Evaluation of the FedNor Economic Development Initiative (EDI)
Recommended for approval to the Deputy Minister by the Departmental Evaluation Committee on
Approved by the Deputy Minister on
Table of contents
- Executive Summary
- 1.0 Introduction
- 2.0 Methodology
- 3.0 Findings
- 3.1 Relevance
- 3.2 Performance
- 4.0 Conclusions
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
|CFDC||Community Futures Development Corporations|
|EDI||Economic Development Initiative|
|FedDevOn||Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario|
|FedNor||Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario|
|NODP||Northern Ontario Development Program|
|OLMC||Official Language Minority Communities|
|PAA||Program Activity Architecture|
|RBAF||Risk-based audit framework|
|RDA||Regional Development Agencies|
|ROS||Regional Operations Sector, Industry Canada|
|RMAF||Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework|
|SME||Small- and medium-sized businesses|
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.
This report presents the findings of an evaluation of the Economic Development Initiative (EDI) as delivered by FedNor, Industry Canada.
The report consists of four sections:
- Section 1 sets out an introduction, explains the context and provides a profile of the program;
- Section 2 presents the methodology used to carry out the evaluation;
- Section 3 details findings for each of the evaluation questions; and,
- Section 4 summarizes conclusions.
On June 19, 2008, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced a new federal strategy for official languages. With 15 participating federal partners and a total investment of more than $1.1 billion, the "Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality: Acting for the Future" (referred to as the Roadmap in the remainder of this document)set a five-year direction for a government-wide approach to support official languages. The Roadmap is intended to promote linguistic duality and support the development of Anglophone and francophone minority communities for the benefit of all Canadians. The strategy encompasses a large number of measures to make linguistic duality accessible to all Canadians and to promote and support the vitality of the Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).
EDI is one of 24 programs/activities included in the strategy. Measures proposed under EDI are geared to facilitate sustainable growth in the minority communities by promoting the development of new expertise through innovation, diversification, partnerships and increased support to small- and medium-sized businesses. Industry Canada and the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Western Economic Diversification Canada, and Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency) are the partner organizations involved in these efforts. This evaluation covers the EDI activities of Industry Canada as delivered by FedNor, which is the federal regional development organization for Northern Ontario. Unless otherwise noted, all references to EDI in this report will be in the context of FedNor only.
1.2 Program Profile
Under the Roadmap, $30.5 million was budgeted for EDI, with Industry Canada's portion being $10.5 million. However, the Industry Canada amount was intended to cover projects for all of Ontario. In August 2009, the Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDevOn) was created and it took on responsibility for the administration of EDI in southern Ontario. As a result, the $10.5 million was split between Industry Canada (FedNor) and FedDevOn with Industry Canada retaining $6.1 million. Of this amount, $4.5 million was allocated to Industry Canada, FedNor to deliver the contribution program in Northern Ontario and $1.6 million was budgeted for Industry Canada, Regional Operations Sector (ROS) to coordinate the initiative amongst the RDAs, conduct research, and fund evaluation activities.
Table 1 below outlines FedNor's EDI budget over five years. It can be seen that the FedNor budget represents a very small proportion of the Roadmap's $1.1 billion budget (less than 0.5%).
|Vote 1: Operating Expenditures||103,550||102,888||102,888||102,888||102,888||515,102|
|Vote 10 Grants and Contributions||0||345,950||1,525,000||1,463,000||650,450||3,984,400|
1.2.2 Program Reach
Northern Ontario covers over 806,000 square kilometres (almost 90% of the province's total land area) and has a population of 843,853, which accounts for about 7% of the total provincial population.Footnote 1 The region consists of 150 municipalities and 110 First Nation and Métis communities. This includes 29 remote Far North communities with no permanent road access. The five largest cities – Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and North Bay – together account for over half (52%) of the population of Northern Ontario.Footnote 2
In 2006Footnote 3, 139,950 francophones represented 17% of the total population of Northern Ontario, in more than 40 Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) spread out over the region. These francophones are primarily located in the districts outlined in Table 2.
|District||Proportion of Northern Ontario Francophones in District|
1.2.3 Program Description
EDI is delivered through the Terms and Conditions of the Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP) which has the following objective: to promote economic development, economic diversification, job creation, and sustainable, self-reliant communities in Northern Ontario. For EDI, this objective is specific to francophone or bilingual organizations that are located in Northern Ontario and provide programs or services in French to the francophone community. In using the NODP Terms and Conditions, projects funded under EDI had to satisfy NODP criteria as well as those of the EDI.
EDI supports business and economic development initiatives throughout Ontario that encourage sustainable growth in OLMCs by focusing on two strategic priorities: 1) Community Strategic Planning; and, 2) Business and Economic Development.
Community Strategic Planning initiatives are aimed at enhancing the economic base and competitiveness of OLMCs by supporting incremental, project-based activities such as the development and implementation of strategic plans and feasibility studies, community mobilization and networking initiatives, marketing studies and export market research. Examples of projects could include the development of a multi-service model to coordinate francophone services in OLMCs, and the development of a French-language visitors' strategy including a marketing strategy for priority markets.
Business and Economic Development initiatives are intended to foster the economic growth of OLMCs in sectors such as francophone tourism, cultural, knowledge-based and manufacturing industries by providing support for incremental, project-based activities which respond to the needs of francophone communities that will:
- develop economic and business skills development;
- integrate francophone immigrants into the business and economic development community;
- enhance access to economic and business information and services;
- promote francophone youth internships and entrepreneurship;
- develop and expand export markets; and
- support innovation, applied research and development (R&D) and commercialization.
The FedNor EDI website indicated that projects were reviewed based on their merit and in relation to other proposals received, as well as their consistency with the following EDI targets, objectives and other criteria:
- youth entrepreneurship
- small- and medium-sized enterprises
- job creation
- integration of francophone immigrants in business and economic development
- capacities built
- enterprises developed
- communities strengthened
Other EDI Screening Criteria:
- the organization's capacity to undertake and manage the incremental project
- a realistic budget forecast
- achievable expected outcomes
- involvement of multiple partners
- participation and support of the francophone community
- responds to a priority and need of the francophone community as identified in a local, regional or provincial strategic and/or community plan
- anticipated results will generate clear and measurable long-term economic benefits for the Northern Ontario francophone communities
- geographic diversity of application
- innovative and provides a model that could be used elsewhere
- leverages other significant financial resources
1.2.4 Program Delivery
EDI was implemented in two phases. In the first phase contributions were limited to $100,000, normally to a maximum of 50% of eligible costsFootnote 5, and applications were received in two separate batches in June and September of 2009Footnote 6. This phase also included a component for funding youth entrepreneur internships, which granted contributions for 90% of eligible costs, up to a maximum of $27,500 per 12 month period. Eleven internships were included in this phase given that there was no existing mechanism to fund internships in Southern Ontario which was included under FedNor funding at the time.
In the second stage, the contribution limit was raised to $500,000. Applications were accepted on an ongoing basis and youth internships were no longer considered. (FedDevOn took over EDI funding for Southern Ontario and the source of funding for youth internships in Northern Ontario reverted to NODP.)
As of September 22, 2011, 50 projects had been approved, for total commitments of $3,980,969. Table 3 below sets out the number of projects approved in each processing phase along with the associated funding. This demonstrates that FedNor's grant and contribution budget for EDI was almost fully utilized.
|Processing Phase||Projects||Approved FedNor Contributions ($)|
|Batch 1: June 17, 2009||21||1,030,035|
|Batch 2: September 16, 2009||21||1,367,417|
|Ongoing: since April 13, 2010||8||1,583,517|
|Total approved contributions||50||3,980,969|
|Total FedNor EDI G&C budget||3,984,400|
1.2.5 Expected Results
FedNor EDI activity is expected to lead to the immediate result of the development of new expertise through innovation, diversification, partnerships and increased support of small- and medium-sized businesses. This new expertise, in turn, is expected to lead to capacities built, enterprises developed and communities developed. Ultimately, these outcomes, along with the outcomes of other Roadmap partners, are expected to result in improved social and economic development for OLMCs.
The logic model contained in this section was developed for the implementation of the EDI by Industry Canada and the RDAsFootnote 7. The model shows how EDI outcomes are intended to contribute to the Roadmap's intended results. It shows the scope of control for EDI as delivered by FedNor (and the RDAs), that of the Regional Operations Sector of Industry Canada, and the broader scope of the Roadmap. The logic model is presented in Figure 1 on the following page.
This evaluation was managed by the Evaluation Directorate of Industry Canada. Econotech, an independent research company, was engaged to undertake some of the data collection upon which this report is based. This section sets out the evaluation scope and specific questions that were addressed, describes the data collection methods used to gather and analyze the information for this evaluation, and notes the limitations of the methodology.
2.1 Evaluation Scope
The scope of this evaluation relates solely to the EDI activities of Industry Canada, FedNor. In addition, all Regional Development Agencies will conduct individual evaluations of the EDI program in their respective region or assess results achieved. This will be submitted to Heritage Canada to support a horizontal evaluation of the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality. The horizontal evaluation will focus on higher level Roadmap outcomes depicted in the logic model.
2.2 Evaluation Issues
This evaluation covers the core issues outlined in the Treasury Board Directive on Evaluation. Specifically, the evaluation examined the following five issues under the themes of relevance and performance:
- Does the initiative continue to meet a need?
- Does the initiative meet government priorities?
- Is the initiative consistent with the federal government's role and responsibilities?
- Have expected outcomes been achieved or are they likely to be achieved?
- Has the initiative been implemented effectively and economically?
2.3 Evaluation Methodology
The methodology for this evaluation was calibrated to take into consideration the following factors:
- The program is materially small in terms of Industry Canada's expenditures (EDI accounts for less than 0.1% of IC's forecasted spending in 2011–2012.)
- The EDI component of the Roadmap is relatively small (it represents less than 0.5% of the total Roadmap budget) and accordingly is expected to have only a marginal contribution to higher level Roadmap outcomes.
Nevertheless, an evaluation was conducted for the FedNor component of EDI and 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 key interviews.
2.3.1 Document and literature review
The document review included materials provided by the program, such as general policy and strategy documents that frame the Roadmap and EDI. Consultation records and summary documents relating to the early developmental stages of the project were used to provide additional context. Operational documentation, including guidelines, organizational charts, guides and manuals, and administrative procedures for the review, approval and monitoring of projects were consulted to deepen understanding of the program's functioning. In addition, Final Project Reports (16), completed by recipients, were reviewed as they were a key source of outcome information.
The review of literature focused on research that provided insight into the socio-economic situation of regional OLMCs in Northern Ontario and recent developments within the geographical area. Research reports, as well as conference and symposium reports, were reviewed in conjunction with pertinent Statistics Canada data and analyses. A full listing of all documents and literature consulted can be found in Annex 2 of this report.
2.3.2 Administrative data and file review
The administrative data review included data retrieved from the program's Grants and Contributions Reporting System (GCRS), provided in table format by the program. The file included the bulk of project-related (e.g. recipient names, general project descriptions and contribution amounts) for all 50 projects approved for funding as of September 2011. Additional data was provided by the program in a database.
A total of 33 interviews were conducted with the following groups:
- FedNor managers and officers (13);
- Funding recipients (13); and,
- Regional economic development stakeholders (7) (mayors of Northern Ontario cities (3), consultants dealing with economic development of OLMCs (2), Statistics Canada (1), and Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité (1)).
Interviews were conducted by phone or in-person, depending on the geographical location of the person. Those located in the Sudbury-North Bay area and those located in Ottawa were interviewed mostly in person; those located in other areas were interviewed by phone.
A complete listing of interviewees is available in Annex 3 and interview guides can be found in Annex 4.
2.4 Methodology limitations
In assessing actual outcomes, the evaluators relied largely on the 16 Final Reports that were completed by project recipients. While self-reporting generally results in some level of bias, FedNor staff report that they were reviewed by Project Officers responsible for the projects and by Payment and Monitoring Officers to ensure that they were accurate portrayals of project outcomes. While the evaluators were unable to verify this validity, this limitation was judged to be acceptable in relation to the level of calibration set out for this evaluation.
A further limitation is that the report relies on 2006 Census data for demographic analysis. While the most recent Census was conducted in 2011, major releases of data are only scheduled to commence in February 2012. While the situation in Northern Ontario may have changed somewhat from 2006, at the time of the evaluation, there was no alternate comparable source of data.
3.1.1. Does the initiative continue to meet a need?
EDI has been designed specifically to meet the needs of francophones in Northern Ontario. This is reflected in the 19 consultations FedNor conducted between 2006 and 2008 with OLMCs across Ontario to determine the major issues facing the francophone community. Approximately 240 people participated in these consultations which confirmed the need for additional funding for economic development projects in OLMCs so that they can become more productive and competitive in the global economy.
These findings were reinforced by the interviews of funding recipients and regional economic development stakeholders conducted as part of this evaluation. These respondents reported that community economic development activities were still much needed in Northern Ontario's OLMCs and they saw a continued need for the EDI. Interviewees suggested that some of the challenges facing OLMCs are their geographic dispersion and the lack of networks in place to assist francophone organizations to collaborate in identifying ways to further community economic development; the result is that they often have not worked in a coordinated fashion. EDI was seen as a useful program to help foster the development of such networks and new partnerships.
An analysis of demographic trends also highlights the need for EDI. These trends were analyzed in the francophone community profiles produced by the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité (RDÉE)Footnote 8 and by the Trillium FoundationFootnote 9 from 2006 census data. The census data shows that between 2001 and 2006, the francophone populationFootnote 10 of Northern Ontario census divisions, where it is concentrated, declined by close to 5.7%Footnote 11, while the total population increased by 0.5%.
Negative factors affecting the demographic weight of OLMCs are the ageing population and the exodus of young people, the result of which is that the proportion of children and teens (5-19 age group) is much lower in francophones than in Anglophones (17% vs. 21%) and the proportion of people aged 45-64 and 65 and over is reasonably greater in francophonesFootnote 12.
The French-language retention rate is another phenomenon that threatens francophone communities. Indeed, this rate, which corresponds to the proportion of people whose mother tongue is French and who most often speak French at home, declined by 2.3% from 2001 to 2006 in North Ontario, going from 54.7% to 52.4%.
The combined effects of the ageing population, the exodus of young people and the decline in the French-language retention rate will continue to reduce the absolute and relative size of Northern Ontario francophone OLMCs. These factors inevitably affect the economic and community development potential of OLMCs within the framework of the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality.
In terms of education levels, the 2006 census showed that the education level of Northern Ontario francophones is lower than that of the total population in Northern Ontario. Specifically, a significantly higher proportion of francophones had no certificate, diploma or degree compared to the total population of Northern Ontario (23.3% vs. 18.25%). Further, a significantly smaller proportion of francophones had a university certificate, diploma or degree than the total population (12.6% vs. 16.7%).
While the education levels of Northern Ontario francophones may have been lower than that of the total population in Northern Ontario, their average income level was 3.8% higher than the total population and their unemployment level was lower (7.2% vs. 8.1%). The conclusion to be drawn is that the educational and other disadvantages that francophones in Northern Ontario experience are partially mitigated by their higher income levels and lower unemployment levels.
3.1.2 Does the initiative meet the government's priorities?
Promoting linguistic duality in Canada has long been a priority of the Government. In the 2007 Speech from the Throne, the Government indicated its continuing support for Canada's linguistic duality. It further renewed its commitment to official languages in Canada by committing to develop a strategy for the next phase of the Action Plan for Official Languages.
This commitment was reiterated in Budget 2008 which indicated that over the next year, the Government would develop a new Action Plan on Official Languages that would respond to Canada's evolving demographic reality, to promote and protect linguistic duality across the country. On June 19, 2008, the new federal strategy for official languages was announced, the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality.
Most recently, the 2010 Speech from the Throne included the following statement:
We are a bilingual country. Canada's two official languages are an integral part of our history and position us uniquely in the world. Building on the recognition that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada, and the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality, our Government will take steps to strengthen further Canada's francophone identity.
3.1.3 Is the initiative consistent with the federal government's role and responsibilities?
This initiative is consistent with the federal government's core role vis-à-vis its legislative responsibilities related to Section 41 of the Official Languages Act. Section 41 requires that federal institutions take positive measures to support the vitality of official language minority communities (OLMCs) and to foster the full recognition and usage of English and French in Canadian society. Industry Canada, through implementing the EDI, is fulfilling this requirement.
The goals and objectives of EDI, which is the economic development component of the Roadmap, are also consistent with the mandate of FedNor which is responsible for economic development in Northern Ontario. The Department of Industry Act, particularly Section 4(2) and Section 8 and 9, set out the Minister's responsibility for regional economic development in Ontario. FedNor is the sole federal presence in Northern Ontario supporting the Minister for FedNor in fulfilling these responsibilities.
EDI directly contributes to Industry Canada's mandate to help make Canadian industry more productive and competitive in the global economy, thus improving the economic and social well-being of Canadians. EDI contributes to Industry Canada's strategic outcome "Canadian businesses and communities are competitive" and is related to the program activity "Community Economic Development" and to the sub activities "Development of Northern Ontario" and "Linguistic Duality and Official Languages".
In addition, as outlined in the 2010–11 Industry Canada Report on Plans and Priorities, EDI contributes to advancing the Department's priority of encouraging business innovation and productivity and promoting economic development in communities.
3.2.1 Have the expected outcomes been achieved or are they likely to be?
As previously discussed, the analysis of FedNor's EDI performance is in relation to the FedNor EDI outcomes portrayed in the logic model. The remainder of this section is organized into the levels of activities, outputs and outcomes depicted in the logic model.
The logic model depicts one activity for FedNor: funding of initiatives. As of September 2011, FedNor had funded 50 projects with a total commitment of $3.98 million. At that time, 24 projects had been completed or were scheduled to be completed and the remainder were ongoing. With a total grants and contribution budget of $4.0 million, FedNor was successful in utilizing almost its total budget allocation for the funding of EDI projects.
Outputs from EDI
The one output in the logic model related to FedNor is: partnerships, projects, and activities for the economic development of OLMCs. In terms of partnerships, 24 of the 50 projects were identified as primarily being targeted to creating partnerships (for 3 projects, this information was not available). For the 16 projects for which Final Reports were completed, all created partnerships, with an average of 11.5 partnerships created or maintained per project and with an average of 4 new partnerships per project.
If we extrapolate these averages to all 50 projects funded, we may estimate that 575 partnerships may have been created or maintained as a result of EDI funding and that 200 new partnerships may have been created.
In addition, we know that all 50 projects were funded for activities to be undertaken to further the economic development of OLMCs in some way. In summary all the expected outputs of EDI are being achieved through the funded projects.
Immediate Outcomes from EDI
The immediate result expected from FedNor activities is: development of new expertise through innovation, diversification, partnerships and increased support of small- and medium-sized businesses. In relation to this outcome, the EDI RMAF-RBAF indicates that, "The term, 'new expertise' will differ by region, but encompass support to entrepreneurs for new and improved products and services and opportunities in new or existing markets"Footnote 13.
FedNor provided EDI funding for each type of project intended to develop new expertise. Specifically, for the 50 funded projects, 11 were classified as supporting diversification, 3 to spur innovation, 24 to create partnerships and 12 to provide SME support.
The 16 Final Reports show that 14 of the projects either created or developed strategic plans, market studies or other studies; created or improved tools or services; or created new and diversified products and services. This would seem to confirm that the majority of projects led to the development of new expertise through innovation and diversification of activities. In conclusion, all of the funded projects were intended to produce the new expertise outcome and the Final Reports demonstrate that projects appear to have produced this intended outcome.
Intermediate Outcomes from EDI
The logic model depicts three intended intermediate outcomes that are expected to result from EDI:
- capacities built
- enterprises developed, and
- communities developed.
EDI projects are classified by FedNor in terms of their expected intermediate outcomes. Specifically, for the 50 funded projects, 29 (58%) were primarily intended to lead to capacities being built, 10 (20%) to enterprises being developed, and 11 (22%) to communities being developed.
The 16 Final Reports show that 11 projects (69%) resulted in capacities being built, 5 (31%) in enterprises being developed, and 3 (19%) in communities being developed. (The categories are not mutually exclusive.) Overall, these 16 projects resulted in capacity being built in 39 enterprises and 61 communities, 35 enterprises being developed, and 5 communities being developed.
Interviews indicated that the heavy weight of projects under capacities built is indicative of the program's early mandate to cover off youth internship. Other projects aimed at building capacity included strategic planning, fostering new partnerships and creating tools for tourism-related activities.
Overall, all funded projects are consistent with the intended intermediate outcomes of EDI. The Final Reports show that these intended outcomes are achieved in most cases.
3.2.2 Has the initiative been implemented effectively and economically?
This section looks at the implementation of EDI, processing speed, administrative costs, and the leveraging effect of EDI.
Implementation of EDI
In terms of the implementation of EDI, stakeholders suggested that the decentralization of FedNor is a major strength for implementing the EDI, as well as the officers' experience in delivering economic development programming in the region. The qualifications of the FedNor team in charge of delivering the initiative demonstrated:
- Familiarity with the beneficiaries who have, for the most part, previously received FedNor assistance;
- Good experience with the nuts and bolts of federal administration, including applying the rules for contribution program management in the region;
- Teamwork, which shows in the regular conference calls (every 2 or 3 weeks), making frequent consultation on files and reaching a consensus for recommendations possible; and,
- Great willingness of the officers to assist the applicants in setting up their projects and for preparing the documentation such that it meets the requirements for funding by the initiative.
FedNor's knowledge of the field and the beneficiaries as well as their involvement in the creation of projects is also advantageous with regard to assessing the risk associated with each project and determining mitigation measures. The risk assessment is done systematically when the file is evaluated. It is documented using a form that makes it possible to give a quantitative estimate of the risk level of both the beneficiary and the project. The mitigation measures consist of adapting the intensity of monitoring and audit based on the assessed risk level; the monitoring and audit parameters to be applied are pre-determined based on three levels of risk: low, medium and high.
In examining processing times, the evaluation considered the timeline between receipt of the complete application and decision to approve the project. The average duration of this approval period was 69 days. This compares favourably to the average NODP approval time of 140 days. However, EDI processing has been conducted in three stages: there were two batch intakes and then the process switched to a continuous intake process and the processing times in the different stages varied significantly. Batch 1 processing time on average was 99 days, while the average time for batch 2 and the ongoing intake was 39 and 67 days, respectively. According to FedNor, processing time for batch 2 declined over batch 1 because of the lessons learned in processing batch 1 and a better understanding of the program.
EDI is administered and delivered by the FedNor staff who also deliver NODP, most of whom have been there since the creation of NODP. While EDI had its own guidelines and application form, it was delivered under the NODP Terms and Conditions and was implemented and delivered in a very similar fashion to that of NODP.
Between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2013, FedNor is to distribute $3.98 million in Grants and Contributions at a total operating cost of $515,102. At just over $100,000 per year, these operating costs represent 1-2 FTEs which would appear to be reasonable for an initiative with the scope of EDI.
EDI projects have leveraged funding from other sources which contributes to the overall efficiency of the initiative. While the EDI set out co-funding criteria for screening projects, it is not mandatory and some projects were funded for 100% of eligible costs. Specifically, 47 of the funded projects secured funding from other sources and three did not.
The analysis of 50 projects approved as of September 2011 shows that there was a leveraging effect of 2.2 (measured by the total cost ratio of projects compared to FedNor contributions). Therefore, for each dollar contributed to a project by EDI, an additional $1.20 of funding was generated from other sources.
Regarding relevance and performance of EDI, the following conclusions can be reached.
- The findings suggest that there is a need for EDI based on a declining francophone population and a declining French-language retention rate in OLMCs. This is reinforced by the isolation of francophone organizations and their lack of effective networks.
- Promoting linguistic duality in Canada has long been a priority of the Government and was most recently reiterated in the 2010 Speech from the Throne.
- EDI is consistent with the federal government's role as set out in legislation (Official Languages Act) and the mandate and strategic objectives of Industry Canada and FedNor.
- EDI was successful in achieving its intended immediate and intermediate outcomes. Funded projects have resulted in the development of new expertise through innovation, diversification of activities, partnerships and increased support of small businesses. These outcomes, in turn, led to capacities being built, and enterprises and communities being developed.
- The initiative has been implemented effectively and economically. EDI's administrative costs are low and processing times compare favourably to NODP.
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