Government Grants and Loans for Small Business and Startups in Canada

Canadian government business grants and loans can play a vital role when you start a company or expand an existing firm. Both the provincial and federal governments have a wide range of programs to support businesses in various sectors in Canada. Read on to learn more about what grants for business are available and how you can get your share.

Some people think that there is an endless supply of government grants for small business available to just about any type of company. Sorry, no. If your company does run-of-the mill retailing or construction, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get a grant (although there might be loans available).

However, there are plenty of opportunities for Canadian government business grants and loans for companies in the fast-growing IT, software development, food, biotech and fintech sectors.

The government of Canada offers a search tool to help you see what’s available. When you provide information such as your industry sector and location, the tool presents a list of government support programs – including grants and loans.

What does the government think is worthy of grants?

As we have indicated, not every sector will be eligible for Canadian government business grants. However, there are some areas that both the federal and Ontario governments like to address:


Canada lags other wealthy countries in innovation, which is the creation of new goods and services or development of efficiencies in manufacturing or delivery. This deficiency worries politicians and therefore they are happy to put money forward for Canadian government business grants to fund innovation.

If your company wants to do research and development, Canada offers tax incentives to support it. The Scientific Research and Experimental Development program helps 20,000 businesses every year through $3 billion in tax breaks.


Selling goods and services overseas is great for the economy. It brings in foreign cash and strengthens the country’s trade balance. Government officials love exports!

Job creation

There is nothing politicians like better than visiting a manufacturing or software development facility and announcing that government support has resulted in the creation of dozens of jobs. There are grants available to relatively disadvantaged regions like Eastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario.

The Canadian government offers wage subsidies to employers, especially if they hire youth or those with disabilities. Have a look at the various wage subsidy programs.

What are the grants for small business startups?

If your startup is in a cutting-edge field like IT, healthcare, or green technology, there may be funding available for you.

For example, the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund in Toronto will invest in companies that have a potential worldwide market of at least $100 million. Companies must be based in Ontario. As we mentioned, government love exports so if you are eyeing potential buyers across the globe, you could be in a great position. MaRS especially welcomes companies that are in the early stage.

Outside of the technology field? You may not be able to attract government grants for small business or investment funding, but you can get government loans, especially if your company is headquartered outside of the major metropolitan areas.

Check out your province’s website. The business grants Ontario page offers a complete list of funding opportunities for companies and municipalities.

What grants and loans are open for established companies?

Good news! You don’t have to be the next Shopify to qualify for Canadian government business grants. Sure, being a technology company sounds good in a government press release announcing a grant. But, as we mentioned above, governments love to create jobs. If you are expanding a manufacturing facility or growing your firm in a remote area, you could be eligible for funding.

Let’s look at an example. The Eastern Ontario Development Fund is a business grants Ontario program that offers up to $1.5 million. You must have been in operation at least three years. As well, your firm should employ at least 10 people – but only a minimum of five in rural areas. All you must do is commit to creating at least five new jobs. To get support, your business must have a facility in Eastern Ontario.

The digital media tax credit is another great business grants Ontario program. It focuses on companies that are developing educational and entertainment products for children under 12.

How do I apply for Canadian government business grants and loans?

Of course, each government program has its own rules and application processes. However, there are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Apply in advance: Some business support programs have a rolling intake -you can apply at any time of the year. Others have deadlines, such as the spring or fall. In both cases, you can expect that it will take several months to process your application and approve your Canadian government business grant funding request. So be sure to file well ahead of when you expect your project to start.
  • Get established: As indicated above, some government grants for small business require you to have several years of operations. When you establish your company, be sure to incorporate and begin recording your revenues, even if they are modest to start. This will give you a track record that will support your application down the road.
  • Seek advice: Many government funding agencies will meet with you prior to the application deadline. Be sure to take advantage of this! They will advise whether you are eligible and offer tips on filing your request. If you don’t fulfill the agency’s requirements, the meeting will save you the work of applying. In addition, the government officials are often plugged-in to other granting agencies and may be able to steer you towards additional Canadian government business grants and loans.

Will the government help me export?

Yes! As indicated above, the Canadian government encourages companies to export since it helps to grow the economy without simply relying on local consumers.

Export Development Canada is a federal corporation that promotes exports in two ways:

  1. Providing working capital and financing: Let’s say you are a Canadian manufacturer and want to sell overseas. EDC can support you in expanding your manufacturing capacity, which may create new jobs in Canada. In addition, EDC can help if you need to market your products or hire a sales agent in other countries.
  2. Reduce your risk: One of the challenges with exporting is ensuring that you get paid. It’s one thing to pursue creditors down the street and quite another to get bills paid in a foreign country thousands of kilometres away. EDC provides insurance to mitigate this risk.

In summary: Grants and loans are out there!

If your company is developing and marketing cutting-edge technology, there are Canadian government business grant programs to help you to research, ramp up development, and sell overseas. With a bit of digging, you can find out which grants, and loans are best suited to your firm.

For additional information about business grants and loans, please contact us as at Bronte Bay. We’d be glad to help!

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