2018-19 Departmental Results Report
Results : what we achieved

Core responsibility: economic development in Atlantic Canada

Description

Support Atlantic Canada’s economic growth, wealth creation and economic prosperity through inclusive clean growth and by building on competitive regional strengths. Help SME growth through direct financial assistance and indirectly through business support organizations. SMEs become more innovative by adopting new technologies and processes and pursuing new avenues for expansion and market diversification in order to compete and succeed in a global market.

Results

In 2018-19, ACOA delivered the Government of Canada’s priorities and, through the Innovation and Skills Plan and portfolio suite of initiatives and programs, worked with Atlantic Canadian businesses in order to respond to today’s challenges and opportunities, strengthen the region’s competitiveness on the global stage and create a culture of innovation. It acted as a catalyst for economic development and as a convenor of partners to take joint actions. With new and existing regionally tailored programming, the Agency helped firms to scale up, develop new markets and adopt new technologies and processes in key sectors such as oceans, food, aquaculture, clean technology, tourism, and startups. It supported communities in diversifying their economies, while leveraging opportunities for immigrants, Indigenous people, women and youth. The Agency also supported Atlantic businesses to better access and benefit from federal investments through national programs such as the Strategic Innovation Fund and the Industrial Research Assistance Program. ACOA’s strong culture of collaboration was demonstrated through many initiatives, including the Atlantic Growth Strategy and the preparation of key reports and policy papers, including the Atlantic Growth Strategy’s Year 2 Results Report.

Businesses invest in the development and commercialization of innovative technologies in Atlantic Canada

In 2018-19, ACOA invested in creating, growing and nurturing inclusive regional ecosystems that support business needs and foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and competitiveness. The Agency helped connect the business community and the region’s SMEs with the opportunities offered by the ocean supercluster and the emerging electronic data security cluster. The Agency fostered partnerships and collaborations between the private sector and research and business support organizations as well as with higher education institutions to foster the development and commercialization of new technologies in priority sectors. Efforts from the Agency helped amplify private-sector investment in research and innovative technologies in the region as the value of business expenditures in research and development by firms receiving ACOA funding reached an average of $86.7 million in 2018-19, surpassing the Agency’s target of $66 million.

In partnership with Atlantic Canadian businesses, stakeholders, industry, institutions and federal partners, ACOA has helped the region rank in the top 15 ecosystems in the world for start-ups’ ability to secure funding and hire a skilled workforce. Atlantic Canada also led the world in early-stage funding per start-up and ranked fourth worldwide in high-growth ecosystems in the activation phase. [1]  In 2018-19, the Agency addressed gaps in support of start-ups by engaging with Atlantic Canada’s business accelerators and incubators, providing targeted support to foster entrepreneurial culture, developing a robust financing chain, and ensuring the early-stage companies’ pathways to globalization.

The Agency also played a key role in positioning companies and communities to adopt clean technologies and raise awareness of the opportunities in the clean-technology sector in Atlantic Canada. In line with the Government of Canada’s commitments to assist communities transitioning to the low carbon economy, ACOA invested over $34 million in 2018-19 for economic development projects that foster the development, commercialization, export and adoption of clean technologies, and the scaling up of clean-technology firms.

With these activities, ACOA supported the development of new technologies and an effective regional start-up ecosystem. For instance:

Businesses are innovative and growing in Atlantic Canada

ACOA supported businesses at various stages of development to accelerate their growth, assist them in scaling up, and enhance their productivity and competitiveness in both domestic and global markets. Firms supported by ACOA programs reported strong revenue growth rates, higher than the set target, at an average rate of 9% in 2018-19.[2] To help increase the potential of and to scale up Atlantic Canadian businesses, the Agency, in collaboration with federal and provincial partners, targeted strategic support for high-potential firms under the Accelerated Growth Service, which resulted in 24 high-potential companies being enrolled by the end of 2018-19. It further focused on the development of talent and labour market needs of businesses.

Through the Atlantic Trade and Investment and Growth Agreement, which is investing $20 million from federal and provincial sources over five years (2017 to 2022), the Agency supported 25 projects, including 19 trade missions involving over 300 participants, to help businesses grow their exports and diversify into new markets. These efforts proved beneficial to help businesses grow in Atlantic Canada, with the value of exports of goods from Atlantic Canada reaching a high of $26.4 billion in 2018-19, surpassing the Agency’s target of $19.5 billion.

As part of a pan-Atlantic tourism approach, ACOA, Destination Canada and the four provincial governments worked together to develop innovative ways to strengthen the tourism sector in the region. Through the Atlantic Canada Tourism Agreement and the Tourism International Market Expansion Program, tourism operators expanded their offerings to target profitable international markets, notably the United States, the United Kingdom and key overseas markets. In addition, through the Tourism International Market Expansion Program, ACOA and the four Atlantic provinces examined growth opportunities in non-traditional overseas markets and delivered training on how to attract, work with and host Chinese tourists.

Throughout the year, the Agency ensured that Atlantic Canada’s interests were considered in federal policies, programs and regulations through advocacy efforts in priority areas such as defence procurement, tourism and clean growth. The Agency also collaborated with the Atlantic Canada Energy Office to work on issues that affect the competitiveness of the region’s oil and gas industry. For example, the Agency helped facilitate over 580 meetings between Atlantic Canadian stakeholders – including SMEs and leading global aerospace and defence contractors – to leverage potential investments from major Coast Guard and defence procurement opportunities through the application of Canada’s Industrial Technological Benefits policy.

ACOA fostered the adoption of advanced manufacturing technology and business activities between Atlantic Canada and international markets. For instance:

Communities are economically diversified in Atlantic Canada

In 2018-19, ACOA invested in the economic diversification of communities to promote the inclusion of groups such as women, newcomers, Indigenous peoples, younger and older workers, and persons with disabilities in the Atlantic economy. ACOA has largely met its targets for inclusiveness, and economic diversification as demonstrated through the percentage of professional, science and technology-related jobs in the region. These jobs represented 32% of all jobs in Atlantic Canada’s economy, slightly above the Agency’s target of 31%, as well as the amount leveraged per dollar invested by ACOA in community projects, which reached $1.32 in 2018-19, above the target of $1.17.

As well, through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund stream of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, ACOA approved 18 Atlantic projects totalling $1.8 million. The Agency played a leadership role in developing strategic partnerships with key federal departments such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Atlantic provinces through the promotion of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the expansion of the Study & Stay program. It supported the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development by working closely with Indigenous leadership and businesses, the Atlantic provincial governments, and Indigenous Services Canada. The Agency also supported various Indigenous economic development priorities in the region, including Aboriginal economic development research and business skills development. In total, the Agency invested $10.5 million for 46 projects.

Moreover, a recent evaluation found that ACOA’s “programming addresses Government of Canada priorities related to rural economic development [by]… help[ing] communities respond to economic business development opportunities and challenges, and support[ing] strengthened and expanded businesses.… Programming has also supported priorities through projects aimed at diversity groups, such as women, Indigenous communities and language minorities.”  In 2018-19, the Agency approved 16 projects for a total of $1.1 million under the Economic Development Initiative, in official minority language communities mostly in rural francophone communities. Further, ACOA’s support to the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) network translated into 1,361 loans valued at $73.4 million and the leveraging of an additional $65 million in funds for the creation and expansion of small businesses throughout rural communities in Atlantic Canada. Of the $73.4 million, 41% went to start-up ventures, assisting 579 businesses.

ACOA helped partners support women entrepreneurs, and attract and retain skilled global talent in Atlantic Canada:

Results achieved

Departmental
Result
Performance
indicators
Target Date to achieve
target
2018-19 Actual result 2017-18 Actual result 2016-17 Actual result
Communities are economically diversified in Atlantic Canada Percentage of Atlantic Canadian SMEs that are majority owned by women, Indigenous people, youth, visible minorities and persons with disabilities 14.7% female ownership, 1.3% Indigenous ownership, 10.5% youth ownership, and 2.0% visible minority ownership; 2018-19 will be used as a baseline  year for persons with disabilities and a target will be established for 2019-20 March 31, 2019 17.1% female ownership,
1.1% Indigenous ownership,
10.6% youth ownership,
4.5% visible minority ownership,
and 0.3% persons with disabilities ownership
Not available[3] Not available[3]
Percentage of professional, science and technology-related jobs in Atlantic Canada’s economy 31% March 31, 2019 32% 32% 31%
Amount leveraged per dollar invested by ACOA in community projects $1.17 March 31, 2019 $1.32 $1.37 $1.17
Businesses invest in the development and commercialization of innovative technologies in Atlantic Canada Value of business expenditures in research and development by firms receiving ACOA program funding, in dollars $66.0 million March 31, 2019 $86.7 million Not available[3] Not available[3]
Percentage of businesses engaged in collaborations with higher education institutions in Atlantic Canada 2018-19 will be used as a baseline year and a target will be established for 2019-20 March 31, 2019 18% Not available[3] Not available[3]
Businesses are innovative and growing in Atlantic Canada Number of high-growth firms in Atlantic Canada 790[4] March 31, 2019 Not available[4] Not available[4] Not available[4]
Value of export of goods (in dollars) from Atlantic Canada $19.5 billion March 31, 2019 $26.4 billion $24.8 billion $19.5 billion
Value of exports of clean technologies (in dollars) from Atlantic Canada Not available3 March 31, 2019 Not available[3] Not available[3] Not available[3]
Revenue growth rate of firms supported by ACOA programs 8% March 31, 2019 9% 7% 7%

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)

2018-19
Main Estimates
2018-19
Planned spending
2018–19
Total authorities
available for use
2018–19
Actual spending
(authorities used)
2018–19
Difference
(Actual spending
minus Planned
spending)
300,441,040 300,441,040 341,646,917 323,354,426 22,913,386

Human resources (full-time equivalents)

2018–19
Planned full-time equivalents
2018–19
Actual full-time equivalents
2018–19
Difference
(Actual full-time equivalents
minus Planned full-time
equivalents)
391 378 (13)

Financial, human resources and performance information for ACOA’s Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.

Internal Services

Description

Internal Services are those groups of related activities and resources that the federal government considers to be services in support of Programs and/or required to meet corporate obligations of an organization. Internal Services refers to the activities and resources of the 10 distinct services that support Program delivery in the organization, regardless of the Internal Services delivery model in a department. These services are:

Results

ACOA continued to strive for excellence with organizational initiatives that prioritized streamlining and improving processes and systems. For example, the Agency digitized or streamlined processes related to invoice management, travel approvals, fleet management, post-payment verification and client proposal processing, while providing Government of Canada Wi-Fi services in its main regional offices to support a more modern and mobile workplace. Further, it collaborated with other regional development agencies to improve the efficient delivery of programs and services to Canadians, including the development of a common platform for the management of grants and contributions programs.

The Agency continued to enhance workplace well-being by implementing the Agency’s Mental Health Action Plan in support of the Federal Public Service Workplace Mental Health Strategy. Through key initiatives launched over the past year, employees have access to tools to help lower stress, increase resilience, improve teamwork, strengthen leadership skills and provide effective feedback. For example, the Agency launched an employee-wide mindfulness initiative to help lower stress, increase resilience, improve teamwork and strengthen leadership skills. It also implemented an online learning platform linked to its Employee Assistance Program to promote well-being and a positive and productive workplace.

ACOA also focused on implementing a more robust approach to human resources planning, including standardized processes and tools, to ensure a consistent approach across the Agency. This new approach will facilitate enhanced recruitment and succession planning and enable the Agency to meet its business priorities. Values and ethics remain at the foundation of ACOA’s corporate culture, and it launched an Agency-wide values and ethics campaign to raise awareness and promote open dialogue at all levels of the organization.

In support of evidence-based decision making, ACOA maintained a strong focus on results and impact through improvement of performance information profiles and tools, ongoing performance measurement, and evaluation of its programs and services. The Agency also undertook an evaluation of its Communities and Inclusive Growth programming that covered the majority of ACOA’s community development expenditures. As well, the Agency participated in a horizontal evaluation of the Community Futures Program, led by ISED.

ACOA ensured that its key activities and budgetary resources remain aligned with Government of Canada priorities and the Agency’s mandate. It integrated human resources, financial management, risk management, performance measurement and evaluation considerations into its planning and decision-making processes.

Experimentation
In 2018-19, ACOA continued to find new ways to work differently and more effectively to improve client services. One initiative was aimed at reducing the evaluation and approval process for commercial projects and resulted in a reduced processing time – from 182 to 47 days – allowing more time for staff to provide assistance and advice to clients. In light of these successes, ACOA plans to apply this approach to non-commercial projects in the future. Furthermore, the Agency experimented with a “100-Day Rapid Results Initiative” to modernize its policies and procedures manual, which resulted in a streamlined and user-friendly guide to review projects.

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)

2018-19
Main Estimates
2018-19
Planned spending
2018–19
Total authorities
available for use
2018–19
Actual spending
(authorities used)
2018–19
Difference
(Actual spending
minus Planned
spending)
26,917,122 26,917,122 27,297,945 26,243,126 (673,996)

Human resources (FTEs)

2018–19
Planned full-time equivalents
2018–19
Actual full-time equivalents
2018–19
Difference
(Actual full-time equivalents
minus Planned full-time
equivalents)
199 194 (5)

[1] Startup Genome, Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019, https://startupgenome.com/reports.

[2] A five-year average is used to calculate revenue growth. For fiscal year 2018-19, the period from 2013 to 2017 is used.

[3] Not available. Some data are not available because either a) the indicator was new for the 2018-19 fiscal year, and data for previous fiscal years are not available for that indicator, or b) there is a lag in statistical data, meaning that such data are only available for a specific period prior to the fiscal year.

[4] There was a change in the methodology used by Statistics Canada to measure the number of high-growth firms by revenue, and historical data has not yet been revised. The target had been set using the previous methodology. The target and results for this indicator will be revised in the 2020–21 Departmental Plan to reflect changes in Statistics Canada’s methodology.

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