2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities
Ministers’ Message and Section I

Ministers’ Message

As Canada begins a new chapter in 2016-17, creating a culture of innovation is more important than ever in driving economic growth.

The recent name change of our Innovation, Science and Economic Development Portfolio recognizes this, placing a deliberate emphasis both on innovation and scientific discovery, and their equal importance for economic development nationally and throughout all of Canada’s diverse regions.

We have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change – in both what we do and how we do it. We will invest in growing our economy, increase transparency and use the best evidence available to inform decision making.

Through the programs of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Portfolio, we will work to develop and deliver an innovation agenda for Canada that will help improve our productivity performance, grow the economy and enhance our prosperity and well-being.

This 2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) provides information on how the Agency will support the Government on achieving our agenda in the coming year and we are fully confident that ACOA is prepared to successfully support us and work with our partners inside and outside government to deliver for Canadians. However, given our commitment to more effective reporting, this year’s report will be the final submission using the existing reporting framework.

The Prime Minister and the President of the Treasury Board are working to develop new, simplified and more effective reporting processes that will better allow Parliament and Canadians to monitor our Government’s progress on delivering real change to Canadians. In the future ACOA’s reports to Parliament will focus more transparently on how we are using our resources to fulfill our commitments and achieve results for Canadians.

These new reporting mechanisms will allow Canadians to more easily follow the Agency’s progress toward delivering on our priorities, which were outlined in the Prime Minister’s mandate letters to us.

It is our pleasure to present the Report on Plans and Priorities for ACOA for 2016-17, which sets out how the Agency’s work will contribute to attaining these shared objectives.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Mandate Letter
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan
Minister of Science
Mandate Letter
The Honourable Bardish Chagger
Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Section I: Organizational Expenditure Overview

Organizational Profile

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.

Institutional Head: Mr. Paul J. LeBlanc, President

Ministerial Portfolio: Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

Enabling Instrument: Part I of the Government Organization Act, Atlantic Canada 1987, R.S.C., 1985, c. 41 (4th Supp.), also known as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act. See the Department of Justice Canada website for more information.

Year of Incorporation: 1987

Organizational Context

Raison d’être

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

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

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


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

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

Strategic Outcome and Program Alignment Architecture

ACOA’s strategic outcome – a competitive Atlantic Canadian economy – and its program alignment architecture (PAA) can be found below. The PAA is based on the results of policy research and analysis, the periodic assessment of program relevance and performance, ongoing dialogue with stakeholders in the region, and the priorities and direction of the Government of Canada.

  1. Strategic Outcome: A competitive Atlantic Canadian economy.

1.1 Program: Enterprise Development

1.1.1 Sub-Program: Innovation and Commercialization

1.1.2 Sub-Program: Productivity and Growth

1.1.3 Sub-Program: International Business Development

1.2 Program: Community Development

1.2.1 Sub-Program: Community Investment

1.2.2 Sub-Program: Community-based Business Development

1.3 Program: Policy, Advocacy and Coordination

1.3.1 Sub-Program: Policy

1.3.2 Sub-Program: Advocacy

1.3.3 Sub-Program: Coordination

Internal Services

Organizational Priorities

Priority: Innovation and Export Development

Description: Focus ACOA’s programs and services on initiatives that encourage Atlantic Canadian businesses to be more innovative and productive and to export more, creating jobs and wealth opportunities in the Atlantic economy.

Priority Type:[ii] Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives:

Planned Initiative Start Date End Date Link to PAA
Enhance and implement ACOA’s Innovation Strategy as part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda. This includes strategic investments in areas such as business incubation and acceleration, technology adoption, growth-oriented firms and clean and sustainable technologies. Ongoing Ongoing Enterprise Development / Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), through the Atlantic Innovation Fund and the Business Development Program, to improve business productivity and competitiveness by helping firms innovate and commercialize, adopt and adapt technology and other efficiency measures, and enhance business management skills. Ongoing Ongoing Enterprise Development
Assist Atlantic Canadian businesses and industries to expand into the global marketplace by increasing the range of their trading partners and exploring opportunities for international business development, including participation in global value chains and leveraging international trade agreements. Ongoing Ongoing Enterprise Development

Priority: Community Development and Diversification

Description: Respond to distinct economic needs and opportunities of communities, including investments to help them transition and diversify.

Priority Type: Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives:

Planned Initiative Start Date End Date Link to PAA
Work in partnership with key community stakeholders such as Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) to support the diversification of communities by helping to grow key sectors such as tourism and by supporting resource-based industries with a focus on innovation and value-added products and services. Ongoing Ongoing Community Development
Work in collaboration with partners in the private sector and academia, community-based groups and other government departments to strengthen community planning and capacity building, invest in local infrastructure, and address community needs in areas that are vulnerable to the out-migration of skilled workers and an aging population. Ongoing Ongoing Community Development
Continue support for official language minority communities and economic development with Atlantic indigenous communities. Ongoing Ongoing Community Development / Policy, Advocacy and Coordination

Priority: Coordination

Description: Work with all levels of government, the post-secondary education system, businesses and other stakeholders, and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes, to deliver on the Government’s top priorities and support strategic investments that build on the region’s competitive advantages.

Priority Type: Ongoing

Key Supporting Initiatives:

Planned Initiative Start Date End Date Link to PAA
Analyze regional competitive advantages, engage stakeholders and support key decision-makers with rigorous analysis and local intelligence to capitalize on opportunities in areas that show strong potential for development, including major projects; the renewable energy, clean technology and resource sectors; strategic infrastructure; high-growth firms; and other key growth sectors in Atlantic Canada. Ongoing Ongoing Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Ensure federal policies and programs in the primary resource sector take into consideration Atlantic Canadian competitiveness issues, including awareness of opportunities for regional value-added products in new and existing global markets. Ongoing Ongoing Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
Maximize federal industrial benefits related to federal defence procurement opportunities such as the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy to help grow a robust aerospace and defence sector. Ongoing Ongoing Policy, Advocacy and Coordination

For more information on organizational priorities, see the minister’s mandate letter on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website.

Risk Analysis

Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to PAA
Economic Context

There is a risk that the achievement of results expected from the Agency’s economic development programming may be affected by external factors that contribute to uncertainties for economic growth in Atlantic Canada.

Management will mitigate this risk through ongoing research and analysis of the factors affecting economic growth in Atlantic Canada and through ongoing intelligence gathering facilitated by the Agency’s networks and regional presence.
Management will capitalize on the flexibility of the Agency’s programming, on its advocacy role and on its integrated planning process in order to proactively address the risks and opportunities presented by these uncertainties.
Enterprise Development / Community Development / Policy, Advocacy and Coordination
External Capacity

There is a risk that partner, community and client capacity for the identification, development and successful implementation of strategic projects may not be sufficient to support the optimal achievement of ACOA’s program objectives.

Management will mitigate this risk through ongoing research, analysis, intelligence gathering and information sharing. Management will also work closely with its partners and stakeholders to foster client and community capacity and to increase private-sector capital investment in the region.
Management will capitalize on the Agency’s integrated planning process in order to understand and strategically address differences in how this risk expresses itself across ACOA regions.
Community Development / Enterprise Development / Policy, Advocacy and Coordination

ACOA’s work is driven by client requirements, strategic priorities and ever changing local and regional economic landscapes. These drivers give rise to uncertainties that can affect the Agency’s ability to achieve expected results.

Economic growth in Atlantic Canada will be driven over the next few years by a combination of factors: the development of emerging and value-added sectors; significant investments in industrial projects; and global economic developments, including economic integration and innovation.

Atlantic Canada’s economy continues to face several risks. As a small, open economy, international competition from low-cost producers will continue to challenge Atlantic Canada’s manufacturing base and resource industries. An aging population will also have an impact on the region’s labour force. Lower commodity prices could create additional challenges for investment projects in the region.

The above factors require businesses and communities in Atlantic Canada to become more competitive. The development and commercialization of innovative products and services, a continued focus on business skills development, and increased market diversification will enhance the region’s productivity and competitiveness.

ACOA’s organizational priorities reflect the above factors and the need for sound fiscal management and continuous improvement. ACOA’s key risks and critical action plans support the Agency’s work to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities in a manner that is integrated, strategic and responsive to each Atlantic province’s circumstances.

In addition to its department-specific risks, ACOA monitors relevant Government of Canada risks and ensures that the Agency’s response is aligned with whole-of-government strategies. Information management and information technology security represents an area of uncertainty given the frequency, complexity and severity of cyber-attacks. ACOA will mitigate this risk through information stewardship, the implementation of Government of Canada policies and procedures, proactive internal communications to promote employee awareness, and the timely implementation of security actions in response to cyber security threats.

Planned Expenditures

Budgetary Financial Resources: (dollars)

Main Estimates
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
Planned Spending
308,197,204 308,197,204 305,049,456 291,691,456

Human Resources: (Full-Time Equivalents [FTEs])

2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
590 590 590

Budgetary Planning Summary for Strategic Outcome and Programs: (dollars)

Strategic Outcome, Programs and Internal Services 2013-14
2016-17 Planned
2018-19 Planned
Strategic Outcome 1: A competitive Atlantic Canadian economy.
1.1 Enterprise Development 180,674,018 173,992,156 178,652,400 172,961,681 172,961,681 170,781,524 165,894,524
1.2 Community Development 94,103,326 90,659,999 86,032,800 97,704,593 97,704,593 96,688.987 88,168,987
1.3 Policy, Advocacy and Coordination 10,634,165 12,444,235 11,518,900 11,740,443 11,740,443 11,789,209 11,838,209
Subtotal 285,411,509 277,096,390 276,204,100 282,406,717 282,406,717 279,259,720 265,901,720
Internal Services 28,746,598 28,176,701 28,386,100 25,790,487 25,790,487 25,789,736 25,789,736
Total 314,158,107 305,273,091 304,590,200 308,197,204 308,197,204 305,049,456 291,691,456

In the 2016-17 Main Estimates, the Agency’s available funding is $308.2 million. This represents an increase of $3.6 million from 2015-16 forecast spending of $304.6 million. This variance is explained by:

In 2017-18, planned spending is $305.1 million, a $3.1 million decrease from the $308.2 million in 2016-17, due to:

In 2018-19, planned spending is $291.7 million, a $13.4 million decrease from the $305.1 million in 2017-18, due to:

Alignment of Spending with the Whole-of-Government Framework

Alignment of 2016-17 Planned Spending with the Whole-of-Government Framework: (dollars)

Strategic Outcome Program Spending Area Government of
Canada Outcome
2016-17 Planned Spending
A competitive Atlantic Canadian economy. 1.1 Enterprise Development Economic Affairs Strong Economic Growth 172,961,681
1.2 Community Development Economic Affairs Strong Economic Growth 97,704,593
1.3 Policy, Advocacy and Coordination Economic Affairs Strong Economic Growth 11,740,443

Total Planned Spending, by Spending Area: (dollars)

Spending Area Total Planned Spending
Economic Affairs 282,406,717
Social Affairs 0
International Affairs 0
Government Affairs 0

Departmental Spending Trend

The figure below illustrates the Agency’s actual spending for 2013-14 and 2014-15, forecast spending for 2015-16 and planned spending from 2016-17 to 2018-19.


The variation in planned spending is explained in detail in the previous section, Planned Expenditures.

Estimates by Vote

For information on ACOA’s organizational appropriations, consult the 2016-17 Main Estimates.

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

[ii]. “Priority Type” definitions:

[iii]. The Canada 150 Infrastructure Program is more commonly known as the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

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