With over 425,000 small businesses, Western Canada plays a crucial part in Canada’s economy. That being said, the Government of Canada has put in place a new initiative that will help grow its western economy called the Western Growth Strategy. The goal is to increase western Canada’s unique strengths and competitive advantages. With the constant changes that our world is facing, it’s important for Canada to stay competitive and what better way than to invest in the area that plays a vital part in its economy?
Made in Western Canada
The Government of Canada is partnering up with business leaders, industry, academia, Indigenous communities and organizations to put in place a “Made in Western Canada” growth initiative. By developing this strategy, the Government of Canada is ensuring that its western provinces stay competitive in this fast pace world. “Made in Western Canada” will reflect the unique regional advantages of each province implicated and help inspire economic growth making businesses in western Canada strong and competitive.
The goal is to create a future where new innovative technologies make western activities more efficient and sustainable. Agriculture, forestry, mining and energy industries are all things that make Canada’s economy. So having access to new technologies and processes that can help make these activities more efficient and ecological, why shouldn’t we invest in them? But it can’t be accomplished by one single person or even organization. We need to team up and work together to make Canada’s future better. This is why Western Canada Growth Strategy was put in place. By having the Government of Canada work alongside organization, business leaders and communities, this vision of having a prosperous future for Canada is possible.
The strategy is to grow the Canadian economy, attracting investment and creating middle class jobs within Canada. By creating a strong and diverse economy across western provinces, we are contributing towards the success of the west. To ensure that western Canada has a strong foundation, the following strategies need to be put in place:
- Identifying common priorities to grow the economy
- Increasing partnership with those who make a difference in our economy
- Engaging western Canadians to identify and drive economic growth opportunities.
Challenges to Overcome and Solutions
Although the economy in the West has increased over the last twenty years creating growth in the national economy, it looks like there will be challenging moments, such as:
- Developing trade barriers with traditional partners
- Disruptive technologies creating risks for business and workers
- Lower economic participation by Indigenous Peoples and other groups
- Weaker prices for natural resources, combined with transportation bottlenecks, and the growth of interest in environmentally sustainable practices
- Ready access to talented and skilled workers
These challenges can be overcome if there is a collaboration between the Government of Canada, business leaders, organizations and communities in the West. By joining forces, there can be opportunities to grow and strengthen the economy:
- Increasing exports and accepting rising requests from developing markets
- Growing emerging industries and transforming traditional sectors
- Encouraging Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth to enter the workforce and access opportunities for entrepreneurship
- Making small businesses more competitive and helping them grow
- Diversifying the economy, building on innovation to develop, market and distribute products and services
- Training western Canadians with the skills they require to succeed in the new economy
When Should We Expect Western Growth Strategy to Launch?
Currently, the Government of Canada is still looking for people and organizations that want to collaborate in the Western Growth Strategy. The engagement period will stay open until November 18th 2018. Once the consultation time is over, they will start initiating a plan and are expecting to launch by early 2019.
Western Canada’s Population
11.1 million (2016)
31.6% of Canada’s Population
- The fastest-growing region in Canada, with the population rising 8% since 2011.
- Home to a young and diverse population, including 55% of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.
- Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have the lowest provincial median ages.
- Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon are Canada’s fastest-growing major centers.
- 18% of western Canadians live in rural areas, a share that continues to decline due to urbanization and lower immigration levels outside of cities
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in the West
55.4% of Canada’s Indigenous Population
- A diverse population with unique needs made up of 59.8% First Nations, 37.8% Métis and 0.6% Inuit.
- One of the fastest growing demographics in the west, the population has increased by 32.6% since 2006.
- A young population, 47% of Indigenous Peoples in the west are under the age of 25 years.
- The Indigenous population is increasingly urban. Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver have some of the largest Indigenous populations among all census metropolitan areas.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
$651 billion (2017)
37.6% of the national total
- Fastest growing provincial economies in Canada accounting for 46% of national growth over the last decade.
- The west is expected to continue to lead economic growth but at a slower pace.
6 million workers (2017)
6.3% unemployment rate (up from 4.0% in 2007)
- The west accounted for 41% of net jobs created across the country over the last decade.
- Alberta and Saskatchewan’s labour markets are still recovering from commodity shocks.
- The unemployment rate for Indigenous Peoples is double the regional average and participation rates for youth have declined.
$186.6 billion in merchandise exports (2017)
37.2% of the national total
- Top three export destinations: US (72%), China (8%), and Japan (4%).
- Top five export industries: Oil and Gas (41%), Agriculture (11%), Mining (8%), Food (7%), Chemical Manufacturing (6%).
- More diversified markets and types of exports will create new opportunities for the west.
$122 billion in real GDP (2017)
- Natural resource production across Western Canada is diverse and includes oil and gas, renewable power, minerals and metals, and forest products.
- The natural resource sector is a source of 370,752 direct jobs in the region. (2017)
- Oil, potash, and other commodity prices are recovering, but they remain well below 2014 levels.
- $80B in energy, mining, forestry, and other resource sector products exported in 2017 (down 27% from 2014).
- Natural resource projects provide jobs and economic opportunities to many rural and remote communities, including for Indigenous Peoples. In 2016, natural resources sectors employed more than 37,000 Indigenous workers.
- Western Canada’s resource industries are working to increase efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts, and clean technologies developed here are creating new economic opportunities.
- In 2017, total world-wide investment in clean technologies reached US$1 trillion. By 2020, the total is expected to surpass US$2.5 trillion. Canada’s share of the global clean tech market is estimated at 1.5%.
SMEs and entrepreneurship
427,000 active small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) with employees (2017)
- Western Canadian SMEs employed 3.4M people in 2015, accounting for 92% of private sector employees.
- Only 14% of SMEs are majority-owned by women.
- Nearly 17% of workers are self-employed in western Canada, compared to 14% nationally.
- Self-employment is twice as common for western Canadians living in rural areas, compared to urban communities.
- The west attracted $609M of Venture Capital in 2016, well below Ontario ($1.4B) and Quebec ($1.1B).
For more information please visit:
Western Economic Diversification Canada
C/O: Western Canada Growth Strategy Engagement
Suite 1500, 9700 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4H7