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Message from the Chairperson
Message from the CEO
Board of Directors
Key Performance Indicators
Performance Against Objectives
In Our Community
It is my pleasure to present this annual report on behalf of ECBC. The report outlines the Corporation’s efforts to promote economic development activities on Cape Breton Island and in Mulgrave.
The past year has been most eventful for the Corporation. Of particular note in 2009-2010, was the completion of the special examination conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, in accordance with the Financial Administration Act (FAA). Based on the criteria established for the examination, it was determined that there were no significant deficiencies in the Corporation’s systems and practices.
The past year was also significantly shaped by the completion of the mandate review requested by the Treasury Board of Canada. Its findings concluded that the Corporation’s mandate continues to be relevant, given the current economic and demographic conditions in Cape Breton. The ECBC brand is strong and the Corporation has the respect and confidence of the community. It was also noted that the community wants ECBC to take an even stronger leadership role in commercial and community economic development, and that while the Corporation is efficient and cost-effective in delivering programs, it could further enhance its effectiveness by strengthening performance indicators to better evaluate its performance.
The mandate review also suggested that efficiencies could be gained by integrating the Cape Breton Development Corporation (CBDC), a federal Crown corporation that operated the federally-owned coal mines in Cape Breton, with ECBC. Subsequently, the CBDC was dissolved on December 31, 2009.
In light of these findings, the ECBC Board of Directors approved an amended corporate plan that provided for the CBDC’s remaining assets and liabilities to be transferred to ECBC. A review of the Corporation’s governance structure was initiated to ensure that the stewardship responsibilities associated with the integration were adequately addressed. The Board was also active in shaping the Corporation’s strategic direction, articulating measurable goals and objectives and updating the risk management framework. A number of strategic commercial and community economic development investments were also discussed and approved.
In keeping with its oversight role, the Board of Directors has worked diligently to finalize its charter. Work continues on the development of a board profile. The Corporation also hosted its first annual public meeting in July. Both the Audit Committee and the Human Resources Committee were engaged in efforts to assist the Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibility.
I would like to acknowledge the Corporation’s Board of Directors, Leadership Committee and staff for their commitment to the ECBC mandate. Their continued dedication ensures that the Corporation will play an even more significant leadership role in the economic development of Cape Breton Island and Mulgrave.
Fiscal 2009-2010 was a very significant year in the history of ECBC. With the renewal of the Corporation’s mandate as a result of the mandate review, and the integration of the assets and liabilities of the former CBDC, ECBC’s future was inextricably altered. The Corporation’s economic development mandate was complemented with the addition of the CBDC’s real property assets, as well as its responsibility for environmental remediation and monitoring.
The integrated Corporation creates one strong federal organization providing leadership in the economic development of Cape Breton. A new, integrated organizational structure was developed and implemented to enable the former CBDC activities to continue in a seamless manner. The business plan was amended to articulate four clear lines of business that serve to strengthen the Corporation’s ability to achieve its mandate. They are commercial development, community development, environmental stewardship and property development.
Given the renewed mandate and the CBDC integration, the Corporation identified several incremental staffing needs that were important to the execution of its mandate and to meeting organizational needs. In addition, the Corporation embarked on the development of an integrated marketing plan and brand for the integrated Corporation. Work has been completed on a new visual identity, positioning statement and communications strategy that will assist in more cogently communicating ECBC’s significant economic impact on the Cape Breton economy.
The Corporation took an executive leadership role in marketing the island to the world. Its sponsorship of a yacht in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race has proven to be an innovative and effective manner to promote the business, cultural and tourism potential of Cape Breton Island.
Work is ongoing with regard to strategic planning, the strengthening of performance indicators and risk management. Particular emphasis has been placed on leveraging greater economic development benefit from the activities and assets of the CBDC by using them in a strategic and complementary manner with ECBC’s economic development programming. This will involve strategic partnerships and the Corporation is committed to building positive working relationships with regional governments, the Province of Nova Scotia, the private sector and community development entities in an effort to foster co-operation in the pursuit of economic development objectives.
These are exciting times for ECBC. With a renewed mandate and additional assets at its disposal, the Corporation is positioned to assume a significant leadership role on key issues. I would like to thank the Board of Directors and the ECBC staff for their co-operation and collaboration. I look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead.
Ms. Collette assumed the responsibilities of Chairperson of ECBC in 2003. She is also President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
John Lynn assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of ECBC in June 2008. He holds degrees from St. Francis Xavier University and Queen’s University and studied at the University of Western Ontario and the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He has an extensive private sector background, and has served on numerous private sector, not-for-profit and Crown corporation boards and board committees. He is also an active community volunteer.
Mr. Miller is a long-time resident of Cape Breton Island. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University and has retired from a career in banking. He is currently employed with the Cape Breton District Health Authority and is an active community volunteer.
A native of North Sydney, Ms. Salter is a graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University with knowledge of and experience in the hospitality industry gained through her work as an entrepreneur. She is also active with various community organizations.
Ms. Landry, a resident of St. Peter’s, brings a wealth of professional experience to the Board. Ms. Landry was the first woman to hold the positions of inspector and superintendent of schools in Nova Scotia, and she has worked as a consultant in education. Now retired, Ms. Landry is an active volunteer in her community.
A native of Sydney, Mr. Munroe is a chartered accountant and an associate partner with MGM & Associates in Sydney. He has extensive experience in auditing, accounting, tax and other financial advisory services. Mr. Munroe is involved in various professional and community activities.
Mr. MacInnis, a resident of Creignish, Inverness County, is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University. He is now retired from a career in education. Mr. MacInnis serves on several boards and numerous organizing committees
Chief Executive Officer
Executive Director General, Advocacy and Development
Executive Director General, Site Operations/Remediation
Special Advisor/Corporate Counsel
Director General, Corporate Services
Director General, Commercial Development
Director General, Community Economic Development
Director General, Property Development and Management
Frank MacInnis, John Lynn, Sara Salter and Edmund MacEachern*
Lori Marenick*, Bob Munroe, Sherri Beresford*, Terry Miller and Eva Landry
* staff member
The Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation Act provides the Corporation with a broad legislative mandate which reads:
The objects of the Corporation are to promote and assist, either alone or in conjunction with any person or the Government of Canada or of Nova Scotia or any agency of either of those governments, the financing and development of industry on Cape Breton Island* to provide employment outside the coal producing industry and to broaden the base of the economy of Cape Breton Island.
*This definition of Cape Breton Island includes the Mulgrave area.
Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC) is a Crown corporation established pursuant to Part II of the Government Organization Act, Atlantic Canada, 1987 (also known as the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation Act).
ECBC’s small geographical focus, local control and flexible mandate enable the Corporation to devise initiatives that are specific to local needs and priorities.
As a Crown corporation, ECBC is a distinct legal entity reporting to Parliament through the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
In addition to its own programs, ECBC is responsible for the delivery of the ACOA programs on Cape Breton Island and the programs of the former Cape Breton Development Corporation (CBDC).
The health of the Cape Breton economy is generally gauged by the level of employment. This assessment is augmented by other labour force characteristics (size, participation rate, and unemployment rate), income data, and demographic characteristics to create a picture of the regional economy. This approach is taken because other macroeconomic variables have not been developed at the sub-regional level, largely because of a combination of data integrity issues.
There are, of course, external economic factors that affect the Cape Breton economy. These include the Bank of Canada’s inflation policy, the exchange rate, and the growth of the provincial and national economies as measured by gross domestic product. Other trends such as housing statistics, tourism indicators and retail trade can provide insight into the health and direction of the economy.
In 2009, the worldwide recession hit Cape Breton. Although it was late arriving, the negative impact is expected to continue well into 2010. The impact has resulted in higher levels of unemployment in the region and reduced levels of spending in the retail sector. There have been fewer tourists and reduced sales for both manufacturers and export service providers.
The effects on the Cape Breton economy from these external economic factors have a direct impact on ECBC’s commercial and community economic development activities. In addition to providing challenges in the achievement of corporate strategic objectives, there can be confusion and a lack of clarity in measuring results. Specifically, it is difficult to determine the economic impact of a specific program or activity when the economy is not performing at a healthy level. One perspective is that without the positive influence of these economic development activities, the decline would have been worse.
In addition to the level of employment, the following graph shows that the labour force also dipped in 2009. In part the lack of employment opportunities contributes to the discouraged worker effect. This means that people will sometimes stop looking for work when their employment insurance benefits cease. To be in the labour force you must, by definition, be either employed or looking for work.
Over the 15-year period since 1995, the labour force in Cape Breton has remained relatively constant, with annual participation rates ranging from a low of 51% in 1999 to a high of 56% in 2008. During this period, annual average employment increased by almost 12% from 50,600 in 1994 to 56,600 in 2008. However, in 2009 there was a significant drop to 53,800, representing a loss of approximately 2,800 full-and part-time jobs.
These factors may be affected by population decline. For the past two to three years, the shrinking population in Cape Breton has been a much discussed issue. In 2009, Novus Consulting concluded a study that made population projections using current birth and death rates and immigration data. Approximately 18% of the Cape Breton population is currently over 65. It was determined that, if nothing changes, as much as 36% of the population will be over the age of 65 by 2026. There is also a general trend for people between the ages of 15 and 45 to move away for educational and employment opportunities. In addition to having a direct impact on population, this outmigration also has the indirect effect of lowering the birth rate since children are being born where their parents are working. The working aged population fell by another 0.6% in 2009 to 115,000.
The number of unemployed in Cape Breton was 900 higher than last year, and the unemployment rate was higher, at 15.1%. In fact, the three-month rolling average exceeded 17% in the March to May period. Due to the seasonal nature of the regional economy, it is not unusual for the monthly unemployment rate to fluctuate. Usually the highest level of unemployment occurs in January and February and the lowest level in July and August.
Although the empirical evidence is not conclusive, there have often been concerns within the region about difficulty in securing access to capital. In 2009, the Bank of Canada set the interest rate at a low level (0.75%) for commercial banking institutions. The goal was to improve economic recovery by complementing the stimulus funding provided by the Government of Canada.
The economic impact of the federal stimulus funding will be much more evident in Cape Breton in 2010 than it was in 2009. Many of the projects and activities under the various programs such as the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) and Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) were not even under consideration when the year began. By year’s end, many projects were well-defined, which will result in much of the on-the-ground activity occurring in 2010. This will generate economic activity and create much needed employment in the construction sector.
Cape Breton’s export sector is small. The impact of the worldwide recession and the relatively slow road to recovery have resulted in declining orders. Large manufacturers experienced longer than normal maintenance shutdowns, while small facilities had fewer orders to fill. Both of these situations are expected to change when the demand increases both in the United States and overseas. The export of some fish products was also lower than normal.
While many companies are trying to explore new markets, the traditional American market for Cape Breton products is very tight and offers fewer sales opportunities. This is not helped by the slow recovery in the United States, nor does the strong Canadian dollar help small and medium-sized exporters in Cape Breton.
The strong dollar may have two negative consequences for the tourism industry. First, it tends to keep foreign tourists from visiting all parts of Canada, including Cape Breton. Second, the strong dollar entices Cape Bretoners to travel to places with favorable exchange rates.
The health of this sector is analyzed in part through occupancy rates and cruise ship visits. The following graphs show that both of these measures were lower in 2009 than they were in 2008. The economic impact of tourism is calculated by the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage, but the 2009 analysis is not currently available.
The housing market in Cape Breton was surprisingly robust. Though there were fewer sales in 2009 (583) than in 2008 (628), the price continued to rise to an average sale price of almost $113,000. Housing starts were also strong, with 145 singles and 83 multiples, for a total of 228 in 2009. This housing data runs counter to the general trend in the Cape Breton economy. It may be explained by the results of the Novus Study that found that in 16% of Cape Breton households, 25% of income in 2008 was generated outside Cape Breton.
As 2009 drew to a close, there were a number of bright spots on the horizon. These include a number of infrastructure projects and the potential commercialization of the Port of Sydney. The remediation of the Sydney Tar Ponds also continues to be an economic driver, creating construction and engineering jobs. This is also true of the Donkin mine project, which will proceed over the next three years. There are also a number of alternative-energy-related projects underway, ranging from the Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (CSEE) at CBU to a large biomass project in Port Hawkesbury. Together, these initiatives hold the promise of a stronger economy.
Over the past two years, the Corporation has been focused on the development of a Management, Resources and Results Structure (MRRS) in accordance with Government of Canada policy. The MRRS provides the federal government with an integrated, modern management framework to establish a common government-wide approach to the collection, management and public reporting of financial and non-financial performance information.
The MRRS comprises three components:
· Strategic Outcomes;
· Program Activity Architecture (PAA); and
· Governance Structure.
The PAA is the structure of program activities upon which federal government organizations report expenditures and results to the Treasury Board of Canada and to Parliament.
Each organization’s PAA consists of two main elements: clearly defined and appropriate strategic outcomes; and a complete program inventory that links all departmental programs and program activities as they relate to these strategic outcomes.
In the course of developing an MRRS for ECBC, the Corporation’s PAA and performance measurement framework were revised. ECBC’s MRRS received Treasury Board of Canada approval in 2009.
For ECBC, the PAA consists of an overall strategic outcome: a competitive and sustainable Cape Breton economy. Strategies in the PAA are intended to enable the achievement of the Corporation’s mandate. ECBC’s revised PAA streamlines the existing program activities and sub-activities in order to increase operational efficiency. It also articulates the long-term benefits of ECBC’s programming.
During the past year, ECBC added two new areas of activity related to the assets and liabilities of the former CBDC, which were transferred to ECBC on January 1, 2010. The Corporation has added environmental and human resource obligations as new areas of activity. In accordance with the terms of the integration, ECBC is required to report on these areas separate from its other activities.
ECBC’s 2009-2010 corporate plan outlined a number of program activities and objectives on which the Corporation focused during the year. They include:
· Policy and Advocacy;
· Community Economic Development;
· Commercial Development;
· Property Development and Management;
· Regional Service Delivery;
· Internal Services;
· Environmental Obligations (of the former CBDC); and
· Human Resource Obligations (of the former CBDC).
A discussion of each area of activity is presented in this report.
Fundamental to ECBC's mandate is the Corporation's policy and advocacy role, which assists in identifying the opportunities and challenges facing the island, as well as informing and supporting decision making both within and outside the Corporation.
In 2009-2010, ECBC developed policy advice, carried out research, provided economic analysis and engaged stakeholders on a number of issues.
In 2009-2010, ECBC continued to play a key role in port development. The Corporation has been working with the Sydney Marine Group in a planning, development and advocacy capacity to help ensure that the Port of Sydney will be ready for the opportunities presented through the Atlantic Gateway strategy. ECBC sits on the Federal-Provincial Committee for the Atlantic Gateway, as well as an internal ACOA Committee on Atlantic Gateway.
In 2007, a Port Master Plan was completed with assistance from ECBC. The plan identified strong cargo market opportunities for the Port of Sydney. It also identified the need to conduct a dredging program to increase the depth of the harbour. To that end, ECBC has provided funding for an environmental assessment of the proposed dredge project and has assisted with the development of an environmental assessment document.
The Port Master Plan also recommended that the Sydney Marine Group take a comprehensive look at the creation of appropriate legislation to develop a long-term governance organization for the Port of Sydney. To assist in the development of this organization, ECBC provided funding for the creation of a transportation corporation to manage the development of the Port of Sydney, its related infrastructure and commercial development.
Over the past number of years, ECBC has been working with the tourism industry to implement an island-wide marketing levy on tourism accommodations. These efforts have been successful resulting in the implementation of an island-wide marketing strategy by Destination Cape Breton Association (DCBA).
The environment was forefront for the Corporation in 2009-2010. For the past number of years, ECBC has been part of a coalition of local, provincial and national institutions supporting the establishment of the Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, an environmental research facility at CBU. The Centre will be a cutting-edge and fully green facility that will allow researchers and experts from around the world to explore sustainable energy and environmental energy technologies, taking advantage of research and learning opportunities presented by the remediation of the tar ponds, coke ovens and former mine sites. Funding for the Centre was announced by both the federal and provincial government in 2009. ECBC played an integral role in advocating on CBU’s behalf for both federal and provincial funding. The Corporation will continue to play an essential role in the development of the Centre, particularly as it relates to the advancement and commercialization of opportunities connected to the coal resource and former coal workings of the CBDC.
During 2009-2010, ECBC’s policy and research work focused on policy development, program evaluation and economic impact analysis.
A marina study was carried out during the year in consultation with a number of local marinas. Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lakes hold great potential as a vacation destination for recreational boaters from eastern Canada, the east coast of the United States, and Europe. The objective of the study was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Cape Breton’s recreational boating resource and to make recommendations for its development. Some of the key recommendations of the study were:
· ECBC should consider setting as one of its development priorities the pleasure boating industry sector on Cape Breton Island.
· ECBC should consider creating a medium-term (3 to 5 years) plan to provide investment in the facilities infrastructure catering to the pleasure boating sector in Cape Breton, with particular emphasis on those operations in the Bras d'Or Lakes proper.
· ECBC should review its policy regarding the nature of financial contributions to organizations (marinas and boat clubs) catering to the boating sector, with a view to “levelling the playing field” between the for-profit and not-for-profit firms.
The result of this study was the development of new guidelines for ECBC assistance consistent with an integrated marina strategy for Cape Breton Island.
During 2009-2010, ECBC also undertook an evaluation of its festivals and events program. ECBC has provided funding for the festivals and events initiative since 2002-2003. The evaluation determined that the program remains relevant and that ECBC support is critical to the success of these events. The evaluation made a number of recommendations to improve the administration of the program and to better track results. These areas have been addressed by ECBC as the Corporation has made the recommended changes to its application process for 2010. In addition, ECBC has made arrangements to conduct exit surveys at a number of festivals and events this coming summer.
ECBC also conducted an evaluation of the Celtic Colours Incoming Buyers Mission, which has been in place since 2005. This program provides festival directors, booking agents, producers, photographers and writers from outside of Atlantic Canada with an opportunity to experience Cape Breton’s Celtic culture through its musicians and performers during the Celtic Colours International Festival. The purpose of the program is to increase exposure through bookings outside of Atlantic Canada and through magazine articles highlighting the talent available. The evaluation determined that the Celtic Colours Incoming Buyers Mission has the incremental impact of enabling Cape Breton musicians to be hired to perform at festivals and events outside of Cape Breton. This, in effect, is the exportation of Cape Breton music and culture.
The Policy and Advocacy unit also worked with Canmac Economics Ltd. to update the Cape Breton Econometric Model. The model will be used on a regular basis to determine the economic impact of various projects funded through ECBC. This economic impact analysis will allow the project officer to determine whether the Corporation is getting a reasonable return on investment.
ECBC supports community economic development by engaging and empowering communities to take control of their destiny and to pursue sustainable economic development opportunities. To realize sustainable economic growth, investments are required to strengthen and enhance the social and economic foundations of communities so that they are attractive as a place to live and invest.
In order to achieve this, ECBC encourages community initiatives that support the attraction of leveraged investment, the creation of sustainable wealth, the development of a competitive advantage, and the enhancement of quality of life. For this reason, the Community Economic Development (CED) unit focused its critical business objectives in 2009-2010 on community infrastructure and community capacity building.
Much of the CED unit’s work was in the area of community infrastructure. Here, ECBC works with economic development stakeholders, community leaders and organizations to identify and develop key infrastructure initiatives.
In the education sector, ECBC assisted both CBU and the Marconi campus of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) with key infrastructure projects. At CBU, ECBC provided $3.5 million in funding toward a $23-million project to establish and operate the Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. Inspired by potential opportunities in the environmental and energy sectors as they relate to the former mining operations of the CBDC, the Sydney Steel Corporation, and the remediation of the Sydney Tar Ponds, CBU has pursued this concept for more than 10 years. The Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment represents an opportunity to build capacity in education, research and the commercialization of leading- edge technologies related to environmental remediation and energy.
At the NSCC, additional facilities were required to house four existing trades programs (automotive repair technician, motorcycle and power products technician, heavy-duty truck, and transport repair). Space was also required for a revised industry-driven metal fabrication and welding program. Expanding training capacity at the NSCC facilitates the goal of increasing the skilled labour force in Cape Breton. ECBC provided $750,000 in funding toward a $6.6-million project to assist in the financing of this expansion.
Rural Cape Breton is challenged to develop industries that have long-term sustainability and the potential to keep young people in the region. To address this issue, ECBC provided $126,250 toward a $200,000-project to assist the Colindale Feed Co-op Limited with the building of a local feed production and storage facility in support of the mink industry on Cape Breton Island. Mink farming was identified as a growth opportunity in ECBC’s Agricultural Exports and Value-Added Study carried out in 2003. This project was further supported by a study conducted by the Colindale Feed Co-operative Limited.
During 2009-2010, ECBC also provided infrastructure support to the health sector, contributing $725,000 toward the expansion of the Cape Breton Cancer Centre and equipment for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Investments in the cancer centre and neonatal unit will enhance the community’s ability to attract and retain medical professionals. Having leading-edge medical services helps to build and sustain an environment that will attract further investment and generate economic growth.
Community centres play a vital role in the life of local communities on Cape Breton Island. For many, these centres are the one fundamental piece of infrastructure that binds the community together. In 2009-2010, ECBC launched the community centres initiative, which provided funding to 32 community centres across the island. The objective of this initiative is to help improve the economic development capacity of communities.
Case studies were carried out during the year on two community infrastructure projects funded by ECBC. The Sydney Ports Corporation is profiled in this section. The independently prepared case studies are a compilation of qualitative as well as quantitative evidence that assists in understanding how ECBC funding is impacting communities.
Capacity building also played a prominent role in the CED unit’s activities in 2009-2010. ECBC continues to work with economic development stakeholders, community leaders and organizations to increase the capacity in the community's decision making, planning and implementation of CED initiatives.
In 2009-2010, ECBC was a major sponsor of the Cape Breton Island Clipper Initiative. In collaboration with Sydney Ports Corporation, ECBC sponsored a yacht named the Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia’s Masterpiece in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race. Sponsorship secures Cape Breton as an official port of call along the international race route and provides extensive international promotional rights for Cape Breton Island in 14 ports. The Cape Breton entry is being used as a backdrop to promote island tourism, investment, trade, education and immigration opportunities.
Reaching an expected international audience of over 400 million people, Cape Breton’s yacht, has promoted the assets of Cape Breton Island worldwide.
This floating billboard represents a unique and creative way to promote the island. From a capacity building perspective, this initiative provides ECBC with the opportunity to build internal and external capacity for organizing and hosting major events on Cape Breton.
During the year, ECBC commissioned an evaluation of its festivals and events initiative. The Corporation launched this initiative in fiscal year 2002-2003 to assist non-profit organizations in Cape Breton. The assistance is targeted at events with the potential to generate new visitation or better serve visitors to the island, increase lengths of stay and spending, and improve the quality of the visitor experience.
The purpose of the evaluation was to determine whether the program is meeting its goals and objectives.
The independent study determined that the economic impact of the initiative since 2002 was $221.2 million in GDP, $25.8 million in provincial tax revenues from direct and spin-off impacts, $31.2 million in federal tax revenues, and as many as 7,632 jobs.
A number of recommendations were made to improve the administration of the initiative and reporting procedures.
During 2009-2010, ECBC worked with communities, municipal and provincial governments, regional development associations, and other economic development stakeholders to identify and prioritize the needs of various communities around the island. In total, ECBC partnered with 136 different organizations on over 163 projects. These partnerships helped to leverage over $31 million, exceeding the Corporation’s community economic development target for leveraged investment.
The external economic landscape has negatively impacted the Cape Breton economy. The recessionary forces have compounded existing challenges making businesses more vulnerable as they struggle to maintain current operations. This has resulted in several planned projects and expansions not proceeding as anticipated.
To help cushion the recessionary impact on the Cape Breton business community, ECBC focused on three key areas during 2009-2010: access to capital, trade and investment prospecting, and sector development.
ECBC’s focus through its access to capital initiatives centres on solidifying the island’s existing company base to help businesses remain competitive and productive in their respective sectors.
ECBC has identified access to capital as a significant challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on Cape Breton Island. To help address this challenge, the Corporation assisted such companies in Cape Breton with $5.3 million in commercial development funding approved in 2009-2010.
These initiatives took several forms. The Corporation supported eight businesses through its e-commerce Initiative, which provides modern marketing and sales support for new and existing businesses. ECBC also provided assistance to North-Air Window & Door Limited for an expansion to its facility, which will result in new job creation and will see the company expand production to meet its existing contracts with large international customers such as Home Depot. The client needed a flexible financing arrangement to remain competitive in the industry and ECBC was able to react quickly to its need for capital.
ECBC assisted NewPage Port Hawkesbury Corporation, one of the area’s largest employers, with a human resource initiative to help the company manage the large turnover in its workplace anticipated over the next few years.
One measure of increased competiveness and sustainability of SMEs is business survival rates. According to research carried out by Industry Canada, business survival is influenced by a number of factors including geographic location, type of industry, firm size and firm age. There are also market factors that can greatly impact firms’ survival, such as the number of competitors and new entrants, as well as general market and economic conditions. The five year survival rate for ECBC assisted firms was 90%, which is above the average for comparable firms.
In Cape Breton, a relatively small percentage of companies export their products and services, yet the island’s long-term economic health critically depends on the creation of wealth that comes from export sales.
ECBC’s commitment to assisting Cape Breton companies develop and explore new markets for export development was an ongoing initiative throughout the year. Along with our partners, ECBC led or co-led four trade missions, which involved ECBC assistance to 21 companies. One of our largest initiatives focuses on the exploitation of marketing opportunities realized through participation in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race. For example, ECBC has partnered with Taste of Nova Scotia (Flavourful Foods Association of Nova Scotia), through the Atlantic Canada Lobster Marketing Initiative, to assist lobster processers in developing new markets in the Clipper ports of call. In addition, ECBC participated in nine other trade shows or missions involving ECBC clients.
ECBC participated in incoming trade missions, including an aquaculture mission from Spain and an Atlantic Gateway mission from India. During the year, the Corporation also supported the East Coast Music Awards’ International Export Program and the Celtic Colours Incoming Buyers Mission, both of which involve hosting international music buyers from around the world.
The development of ECBC’s trade and investment plan has resulted in the creation of new partnerships with various embassies, consulates and high commissions around the world, including China, Brazil, Singapore, New York, San Francisco, the United Kingdom, France, Jamaica, Spain and the Netherlands. As a result, the Corporation now has new avenues through which to generate investment attraction and export development leads for Cape Breton companies.
ECBC hosted an export rally in Cape Breton that brought expertise from around the world in various sectors. Cape Breton companies were given first-hand training and advice on becoming export ready and developing export markets.
ECBC considers the development of sectors to be of strategic importance in its approach to grow the Cape Breton economy. Energy, tourism and transportation were the key sectors of focus over the past year.
ECBC has worked with stakeholders on several energy projects including wind energy, biomass, coal-bed methane and geothermal. The integration with CBDC has provided ECBC with greater resources in this field allowing the Corporation to prioritize and move forward on a number of commercial projects currently under development.
ECBC’s largest approved alternative energy project in 2009-2010 was a $3.5-million equity position in a $5 million coal-bed methane pilot project. The pilot will allow the project proponents to explore and evaluate the methane resource and determine if a large-scale project is feasible.
During the year, ECBC worked with partners at Tourism Atlantic, Destination Cape Breton Association and the Province of Nova Scotia to identify and address tourism issues. The Corporation also developed an internal tourism strategy that will guide its investments.
The main objectives of the strategy are to:
• strengthen partnerships within the tourism industry (Destination Cape Breton Association, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage, Parks Canada, Tourism Atlantic) to enhance tourism development;
• continue to support the implementation of the marketing levy for Cape Breton Island; and
• develop product/experiences to meet visitor expectations.
In transportation, ECBC has focused on the creation of a multi-modal transportation corporation with our partners at Sydney Ports Corporation. ECBC has been at the centre of negotiations in respect of the development of the port and has led marketing and investment attraction activities, including an investment prospecting mission to Singapore and Korea. ECBC has also worked with community stakeholders to further the commercialization of Sydney Harbour.
In an effort to gauge how ECBC funding is impacting SMEs and ultimately the economy of Cape Breton, an independent consultant carried out a number of case studies during the year. These studies provide a systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. They are a compilation of qualitative, as well as quantitative evidence that demonstrate how our collective activities impact our corporate mission, mandate and objectives. Case studies were carried out on Ocean Nutrition, one of the largest manufacturers of Omega-3 from fish oil, and the Celtic Colours International Incoming Buyers Mission.
The Corporation did not fully meet its commercial development target to leverage one dollar for every dollar invested. This is a result of the economic downturn as previously discussed.
As fiscal 2009-2010 was essentially an economic recovery year, ECBC funds were used to stimulate growth to the largest extent possible. ECBC’s approach in fiscal 2009-2010 was to assist companies in re-establishing their markets and trade corridors with a focus on marketing activities, e-commerce and investment prospecting. All of these initiatives are eligible for up to 75% funding. ECBC assisted 14 companies to the largest extent possible. Our largest project of the fiscal year dealt with the development of the energy sector. As is often the case, start up projects require larger initial investments. This accounts for ECBC’s decision to fund 70% of the total cost of this project.
The Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation Act provides the Corporation specific powers related to property management. The Corporation has the ability to purchase, lease, sell land and hold mortgages. These activities serve to support the Corporation’s mandate. Property can be used as a development tool to complement funding programs. In addition, proceeds of sales can be reinvested in other development activities.
Following the integration of ECBC and CBDC, the most significant transaction affecting the Property Development unit was the assumption of the CBDC property assets. To facilitate the transaction, a detailed review of the CBDC’s property inventory was conducted that identified 594 individual pieces of land totalling approximately 7,339 acres. When combined with ECBC’s inventory, this represented a total property portfolio of 12,540 acres.
The former CBDC lands consist of a wide variety of properties with the majority located within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The property types vary from industrial sites to green field sites and forested lands. There are numerous pieces suitable for commercial or residential use.
As part of the property management strategy, DARR (Cape Breton) Limited (DARR) has categorized its property inventory to help identify properties with economic development potential as noted below.
Real property sales generated in excess of $220,000 in net proceeds. This funding was transferred to ECBC programs. ECBC has successfully redeployed former CBDC lands during 2009-2010. One hundred and twelve acres were sold to Nova Scotia Power Incorporated (NSPI). The parcel was adjacent to its generating facility in Lingan. The purpose of the sale was to provide land that NSPI can use as a green buffer zone between the power plant and a nearby residential subdivision.
Three acres were sold to New Aberdeen Town House in Glace Bay for the erection of a wind turbine. The turbine will provide power for the town house project that involves the construction of a 16-unit seniors’ complex that will also be heated by a geothermal system using mine water. The renewable energy sources will result in reduced utility costs for tenants.
ECBC has a fully operational electronic property management system. All relevant data related to land transfers from the CBDC have been transferred to the system. The system is a Web-based application that provides user access over the Internet. The database is vast and allows for quick retrieval of information.
Currently, ECBC land holdings are accessible to the public through a link to the Directory of Federal Real Properties on the ECBC website. This link enables an interested party to view a simple map of the selection along with the property identification number, size of the parcel and its location.
The Property unit conducted regular preventative maintenance activities and completed upgrades to ensure optimum function of its building infrastructure.
The planned revitalization of Silicon Island is now complete including the installation of an elevator, signage and other capital improvements. The completion of the elevator enabled the Corporation to donate its handicap lift to a not-for-profit youth organization in the local area. In 2009-2010, ECBC generated $665,000 in revenue from property rentals.
Progress was made toward certification under BOMAs Go Green Initiative (BOMA BESt). An independent consultant was hired to complete a detailed energy audit that included an analysis of utility bills, as well as an investigation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. A separate investigation was carried out with respect to the building envelope, focusing primarily on windows and doors. A number of energy conservation measures have been recommended for implementation over the coming years.
With respect to environmental assessments, detailed monitoring of all projects continues to be a high priority for ECBC. All environmental assessments are monitored to ensure that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) regulations and procedures are followed. During 2009-2010, 22 environmental assessments were completed.
In addition to its own programs, ECBC acts as a delivery agent for ACOA on Cape Breton. Established in 1987, ACOA is the federal government agency responsible for economic development efforts in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 1995, ECBC and ACOA entered into an MOU under which ECBC delivers ACOA's programming on Cape Breton Island and in the Mulgrave area. The MOU was renegotiated three times, each for an additional five-year term. The latest MOU was signed in June 2009 and remains in effect until March 31, 2014.
During 2009-2010, ECBC approved funding on behalf of ACOA in the amount of $25,605,020 for 199 projects, leveraging over $67 million. This includes Consulting Advisory Services projects delivered as administrative funding.
ECBC delivers the following programs and initiatives on behalf of ACOA.
Business Development Program (BDP)
This program is designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises establish, expand and modernize by offering access to capital in the form of interest-free, unsecured loans. The BDP also provides non-repayable support to non-profit organizations.
Consultant Advisory Services (CAS)
The CAS program provides clients with access to consulting expertise in pursuing business opportunities or solving problems.
Atlantic Investment Partnership Second Wave
In 2000, the Atlantic Investment Partnership was launched as a $700-million investment to support economic development in Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic Investment Partnership is in its second phase and addresses areas that are fundamental to continued economic growth, investing in innovation, communities, people and the business climate.
Community Futures Program
This program supports autonomous, not-for-profit community business development corporations to help entrepreneurs in rural areas obtain access to the information, advice and capital required to succeed.
In January 2009, the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan was introduced in response to the global recession. At that time, there was considerable concern about the potential effect of the recession on the Canadian economy and on Canadian workers and families. Two components of the Economic Action Plan are the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) and the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) program.
Community Adjustment Fund
This fund provides $1 billion across the country to help create jobs and employment opportunities in communities affected by the global recession.
Through CAF, the Government of Canada is reducing the impacts of the global economic downturn by delivering timely and targeted support to Canadian workers, families, communities and businesses. The CAF allocation for Atlantic Canada, delivered by ACOA, is $100.4 million.
Recreational Infrastructure Canada
RInC is providing $500 million to help renovate and update recreational facilities across Canada. Investments through the RInC program are helping to create local construction jobs and encourage economic activity, while providing Canadians with better facilities in which to play, relax and connect with their community. In total across Atlantic Canada, the RInC program assisted 230 projects with $34 million in assistance and leveraging an additional $92 million.
As a result of its responsibility for the delivery of ACOA programs, ECBC administered both CAF and RInC on Cape Breton Island.
In 2009-2010, through CAF and RInC, more than $9.9 million was invested in 56 community infrastructure projects on Cape Breton Island, leveraging over $11.4 million in other funding.
A more detailed account of ACOA's activities and results can be found in the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Departmental Performance Report, which is available at www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/
The primary function of Internal Services is to ensure that resources are used effectively and efficiently, and that administrative systems and services are in place to enhance management decision making, communications, managerial accountability and operational control.
Internal Services include an array of administrative activities that support ECBC programs and management. They include finance and administration, human resources, communications, access to information and privacy, internal audit, and information technology.
ECBC employs 58 people at its head office in Sydney. The Corporation also has a satellite office in Port Hawkesbury, which is staffed by two employees.
During the year, training was offered in a number of areas including annual professional development for the Corporation’s chartered accountants, university-level courses, leadership training, corporate governance training, technical training, environmental training, fire safety training, as well as courses in international trade, access to information and privacy and risk management.
ECBC employees obtained certification with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) in July 2007. The Corporation’s first collective agreement was ratified in September 2009.
Accountability and Transparency
The Corporation is committed to accountability and transparency in its operations. The Corporation’s website contains a detailed listing of all approved projects.
ECBC became subject to the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act in September 2005. Since that time, the Corporation has invested in training for staff and additional software to facilitate its compliance with this legislative requirement. The Corporation received four new Access to Information (ATI) requests and 20 Privacy requests in 2009-2010. One ATI request was transferred to another institution. An outstanding ATI complaint was resolved satisfactorily during the fiscal year. As of March 31, 2009, all outstanding requests had been completed.
The main objective of the Communications unit is to convey how the Government of Canada, through ECBC, is investing in the economic development of Cape Breton Island.
With ECBC-funded projects in almost every community in Cape Breton, it is important to acknowledge ECBC’s impact on the local economy.
In 2009-2010, ECBC issued 21 news releases on various initiatives. Representatives of ECBC also made several presentations and speeches on and off the island.
The transfer of CBDC’s assets and liabilities to ECBC brings together two Crown corporations with a long history on Cape Breton Island. Both have had a significant impact on the economic development of the region, and their amalgamation will strengthen the Government of Canada’s ability to deliver on ECBC’s economic development mandate. Given the significance of the transfer of CBDC’s assets and liabilities and the reconfirmation of the ECBC mandate as a result of the recently completed mandate review, the Corporation has undertaken the development and implementation of an integrated marketing strategy to strengthen its brand, positioning it as the principal federal commercial and community economic development entity for Cape Breton and Mulgrave.
The integrated strategy will be a multi-year plan identifying themes and opportunities. It will make use of a variety of marketing tools, approaches, and resources to maximize impact on stakeholders and the broader community.
The primary objectives of the integrated marketing strategy are to:
· clearly establish and increase awareness of ECBC’s role and purpose in economic development among key stakeholders and the general public;
· demonstrate results against objectives in the fulfillment of ECBC’s mandate;
· optimize trust, satisfaction and enhance public confidence for ECBC’s activities; and
· assure stakeholders of ECBC’s commitment to the legacy obligations of the former CBDC.
The strategy will include:
· the development of a branding statement for the newly integrated Corporation;
· the development of key messages;
· the development of an effective visual identity; and
· suggestions on ways in which the brand can be institutionalized within the newly integrated Corporation.
The strategy will guide marketing, communications and public relations decisions, and assist in allocating financial and human resources.
Finance and Administration
The Corporation prepares its financial statements in accordance with Canadian generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as defined by Canada’s Accounting Standards Board (AcSB). The AcSB has adopted a strategy to converge Canadian GAAP with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Effective April 1, 2011, “bluebook GAAP” as it is currently known, will cease to exist and government business enterprises (GBEs) will follow IFRS and government organizations will be classified as either other government organizations (OGOs) or government not-for-profit (GNFPOs). OGOs will generally base their financial reporting on the Public Sector Accounting Handbook. The adoption of the Public Sector Accounting Handbook by OGOs will be accounted for by retroactive application with restatement of prior periods to enhance comparability.
The Audit Committee has approved ECBC’s classification as an “other government organization” and the Corporation will transition to the accounting standards established by the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB). The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has concurred with this classification. The Corporation will commence preparing financial statements in accordance with PSAB for the fiscal year commencing
April 1, 2011.
ECBC has engaged external expertise to conduct an initial diagnostic assessment to determine the impact on the Corporation of the major differences between PSAB guidelines and Canadian GAAP. Once the diagnostic assessment is completed, ECBC will determine the next stages of the project.
During 2009-2010, the Finance and Administration unit prepared financial statements for audit by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and supported the execution of the OAG special examination.
ECBC's Internal Audit works in conjunction with the OAG, which is the official auditor for the Corporation.
The main objectives of the Internal Audit unit are to assist the Leadership Committee in achieving and maintaining efficiency and effectiveness in operations with due regard to economy; to report the degree of compliance with established policies, plans and procedures, applicable laws and regulations; and to review control over assets and expenditures.
During the year, the unit provided support to the OAG on its annual audit of the Corporation, as well as the special examination of ECBC. The OAG determined that no significant deficiencies were found in its performance of the special examination.
The unit also worked with ECBC management to update the risk management framework. The most significant revisions to the framework were in the area of risk assessment. The revised framework is discussed separately in this report under risk management.
As part of the transfer of CBDC assets and liabilities, ECBC has assumed stewardship responsibility for all CBDC land holdings. A key component of this responsibility is the Environmental Remediation and Site Closure Program, which addresses the Corporation’s environmental obligations. Compliance with environmental laws and regulations is an important aspect of the program.
ECBC continued to engage Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) in a project management role for the remediation of numerous contaminated former mine sites. ECBC has also maintained the in-house technical knowledge of the former CBDC with the transfer of the CBDC assets and liabilities on January 1, 2010. This has provided for continuity in the management of the environmental obligations of ECBC.
PWGSC continues to focus on the following six key areas to ensure success in addressing the environmental obligations:
· program delivery;
· mapping and document scanning support;
· planning and design;
· remediation and reclamation;
· long-term care and maintenance of remediated sites; and
· mine water management.
During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, there were 11 contaminated sites remediated to substantial completion. The remediation program continues to be on budget and on schedule, with more than 80% of the approved funding having been expended on local contractors, consultants and other service providers. This has served to build remediation knowledge capacity in the local area. A number of community interests (e.g. walking trails, all terrain vehicle trails, ponds and vegetation) have been incorporated into the design and construction of remediation efforts thus maximizing economic development opportunities.
PWGSC completed all scheduled activities plus additional work beyond the planned scope for 2009-2010, at a cost of $22.04 million against a $24.06 million budget. The 2010-2011 fiscal year, is projected to involve a similar workload at an estimated cost of $24.5 million.
Mine water management obligations experienced no upsets and continue to be managed in an efficient and effective manner. There were no uncontrolled discharges of contaminated mine water from former CBDC sites. Research efforts at CBU on the management of mine water continues to provide ECBC with the necessary information to make informed decisions about the operation and maintenance of mine water treatment facilities. In 2009, CBDC, in conjunction with CBU, was chosen to host the 2010 International Mine Water Association Conference at the university. This will bring experts from around the world to CBU where more than 160 technical articles on mine water and remediation challenges will be presented.
The ECBC mine water management program has identified the need for the development of a treatment scheme for the mine pool beneath the town of New Waterford. This facility will have to be constructed and fully operational by 2012. A local consulting group partnered with an international consulting company and was successful in securing a contract from ECBC to design and construct the first permanent active treatment facility for a series of mines beneath New Waterford that are filling with water.
ECBC is working closely with CBU to support the development of the Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. This centre will provide ECBC with timely research to assist in ensuring that the efforts to remediate the contaminated sites have been successful.
An MOU was developed between ECBC and CBU for a biofuels project. Over the next three years, Cape Breton will require up to 1,000,000 tonnes of biomass feedstock to support planned electrical generation, syngas and activated carbon production. ECBC is supporting the research of growing short rotation crops (SRC) and plantation development on abandoned farm lands and marginal remediated mine lands. This goal is to create growers’ co-operatives for SRC in Cape Breton, producing a product which will assist in meeting Nova Scotia's green house gas targets.
The integration of CBDC into ECBC has resulted in the seamless continuation of the delivery of remediation and mine water management programs. The former CBDC technical staff is working closely with ECBC land divestiture personnel, as well as those working on economic development files. Opportunities for transforming former contaminated sites into economic drivers for the Cape Breton Island economy are being assessed by the newly integrated workforce. In addition, this group is working with key community stakeholders to expand on legacies linked to the former CBDC activities. One of the most significant activities is assessing the renewable energy and clean coal technology potential of former CBDC assets and unmined coal reserves in the Sydney Coalfield.
The CBDC was a recipient of the 2009 Public Works and Government Services Canada Award of Excellence for Partnership and Teamwork. The remediation of 53 sites spread across 35 Cape Breton Island communities was recognized as an enormous undertaking that presented many challenges. The citation notes that through hard work and dedication, the implementation of a complex site closure program was achieved, making the operation one of the best managed environmental remediation projects within the Government of Canada.
Human resource obligations are a large component of the former CBDC’s long-term liability. These obligations relate to post-employment benefits and various human resource strategies, many of which will continue for at least the next 20 years. They include early retirement incentive programs, liability for future employee benefits, workers’ compensation obligations, and a domestic coal subsidy program.
Level of Activity: 2009-2010
Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIPs)
ERIPs were negotiated through the collective bargaining process during downsizing and mine closures. As of March 31, 2010, there are approximately 750 former employees participating in the various early retirement plans. The cost of this plan will decrease annually over the next 12 years as recipients reach age 65.
· Projected 2010-2011 annual payment: $21.8 million
Future Employee Benefits (FEB)
Group Medical Coverage
FEBs requiring administration and funding include medical benefits for approximately 270 severed employees, 80 recipients of the compassionate disability benefit, and 750 recipients under the early retirement incentive programs. The total number of recipients of a compassionate disability benefit effective March 31, 2010, totalled 97 with 80 of these recipients opting to maintain medical and life insurance coverage until age 65.
Pre-65 and Post-65 Life Insurance
Under the FEB, severed employees, early retirement incentive program/voluntary staff reduction program, and compassionate disability recipients maintain life insurance coverage up to age 65. The total number eligible for the above noted coverage is approximately 1,100 members.
There is also a requirement to administer a post 65 life insurance program for former employees/retirees. As of March 31, 2010, the plan covers life insurance benefits for approximately 1,000 eligible retirees.
An additional benefit under the FEB is the one-time payment of a retirement allowance which is currently $1,429 and is indexed annually. As of March 31, 2010, approximately 840 ERIP and compassionate disability recipients could be eligible for this payment at age 65.
· Projected 2010-2011 annual payment: $110,000
ECBC continues to oversee, monitor and fund the financial obligation to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, which administers workers’ compensation benefits for all former CBDC employees. There are approximately 2,100 WCB claimants.
· Projected 2010-2011 annual payment: $20 million
Domestic Coal Subsidy Program
ECBC is also responsible for the administration of a benefit awarded to former employees whereby domestic coal is contractually provided at subsidized rates to pensioners and early retirees to heat their principal residence. Approximately 550 recipients are serviced by the coal subsidy program.
· 2009-2010 cost: $570,000
ECBC is committed to the principles of the Official Languages Act (OLA). It has been recognized that economic development is a main concern for francophone communities, as this is integral to their survival. With assistance from ECBC, these communities can continue to build on their strengths.
The percentage of bilingual staff at ECBC is approximately 8%, allowing the Corporation to provide service to the public in both official languages.
ECBC has a close working relationship with the island’s francophone communities. The Corporation also has a member of the Leadership Committee, who is an official languages champion.
Youth and Education
ECBC provides support to students currently enrolled in post-secondary education by offering summer employment opportunities. In 2009-2010, seven summer students with a variety of educational backgrounds were hired.
ECBC is a vital part of the Cape Breton community. As individuals and as a Corporation, ECBC gives back through donating, volunteering and supporting.
Employee support has been given to an array of charities and organizations. From recycling bottles for the local food bank, to supporting numerous fundraising events, to providing sponsorship for local charity golf tournaments and continued support to the United Way campaign, ECBC and its employees demonstrate their commitment to the community in many ways.
This past year, ECBC also organized two teams for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The funds raised, as well as the participants’ pledges were donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.
As a “Member for Life” of the Canadian Blood Services, ECBC’s employees show extraordinary support by donating blood every two months.
At a corporate level, ECBC contributed $725,000 to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation’s Cape Breton Cares Fundraising Campaign in support of enhanced cancer and neonatal care in Cape Breton. The Foundation is raising funds to expand its cancer centre and to purchase state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical equipment for cancer care, as well as for the neonatal intensive care unit. The total cost of the project is $9.8 million.
Each day, more than 100 patients rely on the cancer centre for diagnosis and treatment. Last year alone, more than 30,000 patient visits were made to the centre, which serves all of Cape Breton Island, as well as residents of Antigonish, Guysborough and Pictou counties.
The hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit treated 308 pre-mature and ill babies last year.
With new equipment, specialists in both the cancer centre and the neonatal intensive care unit will be able to provide enhanced care for more patients, allowing them to be treated close to home and family at a time when they need them the most.
As a parent Crown corporation under Schedule III, Part I of the Financial Administration Act (FAA), ECBC reports to Parliament through the Minister of ACOA. Its affairs are administered by the Board of Directors, which comprises the Chairperson, the Chief Executive Officer appointed by the Governor in Council, and five independent directors appointed by the Minister with the approval of the Governor in Council.
Pursuant to the provisions of the FAA, ECBC’s directors have the obligation to act honestly in good faith with a view to the best interests of the Corporation and to exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances. The Board is responsible for the management of the business, activities and other affairs of the Corporation and exercises its responsibilities in keeping with the provisions of the ECBC Act. It provides guidance to the Corporation’s leadership by analyzing and approving the Corporation’s long-term strategic direction. Directors serve terms of up to three years and may be reappointed for a second consecutive term. New members receive a formal and informal orientation to the Corporation and provisions are made for directors to avail themselves of relevant Board training on a variety of topics. A full complement of Board members was in place in 2009-2010.
The Board is responsible for the overall governance of the Corporation. It approves the five-year corporate plan and the annual report and financial statements which are tabled in Parliament, and reviews the Corporation’s operations, receives committee reports and discusses its performance against objectives. ECBC’s Board functions independently of management. All Board members other than the CEO are independent of ECBC management. Meetings normally include the CEO; however, provisions are made for independent directors to meet in camera, as required. The Board promotes a culture of ethical business conduct and abides by guidelines that include procedures for the declaration of conflicts of interest. Employees are subject to an employment conduct and discipline policy.
ECBC maintains a high standard of corporate governance. The Board has carefully considered the Corporate Governance Guidelines set forth in the Governance Framework for Canada’s Crown Corporations and relevant legislation in the formulation of its Board Charter, which was formally adopted in 2009. In addition to the FAA, ECBC adheres to the Privacy Act, the Access to Information Act, the Federal Accountability Act, and the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
The Corporation abides by Government of Canada best practices in the area of corporate governance and held its first annual public meeting in 2009, to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the Corporation. The Board is currently engaged in the formulation of a skills profile that will identify core attributes, competencies and experience of Board members. Work is also underway on the implementation of a board self-assessment tool.
The ECBC Board met nine times in 2009-2010. Priorities for the year included corporate governance, strategic planning, the CBDC integration and risk management.
The 2009-2010 fiscal year, was marked by a number of significant events that will shape the Corporation’s future for years to come.
A mandate review requested by the Treasury Board of Canada was completed in October 2009. The review concluded that the Corporation’s mandate continues to be relevant, that the ECBC brand is strong, and the Corporation has the respect and confidence of the community. It was also noted that the community wants ECBC to take an even stronger leadership role in commercial and community economic development. While the Corporation is efficient and cost-effective in delivering programs, it could further enhance its effectiveness by strengthening performance indicators to better evaluate its strategic direction.
The mandate review also suggested that efficiencies could be gained by integrating the CBDC with ECBC. As a result, the CBDC was dissolved on December 31, 2009, and ECBC assumed responsibility for its assets and residual environmental and human resource obligations. A review of the Corporation’s corporate governance framework has been initiated to ensure that all aspects of CBDC operations are adequately addressed.
The Corporation also underwent a special examination conducted by the OAG. This review is conducted every 10 years. The 2009 special examination focused on areas of governance, strategic and operational planning, performance measurement and reporting, project management, and property management and development. No significant deficiencies in the Corporation’s systems and practices were found. The OAG noted a number of good practices, as well as opportunities for improvement specifically with regard to risk management, performance measurement and property management as it pertains to identifying properties that support ECBC’s economic development mandate.
The ECBC Board agreed with the OAG’s recommendations and has taken steps to implement them. In accordance with the FAA, the Special Examination Report was also submitted to the appropriate minister and to the President of the Treasury Board, as well as made public by being posted to the ECBC website.
DARR (Cape Breton) Ltd.
DARR is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ECBC incorporated under the laws of Nova Scotia. It is a real estate holding and development company that acquires, manages and retains real property in the ECBC mandate area to support ECBC’s delivery of economic development programs. The ECBC Board of Directors is responsible for the appointment of the members of the DARR Board of Directors. The DARR Board met twice in 2009-2010.
As a result of the integration of the assets and responsibilities of the former CBDC, ECBC’s property holdings have significantly increased and now include property requiring environmental remediation and management. As ECBC’s real estate holding company, DARR has taken on an expanded role, particularly as it relates to environmental and health and safety issues.
• The Audit Committee deals primarily with matters related to sound financial and risk management practices, accurate and ethical reporting, and audit functions. The Committee also takes an active role in reviewing and recommending loan impairments, forgiveness and write-offs. With respect to its audit activities, the Committee oversees the annual financial audit, the OAG special examination and the internal audit function. Comprising three independent members of the ECBC Board, one of whom acts as chair, the Committee met four times in 2009-2010. Meetings are also attended by the internal auditor and on occasion, representatives from the OAG. As required, the Committee meets in camera with the OAG.
• The Human Resources Committee oversees policies, strategies, processes and controls within ECBC to maintain an organizational climate that fosters ethical behavior, employee commitment and satisfaction. The Committee is composed of two independent members of the ECBC Board, as well as the CEO. It makes recommendations on human resource policies and compensation related issues. It also reviews and reports on the performance of the CEO and makes a recommendation to the Board for its approval. The Committee met on three occasions in 2009-2010.
Risk management remains a priority of the ECBC Board of Directors and is a regular agenda item of the Audit Committee. The ECBC risk management framework was initially approved by the Board in 2006. Each risk was reviewed to determine methods to mitigate the risk and a mitigation plan was developed. Mitigation strategies include actions that could monitor, accept, transfer or further reduce the risk. General timing of the actions and allocations of responsibility to ECBC business functions and individuals was established.
During 2009-2010, ECBC’s Leadership Committee invested a significant amount of time and effort into updating the ECBC Risk Management Framework. The most significant revisions to the framework were in the area of risk assessment. The three-level ranking systems used previously to assess the impact and likelihood of occurrence of each of the risks was replaced with a new five level ranking system. This precipitated a need to develop and include new risk ranking definitions in the framework to be used as a general guide when assessing each of the risks. Risks were completely reassessed by the Leadership Committee using the five-point scale.
Additional changes for this year include the following.
i) The responsibility for each of the mitigating strategies was specifically assigned to a particular line of business as was recommended in the OAG’s Special Examination Report.
ii) A column was added to the framework for the overall risk rating of each risk on a scale of low/medium/high based on impact and likelihood.
iii) Additional risks were added and other risks were consolidated.
The revised framework was presented to the ECBC Audit Committee and was subsequently approved by the ECBC Board.
2010 ECBC Annual Report Financial Statements (pdf, 345kb)