Economic Development

As COVID-19 continues to have an unprecedented impact, the Government of Canada is taking strong action to help all Canadians, including rural Canadians, no matter where they live.

Rural communities are crucial to the economic success of Canada, contributing 30 percent of the country's GDP. Sectors like mining, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, energy resource extraction, and electricity production are key contributors to the economies of rural communities. The rich natural resources and abundant agriculture sectors of rural communities have a long history as the foundation of the Canadian economy. These industries also support manufacturing, transportation, and tourism, and are increasingly investing in innovation and clean technologies.

Through various programs, the Government of Canada is supporting regional economies, businesses and organizations in rural communities.

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

Launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the $1 billion Regional Relief and Recovery Fund will help mitigate the financial pressure experienced by businesses and organizations to allow them to continue their operations, including paying their employees; and support projects by businesses, organizations and communities to prepare now for a successful recovery.

This initiative includes two components:

  • $675 million to support regional economies, businesses, organizations and communities in regions all across Canada;
  • $287 million to support the national network of Community Futures Development Corporations, which will specifically target small businesses and rural communities across the country.

This initiative is being implemented by Canada's six regional development agencies, which are familiar with their regions' economic realities and are often the first point of contact for people at the local level.

Visit Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for more information on the program and its progress.

Regional Economic Growth through Innovation

The Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program provides funding and tailored support in communities across Canada to help create the right environment to start and grow businesses, and create strong and dynamic local economies.

The Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program provides funding and tailored support in communities across Canada to help create the right environment to start and grow businesses, and create strong and dynamic local economies.

Visit Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program for more information on the program and its progress.

The Community Futures Program

The Community Futures Program funds 267 local community development offices across Canada that provide small business services to people living in rural communities. Each office delivers small business loans, tools, training and events for people wanting to start, expand, franchise or sell a business.

Visit Community Futures Program for more information on the program and its progress.

Strategic Partnerships Initiative

The Strategic Partnerships Initiative promotes partnerships between federal and non-federal groups in key economic areas in support of Indigenous communities. By supporting opportunities that may not be eligible for other federal funding, this initiative provides a way for federal partners to coordinate their efforts to fills gaps that might create a barrier to Indigenous involvement in economic opportunities.

This initiative is led by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and shared by a growing network of federal partners.

Visit Strategic Partnerships Initiative for more information on the program and its progress.

Support for Fish and Seafood Industry

Canada's fish and seafood sector is essential to the economies of coastal rural communities, and Canada's collective food security and economy.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has several funding programs and initiatives like the new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund to help the fish and seafood processing sector.

Support for this industry is also available for through Canada's fisheries funds, with programs such as the Atlantic Fisheries Fund and the Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund.

Visit Department of Fisheries and Oceans for more information on these programs and their progress.

Trade Commissioner Service

Global Affairs Canada's Trade Commissioner Service works with small- and medium-sized enterprises, including those in rural areas, to identify and respond to market opportunities around the world, which is fostering a globally competitive rural business community.

Programs like CanExport SMEs provides funding up to $75,000 and personalized advice to help Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) break into new international markets.

Visit Trade Commissioner Service for more information on these programs and their progress.

Community Futures Pan West Network

Community Futures Pan West provides support to the network of 90 Community Futures organizations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  It supports and strengthens the efforts of Community Futures in the west by developing common approaches and initiatives, such as common marketing and training.  It also administers a three-year pilot project, the Rural Opportunities Fund. The Fund supports community economic development projects led by CFs that build resilient communities by:

  • attracting new immigrants and youth
  • supporting Indigenous businesses to thrive in their respective communities
  • facilitating the transition of rural business ownership to young entrepreneurs

In 2020, the Rural Opportunities Fund also provided funding for Community Futures to develop and implement local solutions to local community challenges related to COVID-19.

Visit Community Futures Pan West for more information on the program and its progress.

Women's Enterprise Initiative (WEI)

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) established the Women's Enterprise Initiative (WEI) to help women entrepreneurs start, scale up and grow their businesses. There is a Women's Enterprise Initiative organization in each of the 4 western provinces. These non-profit organizations provide a variety of unique products for women entrepreneurs, including:

  • loans
  • training
  • networking opportunities
  • business advisory services
  • referrals to complementary services

The WEI organizations help women entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level! Contact the WEI organization in your province.

Visit Women's Enterprise Initiative for more information on the program and its progress.

Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDO) & Economic Development Initiative (EDI)

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) established the Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs) to enhance the vitality of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) and support in their economic development. FEDOs provide a wide range of services to Francophone businesses and communities, including:

  • training
  • mentoring
  • networking
  • marketing advice
  • business and community economic development

The Economic Development Initiative (EDI) provides financial support to community economic development projects that encourage economic diversification, business development, innovation, partnerships and increased support for small- and medium-sized enterprises in OLMCs. This program is being delivered as a pilot project through the FEDO.

Visit Francophone Economic Development Organizations for more information on the program and its progress.

Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (EDP) Program

Western Canadians who have a disability can access a network of business professionals and a world of resources through Western Economic Diversification Canada's Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP). The EDP provides:

  • mentoring
  • business information
  • training and development
  • one-on-one counseling services

Visit Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program for more information on the program and its progress.

Indigenous Business Development Services (IBDS)

The Indigenous Business Development Services (IBDS) provides early stage entrepreneurship support for new and existing Indigenous entrepreneurs and networks. It engages with Indigenous communities and other business development organizations to promote collaboration and sharing of best practices and services.

Visit Indigenous Business Development Services for more information on the program and its progress.

Small Business Services Canada (SBS Canada)/ formerly CBN's

Small Business Services Canada is the one-stop shop for starting and growing your small business. Four centres across Western Canada provide immediate, accurate and up-to-date information, advisory services and training to entrepreneurs:

  • The Business InfoCentre in Manitoba
  • Square One: Saskatchewan's Business Resource Centre in Saskatchewan
  • The Business Link in Alberta
  • Small Business BC in British Columbia

Visit Small Business Services Canada for more information on the program and its progress.