Small Business Grants in Canada

A Selection of Canadian Small Business Grants

Easy money for your small business?. Image (c) Cristian Baitg / Getty Images

Almost everyone in looking for money to start or expand their business in Canada starts out by looking for a small business grant.

But unfortunately there aren't actually that many Canadian federal or provincial government grants available for small businesses. And, as you'll see in The Truth About Canada Government Small Business Grants, the eligibility requirements for the existing small business grants are very exacting.

To qualify as a grant applicant, you often need to be engaged not only in a particular business sector, but be a resident of a particular geographic region of the country. 

Browse through this collection of Canada government grants and see which you might be eligible to apply for. Some of these are actually combinations of grants and loans or are geared to a specific program (such as a marketing campaign) and require the business to contribute as much as 50% of the cost. Keep in mind there are also a number of government small business loans programs to help people start and/or expand small businesses but these require 100% pay back.

Canadian Federal/Provincial Government Grants and Venture Capital Programs

BC Government’s Buy Local Program (British Columbia)

This program provides funding to businesses engaged in the agriculture, food, and seafood industries. Funding is to be used for marketing, including branding, radio/TV and print advertising, social media campaigns, trade shows, etc.

The objective is to increase consumption of locally grown, raised, harvested or processed foods.

Conditions: Business must be located in British Columbia and starting a new marketing campaign. Applicants must contribute 50% of the total cost of the project.

AVAC Ltd. (Alberta)

Created in 1997 with support from the Government of Canada and the Alberta provincial government, AVAC is a venture capital investor that provides investment funding for research and commercialization for Alberta-based companies in areas of agriculture, renewable resources and industrial technology.

AVAC will provide grants to research focused on Agrivalue with the expectation of specific tangible outcomes. (Their Agrivalue program invests in new and enhanced food products, wellness products, bioproducts and enabling technologies.) All other investments made by AVAC are made on commercial terms as royalty-based investments.

Conditions: Business must be in Alberta or be able to demonstrate a substantive potential economic benefit in Alberta.

Export Market Access (Ontario)

This program is designed to assist small businesses to become exporters by providing grants of up to 50% of the cost of projects that develop export sales up to a program maximum of $150,000. This includes activities such as market research, bidding on foreign projects, etc.

Conditions: Business must be located in Ontario and have 5 or more employees annual sales of $500,000 or more.

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC) Programs

NOHFC provides grants/loans for small to medium-sized businesses based in Northern Ontario, with the goal of creating employment. There are several programs available (from the NOHFC website):

The conditions vary from program to program, but typically involve combinations of grants and loans. For example, the Northern Business Opportunity Program – Business Expansion Projects provides "up to 50% of project costs to a maximum of $1 million, 30% as a grant, 20% as a loan" (NOHFC website).

Conditions: Applicant must be a resident of Northern Ontario. The proposed new business must be intended to operate as a full-time business and create a minimum of one new job in Northern Ontario.

Emerging Music Business Program (Nova Scotia)

Provides non-repayable investment of 50% of your project costs up to $4,000 to emerging groups and artists, emerging industry professionals or Registered Societies.

Conditions: Business must be in Nova Scotia. (For instance, the artist or 75% of group members must be Nova Scotia residents for at least one year to apply.)

Fondation du maire de Montréal pour la jeunesse (Montreal)

Provides a grant covering up to 25% of business start-up costs (up to $30,000).

Conditions: You must establish a business in a borough or a reconstituted city of Montréal, live in a borough or in a reconstituted city of Montréal, be between 18 and 35 years old, and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Marketing Support Program (Prince Edward Island)

Provides up to 40 percent of the costs associated with the execution of market research studies, the costs of eligible advertising and promotion activities, or the costs of eligible market investigation activities for manufacturers, processors and providers of exportable services.

Conditions: Business must be in P.E.I. and be in the food development, diversified manufacturing, bioscience, information technology, or craft/giftware sector, although first of its kind exportable services in other business sectors may be considered.

Natural Stone Assessment (Newfoundland/Labrador)

Provides non-repayable grants to cover 75 percent of the cost of exploration and resource assessment on new or under-developed natural stone prospects, up to a maximum of $50,000 per project.

Conditions: Business must be registered to do business in Newfoundland/Labrador and the applicant(s) must hold the mineral /quarry rights to the lands considered in the application and provide proof of sufficient funds to undertake at least 25% of the cost of the proposed project.

New Brunswick Growth Program

For starting a business: provides non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 for the establishment of "year-round" eligible businesses based on 50% of eligible costs, up to a maximum of $15,000 per new full-time year-round job created.

For expanding an established business: provides non-repayable contributions of up to $60,000 for the expansion, diversification or improvement in the productivity or competitiveness of "year-round" eligible businesses, based on 30% of eligible costs.

Conditions: Business must be in New Brunswick and be in the manufacturing and processing, information technology, year-round or seasonal full-time tourism operations or commercial service firms primarily engaged in export/import activity sectors. Some cultural enterprises also qualify. A 20% equity investment is required.

Energy Efficiency Grants

Many provinces have grant or rebate programs for improving energy efficiency of business operations, such as converting to solar power, changing to energy-efficient appliances, etc. See:

Efficiency Nova Scotia

Ontario Conservation Fund

Hydro Quebec Energy Efficiency Programs

Growing Forward 2 (Alberta Farms)

B.C. Hydro Power Smart

Take Charge! (Newfoundland and Labrador)

More on Government Grants in Canada 

The Canada government grants listed above are just a sampling of the Canadian small business programs available. The Truth About Canada Government Small Business Grants gives more examples of Canadian grants.

As most small businesses stand a much better chance of finding a loans program than a government grant program to supply the financing they need, you'll also want to read What You Need to Do to Get a Small Business Loan and the articles on small business loans you might qualify for such as:

The Canada Small Business Financing Program

10 Places to Get Small Business Loans for Your Canadian Small Business

20 Sources of Micro Loans for Starting a Canadian Small Business