Every year, Ontario helps to develop industry-leading businesses in Canada thanks to government funding support. Ontario’s economic growth is a result of many industry efforts that build a thriving province.
Ontario’s agriculture sector is a great example, showing impressive growth in industries such as meat processing, food, beverage, and more.
“Ontario agri-food businesses feed millions of people around the world. With more than 3,000 active food and beverage processors, 97,000 workers, and $39 billion in revenues, Ontario is one of the sector’s most active and competitive jurisdictions in North America.”
–Canadian Agri-Business Growth Guide
Ontario’s manufacturing sector has also shown consistent growth by leveraging government support to increase the province’s overall gross domestic product (GDP) and creating jobs for local communities.
Another notable example of Ontario’s success is the massive growth of the software development and computer service sector.
Much of the success in Ontario is thanks to talented workers, strong communities, and resilience. However, Ontario’s success is also driven by a variety of Ontario government funding support for research and development, business expansion, capital and technology adoption, and hiring and training.
Although there are many forms of government support, this article will be discussing the top grants, loans, and tax credits available for Ontario businesses in 2023.
Canada–Ontario Job Grant (COJG)
The Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG), an Ontario government funding program, offers training grants for employers. Companies may receive non-repayable funding from the government towards third-party training programs, which may include training for in-demand skillsets within the industry. This training is required to improve the employability and value employees may offer. This program includes new hires in these training sessions which may allow for employers to maximize their funding potential.
Successful applicants may receive up to 50-83% of for employee training costs for up to $15,000 per trainee.
Businesses and organizations located in Ontario must meet these requirements to be eligible to apply:
- For-profit business;
- Non-profit organization;
- Employer consortium; or
- First Nations band council.
Most training programs may qualify for COJG funding. However, businesses may choose to focus on one of the three specific training categories:
- Career or Development Training: Enhancing employee skills, knowledge, and career advancement;
- Maintenance and Refresher Skills Training: Updating employee skills and knowledge, and/or refining the abilities of specialists within an organization; and
- Essential Skills Training: Providing the skills needed for an employee to achieve their work, continue learning, and possess skills for life. These should be transferable skills employees can use in different industries and succeed in the workplace beyond.
Application packages are accepted year-round, so employers should apply for funding in accordance with their expected training start date.
FedDev Ontario Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Program
The FedDev Ontario Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program offsets project costs and helps southern Ontario businesses grow more quickly. It provides no-interest repayable contributions (government loans) with repayment beginning within a year of project completion. This BSP program provides southern Ontario business expansion loans of up to 35% of project costs to a maximum $10 million.
The FedDev Ontario BSP program provides southern Ontario businesses with no-interest repayable contributions (government loans) of:
· Up to 35% of project costs to a maximum $10 million.
To qualify for funding through FedDev Ontario’s Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program, companies must:
- Have profitable operations in southern Ontario for the previous two consecutive years;
- Maintain a minimum of five full-time employees;
- Be provincially or federally incorporated or an Indigenous-owned business;
- Have financial capacity to complete the project, provide a minimum 35% contribution, and repay the government contribution in full;
- Have a viable project plan and have organizational capacity to complete it; and
- Have market or industry demand to support new technology/business expansion.
To be eligible for Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP), companies must plan to use its funding to support projects and activities such as:
- Acquiring, adopting, or adapting innovative technologies (including digitization and automation);
- Developing late-stage technology to support new markets and/or industrial applications;
- Demonstrating innovative technologies and/or processes in an operational setting;
- Commercializing/producing new innovative products, processes, or services;
- Developing, expanding, or diversifying to new customers and markets to support business growth and integration in global value chains and an initial sale; and
- Increasing business management capacity by building high-performance teams, adopting best management practices, processes, and systems.
Please Note: Technology development, demonstration, and commercialization activities must fall within a technology readiness level (TRL) of 7-9.
Southern Ontario businesses can apply for the Business Scale-up and Productivity program throughout the year; unlike other Ontario government funding programs, there are no application deadlines to be aware of. Instead, companies should submit their application in relation to their project start date. In addition:
- Applicants must apply prior to incurring eligible project expenses; and
- Applications are assessed based on the applicant’s overall eligibility and ability to deliver project-related impacts such as increased domestic and foreign sales, development or licensing of intellectual property, and job creation.
NRC – Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
The NRC – Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is designed to accelerate research and development projects of Canadian innovators. Businesses who are developing and implementing process improvements are the primary targets to receive research funding contributions through IRAP. Additionally, large-scale technology adoption projects that lead to new capabilities may be considered.
Successful applicants may access up to 60–80% of internal technical labour and subcontractor expenses.
Applicants must be incorporated and financially stable businesses with under 500 full-time payroll employees to be eligible to apply.
Activities include innovative technical research and development projects with a level of technical uncertainty.
This program has an open intake. The two-stage application process starts with a meeting with an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA).
Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)
The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit is the largest single source of Canadian federal government support that incentivizes business-led research and development projects. The SR&ED program provides more than $3 billion in tax incentives to over 20,000 claimants annually.
A tax credit may be allotted for up to 69% of labour and overhead costs, 36% of contractor costs, and 45% of material costs. Please note that there are provincial variants of this program SR&ED applicants should explore.
Applicants must be conducting basic research, applied research, or experimental development in Canada. They must also be developing new products or processes or making incremental improvements.
Eligible expenditures include labour, contractors, materials, and overhead costs that directly relate to and commensurate with the needs of the activity required to attempt to resolve the technological uncertainty, obstacle, or challenge.
The reporting deadline for this program is 18 months from the end of the tax year in which the qualifying expenses were incurred.
To learn more about the SR&ED program, visit our comprehensive Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program page.
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) program for Canada’s industrial and technology sectors offers financial contributions to promote investment in sustained productivity and economic benefits. Financial support offered by SIF is allocated on a case-by-case basis, as determined by the funding application review committee.
Applicants who submit a project budget of at least $20 million may access up to 50% of eligible costs.
Canadian businesses and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply.
Activities that support industrial R&D, commercialization, and technology demonstration.
Applications are accepted on a continuous intake for streams 1, 2, and 3. There is a call-for-proposals stage for streams 4 and 5.
There are currently five streams for the SIF program. To learn more about the in-depth criteria for each, please refer to the Strategic Innovation Fund program page.
Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (SCAP) – Ontario Programs
This initiative is a part of the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (SCAP) which is available to businesses across Canada. However, some SCAP programs only provide support to specific provinces, such as the Meat Processors Capacity Improvement (MPCI) Program for Ontario’s meat processors.
The Canadian government along with the Government of Ontario are investing upwards of $10 million through SCAP to help eligible local meat processors expand their operations through the MPCI Program.
Successful applicants for this program may be eligible for a maximum of $150,000 in grant funding.
Eligible applicants for the MPCI Program are Ontario meat processing plants and abattoirs.
Eligible activities for the MPCI Program include:
- Short-term investments in meat handling and processing equipment, technologies, and practices that improve efficiency, productivity, and food safety; and
- Consulting and engineering planning costs related to this project may also be covered.
Deadline to Apply
Applications for the MPCI Program open on August 31, 2023.
Additional timelines are as follows:
- The application deadline is January 31, 2024, or until the initiative is fully subscribed;
- Project costs may be incurred as of July 26, 2023;
- Equipment must be delivered by March 1, 2024; and
- Equipment must be installed by June 28, 2024.
Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) and Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF)
The Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) and Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) are business expansion funding programs that help organizations invest in new facilities and equipment. Economic development organizations, municipalities, and consortia are also supported with infrastructure or implementation strategies to advance regional priorities. EODF and SWODF operate in different regions but are both organized into the same two streams: the Business Stream and the Community Economic Development Stream.
- Business Stream: Receive up to 15% of project expenses to a funding range of $500,000–$5 million depending on whether applicants are applying for a grant or a loan.
- Community Economic Development Stream: Receive up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum of $1.5 million in grant funding.
- Business Stream: Must be a business located in Eastern or Southwestern Ontario, operating for over three years, and commit to five or more new jobs, and five or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs).
- Community Economic Development Stream: Must be in Eastern or Southwestern Ontario municipalities, consortia, or economic development organizations.
- Business Stream: moOver $500,000 investments in new operations in Eastern or Southwestern Ontario or improved productivity, innovation, and export potential that create jobs.
- Community Economic Development: Over $100,000 investments to support private sector investment, growth, and job creation.
Deadline to Apply
Both the Business and Community Economic Development Streams have upcoming applications from August 17, 2023 – October 5, 2023, for both Eastern and Southwestern Ontario Development Funds (EODF and SWODF).
How Can Mentor Works Help with Government Funding?
These programs contribute towards the incredible economic success that Ontario sees year after year. These grant, loan, and tax incentive contributions that the Ontario provincial and federal governments provide to Ontario are directly related with the huge growth seen in a variety of industries and their export activities.
“In 2020, Canada’s Ontario exported $187B, making it the 1st largest exporter out of the 13 exporters in Canada.”
-The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)
However, these are not the only government funding programs available in Ontario. To see a full and comprehensive list, visit our government funding directory . To stay up to date on all relevant programs, visit our government funding news page and subscribe to our government funding newsletter.
Mentor Works, a Ryan company streamlines the government funding process through optimized processes and resources. Businesses are paired with an experienced team of professional grant writers who complete each stage of the funding process.