January 22, 2021 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Western Economic Diversification Canada
Canada’s diverse regional economies require tailored support that helps businesses and communities to thrive. This is a job done by the Government of Canada’s six regional development agencies, including Western Economic Diversification Canada. To better reflect the growing needs of the British Columbia economy, the government is looking towards creating separate regional development agencies for British Columbia and the Prairies, adding a new, seventh regional development agency in British Columbia.
Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, participated in a panel session hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade that brought together a diverse group of panellists to discuss how the Government of Canada can support British Columbia’s economic growth now and in the future.
This event is part of Minister Joly’s virtual engagement tour that provides Western voices with an opportunity to shape a new BC-focused agency. The panel session follows virtual roundtables held with stakeholders from the South Okanagan, Kootenays, Vancouver Island and Central Coast regions with additional roundtables planned over the next two months. In total, the Minister will participate in six regional roundtables throughout British Columbia, listening to key business and community leaders about their realities.
Addressing the unique circumstances and needs of the BC economy
For more than 30 years, Western Economic Diversification Canada has helped to build a strong, competitive West by focusing on business development, innovation, and community development in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. As the domestic and global economies continue to grow and evolve, the West’s economy has also grown and become more diverse. Economic drivers and conditions in Canada’s Pacific and Prairie provinces have diverged. For the Government of Canada, this new approach of establishing separate regional development agencies for each region will provide greater flexibility to focus on unique economic priorities in BC, as well as targeted support that better meets the needs of the rest of the western provinces.
“We can no longer treat the West as a monolithic bloc. We need an approach that allows our agencies to be better positioned to respond to the distinct realities of their region. Increasing our presence in British Columbia will bring us closer to those on the ground, giving us an improved understanding of the needs of businesses and communities across BC and ability to strengthen economic growth at the local level.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“Increasing our presence in British Columbia will bring us closer to those on the ground, giving us an … ability to strengthen economic growth at the local level.” – Hon. Mélanie Joly
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Founded in 1987, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is the regional development agency for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Its mandate is to grow and diversify the western Canadian economy and advance the West’s interests in Ottawa.
WD has been at the forefront of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 economic response in Western Canada, rolling out emergency relief programs on an unprecedented scale and adjusting ongoing programs to support businesses through the pandemic period.
Through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), WD’s largest pandemic-support program, over 6,100 firms and organizations have received $325 million in assistance, preserving over 25,000 jobs.