Government of Canada’s new Regional Development Agency for the Prairie Provinces

News release

PrairiesCan: A new Federal Economic Development Agency just for the Prairies

Prairies Economic Development Canada will better serve the needs of local businesses, communities, and people in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba

August 12, 2021 – Edmonton, Alberta – Prairies Economic Development Canada

From the outset, Canada’s regional development agencies have played a key role in helping businesses and communities weather the effects of the pandemic. They have delivered a suite of direct support programs to help mitigate the financial pressures caused by COVID-19, ensuring that businesses and their employees are not only able to survive the crisis, but positioned to come back stronger in our recovery.

The Government of Canada has laid out a plan, through Budget 2021, to set businesses on a track for long-term growth, and ensure that Canada's future will be healthier, more equitable, greener, and more prosperous. This includes supporting regional economies. As Westerners move towards their economic recovery, the Government of Canada is building a more focused, locally informed approach, and putting people first to foster innovation, business growth, and resilience in urban, rural, and Indigenous communities.

For the first time in more than three decades, the Government of Canada is enhancing its federal economic development presence and services in Western Canada by creating two new regional development agencies for the Prairie provinces and British Columbia. This approach recognizes that economic drivers and conditions are different in each of the two regions, and entrepreneurs, innovators, institutions, and communities have unique needs linked to where they are located.

Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) is the new regional economic development agency for businesses and communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It will build on Western Economic Diversification Canada’s (WD) 34 year legacy by playing stronger roles as convenors, pathfinders, advisors, investors, and collaborators to achieve better economic outcomes for regional economies across the Prairies.

PrairiesCan will also benefit from WD’s existing core program funding which means an overall increase in resources available for strategic investments and community economic development on the Prairies. As a result, in addition to maintaining current headquarters in Edmonton, and offices in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Ottawa, and expanding its Calgary satellite office, PrairiesCan will significantly extend its reach by establishing new service locations in the following provinces:

  • Alberta: Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie
  • Saskatchewan: Regina and Prince Albert
  • Manitoba: Brandon and Thompson

These locations will be launched over a period of months. When complete, this enhanced on-the-ground presence will bring the federal government closer to businesses and the communities they call home. Supporting economic development in more communities will help develop businesses and create good jobs that people can rely on.

The new agency will also maintain existing relationships with clients and partners such as the Western Canada Business Service Network, and will continue to deliver new Budget 2021 funding programs, as well as existing initiatives that help businesses scale-up, and support regional innovation.


“Western Canada’s economy is growing and diversifying more each day, requiring a tailored approach that considers its needs and seizes its opportunities. Our government is proud to be investing in the economic future of innovators, businesses, and communities across the Prairies with the creation of PrairiesCan. For more than 30 years, WD has done tremendous work in the West and this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter.”
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada

“Entrepreneurs, innovators, institutions, and community leaders across the Prairies have been clear about the need for more federal resources and investments in the economic development of our region. The launch of PrairiesCan and its expanded footprint is a substantial step in the right direction, one that recognizes the unique needs and opportunities in the Prairies, and will help us harness its full potential.”
The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister and Special Representative for the Prairies

“Western Canada’s economy has quadrupled in size since WD was created in 1987. The launch of PrairiesCan is recognition of this fact and of the significant diversity among the provinces in agriculture, natural resources, water resources, Indigenous treaty status, exports, and tourism, to name a few. The result will create new middle-class jobs and grow the economy in more communities across the Prairies.”
Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change 

Quick facts

  • Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) is one of two new regional development agencies. The other is Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan), which focuses on British Columbia. They replace Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), which has served western Canadians since August 4, 1987.

  • In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada provided the new BC-focused agency with $553.1 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $110.6 million ongoing. Core program funding previously managed by WD will transition to PrairiesCan, increasing overall economic development funding for businesses and communities on the Prairies.

  • Canada’s other regional development agencies include the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Canada Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec (CEDQ), Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor).

  • Since its formation, WD has coordinated, supported, and encouraged the creation of enterprises in Western Canada, played a significant role as a strategic investor on behalf of the Government of Canada, and represented western economic interests in Ottawa. 

  • Most recently, WD protected nearly 41,000 jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting over 9,400 businesses and organizations with more than $630 million in assistance through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. 

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Mark Feldbauer
Communications Manager
Prairies Economic Development Canada

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