Deputy Minister Transition Briefing Deck

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Table of contents


FedNor was first created as a federal initiative in 1987 with a mandate to assist in the expansion and diversification of the economy of Northern Ontario. On August 12, 2021, FedNor was established as a standalone agency, confirming the importance of its role.

FedNor, in brief

Organizational structure
  • Minister
    • President
      • Chief of Staff & Corporate Secretary
    • Program Delivery Sector
      • Executive Director Programs
    • Policy and Communications Sector
      • Vice President Policy and Communications
    • Corporate Services Sector
      • Chief Financial Officer
      • Human Resources
      • Chief Information Officer
Regions of FedNor program delivery area

FedNor currently counts 87 staff across its offices, with its headquarters in Sudbury, and staff in other offices: Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, North Bay, Timmins, Kenora, and the National Capital Region

FedNor responds according to Northern Ontario’s specific issues

Contextual issues


Stagnant population growth
  • Population: 856,000 (6% of Ontario and 2.3% of Canada)
  • Older age profile 65+ (22.8%) in comparison to Ontario (18.5%)
  • Over half of population concentrated in 5 cities
  • Francophone population (109,000) represents 13% of region’s population
  • Indigenous population (140,000) represents almost 17% of region’s population
  • Low international immigration - 1,000 newcomers in 2021


Concentrated in natural resources with opportunities to diversify
  • $37,752M (2019) GDP representing approximately 5% of Ontario’s GDP and 1.9% nationally
  • Lower unemployment than national average – but hampered by labour shortages with fewer workers looking for employment
  • Approximately 66,700 businesses; only 67 with over 500 employees
  • Approximately 10.5% of Ontario’s exports (2019)


Disparity between urban and rural communities
  • Large geography comprising of 90% of Ontario’s landmass
  • One person per square km vs. 132 in southern Ontario
  • Significant disparities between large centres, medium-sized cities and rural/remote areas (broadband, sectors, job creation)
  • 150 municipalities, of which 80% have a population of 2,000 or less, and 105 First Nations communities

Impacts of the pandemic

An economy on pause in 2020-21

  • By spring 2021, overall business activity had increased more than the provincial average in many centres, but total employment levels remained below average
  • Significant revenue reductions continued in 2021 for almost half of regional businesses

A tepid recovery looking forward

  • Uncertainty for recovery in accommodation and food services, tourism and retail trade along with single-industry communities 
  • Historical areas of challenge for Northern Ontario continue to impact development
  • Number of active businesses rebounded to 2019 levels

Community/Sectoral Impacts of COVID-19

Deeply affected sectors with ongoing struggles Deeply affected

  • US market reliance, border restrictions and closures
  • Signature tourist attractions heavily impacted
  • Higher food prices and increased distribution

Mildly affected sectors maintaining a level of activity Mildly affected

  • Increased operating costs
  • Supply chain interruptions and transportation challenges; re-tooling to supply PPE
  • Venture Capital investment down

Growing sectors poised to take advantage of opportunities Growing

  • Pause on exploration projects but large recovery innovative opportunities to supply products and support
  • Minor early impact on productivity
  • Metal prices fell then slight rebound

Regional Sectors

The Far North - Home to 30 Remote First Nations

  • Forestry Mildly affected
  • Mining Growing


  • Retail Deeply affected
  • Forestry Mildly affected
  • Transportation Mildly affected
  • Mining Growing


  • Retail Deeply affected
  • Mining Supply and Services Mildly affected
  • Mining Growing
  • Health and Life Sciences Growing

North Bay

  • Tourism Deeply affected
  • Transportation Mildly affected
  • Forestry Mildly affected
  • Mining Growing

Muskoka / Parry Sound

  • Tourism Deeply affected
  • Manufacturing Mildly affected

Sault Ste Marie

  • Steel Mildly affected
  • Alternative energy Mildly affected
  • Forestry Mildly affected
  • Information Technology Growing

Thunder Bay

  • Tourism Deeply affected
  • Manufacturing Mildly affected
  • Forestry Mildly affected
  • Mining Growing
  • Health and Life Sciences Growing


  • Tourism Deeply affected
  • Forestry Mildly affected
  • Mining Growing

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)

RDAs are the dedicated federal actors supporting the economic development of Canada’s regions and promoting sustainable economic growth through tailored, regional approaches to program and service delivery.

They carry out their mandate through key activities tailored to local needs and regional realities:

  • strategic investments in businesses (focus on business innovation, growth, exports);
  • support for regional ecosystem growth through intermediary organizations and bringing together economic actors;
  • support for development and diversification of regional economies to foster community vitality.

How our programs adapt

Government of Canada priorities

  • Informs thinking on government priorities
  • Implementation based on actual regional needs on the ground
Coordinated response to the extent possible
  • Complementarity and synergy of interventions; intersectoral cooperation as well as between different levels of government
Flexibility in the implementation
  • Differentiated program modalities according to the areas of intervention
Credible antennas on the ground
  • Regional presence
  • Local knowledge: regional realities influence how challenges are experienced and addressed
Analytical perspective adapted to the context
  • Interventions modulated according to local realities, and for results that respond to real needs
Responsive design of intervention programs and measures
  • For a diversified clientele (SMEs, NPOs, communities, clusters, universities, etc.)
  • For a variety of projects based on the comparative advantages of the regions
  • Through flexible financial tools

Our core programs

  • Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)
  • Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP)
  • Community Futures Program (CFP)
  • Economic Development Initiative (EDI)

Our temporary programs

  • Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – Closed March 2022
  • Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI) – Closed March 2022
  • Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) – Closes March 2023
  • Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) – Closes March 2023
  • Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) – Closes March 2023
  • Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (ARRI) - Closes March 2024
  • Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF) – Closes March 2024
  • Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) – Closes March 2025

How do we add value?

FedNor projects in fiscal 2020-21 provided well needed relief to businesses and communities to help them survive and be in a position to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This represented:

  • $164.9 million in authorized assistance
  • 332 projects
  • Delivered more than 2.5x funding than typical year.

In fiscal 2021-22, FedNor provided:

  • $109.83 million in authorized assistance
  • 312 projects

Priorities driven by regional realities

Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario (PGSNO)

A plan for economic development, inclusiveness and success

Supporting Innovation
Growing Companies
Building Stronger Communities
Shared priorities
Expand and strengthen the regional innovation ecosystems to support competitive businesses and clean growth
Enhance the delivery of supports for business start-ups, scale-ups and clusters to grow competitive companies and stimulate economic growth
Help communities better respond to opportunities and challenges

Expand regional ecosystems and clusters

Expand access to capital opportunities

Strengthen linkages

Increase support for incubators, accelerators and innovation hubs

Support competitive businesses reach new markets

Invest in potential growth sectors

Develop and grow Indigenous businesses and women entrepreneurship

Leverage employment opportunities for a bilingual workforce

Build the economic development capacity of rural and Indigenous communities

Invest in key community and regional infrastructure

Develop an attraction and retention strategy for Northern Ontario

Focus youth and skills programs to address gaps

Expected outcomes

Increased exports

Increased technology adoption by companies

More opportunities for Indigenous peoples and enterprises

More opportunities for women entrepreneurs

Value-added jobs

More skilled and trade workers

Communities can better respond to opportunities

Stronger innovation ecosystem

Our clients: SMEs and the organizations that support them

Profile of SMEs in Northern Ontario
1-4 employees 12,188
5-9 employees 5,446
10-19 employees 3,868
20-99 employees 3,267
100-499 employees 508
Proportion of SMEs majority-owned by individuals of Indigenous decent 1.5 %
Sectors with largest proportion of employment
  • Acommodation and food services
  • Retail trade
  • Construction
Concentrated sectors of activity unique to the region
  • Mining
  • Forestry
  • Primary metal manufacturing
  • Support activities for mining

Types of non-profit organizations (NPOs) supported (Not exhaustive)

  • Industrial clusters
  • Incubators/accelerators
  • Indigenous NPOs
  • Tourism industry associations
  • Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs)

Key messages

  • Since 1987, FedNor has served as the Government of Canada's economic development organization for Northern Ontario.
  • Through its programs and services, and through its financial support of projects that lead to job creation and economic growth, FedNor works with businesses, organizations and community partners to build a stronger Northern Ontario.
  • The creation of FedNor as a Regional Development Agency (RDA) in August 2021 responds to a need identified by Northern Ontario community and business leaders over the years.
  • Canada’s RDAs are critical to accelerating recovery efforts, fueling the economy, creating jobs, and maximizing growth opportunities in municipalities and Indigenous communities across the country.