Minister Joly highlights new Prairie-focused Regional Development Agency investment announced in Budget 2021

News release

Discussing the future of the Prairie economy

June 2, 2021 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Budget 2021 is the Government of Canada’s plan to finish the fight against COVID-19 and ensure a robust economic recovery that is inclusive of all Canadians.

Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, met with Prairie business leaders to discuss the new Prairie-focused Regional Development Agency investment from Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience.

Budget 2021 is an historic investment to address the effects of the COVID-19 recession, put people first, create jobs, grow the middle class, 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.

From the outset, regional development agencies have helped businesses across Canada weather the impact of the pandemic. In the West, Western Economic Diversification Canada has been playing a key role in helping businesses and organizations mitigate the financial pressures caused by COVID-19. However, as Westerners begin to move into the recovery phase, it is essential to build a more focused, locally informed federal approach to economic development initiatives that encourage business growth and community resilience.

Budget 2021 will establish a new agency for the Prairie provinces to play an enhanced role as convenor, pathfinder, partner, investor, and advisor to support economic development in more communities and help develop businesses to create good jobs that people can rely on. Growing Western Economic Diversification Canada into two new separate agencies focused on the Prairies and British Columbia is recognition 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.

Budget 2021 is a plan to bridge Canadians and Canadian businesses through the crisis and towards a robust recovery. It proposes to extend business and income support measures through to the fall and to make investments to create jobs and help businesses across the economy come roaring back. Budget 2021 is a plan that puts Canada on track to meet its commitment to create a million jobs by the end of the year.


“As we work towards post-pandemic economic recovery, supporting businesses and communities will help Canadians build a brighter future. A new economic development agency for the Prairies recognizes diversity in regional economies, will build on their success, and will result in good middle-class jobs for Western families.”

– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada 

Quick facts

  • Budget 2021 includes $101.4 billion over three years in proposed investments as part of the Government of Canada’s growth plan that will create good jobs and support a resilient and inclusive recovery. Key measures include support for small- and medium-sized businesses through several transformative programs, such as:

    • Creation of two new regional development agencies, one focused on the Prairie provinces and one for British Columbia, to work in partnership with more people in more places to make the right kinds of investments and connections that result in good jobs and a better quality of life for Westerners.
    • Existing core program funding from Western Economic Diversification will remain to support a new Prairie-focused agency.
    • Funding for the new agency in BC is $553.1 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and with $110.6 million ongoing.
      • In total, this represents an increase of approximately 70 percent in permanent economic development funding for businesses, institutions, organizations, and communities across the West.
    • Revitalizing Canada’s tourism sector through $1 billion to help tourism businesses recover and support festivals and cultural events that provide jobs and growth in many of our cities and communities.
    • Supporting women, Black Canadians, and other underrepresented entrepreneurs who face barriers to launching and owning businesses through $300 million to enhance initiatives like the Black Entrepreneurship Program and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

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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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