The federal government has named the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor) a “full-fledged” regional development agency (RDA).
FedNor previously operated as an initiative of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Canada. Now, FedNor will function as a standalone agency for economic development in Northern Ontario.
FedNor previously operated as an initiative of ISED Canada. Now, FedNor will function as a standalone agency.
The Government of Canada move came in response to feedback and support from community and business leaders in Northern Ontario. The expanded role grants FedNor more autonomy and independence, enabling the agency to better serve the specific economic development needs and priorities of businesses, organizations and communities in the region.
“By making FedNor a standalone agency, we are giving it more autonomy over its administration, and more independence, ensuring it is well positioned to respond directly to the unique needs of businesses, organizations and communities across Northern Ontario,” said Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development, who oversees the country’s RDAs.
According to Terry Sheehan, member of parliament for Sault Ste. Marie and parliamentary secretary to the minister of economic development, the move puts FedNor “on par” with RDAs in other parts of the country.
FedNor, which was initially created in 1987, is one of Canada’s seven RDAs. It provides programs and services, as well as financial support for projects that lead to job creation and economic growth.
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The economic development agency said since its inception, FedNor has invested more than $1.4 billion across over 7,500 projects, helping create and maintain more than 87,500 jobs in Northern Ontario.
According to FedNor, its new agency status allows it to better meet the needs of businesses, organizations, municipalities, and First Nation communities throughout the region.
“The people of Northern Ontario clearly expressed their desire to have a strong voice at the table and for the region to have its own independent agency,” said Joly. “We heard you.”
The Government of Canada initially laid out its plan to turn FedNor into a “full-fledged” RDA in Budget 2021, where it also revealed plans to create a new RDA dedicated to British Columbia (BC).
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The federal government recently announced it would retire Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Western Canada’s former RDA that served BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Under the new, recently disclosed arrangement, Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) will serve BC, while Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) will support businesses and communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. PacifiCan will also have an office in Kelowna, meeting recent calls for one.
Canada committed $553.1 million CAD over five years to support the creation of PacifiCan, and has allocated WD’s existing core program budget of $146 million per year to PrairiesCan. Joly added, however, that the total budget for both will be larger, given their access to economic recovery funds that are distributed by the RDAs.