Western Economic Diversification Canada
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WD Success Stories

Table of Contents

 

Business Development

Activities

Lakeland College – Alberta

Alberta's Lakeland College is helping to address the province's increasing need for workers skilled in heavy oil production by expanding training and facilities at its Lloydminster campus.

According to the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada's labour market outlook, the oil and gas industry will need to fill almost 10,000 positions by 2015. To help meet this need, the college introduced a two-year Heavy Oil Power Engineering diploma program in September 2012, supplementing the one-year Heavy Oil Operations Technician certificate program already offered. Companies will also be able to upgrade workers' heavy oil skills through new evening, weekend and online courses.

To support the growth of the program, WD is investing in four pieces of specialized heavy oil processing simulators and equipment that will allow students to simulate heavy oil upgrading and steam-assisted gravity drainage processes. The equipment will be housed at the College's new Petroleum Centre. The expansion, expected to be complete by early 2015, will offer a large power engineering and heavy oil lab with three steam boilers, water treatment equipment, a turbine generator and simulation training spaces.

 

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Prairie Diagnostic Services Inc. – Saskatchewan

Federal support is helping Saskatoon's Prairie Diagnostic Services Inc. (PDS) purchase new equipment that will give western Canadian veterinarians and animal producers access to enhanced diagnostics testing services.

The federally-funded equipment will support the development of new testing for toxins in animal feeds, and enhance existing services in other areas. This will allow veterinarians to maintain the health of food animals and wildlife while supporting the export of food products from all of Canada.

The increased testing capabilities will also allow PDS to better help western Canadian producer groups meet domestic and international regulatory standards. For example, tests for detecting bacteria and viruses using molecular biology techniques will be expanded. This testing methodology is being used to a much greater extent in testing for export. Molecular diagnostics is also playing an increasingly important role in the early diagnosis of serious diseases, including avian and swine influenza.

 

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Alberta Metal Fab Innovation Program – Alberta

A $1.5 million investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) in 2011 is helping to establish the Alberta Metal Fab Innovation (AMFI) Program, which will increase the productivity and competitiveness of businesses that supply fabricated metal and machinery required for oil sands development.

The AMFI Program leverages the combined resources of the Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF) research facility in Devon, Alberta and the University of Alberta’s Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining in Edmonton. WD's contribution is supporting an 1,800 square-foot expansion to the AITF facility, as well as the purchase of specialized welding and automation equipment at both facilities. By enabling firms to develop and test new technologies and processes, this project will ensure western Canadian companies can successfully compete for procurement opportunities related to oil sands development. It is estimated that, over the next 25 years, more than $200 billion will be invested in major oil sands projects.

Alberta’s metal fabrication and machinery sector is a major contributor to the provincial and national economy, generating close to $11 billion in revenues in 2009. The sector employs approximately 35,000 people at more than 1,700 firms, 85% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

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FPInnovations – Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia

In 2010-11, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) invested more than $1.66 million to support three two-year projects led by FPInnovations – the world’s largest private, not-for-profit wood products research institute – that will strengthen productivity and competitiveness in Western Canada’s value-added wood products sector.

The value-added sector is dominated by thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises, and is an industry critical to the economic well being of many western communities. In recent years, these businesses have faced significant challenges, including rising transportations costs, a weakened U.S. housing market and a higher Canadian dollar.

In Saskatchewan and Alberta, FPInnovations’ industry advisors will work directly with firms that manufacture value-added wood products such as pre-fabricated buildings, cabinets, millwork and furniture. Through a range of activities – including site visits, a technical help-line, technical bulletins, demonstration projects, seminars and workshops – FPInnovations will share its technical knowledge and manufacturing best practices to increase productivity and sales revenues while reducing operational expenses.

In British Columbia, FPInnovations is implementing the First Nations Forest Sector Technical Support Program. Industry experts will provide technical advice and hands-on expertise – such as best practices in harvesting, transportation, equipment selection, mill layout, manufacturing and market opportunities – to help develop new and existing forest-related businesses. The program aims to expand the number of First Nation bands and businesses involved in forest and wood products industries, as well as increase employment within First Nation communities.

WD has had a long and productive relationship with FPInnovations and has provided support for a wide range of initiatives that have demonstrated impressive results in all four western provinces. For example, an earlier value-added initiative in Saskatchewan that received $685,000 from WD resulted in an estimated $1.97 million in productivity improvements and cost savings, $1.18 million in increased sales and $2.37 million in new capital investments from 2007 to 2010.

 

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Northern Mining Sector Council Inc. – Manitoba

Funding from the Canada-Manitoba Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) is helping to build a more highly-skilled workforce for the mining industry in Northern Manitoba.

Announced in July 2010, the $1.7 million investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Province of Manitoba allowed the Northern Manitoba Sector Council to purchase two state-of-the-art training simulators that will be used to provide training at the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy in Flin Flon and Vale Inco’s training facility in Thompson. The use of simulators allows highly-skilled operators to be trained more quickly, more safely and less expensively.

Manitoba's mining industry is one of the key contributors to the provincial economy, and the availability of a skilled workforce is one of the major factors limiting the growth of the sector. The industry is critical to the viability and growth of a number of northern communities – including Thompson, Flin Flon and Snow Lake – and provides highly-paid jobs for about 5,400 northerners.

It is anticipated that this project will train about 1,000 people, with a significant number of those being Aboriginal.

 

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Motion Picture Production Industry Association – British Columbia

A $510,000 contribution from Western Economic Diversification Canada is helping the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of British Columbia (MPPIA) develop and implement a three-year strategy to showcase the strengths of BC’s film and television production industry in key international markets. The project will include several outbound missions to the U.S., Europe and Asia to attract investment and foreign productions, and to expand global opportunities for the production and distribution of BC owned and co-owned productions.

Canadian-based film and television production is one the country’s key economic sectors, contributing $4.9 billion in economic activity in 2009-10 alone. The industry employs an estimated 117,200 individuals on a fulltime basis, including 46,100 jobs directly in film and television production, and 71,100 spin-off jobs in other industries.

The total $1.02 million project, approved in February 2011, represents a major step towards achieving the MPPIA’s vision of growing, diversifying and promoting a globally competitive film industry in BC. Over a three-year period, the initiative is expected to result in 100 new professional relationships; 50 companies participating in export and market development initiatives; six trade and festival events attended; and five percent annual growth of the local industry.

 

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Western Canada Farm Progress Show – Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is home to a substantial manufacturing sector, with strong clusters in agricultural and industrial equipment, food and crop processing, and wood products. However, despite the fact that manufacturing generated 7.8% of provincial GDP in 2008, and the steady growth of the sector over the past decade, manufacturers continue to face challenges in developing international markets. The majority of Saskatchewan’s manufacturers are small and medium-sized enterprises that rely heavily on trade, but the province’s relatively small population and remote geographic location make it difficult for companies to expand into global markets.

In response to these challenges, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has invested a total of $515,000 since 2005 to create two programs to draw international buyers to trade shows in Saskatchewan. Working in partnership with the Regina Exhibition Association, the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and the Government of Saskatchewan, WD focused on attracting incoming buyers to the Western Canada Farm Progress Show in Regina, one of the world’s largest dryland farm technology shows.

WD's investment has leveraged more than $600,000 from other sources, and helped bring 297 incoming buyers to 11 events since 2005. More than 500 Canadian companies have showcased their products and services to buyers from more than 20 countries, resulting in more than $395 million in export sales for Western Canada. That total includes more than $200 million in new sales and approximately $280 million in export sales for Saskatchewan companies.

During the recent economic downturn, WD's support was critical in helping western Canadian companies maintain and even expand their markets. Feedback about the programs has been very positive. For example, according to a survey of incoming buyers, 58% of respondents said they would not have attended the trade show without the program.

 

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North American Platform Program (NAPP) – Pan Western

In 2010-11, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) provided nearly $357,000 in funding to support 33 international business development projects, as part of the department’s commitment to the North American Platform Program (NAPP).

The NAPP partnership is a well-established horizontal initiative of the Government of Canada that provides a coordinated and integrated approach to strengthening trade and investment linkages with the U.S. and Mexico. Led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the partners include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, National Research Council and WD.

Through NAPP, WD helps western Canadian businesses, industry associations and research institutes access integrated trade opportunities in the U.S. and Mexico. Participation in the program also provides opportunities to promote and showcase the technology capabilities of western Canadian firms, institutions and organizations to key North American markets.

Activities undertaken by WD in the first three years of the NAPP have brought significant benefits to Western Canada, including 14 strategic partnerships created; 80 firms pursuing technology transfers in the U.S. and Mexico; one joint venture signed; 649 business or trade leads; 27 technology collaborations facilitated with U.S. and Mexican organizations; and one U.S. organization establishing a research and development site in Western Canada. Over the five-year period between 2008-09 and 2012-13 WD has committed $3.75 million to the program.

 

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Impact

Bison Feeder Cooperative of Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan

The Bison Feeder Cooperative of Saskatchewan received almost $74,000 from Western Economic Diversification Canada in 2009 to help establish new markets for Canadian bison products in the Middle East. The initiative included developing a website to create an online presence in the region, expanding trade markets to the retail and food service sector, and incorporating bison products in everyday Middle Eastern meals through education and awareness.

Representatives attended the Gulfood show in Dubai, the world’s biggest annual trade show for the food and beverage industry. Participation in the event, which attracted more than 62,000 buyers from 152 countries, was an important opportunity to showcase the Cooperative’s products and create new contacts with international buyers. Despite the negative effects of the global economic downturn, orders have begun to come in, and it is expected that demand will increase as awareness of bison as a leaner, healthier alternative continues to grow. This project was an important first step in developing new markets in the Middle East and diversifying the existing market, which relied heavily on exports to the United States.

The Bison Feeder Cooperative of Saskatchewan and its marketing arm, Canadian Prairie Bison, is member owned and operated, with more than 200 members across the four western provinces and in Ontario.

 

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Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce – Manitoba

In 2008, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce received $280,000 in funding through the Canada-Manitoba Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) to support its “Selling Winnipeg to the World” initiative. The project included the development and implementation of a strategic marketing plan based on previously-collected data, and built on an existing promotional campaign to raise awareness of investment opportunities in the city and the advantages of living and operating a business in Manitoba’s capital city.

The project, which was designed to attract new businesses and jobs to Winnipeg, and encourage retention of existing local businesses, created 220 jobs and 15 businesses.

The success of Selling Winnipeg to the World led to a second initiative, Economic Development Winnipeg’s Yes! Winnipeg, which is implementing a $6 million economic development strategy over the next five years built on two distinct work plan initiatives. One initiative is focused on business retention and expansion, while the other is focused on investment attraction activities. The investment attraction initiative activities are aimed at creating jobs and economic growth by attracting increased international business investment to the city.

The three-year investment attraction initiative, which received $400,000 through WEPA early in 2011, will promote Winnipeg to international site-selection and commercial real estate firms; encourage former residents in senior positions to relocate their companies to the city; and partner with local real estate companies and key stakeholders to persuade clients to move to Winnipeg. It is expected to generate $12 million in direct investment, creating jobs through additional business opportunities.

 

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Vancouver Economic Development Society – British Columbia

Western Economic Diversification Canada provided the Vancouver Economic Development Society with more than $800,000 to help the 2010 Partnership Investment Program attract foreign investment decision makers to BC by maximizing the opportunity represented by the Winter Olympics.

Developed and implemented by Metro Vancouver Commerce – an economic development partnership of nine BC Lower Mainland municipalities – the program brought representatives from 75 international companies to Vancouver, where they participated in a series of events designed to create contacts with local businesses and demonstrate the economic opportunities available in the region.

A year after the Games, an independent report produced by PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated the program had resulted in $168.8 million in direct investment, far exceeding the original estimate of $50 million. These investments, many of them in key economic sectors such as environmental technologies and digital media, have created total economic impacts of $306 million and more than 2,500 jobs to date.

In addition to the 16 business deals already signed, the Partnership Investment Program has generated leads for additional business and investment opportunities, suggesting that the economic impact will continue to grow over the long term.

 

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Case Study: Building Productivity – Alberta

Western Canada: Productivity, Competitiveness, & Potential, a research project undertaken by Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) and the Conference Board of Canada in 2009, found poor productivity growth was one of four major challenges facing Western Canada. WD plays a key role in improving business productivity and competitiveness across the West. For example, since 2005, WD Alberta has invested $36.6 million in 39 projects that have had impacts at the micro-, meso- and macro-economic levels, including:

  • $2.6 million in 2005 to establish the Manufacturing Solutions Centre at NAIT, which has served 65 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and created estimated overall cost savings of more than 10% for participants;
  • $130,000 to Calgary Technologies Inc. (now Innovate Calgary) in 2006 for an Entrepreneur In Residence Program, which provided mentorship and advisory services to technology entrepreneurs . The project served 380 clients, and participating companies generated $2.9 million in incremental net income;
  • $436,000 to the Alberta Forest Products Association in 2007 to develop the Wood WORKS! program to address productivity in the forestry industry. Advisors provided technical assistance on 85 projects, supporting an incremental increase in wood sales of $1.05 million;
  • $1.4 million in 2008 to create the Centre for Excellence in Print Media Communications at Norquest College, which has increased the skill level of 270 print industry employees and helped five companies integrate new technology;
  • $1 million in 2008 to help the Northern Alberta Business Incubator open a second location, increasing capacity to support entrepreneurs in the Edmonton area. Within a year, an additional 57 businesses were created, maintained or expanded and 134 jobs were created or maintained. Businesses using the incubator increased their sales by $25 million;
  • $195,000 in 2011 to Portage College in Northern Alberta to purchase equipment to increase the skills of Heavy Equipment Operators and meet the rising demand, particularly in the oil sands industry; and
  • $2.4 million over 2010 and 2011 to allow Productivity Alberta to help SMEs improve their operating efficiency to reduce costs, and improve processes and asset management. The project is expected to assist 500 businesses and increase the value of sales by $15 million.

Through projects, like these, that support productivity and competitiveness in Western Canada, WD is helping SMEs become more innovative, grow faster, create value-added jobs and compete in global markets.

 

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Le Corridor touristique Francophone de l’Ouest – Pan Western

In 2008, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) invested nearly $800,000 to promote Western Canada as a destination for French-speaking tourists through Le corridor touristique Francophone de l'Ouest (CTFO).

The corridor, a joint initiative of the four WD-funded Francophone Economic Development Organizations, works collaboratively to increase awareness of the more than 100 Francophone communities across Western Canada. By promoting the region as a single travel destination, official languages minority communities (OLMC’s) are able to realize economies of scale and increase the effectiveness of their marketing activities.

Over the course of the two year project, the CTFO created and distributed promotional materials in Quebec and France, participated in eight tourism trade shows, and organized two promotional tours for French-speaking journalists, which resulted in positive international press coverage. In 2010, the CTFO also participated in the Place de la Francophonie exhibit in Vancouver during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Located on Granville Island, which was visited by a million people during the Games, the exhibit promoted the western Canadian Francophone tourism and agri-food industries.

The project substantially exceeded its target of developing and strengthening five partnerships with tourism stakeholders, creating 23 such relationships. This significant increase in collaboration should improve the CTFO’s future efforts to support tourism and economic growth in western Canadian OLMC’s.

 

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Innovation

Activities

FibreCITY – Manitoba

With the creation of FibreCITY, North America's first centre of excellence for fibre grading, Canada is set to become a leader in the development of composites using agricultural fibre.

A WD investment has allowed the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) to establish a centre for the innovative use of agricultural products. Federal funding went towards the purchase of equipment for the new Winnipeg facility, which is designed to evaluate and grade the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of fibre available in agricultural crops across the Prairies. The ultimate goal is to use this fibre to develop new, leading-edge composites.

In composite development, there are many benefits to using agricultural fibre over synthetic. Agricultural fibres are a renewable resource and the final product contains less embodied energy and is lighter than its synthetic counterparts. There is also enhanced value for farmers, who would normally burn plant matter left over from crop harvest. In the future, they will be able to use this matter to generate additional income.

 

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Graphics Animation and New Media NCE Inc. – British Columbia

Vancouver’s Graphics Animation and New Media NCE Inc. (GRAND) will improve technology transfer and research commercialization in Western Canada’s digital media sector through a two-year project that received a $399,000 investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada early in 2011.

The funding will help GRAND deliver an outreach program that will build partnerships and educate the digital media community about the organization’s activities. GRAND is a multidisciplinary, federally-funded Network of Centres of Excellence with 24 university members across Canada – including eight in Western Canada – and more than 30 industry, government and nonprofit partners. The 34 research projects currently supported by GRAND will explore the use and application of digital media in a variety of settings including entertainment, education and environmental sustainability.

Specific program activities will include targeted work with small and medium-sized enterprises on technology transfer and business creation projects, including the development of research that could lead to new start-up companies, and workshops that teach businesses how to attract start-up funding. The program, which was launched in British Columbia and will be expanded to Alberta in the second year, is expected to develop nine technology prototypes, conduct 40 technology demonstrations and bring nine technologies to market. Two technologies that may be suitable for new business creation have already been identified, and GRAND is working with the developers to create initial business models.

 

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Capilano University – British Columbia

A $969,000 investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada in February 2011 is helping Capilano University enhance the strength and success of BC’s film and digital media sector.

The investment will be used to outfit the new Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation with stereoscopic three dimensional (S3D) equipment. The equipment – including two S3D camera rigs, a full production rig and a compact mobile rig – will allow students and existing industry professionals to be trained in the use of 3-D technology. Located on Capilano University’s North Vancouver campus, the Bosa Centre is scheduled to open in January 2012.

British Columbia’s film and animation industry employs 35,000 people and contributes up to $2 billion to the provincial economy each year. A highly-skilled workforce, with people trained in the latest techniques, has become increasingly important with the growing popularity of 3-D technology in feature films, such as Up and Avatar.

The project is expected to result in 60 jobs created and maintained; 40 industry personnel receiving upgrading and retraining on S3D equipment; 30 students completing courses using the equipment; 20 graduates working in the film and television industry after leaving the program; and three businesses created, maintained or expanded.

 

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TECTERRA Inc. – Alberta

In 2010, Western Economic Diversification Canada provided $6 million to TECTERRA Inc., a not-for-profit Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research in Calgary, to support the commercialization of innovative geomatics technologies in Alberta.

The purchase of specialized prototype development and testing equipment will reduce the significant cost barriers small and medium-sized enterprises face when developing and testing new technologies for the marketplace. Providing companies with access to this specialized equipment will help geomatics products move more quickly from the concept stage, through testing and on to commercialization. Over a five year period, it is expected that TECTERRA will support 20 firms, generating an additional $40 million in revenue.

Geomatics is the discipline of gathering, storing, processing and delivering geographic or spatially-referenced information. Used in land and air navigation, and in the management of natural resources and environmental issues, the applications have grown dramatically over the past several decades as the technology has become smaller and more affordable. Alberta has developed significant strength in geomatics, and currently accounts for 40% of the $2.5 billion national market.

 

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Livestock Gentec – Alberta

An investment of more than $3.5 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada in March 2011 is helping the University of Alberta’s Livestock Gentec program establish a not-for-profit service laboratory that will strengthen the livestock breeding and production sectors through the practical application of genomics technologies.

Scientists at Livestock Gentec initially identified more than 100 genetic markers that were used to better predict performance of production traits in cattle. Subsequently, even greater numbers of markers were harnessed to help the dairy industry predict the breeding value of young bulls. The new facility will commercialize this intellectual property, allowing producers to use selective breeding in order to reduce costs and improve product quality.

For example, using genomics to breed hardier cattle or pigs can decrease veterinary costs and enhance food safety by reducing disease and the use of antibiotics. Genomics can also allow breeders to precisely select for characteristics such as leanness and tenderness, resulting in higher quality meat products. The new fee-for-service laboratory will also provide biobanking services for DNA storage and certification.

This project is expected to enable breeders to produce more efficient cattle, swine and other domestic livestock species, contributing to the long term profitability and international competitiveness of the Canadian livestock industry.

 

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University of Saskatchewan Toxicology Centre – Saskatchewan

The Toxicology Centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon received more than $1 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada in 2010 for a project that will assess the commercial viability of a new technology that could contribute to cleaner, more economical oil sands extraction processes.

Researchers, led by renowned environmental toxicologist John Giesy, will work with the International Petroleum & Environmental Recovery Company (IPERC) to further develop IPERC’s promising new technology, San-Tek 2000. San-Tek, a chemical process that separates oil from oil sands bitumen and minimizes the water and energy used during extraction, has already proven to be effective in a laboratory setting.

If the three-year research project demonstrates that the process can be successfully applied at a commercial scale, the technology could be applied as an alternative to conventional extraction technologies, reducing the environmental hazards associated with oil sands processing and making production from Canada’s oil sands – one of the richest petroleum deposits in the world – more profitable.

 

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Musculoskeletal Innovation and Product Development Centre – Manitoba

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) contributed $2.5 million in 2011 to enhance the Musculoskeletal Innovation and Product Development Centre’s (MIPDC) capacity to develop and commercialize innovative joint replacement technologies that result from research carried out at Concordia Hospital’s new, state-of-the-art Concordia Hip and Knee Institute in Winnipeg.

WD’s investment allowed MIPDC to purchase hip/knee simulators and related testing equipment. The new equipment will facilitate the development of new prosthetics and allow proprietary lubricants to be tested on a commercial basis, giving MIPDC the tools it needs to conduct business with international industry leaders and capture opportunities to produce, test and commercialize new joint replacement technologies. The centre is expected to attract up to $16 million of industrial research and development activity, produce prototypes and establish niche manufacturing opportunities.

The musculoskeletal industry is currently estimated to be worth approximately $43 billion, a number that will continue to grow as the North American population ages and obesity rates rise. According to the Canadian Joint Replacement Registry, there was a 140% increase in knee replacements in Canada between 1997 and 2007. Hip replacements increased by 59% over the same period.

 

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Impact

St. Boniface General Hospital – Manitoba

In 2008, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) provided $800,000 in funding to construct and equip two new laboratories for the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) at St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg. The new research space has enabled the centre to expand its research activities and collaborations, as well as enhance the quality and type of research its scientists and researchers carry out.

CCARM’s research focuses on the potential health benefits found in nutraceuticals, functional foods and natural health products, both as a means of adding value to agricultural commodities and finished products, and to translate positive laboratory results into new and safe dietary supplements and food products that can improve the health of Canadians. To date, they have worked on diseases that include immune disorders, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular and vascular diseases.

The centre carried out more than $2.5 million in research and development in 2009, more than three times the target set for this project. The same year, seven post-doctoral fellows, 23 graduate students and 11 undergraduate summer students were trained in the CCARM labs. Seventeen research papers were also published.

Since 2005, WD has invested a total of $3.3 million in CCARM through the Winnipeg Partnership Agreement.

 

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Saskatchewan Research Council – Saskatchewan

A $740,000 investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada in 2009 helped the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) purchase the equipment and software required to commercialize the processes involved in the rapid identification of Canadian wheat varieties.

The advanced DNA-based technology, initially developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists and licensed to the SRC, has the potential to provide a consistent and reliable testing method to identify different wheat varieties and classes. This development could help fill the gap created by the removal of the Kernel Visual Distinguishability (KVD) test, a class identification tool that was a requirement for registration until 2008.

The new testing technology could enhance Canada’s international reputation for excellence in agriculture by assuring customers of the safety and quality of Canadian grain. It could also be a vital tool in quality control systems and risk management programs throughout the grain handling process.

In addition, the technology is now being used to support efforts to control the wheat midge fly, which causes million of dollars worth of damage to wheat crops across the western provinces each year. Using DNA analysis to test seeds for midge-resistance allows farmers to protect their crops, increasing yields and profitability while helping to preserve the utility of midge-resistant varieties.

Over the course of the project, nearly 390 samples were tested and certified, far exceeding the initial target of 150. The success of the project also enabled the SRC to leverage an additional $4.28 million from the AAFC’s AgriFlexibility Fund, which will allow them continue and expand the development of the DNA system.

 

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Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Centre (ATIC) – Alberta

Western Economic Diversification Canada contributed $1.8 million in 2005 to help establish the Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Centre (ATIC), a non-profit entity created by the University of Lethbridge and Iunctus Geomatics Corporation. The investment allowed ATIC to research the potential uses of satellite images and purchase satellite imagery equipment to enable the development of commercial applications. As a result, Lethbridge is becoming a recognized centre of expertise in the application of geomatics technologies.

As the primary receiving and distribution station for all North American satellite images acquired through the SPOT satellite system – a technology that provides higher-resolution images – ATIC provides a unique resource for Canadian researchers. The centre is the exclusive supplier of SPOT satellite imagery to the Canadian academic market, including 70 research institutions across the country, and also supplies the commercial market. With a library of more than 500,000 images of Canada captured since 1986, and 1,200 new images added each year, ATIC allows researchers to monitor geographic changes that occur over time.

Satellite images can be used in a wide variety of applications, including resource management, energy, homeland security, emergency response and climate change. For example, since 2007, ATIC has worked with partners from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, the Agriculture and Food Council, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to map and track the health of Alberta’s rangeland.

 

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Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – Alberta

Since 2006, Western Economic Diversification Canada has invested $6.7 million to procure and install specialized equipment for three laboratories used to provide technical trades training at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

Two of the laboratories are housed in the Centre for Instrumentation Technology and the Centre for Millwright Technology, both located in a newly constructed building on NAIT’s main campus in Edmonton. The third laboratory is located at the Centre for Machinist Technology in a renovated building, also on the main campus.

The new facilities are an essential part of NAIT’s effort to expand its apprenticeship training capacity and help meet the growing demand for skilled workers. It will also be used to train students in other areas, including mechanical and materials engineering technology. The expanded capacity allows more than 1,800 students, including 700 apprentices, to be trained annually.

The project, which also received strong financial support from the private sector, increased NAIT’s capacity for training millwrights, machinists and instrumentation technologists by 36%. NAIT is Canada’s largest apprenticeship trainer, with more than 2,000 apprentices completing their technical training component for journeyman certification each year. Five years after graduation, the unemployment rate for NAIT graduates is near zero, and salaries are similar to those earned by university graduates.

 

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Community Economic Development

Activities

Maplewood Farm – British Columbia

Boasting some 90,000 visitors a year, Maplewood Farm is one of North Vancouver's top tourist attractions. Thanks to a WD investment under the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF), several infrastructure upgrades will ensure the Farm continues to attract families and boost the economy well into the future.

Upgrades include new shelters by the animal-viewing pens, washroom renovations, and increased accessibility for persons with disabilities. With a collection of over 200 domestic farm animals and birds, picnic areas, and pony and pedal tractor rides, the five-acre farm provides a variety of options for family fun. These enhancements will provide a much-needed upgrade to the Farm and improve accessibility for all visitors.

 

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Altona Airport – Manitoba

Thanks to federal funding, upgrades to the Altona Municipal Airport will improve safety and ensure the region retains its emergency air ambulance service.

The federal investment will go towards much-needed repairs to the runway, such as removing weed growth, repairing surface cracks, and installing an asphalt overlay on the existing runway, taxiway and apron.

The upgrade will yield some other "on-the-ground" benefits as well: the improvements will ensure a safer runway for users, while creating local jobs and economic opportunities.

 

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Ladysmith Maritime Society – British Columbia

In November 2010, Western Economic Diversification Canada provided the Ladysmith Maritime Society with more than $800,000 in funding for a project that will help increase tourism by constructing extensive new facilities for recreational boaters at the Ladysmith Community Marina on Vancouver Island. The investment is being used to build an 1,800 square-foot visitor reception centre that includes amenities such as washrooms, showers, laundry facilities, a sewage pump-out station, meeting rooms and Wi-Fi internet access.

The improvements, scheduled for completion in the winter of 2011, will help attract large-scale marine tourism to the eastern Vancouver Island/Gulf Island region, and become an integral part of the marine tourism infrastructure being developed along the BC coast.

Many traditional coastal industries, such as fisheries and forestry, have faced challenges over the past several years. Marine tourism, an underdeveloped opportunity in the Vancouver Island/Gulf Island region, has been identified as a strong growth sector and has become a priority focus for many coastal communities.

 

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Impact

Women Building Futures Society – Alberta

Women Building Futures (WBF), a not-for-profit organization that prepares women for careers in the trades, received $267,500 from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) in 2010 for a project to improve access to their programs.

The WD investment, which leveraged more than $248,000 in industry funds, will be used to purchase and install videoconferencing equipment, so women from across Alberta will be able to participate in the application and assessment process directly from their communities. The project also includes completing and equipping workshops and space for staff in the WBF training centre, as well as establishing a customized client management database.

WBF offers three programs – Journeywomen Start, Heavy Equipment Operator Training and Ready-Mix Driver Training – that prepare women for well-paid careers in non-traditional fields. It is estimated that Alberta will require 27,000 new tradespeople by 2019, to replace retiring baby boomers.

In 2010, WBF had 596 participants in their Career Decision Making Workshop, 80 students and 72 graduates. The organization has earned a solid reputation for supplying quality workers for Alberta's construction industry and, despite the global economic downturn, 77% of their 2010 graduates were hired.

This investment builds on WD's previous funding of almost $2.5 million for Women Building Futures to convert an old warehouse in downtown Edmonton into Canada’s first trades training facility for women. As a result of the completion of the warehouse project, 133% more women graduated from WBF programs in 2009 than in 2007.

 

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Saskatoon Ideas Inc. – Saskatchewan

In 2010, Western Economic Diversification Canada provided $34,000 in funding to Saskatoon Ideas Inc., Saskatchewan’s first full-service business incubator, to create a regional business incubation system model that can be used to extend their programs and services to entrepreneurs to communities outside Saskatoon.

Saskatoon Ideas Inc. hired a consultant to conduct a market assessment, and to develop the model and a business plan addressing the needs of growing companies across sectors and within an urban, rural and First Nations reserve context. The first application of the model will be at the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, where the services will include a small physical facility. Ideas Inc. expects to expand the concept to other parts of the province, using virtual delivery of programs where the availability and cost of office space is not a barrier.

Business incubators act as a support system for start-up businesses, providing expertise, advice and mentorship to help entrepreneurs avoid common missteps. By nurturing young companies until they are strong enough to survive on their own, business incubators significantly increase the success of new businesses, only about 20% of which survive the first five years. According to the National Business Incubation Association, new ventures launched or expanded in an incubator have a success rate of 87%.

 

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Le Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba - Manitoba

Le Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba (CDEM) is one of four Francophone Economic Development Organizations supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada as part of the department’s Western Canada Business Service Network. Since 2005, CDEM has received almost $3.3 million in operational funding to deliver business development services and economic development initiatives in Manitoba’s bilingual communities.

CDEMplays a significant role in supporting the development of Francophone businesses by providing a wide range of services in French – including information, training, networking, marketing and access to capital – for established businesses and new entrepreneurs.

The organization also stimulates local economic development by encouraging the creation of projects in key areas, such as tourism, the knowledge-based economy, rural development and youth integration. CDEM is also a partner in Le corridor touristique Francophone de l'Ouest, which is working to promote Western Canada as a destination for French-speaking tourists.

CDEMhas proven to be a very effective force for economic development in Manitoba’s bilingual communities. In 2010-11, the organization served 178 clients, and created 72 businesses and 249 full-time jobs.

 

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Mobile Terahertz Imaging System – British Columbia

A $520,000 investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada in 2008 allowed the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George to develop a mobile terahertz (THz) imaging system and demonstrate the potential for its commercial application in the forest products industry. Forestry, a key industry in Western Canada, is critical to the economic viability of numerous communities throughout the region, particularly in rural areas.

UNBC undertook market research to identify potential applications of the technology, conducted a feasibility study to identify the target application, designed the system, and conducted application testing and refinement. THz technology can be used to measure density, moisture content and defects in lumber, helping forestry firms more efficiently grade and market wood based on its quality. Like x-rays, THz waves make it possible to see through objects and visualize internal features.

The prototype generated under this project represented the first deployment of THz technology in the manufacturing sector, which created a significant amount of interest both nationally and internationally.

The success of this project made it possible for UNBC to leverage approximately $200,000 in additional funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the BC Knowledge and Development Fund to further develop THz technology for the bioenergy industry. The project also resulted in the creation of a local spin-off company that secured Industrial Research Assistance Program funding to continue the commercialization process and bring the product to market.

 

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Tsilhqot'in National Government – British Columbia

In 2009, Western Economic Diversification Canada provided the Tsilhqot'in National Government (TNG) with $244,000 to enhance the economic sustainability of its six member First Nations. The investment enabled members of the participating bands to receive targeted training, customized to the needs of each community, in the field of silviculture. Through a combination of on-the-job-training and mentoring opportunities, Tsilhqot'in communities developed tools and resources to manage and deliver silviculture contracts, participate in silviculture planning, and identify and develop new business opportunities.

Silviculture is the art and science of managing forest resources to achieve a wide range of objectives, including timber, wildlife, water, recreation and aesthetics. It can also ensure the long term continuity of important ecological functions, and the health and productivity of forested eco-systems.

The TNG administration office is in Williams Lake in the central interior of BC, with member bands located throughout the Chilcotin Plateau. As a result of the rural location of these communities, few local economic opportunities exist. The training provided through this project allows the six First Nations communities to maximize the value of the region’s forest resources and provide local employment opportunities for residents.

The project well exceeded expectations, creating 23 full-time positions, compared to the original estimate of nearly four. A total of 254 individuals received training, more than four times the number forecast.

 

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Britannia Beach Historical Society – British Columbia

Through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Natural Resources Canada provided $5 million in funding to the Britannia Beach Historical Society in 2007 to transform the former Britannia mine site into a world-class visitor attraction and interpretive centre. The WD investment supported extensive renovations to existing buildings and structures at the not-for-profit Britannia Mine Museum.

Located 10 minutes south of Squamish on the Sea-to-Sky Highway linking Vancouver and Whistler, the museum focuses on the BC mining industry's efforts in remediation, reclamation and environmental technology, highlighting the successful achievements at the Britannia mine site. The museum also preserves the history of mining in BC and educates the public about the economic and social benefits of the province’s mining industry.

Discovered in 1888, the Britannia Mine was once the largest copper producer in the British Empire. The site has been designated as a National Historic Site and a British Columbia Historic Landmark. Today, mining and mineral processing continue to play a major role in the BC economy, as a $6-billion industry that employs 28,000 people.

The Britannia Mine Museum won the Canadian Museum Association’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Facility Development and Design and the Copper Development Association’s North American Copper in Architecture award. The project is estimated to have created 48 jobs and a direct impact of $2.6 million in GDP. The boost to tourism also resulted in spin-off benefits to other businesses in the area.

 

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Kennedale Constructed Wetland – Alberta

The City of Edmonton received a $3 million Government of Canada investment, provided through the Canada-Alberta Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (CAMRIF) in 2007, to create the Kennedale End-of-Pipe Constructed Wetland, as well as a similar project, the Pylypow Wetland.

In nature, wetlands play an important role in maintaining ecological balance. Not only do they purify water by breaking down, removing or trapping impurities, they can also reduce the severity of floods downstream by retaining water and releasing it slowly during drier periods. Constructed wetlands, which serve the same purpose, are a relatively new way for municipalities to clean the rainwater that washes pollutants and harmful substances off roads, roofs and lawns into surrounding waterways, where they can harm the environment and human health.

The Kennedale Wetland treats 752 litres of runoff every second, and reduces total suspended solids in Edmonton’s storm water by 75%. In 2010, the project won the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Community Award in the Water category.

Through CAMRIF, the federal and provincial governments invested a total of $214 million in 86 municipal infrastructure projects across Alberta. More than 55% of the funding was used to support “green” projects, furthering Alberta’s and Canada’s environmental objectives. The program was delivered by Western Economic Diversification Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada.

 

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Policy, Advocacy & Coordination

Activities

Pacific Gateway Coordination Group – Pan Western

The Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative (APGCI) is a major Government of Canada initiative aimed at establishing Canada’s West Coast and inland transportation corridors as the best transportation network for facilitating trade between North America and Asia. The integrated set of investments and policy measures focused on achieving this goal are coordinated by the Pacific Gateway Coordination Group, led by Transport Canada.

As one of several federal government departments with responsibilities related to APGCI, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) actively engages members of the group, and plays a key role on collaborative initiatives by effectively advocating for western Canadian interests. In 2006, WD was allocated $4.4 million under APGCI. Of this funding, a one-time contribution of $4 million to the Fraser River Port Authority supported maintenance dredging, and $400,000 supported a stakeholder engagement and research process in Western Canada to better understand economic opportunities related to APGCI. Outside of this formal role with APGCI, WD has also invested in a number of projects that support the development of the West’s gateway economy, including:A $1.58 million investment over four years to help CentrePortCanada Inc. develop an inland port in Winnipeg;

 

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Inter-American Development Bank – Pan Western

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) was one of several federal departments – including the Canadian International Development Agency and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada – that worked together to organize components of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) 52nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) in March 2011. More than 2,500 international political and business leaders attended the five day event in Calgary.

Headquartered in Washington D.C., IDB is the world’s largest regional development bank, and the primary source of development financing in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The bank approves more than $15 billion in lending and grants for economic and social development projects every year, which generate more than 12,000 business contracts.

Western Canada already represents 37% of all Canadian exports to LAC, but there is still a tremendous amount of untapped potential. The IDB AGM presented a valuable opportunity to foster linkages that will further strengthen trade and investment between Western Canada and LAC.

One of the key events supported by WD was a roundtable with former Mexican President, Vicente Fox, focusing on how to conduct business in Mexico. Representatives from 17 western Canadian firms across a range of sectors—including information and communications technology, aerospace and defence, and oil and gas— participated, receiving tangible advice that could lead to expanded trade and business partnerships with Mexico.

WD also helped staff a Government of Canada booth, which provided an important opportunity to promote the myriad of investment and partnership opportunities available in Western Canada. Finally, WD assisted with an all-day bootcamp and matchmaking sessions, attended by 150 western Canadian firms, on doing business with the IDB.

 

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Farnborough International Air Show / Industrial Regional Benefits – Pan Western

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) provided almost $40,000 in funding to the Aerospace Industry Association of British Columbia, on behalf of the Canada West Aerospace and Defence Industries Association (CWADIA), for their participation in the Canadian Pavilion at the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show in England, one of the world’s largest international trade shows for aerospace equipment and technology. CWADIA’s presence at the air show helped promote Western Canada’s aerospace strengths on an international stage, generating interest in western Canadian companies and capabilities.

WD also participated through a ministerial-led delegation that provided an opportunity to develop new strategic alliances and partnerships with major international aerospace manufacturers that have Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRBs) obligations to Canada.

IRBs are a means of ensuring that Canada’s regions benefit from major federal defence procurement projects, by requiring successful bidders to deliver a dollar in economic activity in Canada for every dollar awarded through the contract. WD plays an important role in helping western Canadian firms access these opportunities by promoting their capabilities to prime contractors that incur IRB obligations. Providing opportunities, like the Farnborough Air Show, for western Canadian companies to showcase their strengths and create new contacts ensures they are well positioned to compete for IRBs and other prospects associated with major crown projects.

Western Canada’s aerospace industry employs approximately 15,000 people, generates $4 billion in annual revenues, and takes part in a wide range of both civil and defence aerospace activities.