Mr. Speaker, the targeted approach of this strategy will help the northern Ontario region prosper. The strategy will build on the opportunities offered by emerging industries to create businesses and jobs for the northern population of the province. This strategy will also focus on working with indigenous communities to support their growth. Most importantly, this strategy will be developed in partnership with all the community and business leaders of northern Ontario and the province.
In the four western provinces, Western Economic Diversification Canada activities are guided by the government's innovation and skills plan for two departmental strategic priorities, which are innovation and inclusive economic growth, aligning the west with federal priorities. WD is implementing these priorities in a few different ways. The strategic investments the department is making across western Canada focus on growing and emerging sectors such as energy, information and communication, technologies, life sciences, aerospace, agrifood, and advanced manufacturing.
Through the western innovation initiative, WD invests in businesses to help them advance innovative products, processes, and services for the marketplace in western Canada and globally. Since 2014, WD has invested nearly $97 million through the western innovation initiative and expects to create more than 1,600 jobs across the west.
The western diversification program funds strategic investments in initiatives with not-for-profit organizations that strengthen the economy of western Canada.
As a key way to create opportunities, WD convenes with stakeholders across western Canada to identify opportunities for collaboration in support of economic development, leading to a deep understanding of the unique considerations in advancing diversification goals in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia and their broad regional perspectives.
WD also actively supports inclusive participation in the economy. For example, through its Western Canada Business Service Network , WD provides small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs, including indigenous peoples, women, francophones, persons with disabilities, and rural communities, with services and resources to help them succeed and grow.
WD is a nimble organization that has demonstrated its responsiveness in the recent past by leading the federal response to the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016. It delivers unique programs, such as the drywall support program, and serves as a delivery agent in support of other federal initiatives, such as INAC's strategic partnerships initiative, which enables indigenous participation in economic development.
The government is investing over $1 billion each year through the regional development agencies to support business and community growth, in every part of Canada, toward an innovative, clean, and inclusive economy. The RDAs understand the unique needs of each region as well as the opportunities for economic development and diversification.
These regional strategies are only a few examples of how regional development agencies are working hard for Canada.