It’s a common catch-22 facing business owners: to grow your revenue you need to hire employees; but without revenue you can’t hire employees!
Governments in Canada understand the problem, and they have a solution: hiring grants, also known as “wage subsidies” (don’t let the terminology fool you – in this case, a “subsidy” is basically a grant that’s meant to reduce the cost of hiring).
In this guide we cover dozens of grants and wage subsidies that Ontario entrepreneurs can use to staff up – and we throw in a few attractive employment tax credits to boot!
(Note: in this article we use the terms “hiring grant” and “employment grant” interchangeably.)
What Can Hiring Grants Be Used For?
Employment business grants can be used to pay for many aspects of starting or running a business. Here are some of the uses that are covered by programs in our grants database:
And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of employment grants available.
How Much Hiring Grant Money Can I Get for My Business?
In our database we currently have grants ranging from $1,500 to $25,000,000.
Am I Eligible for a Hiring Grant? Common Eligibility Criteria
Two of the most common questions we get asked at Ontario Business Grants are “Am I eligible?” and “How do I qualify?”.
We analyzed the employment business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:
Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.
Hiring Grants for Ontario: Current Grants Available
In the table below we list the employment grants currently available to Ontario businesses.
To learn more about each program, just click the program name and you’ll be taken to a web page that provides detailed information on the program, including eligibility, the dollar amount of the program, and how to apply for the grant:
Employment Grants for Ontario Businesses
Other Types of Employment Funding for Ontario Businesses
Our goal is for this guide to be a complete source of funding information for businesses hiring students, apprentices and more. So, in this section you’ll find all the other employment money programs (besides grants) that are available to Ontario entrepreneurs:
A tax credit reduces the tax that a business pays on its taxable income.
There are some employment tax credits available for Ontario businesses:
Employment Tax Credits for Ontario Businesses
|Name of Program||Amount||Type|
|Ontario Ministry of Finance - Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit||$90000||Tax Credit|
|Ontario Co-operative Education Tax Credit – Ontario Ministry of Finance||No Fixed Amount||Tax Credit|
|Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit – Canada Revenue Agency (2022)||No Fixed Amount||Tax Credit|
A subsidy is a type of financial assistance usually provided by the government in order to promote a social good or an economic policy. Wage subsidies are the most common subsidies.
In the table below you’ll find some of the employment subsidies currently available for Ontario businesses:
Employment Subsidies for Ontario Businesses
Best Employment Business Grants, Loans & More
While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best employment grants, subsidies & more for Ontario businesses:
Best Government Hiring Grants for Ontario Businesses
Canadian Heritage – Local Journalism Initiative (LJI)
The Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) provides grants to Canadian media organizations supporting the creation of original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.
Funding is available to eligible Canadian media organizations to hire journalists or pay freelance journalists to produce civic journalism for underserved communities.
Department of National Defence (DND) – Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program (CERP)
The government of Canada offers compensation through the Department of National Defence for businesses and organizations that employ reservists. Even self-employed reservists can apply for this grant. The purpose of this one-time payment is to help mitigate the costs that pop up when reservist employees deploy full time.
Any Canadian employers other than the federal government, federal agencies, and Crown Corporations of a reservist employee are free to apply. However, the deploying reservist employee must have worked for the organization a minimum of 30 hours a week for 13 consecutive weeks (three consecutive months) before deploying to qualify. The reservist must also deploy for no less than 30 days.
So if you hire a reservist, you can expect your one-time payment to consist of 40% of the reservist’s yearly earnings, divided by 52 weeks, and then multiplied by the number of weeks the reservist is deployed up to 78 weeks.
FedNor – Youth Internship under the Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP) and under Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation (REGI)
If “FedNor” didn’t give it away right away, this 2-part funding program is only for those organizations located in Northern Ontario and whose projects result in either improving the economic development of Northern Ontario communities and businesses under NODP and the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, products, services and processes under REGI.
Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) – People & Talent Program: Indigenous Workforce Development Stream
The intent of the Indigenous Workforce Development Stream is to strengthen and develop Northern Ontario’s Indigenous workforce through business partnerships by offering internships to Indigenous persons.
Best Employment Tax Credits for Ontario Businesses
Canada Revenue Agency – Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit
Any business in Canada that hires a registered apprentice can claim this tax credit when they file their business taxes.
You can hire and claim as many apprentices as you like, but they must be in the first 2 years of their contract and they must be working in one of the Red Seal Trades.
If you’ve hired some apprentices that fit this description though, you’ll qualify to claim 10% of the wages/salaries of your apprentices to a maximum of $2,000/apprentice.
Ontario Ministry of Finance – Co-operative Education Tax Credit (CETC)
The Co-operative Education Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit available to employers who hire students enrolled in a co-operative education program at an Ontario university or college. Most work placements are for a minimum employment period of 10 weeks up to a maximum of four months.
Best Government Employment Subsidies for Ontario Businesses
Some of the subsidies below are related to the government subsidies mentioned above. These non-profits are the government’s delivery partners for their programs. Businesses who want to apply, must check the specific eligibility criteria and apply to these non-profits.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) – Housing Internship for Indigenous Youth (HIIY)
This on-the-job training and work experience program focuses on offering First Nations and Inuit youth between 15 and 30 years old job experience in the housing sector.
Prospective trainees need only be First Nations or Inuit youth; they don’t need to live in an Indigenous community. However, the catch is trainees cannot work another job at the same time as this one, and they cannot be receiving EI benefits. If the trainee was receiving benefits when they were hired, they’ll need to stop them before being accepted into the program.
The program offers subsidies that can be used for a variety of positions such as construction or office roles and covers the trainee’s vacation pay, Employment Insurance, pension plan, and workers’ compensation premiums. However, the sponsoring organization should be prepared to pay the trainee at least minimum wage.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) – Canada Summer Jobs Program
The Canada Summer Jobs program provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees, to create quality summer work experiences for young people aged 15 to 30 years. Funded employers are not restricted to hiring students — all youth aged 15 to 30 years may be eligible participants.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) – Student Work Placement Program
This is just one of a few financial incentives offered by Employment and Social Development Canada to help you grow your team and offer an opportunity to a student.
This one will give you up to $5,000 for every student you hire through this program, and up to $7,000 for every first-year student, woman in STEM, those with disabilities, newcomers, or Indigenous students.
National Research Council of Canada (NRC) – NRC IRAP Youth Employment Program (YEP)
This nationwide youth employment incentive program helps incorporated SMEs in every sector offer jobs with research and development, engineering, multimedia, or market analysis components to young workers aged 15 to 30. The intent is to create jobs and give young workers valuable skills and experience with a focus on developing new products or processes.
Your company could get up to 75%, up to $30,000 to cover your new employee’s wages, though this is a cost-sharing program, so you are responsible for all additional costs.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) – Science and Technology Internship Program: Green Jobs
The Science and Technology (S&T) Internship Program provides wage subsidies to encourage organizations to hire and mentor interns and invest in the workforce of tomorrow.
It also provides opportunities for youth to gain relevant work experience and skill development in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in the natural resources sectors: energy, forestry and mining, earth sciences, and clean technology.
Best Non-Profit Employment Grants for Ontario Businesses
Kingston Economic Development Corporation (Kingston EcDev) – Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston (QCA:K)
The Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston connects new graduates from the arts, humanities and social science disciplines within the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s University with a Kingston employer.
Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) – ENCQOR 5G TalentEdge Internships
For SMEs specializing in 5G processes, products, and services, this funding program could help you bring an intern on board to help you move your project along a little faster.
And at the same time, an intern could bring your company some unique ideas and the most current tech-specific knowledge in your field.
Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) – Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) – TalentEdge Internship Program (TIP) Stream
The TalentEdge Internship Program (TIP) stream of Ontario’s Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) program provides support for current college and university students and recent undergraduate or Masters graduates, to work on industry-driven research and development projects related to automotive and smart mobility technology such as Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (C/AV) technologies, Electric Vehicles (EV), battery technologies, metallurgical (metal & mining) sector technologies and other related areas.
Best Non-Profit Employment Subsidies for Ontario Businesses
BioTalent Canada – Student Work Placement Program (SWPP)
Though more and more opportunities open up in technology every year, it can still be a struggle to not only grow your business, but to hire the most skilled students with the most potential. If this sounds like your dilemma and you operate a business in biotechnology, these programs are for you.
This program offers a current STEM or business student an opportunity to gain valuable work experience in biotechnology, and you’ll be rewarded with all the excitement, creativity, new ideas, and new knowledge that comes with those still in school.
Besides, you’ll also be rewarded with funding of up to 70%, or $7,000 of the intern’s salary. Alternatively, you could get up to 50%, or $5,000, of a co-op student’s salary or 70%, or $7,000, of the salary for a first-year or underrepresented student.
Canadian Tooling and Machining Association (CTMA) – Career-Ready with CTMA: Expanding Opportunities
For those in the manufacturing sector, there’s something for you as well. The goal of this program is to create 120 student work placements in the Machine, Tool, Die, and Mould (MTDM) sector, so this is just about the easiest program around for businesses and students or recent graduates to apply for.
This program boasts up to $3,000 for each work placement position.
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) – Career-Launcher Clean Tech Internships
One of CiCan’s 3 funding programs to help you hire interns across the country, this one offers to give you $15,000, or up to 70% of the intern’s salary when you hire an intern to fulfill a 6-12 month position in clean technology.
Clean technology can include a variety of technologies as long as the goal is a cleaner environment. Examples could include tech that supports sustainable development, green industrial or agricultural processes, alternative energy and efficiencies, recycling, and more.
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) – Career-Launcher Natural Resources Internships
Any organization in the natural resources sector can apply for this program provided it’s offering a 6-12 month green job. You could get up to $15,000 or up to 50% of the intern’s salary when you apply. You could even get up to $20,000 if you either hire an Indigenous youth or hire a youth in Northern, rural, and/or remote communities.
Environmental Careers Organization of Canada (ECO Canada) – Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y)
The Digital Skills for Youth program allows you to leverage the knowledge of a tech-savvy, educated youth population to future-proof your business.
The Digital Skills for Youth program is a wage subsidy provided to SMEs that covers 80% of wages up to $18,000 for environmental jobs that require digital abilities. Examples of eligible roles include: digital marketers, developers, GIS specialists, drone operators, data analysts or IT specialists with an environmental focused role.
Environmental Careers Organization of Canada (ECO Canada) – Science Horizons Internship Program
Build your company’s capacity at the same time as you give a young Canadian valuable work experience and a passion for improving our environment.
If your organization operates in the natural resources or environmental sector and you have a green STEM job available for a youth, apply for this grant program quickly.
The Science Horizons Internship program includes fields in science, technology, engineering, or math. Your open position should be in green manufacturing, carbon and climate change mitigation, energy efficiency and green building, resource conservation, environmental protection, or something similar approved by the program.
Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) – Métis Wage Subsidy Program
MNO’s Métis Wage Subsidy Program is designed to help Métis individuals secure long-term employment through direct work experience opportunities by encouraging employers to hire Métis apprentices and other workers and provide on-the-job experience.
Ontario Chamber of Commerce – Talent Opportunities Program (TOP)
The Talent Opportunities Program (TOP) is an initiative of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce designed to help employers located anywhere in Canada hire college and university students on work-integrated learning (WIL) placements. Employers hiring eligible students may receive a wage subsidy up to 50% (up to a maximum of $7,000) per placement.
Relay Education – Green Careers Program
The Green Careers program offers opportunities for youth to explore and build exciting careers in sustainability, energy, and environmental industries. It offers the Green Internships program which is helping young people gain skills and work experience with paid positions at environmental businesses. This program will subsidize the salary for internship positions at environmental organizations.
Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) – Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Digital Subsidy
ICTC’s WIL Digital is an innovative Work Integrated Learning program that helps employers grow their businesses by providing financial assistance for hiring post-secondary students. ICTC’s WIL Digital supports Canadian businesses that offer student work placements within the Digital Economy.
The United Nations Association (UNA) in Canada – Canada Green Corps: Science Horizons (SH)
Science Horizons is a wage subsidy programme for employers that begins or elevates the careers for youth in Canada in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Science Horizons (SH) is dedicated to breaking down barriers for youth in Canada who are un or underemployed.
Tourism HR Canada – Propel Student Work Placement Program
Funded by the Government of Canada through the Student Work Placement Program, Propel offers registered Canadian businesses, startups, and not-for-profits related to the tourism and hospitality sector a subsidy on each qualifying student’s wages. The wage subsidy can be accessed by businesses from all facets of the visitor economy: accommodations, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services.
The Bottom Line
Now that you’ve discovered there are plenty of financial hiring incentives to be had (more in Ontario than anywhere else unfortunately), what are you waiting for? Hiring a student or graduate is a win-win: you get the help you need (and hopefully they stay for the long-term) and only have to pay a portion of the cost you would on a regular employee, and the student/graduate gets priceless work experience and skills development.
Most of the programs are easy to qualify and apply for. Some of them even do all the work for you! That said, the number one thing to keep in mind is keep all necessary documents organized and easy to access. That will simplify your application process and improve your odds of success.
Good luck with growing your team!