Evaluation of the FedNor Economic Development Initiative (EDI)
The Economic Development Initiative (EDI) is one of 24 programs/activities that form the federal strategy for official languages, titled, "Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality: Acting for the Future". The initiative is intended to facilitate sustainable growth in Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) by promoting the development of new expertise through innovation, diversification, partnerships and increased support of small- and medium-sized businesses. EDI is delivered by Industry Canada along with the Regional Development Agencies.
EDI was launched in 2008–2009 and is set to end in 2012–2013. Total funding provided to FedNor for EDI is $4.5 million over 5 years.
Evaluation Purpose and Methodology
The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the relevance and performance of the initiative. This evaluation focuses strictly on the EDI activities of Industry Canada, as delivered by FedNor which is the federal regional development organization for Northern Ontario.
The methodology for this evaluation was calibrated to take into consideration the materiality of the program as well as its proportion of the overall Roadmap budget. Nevertheless, the methodology employed multiple lines of evidence to cover all evaluation issues. The methodology included a review of program documents and literature, an administrative data and file review, and interviews.
The relevance of EDI was assessed in relation to continuing need, concordance with government priorities and consistency with government roles and responsibilities.
In terms of government roles and responsibilities, all federal institutions, including Industry Canada, are required to take positive measures to support the vitality of OLMCs and to foster the full recognition and usage of English and French in Canadian Society under Section 41 of the Official Languages Act. EDI is consistent with this responsibility.
EDI aligns with federal government priorities. Promoting linguistic duality has been a long standing Government priority, most recently mentioned in the 2010 Speech from the Throne. EDI is also consistent with the mandate of Industry Canada, and FedNor specifically, and contributes to the strategic outcomes set by Industry Canada.
In terms of ongoing need for the initiative, a declining francophone population in Northern Ontario along with a declining French-language retention rate suggests that there is a demographic need for EDI in Northern Ontario. This is reinforced by evidence that suggests that francophone organizations are isolated and lack networks, which EDI can help to address.
The evaluation revealed that FedNor was successful in utilizing 99.9% of its EDI contribution budget to fund 50 projects. The analysis showed that FedNor was successful in achieving its intended immediate and intermediate outcomes.
With respect to its intended immediate outcomes, a large majority of projects demonstrated the development of new expertise. This expertise was developed through the creation or development of strategic plans, market studies or other studies; through the creation or improvement of tools or services; and the creation of new and diversified products and services.
In terms of intended intermediate outcomes, all the projects assessed were expected to result in capacities being built, enterprises being developed, and communities being developed. The results of 16 assessed projects showed that these projects resulted in capacity being built in 39 enterprises and 61 communities, 35 enterprises being developed, and 5 communities being developed.
The effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation of EDI was assessed in relation to administrative costs, processing times, and the effectiveness of program delivery.
As EDI was delivered by existing staff through the Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP), incremental administrative costs of EDI were relatively low. Processing times were found to compare favourably to the main program delivered by FedNor.
Finally, the implementation of EDI was found to be highly effective due to the knowledge of FedNor staff with similar programs and the target population, and their willingness to help potential recipients through the application process.
Overall, the evaluation did not find any major issues with FedNor EDI and as a result makes no recommendations.
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