You might have heard that the Government of Canada has a lot of programs to support Ontario businesses - but did you know there are Ontario government business grants that you can dip into, too?
To help you find those incentives, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the Ontario ministries and agencies that provide financial grants and other incentives to business, along with a selection of the incentives provided by each organization.
Let’s get into it!
New Ontario Government Business Incentives for 2021
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, processors, producers, and other agri-businesses can receive funding aimed at helping them modernize their operations or equipment. This is a cost-share funding opportunity.
The Ontario Agri-Food Technologies programs offer multiple repayable grants to businesses that have ideas to solve impediments to the commercialization of agricultural or agri-tech projects of services. The Rapid Response to Business Opportunities grant is for $10,000 per applicant, while the Rapid Response to Research Needs cost sharing grant is for up to $20,000 per applicant.
With the Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative, funding is available that stimulates innovation for the agri-food sector, promotes food safety, and strengthens rural communities. The funding for this project is a combination from federal and provincial departments. Each year, the initiative has specific priority areas it focuses on with the funding.
Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade
The Apprentice Program carries multiple benefits for employers. When you take in an apprentice, you can receive a $1,000 taxable cash grant once the apprentice completes all of his or her classroom work, finishes the on-the-job training, and receives a Certificate of Apprenticeship (or Certificate of Qualification, depending on the trade).
With the Canada-Ontario Job Grant program, employers receive financial support for training. The grant is for up to $10,000 per employee for eligible training costs. Large businesses (100 or more employees) will contribute 50% of the costs, and the grant covers the other 50%. Small businesses (less than 100 employees) contribute 1/6 of the training cost, and the grant covers 5/6 of the cost.
For Ontario youths aged 18 to 29, the SmartStart Seed Fund provides a number of incentives for starting a technology or innovation business. The program provides up to $30,000 for launching or growing the business, after the young entrepreneur puts up matching funds from one or more other sources. Another $5,000 is available (with no match required) for business skills training.
The Starter Company program also helps Ontario youths aged 18 to 29 (who are not attending school) receive advice on starting a new business. It includes a grant of up to $5,000 for the business, as long as the young person contributes at least 25% of the grant funding he or she is seeking.
Through the Youth Job Connection programs, Ontario employers can receive financial help for items including:
These training and hiring incentives apply for job candidates from 15 to 29 years of age (or 15 to 18 years of age for summer jobs). The amount of funding available depends on the type of training involved and the skill level of the young person.
Ontario Ministry of Finance
Through the Ontario Ministry of Finance, multiple provincial tax incentives are available for Ontario businesses that encourage investment and job creation.
Multiple types of cultural media businesses can receive tax credits in Ontario. The eligible businesses include:
Ontario Ministry of Francophone Affairs
The Economic Development Stream allows registered or incorporated businesses to receive funding for projects aimed at strengthening the business to serve French-speaking markets and for recruiting Francophone bilingual workers.
The eligible company must operate in a census subdivision with at least 15% Francophone population or deliver products and services to a Francophone market in Ontario. Grants are available for up to $50,000.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
For businesses involved in creating greater market access for Ontario firms in the forest sector, the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program is available. It delivers up to 30% of the project cost in a loan, of which up to 50% is forgivable if the business meets certain performance levels.
Eastern Ontario Development Fund
This program provides funding support for economic development projects in Eastern Ontario. These idea behind the projects should be eventual business growth and broad positive economic impact by filling one of the following needs in Eastern Ontario, including:
For-profit businesses in urban areas need to invest $500,000 in their projects and commit to creating at least five new jobs. (For-profit businesses in rural areas must invest at least $200,000 in the project.)
Businesses then are able to receive up to 15% of the eligible project costs, either in the form of a loan or a grant. If the business obtains a loan, up to 30% of it may be forgiven if it hits goals and targets.
Up to $5 million per project is available as a loan or up to $1.5 million in a grant per project, but the Eastern Ontario Development Fund awards grants far less commonly than loans. The loans are interest free for the length of the project, which may be up to four years,
The geographic area the Eastern Ontario Development Fund covers includes:
Prescott and Russell
Leeds and Grenville
Lennox and Addington
Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry
Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation
The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) offers multiple funding opportunities for business projects.
Under the Business Expansion Projects program, Northern Ontario businesses may receive funding for items designed to create increasing competitiveness, productivity, revenue generation, and job creation. The project costs considered eligible for funding include capital construction, equipment purchase, training costs, and investments in information or communications technology.
Funding is available in either a grant up to $400,000, a loan up to $1 million, or a combination grant/loan for up to a total of $1 million. Existing farms in Northern Ontario can use this program for items like buildings and equipment.
For new businesses in Northern Ontario operating in areas deemed as emerging priority economic sectors, the NOHFC provides funding through the Small Business Start-Up Projects program. Eligible projects will be designed to create jobs in Northern Ontario. The funding can be used for purchases of equipment, training costs, marketing costs, information technology investment, communications technology investment, or leasehold improvements.
The maximum funding available for eligible project costs will not exceed 50% of the costs, including a cap on the contribution of $200,000. New farms in Northern Ontario also may apply under this program for agricultural buildings and equipment.
With the New Investment Projects program, businesses that do not currently operate in Ontario are encouraged to expand their operations into Northern Ontario with this funding. The funds are designed to create additional jobs in this geographic area.
Funding amounts vary, depending on the project proposal and the number of jobs that could be created. The funding award may occur in a conditional grant, a term loan, an incentive term loan, or a combination of the three. Each project will be considered individually.
The Film and Television Industry Projects program aims to provide funding to businesses that will increase the number of high quality movie and TV productions occurring in Northern Ontario. Only Canadian controlled production companies will be considered for funding. (For small projects with less than a $1 million budget, the ownership must be based in Ontario.) The funding occurs in the form of a conditional grant for up to 50% of the eligible costs for the project for up to $500,000.
The geographic area the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation covers includes the following districts:
Another option for funding for Northern Ontario businesses is FedNor.
Through the Business Scale-up and Productivity Stream program, businesses can receive up to $500,000 per project, and applicants may attempt to receive up to 50% of the eligible project costs. This funding typically will be repayable when awarded to for-profit businesses. With these contributions, the business should have a goal of expanding a current business stream or of encouraging early adoption of cutting edge technologies.
For manufacturing companies in Northern Ontario with fewer than 500 employees, the Targeted Manufacturing Initiative for Northern Ontario (TMINO) offers funding for creating enhanced, modernized, or more efficient manufacturing capability to increase sales and profitability. This funding will be repayable. Businesses can apply for contributions of up to 33% of the project’s eligible capital costs and up to 50% of the project’s eligible non-capital costs.
The Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) is a network of 24 non-profit groups that help with business financing in Northern Ontario. Repayable funding up to $150,000 is available through loans, loan guarantees, or equity investments.
With the Youth Internship Guidelines program, businesses in Northern Ontario may receive funding to hire interns. Through FedNor, businesses may receive up to 50% of the costs for salary, employee benefits, and skills development for the intern working full time for up to a year (with a cap of $31,500).
Southwestern Ontario Development Fund
For businesses in this geographic area, awards from the South Ontario Development Fund may be used to create jobs and encourage private sector investment, all of which are expected to lead to business growth and positive economic impact.
For those for-profit businesses in urban areas, they need to invest $500,000 in their projects, while rural area businesses must invest at least $200,000 in the project. Each project has to commit to creating at least five new jobs.
As far as the funding that’s available, for-profit businesses may apply for a loan of up to $5 million or a grant of up to $1.5 million. The total amount of the loan or grant can be up to 15% of the total project’s cost. (The loan is interest free during the duration of the project, which has a four-year maximum.)
The majority of businesses will qualify for a loan instead of a grant with this development fund. With the loan in place, up to 30% of the loan is forgivable, if the business hits certain project targets.
The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund covers multiple geographic areas, including:
Save On Energy
The Save On Energy program is an excellent way for businesses to save money on their energy consumption.
The program is run by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which is a Crown corporation responsible for operating the electricity market in Ontario.
Small businesses can use the Save On Energy program to obtain funding to create better energy efficiency in their businesses. The Small Business Lighting program offers incentives of up to $2,000 for upgrading to energy efficient lighting. The Retrofit program delivers incentives for businesses to install equipment with a higher energy efficiency rating.
Maurice (Moe) Muise learned the ins-and-outs of government while an employee of the Government of Canada in Ottawa for 10 years. His current focus is helping small businesses in Ontario to identify and maximize government grants to grow their business.
Click here to learn more about Moe’s background and how he can help your business.