PM launches new regional economic development agency for Canada’s north
August 18, 2021
IQALUIT, NUNAVUT – Residents of the North will soon be served by a new regional development agency with a specific mandate to deliver federal programs specifically tailored to the needs of Northern Canada.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the creation of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, fulfilling a key commitment contained in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

“One of the key priorities of our government’s Northern Strategy is to ensure a stronger, more dynamic economy for Northern families and businesses,” said the Prime Minister.  “There is no better way to ensure a brighter future for our North than by directly empowering Northern workers and businesses to take advantage of the resources and opportunities that exist right here at home.” 

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency will be headquartered in Iqaluit, with district offices located in Whitehorse and Yellowknife.  The new agency will fulfill the same role as Canada’s existing regional development agencies, including co-ordination and delivery of federal economic development activities at the regional level and policy, research and advocacy. 

It will be responsible for administering federal initiatives including Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development, Community Adjustment Fund, and infrastructure programs such as RInC and Aboriginal Business and Economic Development programs.

“Whether we are talking about the abundant natural resources or the resourcefulness of Northerners themselves,” said the Prime Minister, “we are acting today to unleash the North’s true potential.”




Canada made a commitment in the 2008 Speech from the Throne to create a stand alone regional development agency for Canada’s North.  Canada’s Economic Action Plan reaffirmed this commitment, providing $50 million over five years for its creation.

The new agency, called Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency or CanNor, will have its head office in Iqaluit, Nunavut, with district offices in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as a policy / coordination office in Ottawa.  The Agency will implement an innovative technology-based approach to respond to the unique opportunities and challenges of the North and to coordinate and deliver programs and policies in the three territories.

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, will assume responsibility for the Agency.

CanNor is a tangible acknowledgement that the federal government places the North higher on its agenda than ever before, and will be a fundamental component of the Government’s Northern Strategy going forward. 

The objective of CanNor is to help provide the foundation for a prosperous economic future for those who live, work and support their families in the North.  It will fulfill the same role as other economic development agencies, including co-ordination and delivery of federal economic development activities at the regional level, as well as policy, research and advocacy. 

CanNor will initially deliver existing programs and services, and later on establish its long-term structure and operations.  In this second phase, the Agency will also further tailor its activities and programs to the unique needs of the North and the differing circumstances in each territory – based on engagement with territorial governments and stakeholders. 

Decisions to date on the Agency’s activities have taken into consideration feedback from consultations with key stakeholders, territorial governments and other partners.  In January 2009, government officials distributed basic information on the government’s plans to establish a northern development agency to over 200 organizations across the North and solicited feedback on questions relating to the mandate, organization and priorities of the Agency.  In addition, from January to June 2009, government officials met with territorial governments, Aboriginal groups, industry groups and INAC regional staff to discuss plans for the new Agency.

The Agency will continue to work closely with northern partners and stakeholder groups to ensure a meaningful and consistent program/service delivery approach that takes into account lessons learned and best practices, as well as the unique economic development needs of each territory.

CanNor will fulfill the same role as other economic development agencies, including
co-ordination and delivery of federal economic development activities at the regional level, as well as policy, research and advocacy.  Specifically, the agency will be responsible for the following programs:

Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED)
SINED is a suite of programs that provide funding for projects across the North.  Investment decisions are guided by five-year territorial investment plans, which are developed together with the territories.  Canada’s Economic Action Plan renewed SINED funding with $90 million over five years, split equally among the three territories.  Responsibility for SINED will be transferred to CanNor from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

Aboriginal Business and Economic Development Programs
CanNor will deliver $11.8 million in annual Aboriginal business and economic development programming in the territories, previously overseen by INAC.  This includes the Aboriginal Business Development Program, which supports Aboriginal business formation and entrepreneurship, and Aboriginal community economic development programs.  The new Agency will work closely with Aboriginal governments and organizations in order to understand and respond to the economic development needs of these groups in accordance with the new Aboriginal Economic Development Framework.

Infrastructure Programs
CanNor will take on responsibility for the Municipal-Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF) and the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund (CSIF), both of which are currently managed by INAC.  It will also deliver the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) program, announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.  RInC is a two-year program that supports the rehabilitation and repair of recreational infrastructure.  It provides $567,000 for the three territories over two years, with an additional $325 million available Canada-wide to be allocated based on proposals evaluated by Ministers.

Community Adjustment Fund
Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) is a new, two-year, program announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.  CAF is designed to provide economic stimulus by creating employment opportunities to address transitional and adjustment challenges in restructuring communities.  CAF provides $32.8 million for the territories or $16.4 million per year.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) Skills Training
CanNor will support the delivery of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) skills training programs in the North.  This will include partnerships and projects under HRSDC-administered funds such as the Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund and the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnerships (ASEP) program.  Initiatives will also include research and analysis of skills-related gaps and opportunities.

Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO)
CanNor will house a newly-created NPMO.  The NPMO will be responsible for coordinating the work of federal regulatory departments and agencies during the environmental assessment and permitting phases of northern project development, and for coordinating a process of early engagement and consultations with Aboriginal people and communities.  The NPMO will also maintain the official Crown consultation record for the Government of Canada for all northern projects.  The NPMO will have employees in each of the three territories and in the National Capital Region.

Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs)
CanNor will fulfil the responsibilities of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development under Section 41 of the Official Languages Act for supporting OLMCs in the territories.  This includes the Economic Development Initiative: 2008-2013 Federal Strategy for Official Languages, which will be delivered across Canada through the regional economic development agencies.  The Agency will also support OLMCs through other economic development programming, such as SINED.

Federal Councils
CanNor will also take over, from INAC, responsibility for housing the secretariat for the territorial Federal Councils.  Federal Councils are forums that bring together the senior officials from all federal departments and agencies in provinces and territories.

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