Update: The Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB) was closed in 2016. View our Startup Resources page to find additional government funding programs for young startups.

The Ontario Government has introduced a new program that is intended to assist job seeking Canadians who wish to start their own businesses. The program is called the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB) and it is provided to unemployed Canadians who possess a viable business proposal and wish to make it into a reality. This program applies to those individuals who have a business concept but require financial assistance and professional guidance to assist them throughout the initial phases of the business start-up process.  This program is mainly directed towards those who have recently become unemployed through no fault of their own and do not have any previous self-employment experience or training.

Ontario Government Funding Assistance

If the applicant is accepted; the OSEB will provide the individual’s weekly salary and the funding necessary for small enterprise counselling and training. The amount of the individual’s weekly earnings will be similar to that which was provided by the Employment Insurance Regular Benefit program. The salary received will depend on the wages of the individual from their previous employer. The amount will be equal to or above the rate of provincial basic living allowance ($423/week).  The program’s assistance will last for 42 weeks, during that time there will be a 10 week course provided where participants will develop their business plan with the guidance of trained professionals.  In order to be eligible the participant must invest at least 25% of the amount provided through government funding into the business.

Applicant Eligibility for Government Funding Ontario

  • Must be currently receiving Employment Insurance Benefits, or
  • Currently unemployed and has received EI benefits within the past 36 months, or
  • Currently unemployed and re-entering the workforce after maternity or paternity leave
  • Lacking previous entrepreneurial experience or training
  • Has a viable business proposal or concept

Those who have already made a detailed business plan or have begun their business start-up process (purchased software/supplies etc.), before being accepted into the program will usually not be considered eligible by the OSEB Coordinator.

Apply for Small Business Funding Grants

The Ontario Self Employment Benefit program is no longer accepting applications. If you’re an entrepreneur seeking funding for your startup business, please consult Mentor Works’ listing of startup resources.

Canadian Small Business Funding News

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With considerable expertise in government funding, both on a federal and provincial level, Bernadeen has secured grant funding and low interest loans for small-medium size business owners in Southern Ontario. She likes to play to win, and understands the importance of cash flow and margins. She enables her clients to succeed through her passionate belief that there are no boundaries or limits to what can be achieved. Add Bernadeed McLeod to your Google+ Circles.

Comments 21

7 October 2013 Reply

I am trying to start online mentor facilitated tutoring program. I need help as I have never started a successful business before. I am currently on OW. Is there any program that can help me get started. Cheers. “Sara”

7 October 2013 Reply

Hi Sara,
Sounds great. As a parent and former instructor I have a sincere interest in what you are doing. I sent you a quick response via email. Thanks for stopping by our blog!

9 January 2014 Reply

I would love some further guidence to see if i would qualify to start my own nursing agency as well as teaching the public service worker postion. I would like to teach the course then employ my students.

9 January 2014 Reply

Thank you for the comment Kelly! I sent you a response by email.

12 January 2014 Reply

Hi there,
I have recently gone off maternity-leave and now I’d like to open my own spin/cycling studio. Are there any programs or funding opportunities that I could look into?
Many thanks!

14 January 2014 Reply

Hello Christina,
The majority of grant funding programs -probably not. However, there are a multitude of resources including the availability of free support services and loans from not-for-profit organizations. It will also depend on where you live -i.e. Northern Ontario has very generous programs for start-ups. Download our government funding checklist first: http://www.mentorworks.ca/startups/

Best of Luck!

30 January 2014 Reply

Thanks for stopping by our blog Alexis! I sent you an email requesting a bit more information about your business so that I can point you in the right direction.

5 February 2014 Reply

Hi there,

I am currently unemployed and recieving unemployment insurance but would like assistance with a small business idea that I have. I have no previous business training and would very much like an opportunity to apply for this program. If you could please send me an application for this program I would very much appreciate it.

I can be reached at ****************.

Thank you for your time,


11 February 2014 Reply

Hello Lesley,
My colleague Lea reached out to you with the information you requested. Best of luck to you!

3 March 2014 Reply

My wife and I have taken the OSEB orientation program on 28/Feb/14. To continue in the course we need 25% equity each totaling $4442 each or $8884.This is in cash and/or in-kind services. Looking to see if there is anyplace I can apply for these equity funds?

3 March 2014 Reply

Hello S & L,
Thank you for stopping by our blog!

I just so happens that we will be posting an article on start-up funding tomorrow (March 4th, 2014). Check back at http://www.mentorworks.ca/blog/ and let me know if you have any questions. Unfortunately, aside from a few special circumstances, you will need some equity in order to start a business -contrary to the idea of many that all you need is a good idea.

If you download our government funding for startups checklist you can find out more information about what kind of support you can seek out developing your business model, and starting up your business. (www.mentorworks.ca/startups) There won’t be any programs that will supply you with the equity you are looking for as a grant, but some business loan services do exist.

Best of luck!

28 April 2014 Reply

I recently started a new business on top of my regular job because I believe my current job is coming to an end, lack of business. I am trying to build up my new business to carry me full-time but it is difficult to do outside of normal business hours and part-time. I have been paying UI for decades and never used it. I would like to make use of my employment insurance to subsidize me while I get my business up and running, is this possible?

1 May 2014 Reply

Hi Jay,
Thanks for stopping by our blog, and congratulations on your plan to start a business. OSEB is a little different from collecting EI. There is an investment requirement, (I think its around $5,000) and you won’t be able to find a grant or loan to take care of that sum -as many people have inquired about this. If you require assistance we do offer more information through our Funding Insider subscription. http://www.mentorworks.ca/funding-insider/

12 April 2015 Reply

Hi I was wondering I m a animation artist graduated from seneca, and was laid off from a game company. my EI is done and I want to be self employed by making my own videos game and starting a small game studios., I would be promoting and selling related products across Canada’s comic convention. Should this be something I should look into?

17 April 2015 Reply

From what you have mentioned, yes this might be a suitable program for you if you are starting your own incorporated business. Make sure you’re setting up a strong foundation for your business; we have a free resource to point you in the right direction as you’re developing your business model: https://www.mentorworks.ca/startups/

30 September 2018 Reply

hello I’ve been accept for this program but my worker has not given me much or any information that was listed on this page . I need guidance !

9 October 2018 Reply

Hi Sarah, unfortunately the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB) closed in 2016 and no longer provides support. Here are some small business resources that can assist you: https://www.mentorworks.ca/startup-resources/

9 February 2020 Reply

Is the program still open ?

12 February 2020 Reply

Hello Andrea,

The funding landscape has evolved considerably since this program was first made available. I would suggest filling out a contact form on our website here so that we can connect you with a member of our team that will help you find out more about the programs that are relevant to you.

We look forward to hearing from you.

16 March 2020 Reply

Hello. Just to clarify…are you saying that the Self Employment Benefit Program through EI is no longer available?
Thank you…Beth

16 March 2020 Reply

Hello Beth,

As it turns out the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB) program shut down in 2016. EI special benefits for self-employed people are still active. These types of programs are outside of what Mentor Works typically works in, however, you may be able to find some additional resources to help you on our startup resources page.

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