2015-16 Deptartmental Performance Report - section III, section IV and appendix


Section III: Analysis of Programs and Internal Services


Enterprise Development


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 SMEs, to start, expand or modernize and to establish or expand export activities; partnering with universities and other institutions to increase the region’s R&D capacity, commercialization and productivity; and promoting and participating in the region’s transition to a knowledge economy.

Program Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned:

In 2015-16, ACOA continued to work on improving the productivity and competitiveness of Atlantic Canadian firms. 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.

ACOA uses the labour productivity rate to measure its contribution to increasing companies’ competitiveness. Labour productivity in ACOA-assisted firms, which is estimated using sales per worker, experienced healthy growth between 2008 and 2013. Sales per worker rose by 5.1 per cent per year in ACOA-assisted firms. This is 6.1 percentage points above firms not assisted by the Agency, which saw a decline of 1.0 per cent.[1] The Agency greatly exceeded its target for this indicator.

Another measure of competitiveness is business survival. A company’s survival depends on factors such as its age, location and size. The Agency exceeded its target for this performance indicator. The five-year survival rate for ACOA‑assisted firms is notably higher than that for comparable firms not assisted by the Agency. In fact, from 2003 to 2013, the business survival rate for ACOA-assisted firms was 57.0 per cent after the crucial fifth year following start-up, compared with 31.0 per cent for comparable firms not assisted by ACOA.[2] This represents a variance of 26 percentage points. The results for this indicator have been consistent over the past few years, with the gap between ACOA‑assisted firms and unassisted firms increasing.

Both of these performance indicators seem to show that the 2008-09 economic downturn affected ACOA-assisted firms less severely and with less lasting consequences. ACOA helped businesses in the start-up process by providing access to financing, information and advice as well as business tools and guides, and allowed them to enhance their productivity, which helped them weather the difficult business environment.

Budgetary Financial Resources: (dollars)

2015-16 Main Estimates 2015-16 Planned Spending 2015-16 Total Authorities Available for Use 2015-16 Actual Spending (authorities used) Difference (actual minus planned spending)
171,221,612 171,221,612 178,259,320 171,964,203 742,591


Human Resources: (FTEs)

2015-16 Planned 2015-16 Actual Difference (actual minus planned)
227 208 (19)


Performance Results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator  Annual Target 2015-16 Actual Result
Improved growth and competitiveness of Atlantic Canadian SMEs Percentage points by which the labour productivity growth of ACOA-assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms[3] not assisted by ACOA 0.3 6.1
Percentage points by which the business survival rate of ACOA-assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms[4] not assisted by ACOA 10 26

Community Development


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 these 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.

Program Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned:

In 2015-16, 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 approved over $13.5 million in funding to support the network of CBDCs in 2015-16. 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 clients is notably higher than that for comparable firms that were not assisted by the CBDCs. For the period from 2003 to 2013, the business survival rate for CBDC-assisted clients was 71.0 per cent after the crucial fifth year following start-up, compared with 47.0 per cent for comparable firms not assisted by the CBDCs.[5] This represents a difference in the five-year business survival rate of 24 percentage points, which is well above the Agency’s target of 10 percentage points.

Sales by CBDC-assisted clients totalled $1.37 billion in 2013, up from $1.09 billion in 2008, an average annual growth rate of 4.6 per cent. Sales by comparable firms not assisted reached $51.71 billion in 2013, up from $42.78 billion in 2008, an average annual growth rate of 3.9 per cent per year. This represents a variance of 0.7 percentage points.[6] While the result is lower than the established target, CBDC-assisted clients still outperformed the comparable group. The strong growth registered by the unassisted firms during this time is due to their recovery from the recession of 2008-09; their sales fell in 2008 and increased strongly in 2010 as the economy recovered. In comparison, CBDC-assisted clients were not as affected by the recession and their sales kept growing during that time.[7]

ACOA approved $85.5 million in funding for 413 community development projects that are well aligned with the economic priorities and distinct needs of the various communities. Of these, over 96.0 per cent achieved expected results, which exceeds the target of 80.0 per cent. The Agency uses its Community Investment Framework to target investments and generate strong economic benefits for Atlantic communities.

Budgetary Financial Resources: (dollars)

2015-16 Main Estimates 2015-16 Planned Spending 2015-16 Total Authorities Available for Use 2015-16 Actual Spending (authorities used) Difference (actual minus planned spending)
89,727,582 89,727,582 90,705,042 91,402,846 1,675,264


Human Resource: (FTEs)

2015-16 Planned 2015-16 Actual Difference (actual minus planned)
101 102 1


Performance Results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator  Annual Target 2015-16 Actual Result
Dynamic and sustainable communities in Atlantic Canada with increased economic and business activity Percentage points by which the business survival rate of CBDC-assisted clients exceeds that of comparable[8] firms not assisted by the CBDCs 10 24
Percentage of Community Development projects that met expectations, thus contributing to the expected result 80% 96%

Policy, Advocacy and Coordination


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 by coordinating other policies and programs within the region to form integrated approaches to development.

Program Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned:

In 2015-16, the Agency played a critical role in helping the government deliver on the federal agenda and implement national priorities such as clean growth and high-growth firms in Atlantic Canada by conducting policy research and analysis and by providing sound policy advice. Research and analysis also focused on the opportunities and challenges related to the region’s economy, such as demographics, community economic development, CETA[9] and trade with Asia.[10] The Agency considered factors influencing the ability of SMEs to benefit from supply chain opportunities such as business skills, competitiveness, productivity, innovation and commercialization. Key industries such as services, tourism, natural resources, clean technology and energy were also examined.

ACOA advocated for Atlantic Canadian businesses in the design of federal policies, programs and investments. The Agency worked to ensure federal departments were aware of Atlantic Canada’s unique needs and economic circumstances in areas such as innovation and commercialization, labour markets, natural resources and clean energy. ACOA helped Atlantic Canadian SMEs position themselves to take advantage of potential opportunities related to major international free trade agreements. The Agency also advocated for policy and regulatory changes that could improve the investment environment for offshore oil-and-gas exploration. The Agency’s advocacy efforts also attempted to secure industrial benefit commitments for Atlantic Canadian SMEs resulting from federal defence procurements and the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

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 Sydney, N.S. The Foreign Trade Zone will provide single-window access to information on relevant policies and programs at all levels of government.

In its coordination role, the Agency worked with other federal departments, the four Atlantic Provinces and other stakeholders to capitalize on opportunities related to major projects in the region, such as the shipbuilding initiative. Under the leadership of the Atlantic Canada Energy Office, the Agency facilitated the development of the region’s energy sector by fostering collaboration, common understanding and communication among the public and private sectors. The Agency continued to administer the Canada-France agreement for regional co-operation between Atlantic Canada and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon in order to grow partnerships supporting increased regional co-operation between the two countries. ACOA continued to work with other federal departments and agencies involved with tourism to develop and maintain an integrated and forward-looking federal tourism agenda. Finally, the Agency helped coordinate the work of federal departments in the region by leading the Atlantic Federal Council.

Budgetary Financial Resources: (dollars)

2015-16 Main Estimates 2015-16 Planned Spending 2015-16 Total Authorities Available for Use 2015-16 Actual Spending (authorities used) Difference (actual minus planned spending)
11,774,749 11,774,749 11,903,019 11,828,235 53,486


Human Resources: (FTEs)

2015-16 Planned 2015-16 Actual Difference (actual minus planned)
69 64 (5)


Performance Results:

Expected Result Performance Indicator  Annual Target 2015-16 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%

Internal Services


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. Internal services include only those activities and resources that apply across an organization and not those provided to a specific program. The groups of activities 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; and Acquisition Services.

Program Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned:

ACOA pursued the implementation of transformational and organizational initiatives to strengthen and improve the Agency’s capacity to deliver excellent programs and services. It also sought opportunities for increased collaboration both within the Agency and within the broader government context. ACOA’s pursuit of the Blueprint 2020 vision is part of the Agency’s ongoing effort to make innovation and engagement “business as usual.” The vision was influenced in large part by the Agency’s positive results in the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey. The Agency maintained its focus on employee engagement and the use of employee-driven process improvements. It also supported employees and their development in order to enhance performance and productivity, thus ensuring the provision of high-quality service to Canadians now and in the future. The Agency also continued to promote an open dialogue on topics related to values and ethics through the ongoing implementation of its Values and Ethics Strategy.

ACOA ensured that the work of its Evaluation and Risk directorate aligned with the needs of management through clear direction on strategy, timeliness and calibration, and through the implementation of its five-year evaluation plan and the mitigation of key risks. In addition, the Agency ensured the ongoing existence of a robust performance measurement framework and continued to integrate human resources, risk management, performance management and evaluation considerations into its planning and decision-making processes. The Agency also continued to implement its renewed security plan.

Budgetary Financial Resources: (dollars)

2015-16 Main Estimates 2015-16 Planned Spending 2015-16 Total Authorities Available for Use 2015-16 Actual Spending (authorities used) Difference (actual minus planned spending)
25,861,046 25,861,046 25,710,431 26,413,684 552,638


Human Resources: (FTEs)

2015-16 Planned 2015-16 Actual Difference (actual minus planned)
201 199 (2)


Section IV: Supplementary Information

Supporting Information on Lower-Level Programs

Supporting information on lower-level programs is available on ACOA’s website.

Supplementary Information

The following supplementary information tables are available on ACOA’s website.

Tax Expenditures and Evaluations

The tax system can be used to achieve public policy objectives through the application of special measures such as low tax rates, exemptions, deductions, deferrals and credits. The Department of Finance Canada publishes cost estimates and projections for these measures annually in the Report on Federal Tax Expenditures. This report also provides detailed background information on tax expenditures, including descriptions, objectives, historical information and references to related federal spending programs. The tax measures presented in this report are the responsibility of the Minister of Finance.

Organizational Contact Information

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency P.O. Box 6051, Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 9J8

Courier address: 644 Main Street, Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 1E2

General inquiries: 506-851-2271 Toll free (Canada and the United States): 1-800-561-7862 Facsimile: 506-851-7403 Secure Facsimile: 506-857-1301 TTY: 1-877-456-6500 Access to Information/Privacy: 506-851-2271


Appendix: Definitions

appropriation(crédit): Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

budgetaryexpenditures(dépenses budgétaires): Include operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations.

Departmental Performance Report(Rapport ministériel sur le rendement): Reports on an appropriated organization’s actual accomplishments against the plans, priorities and expected results set out in the corresponding Report on Plans and Priorities. These reports are tabled in Parliament in the fall.

full-timeequivalent(équivalent temps plein): Is a measure of the extent to which an employee represents a full person-year charge against a departmental budget. FTEs are calculated as a ratio of assigned hours of work to scheduled hours of work. Scheduled hours of work are set out in collective agreements.

Government of Canada outcomes(résultats du gouvernement du Canada): A set of 16 high‑level objectives defined for the government as a whole, grouped in four spending areas: economic affairs, social affairs, international affairs and government affairs.

Management, Resources and Results Structure(Structure de la gestion, des ressources et des résultats): A comprehensive framework that consists of an organization’s inventory of programs, resources, results, performance indicators and governance information. Programs and results are depicted in their hierarchical relationship to each other and to the Strategic Outcome(s) to which they contribute. The Management, Resources and Results Structure is developed from the Program Alignment Architecture.

non-budgetary expenditures(dépenses non budgétaires): Include net outlays and receipts related to loans, investments and advances, which change the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.

performance(rendement): What an organization did with its resources to achieve its results, how well those results compare with what the organization intended to achieve and how well lessons learned have been identified.

performance indicator(indicateur de rendement): A qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an output or outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of an organization, program, policy or initiative respecting expected results.

performance reporting(production de rapports sur le rendement): The process of communicating evidence-based performance information. Performance reporting supports decision making, accountability and transparency.

planned spending(dépenses prévues): For Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports, planned spending refers to those amounts that receive Treasury Board approval by February 1. Therefore, planned spending may include amounts incremental to planned expenditures presented in the Main Estimates. A department is expected to be aware of the authorities that it has sought and received. The determination of planned spending is a departmental responsibility, and departments must be able to defend the expenditure and accrual numbers presented in their reports.

plans(plan): The articulation of strategic choices, which provides information on how an organization intends to achieve its priorities and associated results. Generally a plan will explain the logic behind the strategies chosen and tend to focus on actions that lead up to the expected result.

priorities(priorité): Plans or projects that an organization has chosen to focus and report on during the planning period. Priorities represent the things that are most important or what must be done first to support the achievement of the desired Strategic Outcome(s).

program(programme): A group of related resource inputs and activities that are managed to meet specific needs and to achieve intended results and that are treated as a budgetary unit.

Program Alignment Architecture (architecture d’alignement des programmes): A structured inventory of an organization’s programs depicting the hierarchical relationship between programs and the Strategic Outcome(s) to which they contribute.

Report on Plans and Priorities(Rapport sur les plans et les priorités): Provides information on the plans and expected performance of appropriated organizations over a three-year period. These reports are tabled in Parliament each spring.

result(résultat): An external consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative. Results are not within the control of a single organization, policy, program or initiative; instead, they are within the area of the organization’s influence.

statutory expenditures(dépenses législatives): Expenditures that Parliament has approved through legislation other than appropriation acts. The legislation sets out the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made.

Strategic Outcome(résultat stratégique): A long-term and enduring benefit to Canadians that is linked to the organization’s mandate, vision and core functions.

sunsetprogram(programme temporisé): A time-limited program that does not have an ongoing funding and policy authority. When the program is set to expire, a decision must be made whether to continue the program. In the case of a renewal, the decision specifies the scope, funding level and duration.

target(cible): A measurable performance or success level that an organization, program or initiative plans to achieve within a specified time period. A target can be either quantitative or qualitative.

TTY(ATS): A teletype or teletypewriter is a special device that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired use the telephone to communicate by typing messages back and forth to one another instead of talking and listening. A TTY is required at both ends of the conversation in order to communicate.

voted expenditures(dépenses votées): Expenditures that Parliament approves annually through an appropriation act. The Vote wording becomes the governing conditions under which these expenditures may be made.

Whole-of-Government Framework(cadre pangouvernemental): Maps the financial contributions of federal organizations receiving appropriations by aligning their programs to a set of 16 government-wide, high-level outcome areas grouped under four spending areas.


[1] Centre for Data Development and Economic Research, Statistics Canada, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Comparable firms” are those of similar age, size, sector and geographic region.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Centre for Data Development and Economic Research, Statistics Canada, 2016.

[6] Ibid.

[7] These statistics relate to a sub-program of Community Development: Community-based Business Development. Further details can be found in the section IV subsection titled Supporting Information on Lower-Level Programs.

[8] “Comparable firms” are those of similar age, size, sector and geographic region.

[9] Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, The Changing Global Market for Atlantic Manufacturing, 2015; A Brief Profile of the EU: Key Considerations for Atlantic Exporters, 2015; and Opportunities for Atlantic Manufacturers in the EU, 2015.

[10] Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, The Asia Factor in Atlantic Canada: Project Summary Report, 2016.

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