Minister Joly Highlights Continued Investments to Secure Recovery and Build a Stronger Western Canadian Economy

News release

More than $1 billion to support small and medium-sized business in Western Canada

Western Economic Diversification Canada will deliver on landmark investments in Budget 2021 to help businesses grow and succeed, including two new Regional Development Agencies for Western Canada

May 5, 2021 – Edmonton, Alberta – Western Economic Diversification Canada

The Government of Canada responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with decisive action and continues to make landmark investments in Budget 2021 to keep businesses viable and poised to grow and create jobs on the other side of the pandemic.

Leveraging its unique connection to communities and local businesses, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Canada’s regional development agency for western Canada, has been at the forefront of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 economic response in the West, implementing emergency relief programs on an unprecedented scale and adjusting ongoing programs to support businesses through the pandemic.

To date, WD has delivered more than $588 million from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to western businesses struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19 in almost every sector. Eligible firms and organizations that could not qualify for other federal COVID-19 support programs, or those that still require additional funding to mitigate liquidity issues after accessing them, received support in the form of interest-free loans. In western Canada, the RRRF has supported over 9,000 firms and organizations, helping to preserve nearly 40,000 jobs.

Recognizing their unique needs, targeted assistance of almost $10 million was delivered to over 70 seafood processing firms across the West through the Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund.

Through the Regional Air Transportation Initiative, WD is investing $54.6 million to help airports and air carriers across the West to contribute to the economic development of communities through the maintenance, restoration, or addition of regional air service, and increased air passenger volumes.

Landmark Investments in Western Canada

Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, highlighted the impact for Westerners of new investments outlined in the Budget 2021. Over the coming years, the Government of Canada will deliver more than $2.4 billion nationally for programs to be delivered by the RDAs:

  • $500 million for the Canada Community Revitalization Fund to develop community infrastructure. These projects will stimulate local economies, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for Canadians through investments in main streets, farmers' markets, and other gathering places that underpin local economies.
  • $700 million to support business financing. This will position local economies for long-term growth by transitioning to a green economy, fostering an inclusive recovery, enhancing competitiveness, and creating jobs in every corner of the country.
  • $250 million for the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative to support aerospace-oriented small and medium enterprises in improving productivity, strengthening commercialization, and greening their operations and products.
  • $500 million for the Tourism Relief Fund to support local tourism businesses in adapting their products and services to public health measures and other investments that will help them recover from the pandemic and position themselves for future growth, as well as a further $200 million to support major arts and cultural festivals that have drawn millions of visitors from all over the world to Canada.
  • $80 million for the Community Futures Network of Canada to support an extended application deadline for the RRRF until June 30, 2021. This will support small businesses in rural communities so they can continue to serve local populations.
  • $59.2 million for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization to support the development of its vaccine candidates and expand its facilities in Saskatoon.
  • $51.7 million in additional funding for the Black Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund to assist more Black-led not-for-profit organizations to enhance their ability to provide services and address gaps in the ecosystem to support Black entrepreneurs.
  • $360 million towards the launch of a National Quantum Strategy. Quantum technology is at the very leading edge of science and innovation today, with significant potential for commercialization. Alberta and British Columbia are two of Canada’s four main quantum hubs. 

A New Approach to Regional Development

As the Canadian economy begins to move into the recovery phase, the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of building a focused, locally informed federal approach to economic development initiatives that encourage business growth and community resilience.

This is why the Government of Canada is increasing the impact of RDAs in Western Canada. Recognizing the diverse economic realities across the West, Budget 2021 will grow WD into two new separate agencies focused on British Columbia and the Prairies to ensure Western Canada’s future becomes greener, more innovative and more prosperous. This includes providing new funding of $553.1 million over five years, and $110.6 million annually thereafter, to create a new British Columbia-focused agency to meet the unique needs of British Columbians. Existing core program funding from WD will remain to support a new Prairie agency, which increases investments available for businesses, institutions, organizations, and communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This represents an increase of approximately 70 percent in permanent Regional Development Agency funding in the West.

For over 30 years, WD has successfully helped to grow and diversify the western Canadian economy and advance its interests in Ottawa. These new dedicated RDAs will leverage WD’s regional know-how and local networks to support innovation and help more businesses grow and expand to new markets locally, regionally, and beyond. 


“This past year has taught us the importance of investing in our local and regional economies as a way to build resilience and maintain vibrancy in our communities. The impact of WD’s support in Western Canada through the pandemic proves they are the right tool create jobs, stimulate growth and help us come back stronger than ever, which is why we are proud to invest in their future through Budget 2021.”
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

“Budget 2021 brings historic levels of investment to Western Canada. This support for western Canadian businesses to scale up, hire workers, and embrace new technologies will improve productivity and competitiveness. Combine that with the resiliency demonstrated by western Canadians, and I am confident we have the tools to finish the fight against COVID-19 and ensure a robust and inclusive economic recovery.”
Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

“The Government of Canada recognizes that small- and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy—providing good middle-class jobs that people can rely on and security for Canadians across the country. This is why Budget 2021 is our Government’s long-term blueprint to ensure businesses have the resources they need to get back to work and bounce back from this pandemic.”
Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (B.C.) and to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • Budget 2021 will provide up to $101.4 billion over three years in investments as part of the Government of Canada’s growth plan to create good jobs and support a resilient and inclusive recovery.

  • Since the Government of Canada launched the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund in April 2020, the six Regional Development Agencies and nearly 270 Community Futures organizations across Canada have delivered over $1.6 billion to nearly 23,000 businesses and organizations, helping to protect over 170,000 jobs.

Associated links


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

Western Economic Diversification Canada
Media Relations

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