rate of 24 percentage points, which is well above the target of 10 percentage points.

ACOA also worked closely with indigenous leadership, Atlantic provincial governments and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to complement the work being done in the region with respect to indigenous economic development. The Agency continued with the delivery of new guidelines and procedures regarding its duty to consult indigenous communities. Regional lead experts have been put in place to ensure staff in regional offices have a full understanding of the duty-to-consult process, as well as tools and resources in order to adhere to these guidelines and strengthen relationships with indigenous communities.

The Agency continued to engage with official language minority communities (OLMCs) by providing $11.7 million in assistance for 84 projects throughout Atlantic Canada, including projects under the Economic Development Initiative, thereby contributing to the vitality of those communities.

Sub-program 1.2.1: community investment

Description:

To be sustainable and to grow, communities must take responsibility for their own economic development future. They must have the capacity and resources available to them at a local level to lead the community development process as well as to invest in those initiatives that stimulate their economic development. These communities include geographic communities and communities of interest such as industry sectors, non-profit organizations and indigenous and francophone organizations. The Agency works with these communities, assisting them to develop their own vision for economic growth through targeted planning and making strategic investments toward increasing the human capacity present in the community, including skills development, training and coordination, as well as the physical capacity (i.e. community infrastructure). This sub‑program uses funding from the following transfer payments: the Innovative Communities Fund and the Business Development Program.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
69,648,190 72,486,445 2,838,255

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
75 79 4

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Actual Result
Communities respond to economic and business development opportunities and challenges   Amount leveraged per dollar invested by ACOA in Community Investment projects   $1.50 $1.95

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, ACOA collaborated with communities and stakeholders to build strong community capacity in Atlantic Canada. A total of 308 projects were approved under the Community Investment sub-program, contributing a total of $52.8 million to Atlantic Canada communities. The amount leveraged per dollar invested in these projects was $1.95. The Agency continued to support higher economic impact projects, which resulted in ACOA leveraging much higher amounts than anticipated from other partners.

Through the ICF, the Agency provided assistance to 88 projects, in the amount of $42.2 million. Investments included supporting strategic community infrastructure projects as well as industry associations in their development efforts for the growth of targeted sectors, thereby helping rural SMEs. Other opportunities were sought through ACOA’s Strategic Tourism Expansion Program, which supports destination development in rural communities throughout the region. In fact, in 2014-15, ten new communities were engaged in the program throughout Atlantic Canada. The program is being very well received and more communities are looking forward to taking advantage of this unique program in the future to market their individual strengths to develop tourism.

The Agency continued to support the Atlantic region’s francophone OLMC through the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages.

Furthermore, ACOA continued to collaborate with indigenous organizations such as the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs on investments that strengthened the indigenous economy. A total of 10 indigenous-related community investment projects were funded in 2014-15, providing $4.3 million in assistance.

In 2014-15, ACOA worked closely with Infrastructure Canada to ensure the efficient administration of the Building Canada Fund – Communities Component in the Atlantic region as prescribed in the service level agreement between ACOA and Infrastructure Canada.

Sub-program 1.2.2: community-based business development

Description:

The lack of business capital available in rural regions of Canada has the potential to be a significant economic development barrier. It impedes the establishment and expansion of small businesses in rural areas that are essential to the vitality and sustainability of communities. The Agency provides targeted support to community-based non-profit organizations to address investment capital gaps that focus on small businesses. As such, the Agency provides contributions to a network of CBDCs in Atlantic Canada that are run by community-based volunteer boards of directors. CBDCs provide an essential source of investment capital that focuses on small rural businesses as well as on other services that include business counselling and skills development. In addition, the Agency assists indigenous communities by improving access to capital for small and medium-sized indigenous businesses through the Ulnooweg Development Group Inc. This sub-program uses funding from the following transfer payments: the Community Futures Program, the Innovative Communities Fund and the Business Development Program.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
17,759,820 18,173,554 413,734

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
17 16 (1)

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Actual Result
Strengthened and expanded businesses   Percentage points by which the employment growth of CBDC-assisted clients exceeds that of comparable firms not assisted by CBDCs   2 4.1
Percentage points by which the growth in sales of CBDC-assisted clients exceeds that of comparable firms not assisted by CBDCs 5 4.7

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, CBDCs continued to provide an essential source of investment capital focused on rural businesses as well as business counselling and skills development. CBDCs assisted 1,240 businesses through their investment fund by approving 1,330 loans, representing a total direct investment in local SMEs of $70 million.[xi] These record high investments contributed to the creation of 1,430 new jobs in rural communities in Atlantic Canada.[xii]

The Agency maximized the use of funds available to CBDCs as recipients of funding in accordance with the Community Futures of Tomorrow model. ACOA continued to collaborate with the CBDC network to enhance governance practices when needed and provided ongoing training to board members. In 2014-15, a total of 11 training sessions were completed across the region, with a total of 152 participants.

Employment growth in CBDC-assisted firms averaged 4.2% per year between 2007 and 2012.[xiii] In comparison, employment in unassisted firms grew by an average of 0.1% per year over the same period. This represents a variance in firms’ employment growth of 4.1 percentage points between CBDC-assisted firms and unassisted firms.

Sales by CBDC-assisted firms totalled $1.4 billion in 2012, up from $1.1 billion in 2007,[xiv] representing average annual growth of 6.3%. In comparison, sales by unassisted firms reached $48.5 billion in 2012, up from $44.9 billion in 2007, representing an average increase of 1.6% per year. This represents a variance in firms’ sales growth of 4.7 percentage points between CBDC‑assisted firms and unassisted firms. While the result is slightly lower than the established target, CBDC-assisted firms still outperformed the comparable group in terms of sales growth by a wide margin.

The Agency also engaged stakeholders in order to enhance the adoption, development and commercialization of new technologies by rural SMEs supported by community-based business development; to encourage more lending in innovation, youth and first-time entrepreneurs; and to support businesses with effective tools.

Program 1.3: policy, advocacy and coordination

Description:

The Agency’s Policy, Advocacy and Coordination (PAC) program is central to identifying and effectively responding to opportunities and challenges facing the regional economy. PAC provides intelligence, analysis and well-grounded advice on a broad range of issues and topics, and it informs and supports Agency and ministerial decision making. PAC helps carry the Agency’s agenda forward and ensure that ACOA overall remains relevant and responsive to the opportunities and challenges in Atlantic Canada by offering strategic, researched policy positions that reflect the region’s potential, by influencing national policies and programs that affect Atlantic Canada's development and interests, and in coordinating other policies and programs within the region to form integrated approaches to development.

Budgetary rinancial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Main Estimates   2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Total Authorities Available for Use   2014-15 Actual Spending (authorities used)   Difference: (actual minus planned)
11,351,591 11,351,591 10,851,899 12,444,235 1,092,644 *

*Policy, Advocacy and Coordination planned spending was reduced by $0.5 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year, bringing the total authorities available for use to $10.9 million, mainly as a result of the reorganization of regional federal councils. The variance between total authorities available for use and actual spending of $1.6 million is explained by a variation in programming demands.

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
68 60 (8)

 

Performance Results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Actual Result
Policies and programs that strengthen the Atlantic economy   Percentage of PAC activities that have met their objectives, thus contributing to the PAC expected result   75% 100%

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

PAC’s support for the Agency’s key activities in 2014-15 ensured that ACOA continued to reflect both Atlantic Canadian priorities and the federal agenda so that economic policies and programs respond to regional development opportunities. PAC activities also coordinated policies and programs within the region to help businesses and communities capitalize on emerging opportunities and address key challenges.

An evaluation of the Atlantic Policy Research Initiative (APRI) found that ACOA plays a key role in supporting the development of economic policy research and networking opportunities in the Atlantic region and that APRI activities have been successful in supporting the immediate outcomes of the PAC program. The evaluation also recommended that ACOA explore opportunities to further enhance the outreach and engagement efforts under APRI-funded projects for both internal and external audiences.

From a Policy perspective, ACOA continued to provide intelligence, analysis, advice and research on a broad range of issues, including basic economic research on the region and more focused examinations of tidal energy,[xv] demographics and immigration,[xvi] innovation[xvii] and functional economic regions.[xviii]

Through its Advocacy activities, the Agency worked on improving outcomes for Atlantic Canada. ACOA engaged with other government departments and agencies and worked to ensure they were made aware of the investment environment and competitiveness of the region’s natural resource sectors. ACOA collaborated with federal and provincial partners in the development of innovative approaches to respond to an anticipated spruce budworm infestation in Atlantic Canada. It continued to work with partners to identify opportunities under new trade agreements and helped regional SMEs position themselves to take advantage of procurement opportunities related to the next phase of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy and other federal industrial benefits opportunities.

In its Coordination role, ACOA engaged provincial and federal governments on a wide range of initiatives to support businesses, including increasing their capabilities and helping them capitalize on opportunities in relation to major projects. ACOA maintained its leadership role with the Atlantic Energy Gateway initiative by collaborating with the public and private sectors. The Agency also maintained its role as co-chair on the Atlantic Gateway Federal-Provincial Officials Committee to support the effectiveness and competitiveness of the transportation network and to promote the region’s strategic assets internationally. ACOA maintained its lead role with regard to federal councils in the region by completing the transition to the new Atlantic Federal Council.

Sub-program 1.3.1: policy

Description:

Policy provides a solid base of understanding for the development of the Agency’s strategic priorities and initiatives, program design, and input to national policy development and federal-provincial relations. This includes policy analysis and advice (including the development of policies and frameworks), economic analysis, research and stakeholder engagement. The policy function is carried out by officials at head office, in the regional offices and in the Ottawa office. The Agency’s Policy work is supported in part by a dedicated Agency fund that contributes to building policy research capacity in Atlantic Canada. This sub-program uses funding from the following transfer payments: the Atlantic Policy Research Initiative (APRI) and the Business Development Program (BDP).

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
6,149,641 5,502,464 (647,177)

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
32 31 (1)

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Actual Result
Well-informed policy decisions reflecting opportunities and challenges of the Atlantic Region’s economy while considering enterprise and community development potential Percentage of Policy activities that have met their objectives, thus contributing to Policy’s expected result 80% 100%

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, the Agency carried out research, analysis and stakeholder engagement efforts to provide the foundation for the development of strong policies and programs. The Agency conducted analysis and focused research of policy issues and trends in key areas reflecting opportunities and challenges for the Atlantic region’s economy: productivity, business skills, international business development, innovation and commercialization, rural and urban issues, community development, major projects (e.g. energy, mining, shipbuilding) and other priority sectors such as resource industries.

ACOA completed a comprehensive review of its innovation programming in order to remain at the forefront of business innovation policy while enabling Atlantic Canada to best respond to strategic opportunities for growth.

The Agency’s Policy function enhanced the Agency’s understanding of a variety of issues facing the region by undertaking macroeconomic, microeconomic and fiscal analyses such as the Economic Overview of Atlantic Canada. Regional offices prepared provincial economic profiles as well as analyses related to regional opportunities, challenges and strategic sectors. The Policy function also supported the Agency’s president in his role on deputy-minister-level committees and their meetings on economic and social priorities.

Moreover, the Agency engaged with industry, academia and all levels of government to enhance understanding of the dynamics and opportunities within the Atlantic regional economy. Five new projects were approved under the APRI in the areas of community development, international business, innovation, public administration and demographics. APRI studies were completed on topics such as functional economic regions[xix] and the value proposition for tidal energy in Atlantic Canada.[xx] An evaluation of the APRI found that it addresses an ongoing need for policy research funding to address critical gaps in knowledge about the future of economic development in Atlantic Canada.

Finally, ACOA’s Policy function continued to support the president in his role as Chair of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Regional Development Policy Committee, the pre-eminent international forum for discussion and exchange of experience in the field of regional development policy.

Sub-program 1.3.2: advocacy

Description:

Federal decision-makers must understand and consider Atlantic Canada’s interests, and regional stakeholders must remain well informed of federal government actions and of opportunities that are relevant to the economic interests of the region. The Agency’s Advocacy activities aim to advance the region’s interests in national policy and program development. In the case of federal government procurement, particularly major Crown projects, the Agency advocates to leverage industrial regional benefits for Atlantic Canadian SMEs.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
2,755,295 5,403,007 2,647,712

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
19 18 (1)

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Actual Result
Atlantic enterprise and community development interests are considered in emerging and changing federal economic policies, programs and regulations Percentage of Advocacy activities that have met their objectives, thus contributing to Advocacy’s expected result 75% 100%

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

ACOA engaged with other government departments to ensure that federal policies, programs and procurement initiatives help improve key outcomes such as productivity, export development, competitiveness and commercialization in Atlantic Canada and reflect the Atlantic Canadian perspective.

Along with other federal departments, the Agency raised awareness of the investment environment and competitiveness factors that contribute to the long-term growth of Atlantic Canada’s natural resource sectors. Working with Atlantic provincial governments, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Natural Resources Canada, the Agency sought support to help counter the spruce budworm infestation that threatens Atlantic Canadian forests and the forestry industry through development of innovative approaches. These efforts successfully identified federal funding and allowed access to this funding in a timely manner to meet the spring 2014 timeline, critical for a successful early intervention. The Agency also supported the federal government’s efforts in identifying European market access opportunities for key sectors such as agriculture, the fishery and advanced manufacturing.

ACOA actively supported the Government’s commitment to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. To maximize the potential economic impact of these celebrations in the region, the Agency assisted in the development of the Canada 150 Fund and the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

ACOA participated in an interdepartmental policy working group that identified and documented a number of successful strategies that SMEs have used to penetrate global value chains. ACOA also undertook analysis of Atlantic Canadian case studies, bringing regionally significant evidence-based analysis to the policy development process.

Engaging prime contractors through its advocacy role in the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy continues to be a priority for the Agency. For example, through its efforts in facilitating ongoing industry days and tours related to defence procurement, ACOA contributed to the success of numerous firms, growing their presence in Atlantic Canada, including Lockheed Martin Canada’s Dartmouth, N.S., facility, which now has over 250 employees and continues to engage various regional suppliers as a result of ACOA advocacy initiatives in 2014-15.

The Agency also ensured the incorporation of an Atlantic perspective into the national Defence Procurement Strategy. The implementation of this strategy has allowed ACOA to continue helping regional SMEs position themselves to take advantage of defence procurement opportunities in areas such as the air force and army. In 2014-15, ACOA activities reached over 152 Atlantic participants and facilitated 118 business-to-business meetings.

ACOA’s outreach activities for other industrial technical benefits in 2014-15 attracted 211 Atlantic SME participants and facilitated 142 business-to-business meetings, leveraging significant benefits into the Atlantic Canadian economy.

Sub-program 1.3.3: coordination

Description:

The Agency is mandated by legislation to coordinate the policies and programs of the Government of Canada in relation to opportunities for economic development in Atlantic Canada. The Coordination function engages a range of economic partners to address the economic priorities of Atlantic Canada through a coherent and collaborative approach to development, including federal-provincial initiatives, round tables and expert panels. The Agency also coordinates with other federal departments and with the regional federal councils on regional development efforts.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Actual Spending   Difference: (actual minus planned)
2,446,655 1,538,764 (907,891)

 

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
17 11 (6)

 

Performance results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator Annual Target (2014-15) Annual Target
Coordination of partners in addressing the economic priorities of Atlantic Canada through a coherent approach to development Percentage of Coordination activities that have met their objectives, thus contributing to Coordination’s expected result 75% 100%

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

In 2014-15, ACOA continued to focus on encouraging partners to work together to address Atlantic Canada’s economic priorities and pursue a coherent approach to economic development. This allowed businesses to capitalize on emerging opportunities and address key challenges in the region. Notable examples of coordination include:

The Agency continued in its role as co-chair of the Atlantic Gateway Federal-Provincial Officials Committee, whose work supports the ongoing competitiveness of the transportation system and international promotion of the region’s strategic assets. ACOA facilitated the development of a Foreign Trade Zone task force for the Halifax Logistics Park to provide single-window access to government services and support the promotion of the facility in international markets.

With federal and provincial partners, ACOA organized an Atlantic Canada seminar during an international Arctic oil and gas conference in Copenhagen in March 2015 to showcase the region’s ocean technology capabilities and promote the region as a base for arctic oil and gas support activities.

ACOA successfully concluded the transition to the Atlantic Federal Council (AFC) by overseeing the establishment of the AFC secretariat and the adoption of a governance structure and regional priorities. The AFC secretariat organized four AFC meetings to help shape national policies and programs with a positive regional impact. It also helped support efforts in priority areas such as people management, Blueprint 2020, official languages and emergency preparedness, and helped solidify the AFC’s link with various networks.

As part of its responsibility to administer the Canada-France Agreement for Regional Cooperation between Atlantic Canada and St. Pierre-and-Miquelon, ACOA hosted two meetings in Prince Edward Island. These events brought together stakeholders from the two countries to put in place initiatives supporting increased economic activity, particularly in light of the Congrès Mondial Acadien and the Canada and European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Internal services

Description:

Internal Services are groups of related activities and resources that are administered to support the needs of programs and other corporate obligations of an organization.

These groups are: Management and Oversight Services; Communications Services; Legal Services; Human Resources Management Services; Financial Management Services; Information Management Services; Information Technology Services; Real Property Services; Materiel Services; Acquisition Services; and Travel and Other Administrative Services. Internal Services include only those activities and resources that apply across an organization and not those provided to a specific program.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2014-15 Main Estimates   2014-15 Planned Spending   2014-15 Total Authorities Available for Use   2014-15 Actual Spending (authorities used)   Difference: (actual minus planned)
25,145,234 25,145,234 26,052,413 28,176,701 3,031,467 *

*Internal Services planned spending increased by $0.9 million, bringing the total authorities available for use to $26.1 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year, mainly as a result of ACOA assuming responsibility for the former ECBC’s economic development activities. Actual spending of $28.2 million exceeded total authorities by $2.1 million; however, this still represented a decrease of $0.6 million in actual spending when compared to the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Human resources: (FTEs)

2014-15 Planned   2014-15 Actual   Difference (actual minus planned)
190 197 7

 

Performance analysis and lessons learned:

ACOA continued to implement transformational and whole-of-government initiatives with a focus on common business processes that support the government’s transformation agenda of adopting standard government solutions that will realize cost savings and efficiencies. For example, the Agency actively supported the implementation of the Cost-Effective Telephone Services Initiative as well as the migration to the new human resources management system, MyGCHR.

The Agency continued to engage employees in the implementation of initiatives to support the vision and principles of Blueprint 2020. In January 2015, a third progress report on strategic actions undertaken by ACOA in support of the Blueprint 2020 vision was presented to the Clerk of the Privy Council, including plans for future initiatives intended to keep the Agency moving forward on the path of continuous improvement.

Following the dissolution of the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC) in June 2014, ACOA worked with former ECBC officials as well as with Public Works and Government Services Canada to ensure a smooth transition of economic development activities within the Agency’s operations.

ACOA worked diligently to continue to adapt its evaluation approach to more effectively meet management needs for strategic information in a timely manner. It also identified key corporate risks and ensured appropriate mitigation measures were in place.

ACOA continued to enhance its human resources practices by supporting the implementation of central agency policy instruments such as the successful implementation of, and compliance with, the new Performance Management Directive from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Agency-wide results from the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey, released in February 2015, were favourable, and an approach was identified to ensure that the Agency effectively responds to the survey results.

The Agency implemented activities that support objectives that are part of its Employment Equity and Diversity Action Plan (2011-2015). In conformity with its Official Languages Action Plan, information sessions were delivered across the Agency to raise awareness about employees’ rights and responsibilities related to the Official Languages Act.

Finally, the implementation of ACOA’s Values and Ethics Strategy supported the objective of ensuring that values and ethics are a strong and evident part of the Agency’s culture and are firmly integrated within the conduct of Agency employees and business processes.
 

[i] Measuring the impact on gross domestic product in Atlantic Canada is a long-term, multi-dimensional undertaking. Thus, the Agency will report results every five years based on an analysis of data from internal systems, using econometric modelling from The Conference Board of Canada. This indicator will next be measured in 2018, covering the five-year period from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

[ii] Calculations by ACOA using simulations by The Conference Board of Canada, August 2013.

[iii] Economic Analysis Division, Statistics Canada, May 2015.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] ACOA, 2014-15 roll-up of business skills development (BSD) activities in Atlantic Canada, Spring 2015. (Survey description: a questionnaire is distributed to all participants in BSD activities, which is filled out on a voluntary basis. Out of the 10,510 questionnaires received, 9,167 participants responded “somewhat” or “very much” to the following survey question: “Were the skills acquired through this activity relevant to helping with the start-up or survival/growth of a business? Select one: not at all/somewhat/very much.”)

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Economic Analysis Division, Statistics Canada, March 2015.

[xi] Community Business Development Corporations E-Reports April 2014 to March 2015.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Economic Analysis Division, Statistics Canada, March 2015.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Gardner Pinfold Consultants Inc. and the Acadian Tidal Energy Institute, Value Proposition for Tidal Energy Development in Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada and Canada, April 2015, prepared for the Offshore Energy Research Association.

[xvi] Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity, Research Symposium of the Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity, October23, 2014.

[xvii] Statistics Canada, Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy: Detailed information for 2012, 2012.

[xviii] David Freshwater, Alvin Simms and Jamie Ward, Local Labour Markets as a New Way of Organizing Policies for Stronger Regional Economic Development in Atlantic Canada, The Harris Centre, Memorial University, January 2014.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Gardner Pinfold Consultants Inc. and the Acadian Tidal Energy Institute, op. cit.

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