2017‑18 Departmental Results Report - actual results: what we achieved



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 small and medium-sized enterprises, 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.


In 2017‑2018, ACOA continued to build on Atlantic Canada’s regional strengths and competitive advantages by delivering the Innovation and Skills Plan and moving forward on the Atlantic Growth Strategy, while leveraging opportunities for immigrants, Indigenous people, women and youth. ACOA invested in the innovation and growth of SMEs in Atlantic Canada by focusing on the development of talent, business skills and entrepreneurial culture, as well as targeting strategic support for high-potential firms, incubators and accelerators.

For example, the Agency supported the ProfitLearn program, providing practical business management skills training to New Brunswick-based firms in the areas of marketing and sales, human resources, strategic planning, management and operations, financial management, and business leadership.

The Agency focused efforts on strategic sectors such as food and advanced manufacturing. As part of the work around the development a food cluster under the Atlantic Growth Strategy, consultations led to the creation of the Atlantic Canada Food Working Group. This working group aims to identify opportunities to grow the region’s food sector, advance actions in support of this sector, and leverage the work of the national table by working with other federal and provincial stakeholders. ACOA also consulted with some 40 stakeholders regarding advanced manufacturing and adapted its tools and programs to support both clients and employees in discussing and identifying opportunities in advanced manufacturing. For example, ACOA helped Amalgamated Dairies Limited, from Prince Edward Island, undertake a major advanced manufacturing project to modernize its operations. The modernization, which included installing new innovative equipment, allowed the dairy processing cooperative to enhance productivity and increase its production capacity by 40%.

ACOA continued to invest in the region’s network of incubators and accelerators, such as the Genesis Group Inc. at Memorial University of Newfoundland, to enhance entrepreneurial and commercialization opportunities for high-growth firms through the group’s newly designed Evolution Program and redesigned Enterprise Program. Both programs help prepare high‑growth firms for private investment, commercialization and enhanced key skills. ACOA also supported the Startup Zone, which partnered with Island Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund established to invest in high‑potential companies and entrepreneurs in Prince Edward Island.

In addition, ACOA supported clean growth in Atlantic Canada by fostering the development and adoption of clean technologies, and focused on international business development opportunities by investing in the increase and diversification of exporters, and supporting the attraction of foreign direct investments. For example:

Finally, ACOA improved the growth and competitiveness of Atlantic Canadian businesses, as demonstrated through the business survival and labour productivity of ACOA-assisted firms. The five-year business survival rate for ACOA-assisted firms is notably higher than that of unassisted firms. In fact, the business survival rate for ACOA‑assisted firms was 59% after the crucial fifth year following start-up for the 2005 to 2015 period, compared with 33% for unassisted firms. This represents a variance in the five-year business survival rate of 26 percentage points between ACOA-assisted firms and unassisted firms.

Labour productivity in ACOA-assisted firms experienced healthy growth between 2010 and 2015. Sales per worker rose by 2.8% per year in ACOA-assisted firms. In comparison, sales per worker decreased by 0.5% per year in unassisted firms over the same period. This represents a variance of 3.4 percentage points between ACOA-assisted firms and unassisted firms.

Results achieved:

Expected result Performance indicator 2017‑18 Annual target Date to achieve target 2017‑18 Actual result 2016‑17 Actual result 2015‑16 Actual result
Improved growth and competitiveness of Atlantic  Canadian SMEs Percentage points by which the business survival rate of ACOA assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms not  assisted by ACOA 10 March 31, 2018 26 26 26
Percentage points by which the labour productivity growth of ACOA assisted firms exceeds that of comparable firms   not assisted by ACOA 3 March 31, 2018 3.4 0.3 6.1

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2017‑2018 Main Estimates     2017‑2018 Planned spending     2017‑2018 Total authorities available for use    2017‑2018 Actual spending (authorities used)    Difference (actual minus planned)
170,058,923 170,058,923 204,135,514 201,219,382 31,160,459

Human resources: (Full-time equivalents [FTEs])

2017‑18 Planned    2017‑187 Actual    Difference (actual minus planned)
222 217 (5)

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.


In 2017‑2018, ACOA supported the creation of dynamic and sustainable communities by making strategic investments in key sectors such as tourism, energy and other projects for value-added industries, including productivity improvements. The Agency promoted inclusive growth by integrating gender-based analysis plus principles and tools into its practices. A total of 96% of projects achieved their expected results, exceeding the 80% target. For example:

The Agency played a leadership role in developing strategic partnerships with key federal departments, such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and provincial governments in support of immigration and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) in order to help attract and retain skilled global talent and to develop supporting projects. For example:

The Agency continued to support the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) network. An indicator of the CBDCs’ contribution to community development is the five‑year business survival rate of CBDC‑assisted firms, which is notably higher than that of comparable firms that were not assisted by the CBDCs: 69% after the crucial fifth year following start‑up, compared to 49% for comparable firms not assisted by the CBDCs. This represents a variance of 20 percentage points, which is well above the Agency’s target of 10 percentage points.[1]

The Agency supported the vitality, growth and skills acquisition of Indigenous communities by working closely with Indigenous leadership, Atlantic provincial governments, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in support of Indigenous economic development. In 2017‑2018, ACOA supported 47 projects, with contributions of more than $11 million for Indigenous economic development, contributing to the collective target of 255 Indigenous projects supported over five years by Canada’s regional development agencies.

The Agency continued to engage with official language minority communities and provided $14.9 million in assistance for 53 projects throughout Atlantic Canada, including projects under the Economic Development Initiative of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities.

Results achieved:

Expected result Performance indicator 2017‑18 Annual target Date to achieve target 2017‑18 Actual result 2016‑17 Actual result 2015‑16 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% March 31, 2018 96% 96% 96%
Percentage points by which the business survival rate of CBDC‑assisted clients exceeds that of   comparable firms not assisted by CBDCs 10 March 31, 2018 20 24 24

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2017‑2018 Main Estimates    2017‑2018 Planned spending    2017‑2018 Total authorities available for use    2017‑2018 Actual spending (authorities used)    Difference (actual minus planned)
104,552,144 104,552,144 117,037,409 117,229,594 12,677,450

Human resources: (FTEs)

2017‑18 Planned    2017‑18 Actual    Difference (actual minus planned)
101 94 (7)

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.


In 2017‑2018, ACOA continued to play a critical role in delivering on federal priorities and reflecting the government’s national priorities in Atlantic Canada. The Agency achieved this by conducting policy research and analysis, providing sound policy advice in its advocacy role and coordinating with various federal departments and the four Atlantic Provinces. All PAC activities undertaken and for which a qualitative review was conducted met their objectives, thus contributing to the Agency’s related expected result.

In line with the Innovation and Skills Plan (ISP), the Agency’s policy efforts have also supported the role of regional development agencies in streamlining federal innovation programs in order to better respond to challenges and opportunities facing businesses today and into the future. The Agency carried out the Investing in Regional Innovation and Development framework (IRID) by aligning and emphasizing activities under the four priorities of the framework: the Regional Innovation Ecosystems, Investment in and Scale-Up of Firms, Clean Growth, and Community Economic Development and Diversification.

ACOA’s policy and coordination work contributed to the success of the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which, in its second year, has continued to prove its value as a collaborative forum to align opportunities for economic growth in the region in an inclusive and sustainable way. The Agency also contributed to delivery of the IRID by increasing its pathfinding support to better serve and orient its clients toward other federal programs and services.

ACOA’s policy research and analysis supported an innovative, inclusive and modern economy in Atlantic Canada by focusing on aligning the Agency’s activities with broader Government of Canada priorities like high-growth firms, clean and renewable energy, international trade, advanced manufacturing and digitization, the oceans supercluster and immigration.

The Agency also conducted experiments through the Business Culture Innovation Lab, which enhanced the Agency’s understanding of behaviours, attitudes and culture specific to businesses in Atlantic Canada.

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, responsible resource development, agri-food and innovation. ACOA also kept regional stakeholders informed of federal government actions and of opportunities relevant to the region (for example, federal clean technology policies and programs). Advocacy efforts also leveraged industrial benefits for Atlantic Canadian SMEs from defence and Canadian Coast Guard procurements, facilitating 497 meetings between Atlantic Canadian stakeholders and global aerospace and defence contractors. These meetings aimed to provide Atlantic Canadian SMEs with the opportunity to enter into and increase the presence of regional expertise in the supply chains of leading aerospace and defence contractors worldwide.

Results achieved:

Expected result Performance indicator 2017‑18 Annual target Date to achieve target 2017‑18 Actual result 2016‑17 Actual result 2015‑16 Actual result
Policies and programs that strengthen the Atlantic economy Percentage of Policy, Advocacy and Coordination (PAC) activities that have met their objectives, thus contributing to the PAC expected result 75% March 31, 2018 100% 100% 100%

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2017‑2018 Main Estimates    2017‑2018 Planned spending    2017‑2018 Total authorities available for use    2017‑2018 Actual spending (authorities used)    Difference (actual minus planned)
10,966,274 10,966,274 14,250,412 14,295,455 3,329,181

Human resources: (FTEs)

2017‑18 Planned    2017‑18 Actual    Difference (actual minus planned)
68 65 (3)

Information on ACOA’s lower-level programs is available in the GC InfoBase.

Internal Services


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 service categories that support program delivery in the organization, regardless of the Internal Services delivery model in a department. The 10 service categories 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.


ACOA continued to implement organizational initiatives to strengthen and improve service and program delivery efficiency and excellence. Particular focus continued on streamlining and standardizing internal services operations and processes in priority areas For example, the Agency:

ACOA continued to support its employees through career and leadership development by promoting opportunities for developmental assignments as well as ongoing support for employee learning and growth through the continued use of individual learning plans. The Agency also continued to promote and build a healthy, respectful and supportive workplace through the continued implementation of a mental health action plan, in line with the Federal Public Service Workplace Mental Health Strategy. The Agency reinvigorated its human resources planning and recruitment strategy by taking on a more robust approach to identifying workforce needs, along with strategies to support implementation. The Agency continued to promote the Public Service Commission’s New Direction in Staffing for the core public service.

In support of accountability, evidence-based decision making and continuous improvement, ACOA maintained a strong focus on results and impact through ongoing performance measurement and evaluation of its programs and services. To support its results-focused culture, the Agency developed and implemented a new departmental results framework, in close collaboration with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and other regional development agencies. As a result, ACOA realigned its resources and workflow.

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

The Agency continued to implement its 2015–2018 Values and Ethics Strategy to ensure that values and ethics remain at the foundation of its corporate culture, and supported open dialogue at all levels of the organization.

ACOA continued to support the Government of Canada’s plan for an open and fair government by implementing Year 2 measures outlined in the Agency’s Open Government Implementation Plan, and by seeking employee engagement in effective information management practices.

Budgetary financial resources: (dollars)

2017‑2018 Main Estimates    2017‑2018 Planned spending    2017‑2018 Total authorities available for use    2017‑2018 Actual spending (authorities used)    Difference (actual minus planned)
25,967,603 25,967,603 26,522,030 26,241,166 273,563

Human resources: (FTEs)

2017‑18 Planned    2017‑18 Actual    Difference (actual minus planned)
199 195 (4)


[1] Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Data Development and Economic Research, 2018.

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