As Canada's regional economic development agency for Western Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) strives to maintain Western Canada’s competitive position by investing in projects and activities that help improve productivity and competitiveness through the development, adoption and commercialization of new technologies and business processes. WD also supports higher value-added production and access to international markets.
Abundant natural resources, thriving technology and services sectors, and low business costs make Western Canada an attractive place to do business. Its geographic proximity to Asian markets, access to inland and sea ports, and excellent transportation services to locations throughout North America have created increased efficiencies in exporting products to international markets.
Western Canada is a significant contributor to the overall Canadian economy. In 2014, Western Canada accounted for 38% of Canada’s real gross domestic product (GDP) by industry and 42% of Canada’s exported goods.1 Western Canada’s export activity is closely linked to the largest economy in the world, the United States, and increasingly to the large and growing economies of the Asia-Pacific. The United States is Western Canada’s closest trading partner accounting for roughly 77% of goods exported from Western Canada in 2014. In the same year, exports to the Asia-Pacific region accounted for roughly 15% of Western Canada’s total exports; a 24% increase over the past 5 years.2
Economic growth in Western Canada is anchored by the natural resources sector, with resource-based goods accounting for approximately 68% of total exported products in 2014. This focus has been a benefit to the economy by providing the foundation for the creation of industry clusters in sectors such as mining, forestry, oil and gas and agriculture.
Western Canada consists of the country’s four westernmost provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It covers 2.9 million square kilometers – almost 29% of Canada’s land area – making it the seventh largest land mass in the world. It is bordered by Canada’s three territories, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut to the north; Ontario and Hudson Bay to the east; by the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota to the south; and Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Approximately 11.2 million people, roughly 31% of Canadians, call Western Canada home.3 The majority of the population lives in urban areas, dominated by our cities, which include:
British Columbia (Provincial population 4,631,302)
Alberta (Provincial population 4,121,692)
Saskatchewan (Provincial population 1,125,410)
Manitoba (Provincial population 1,282,043)
* Population of census metropolitan areas listed in order of size with capital city indicated by a star.