Top 5 Myths About Grants in Canada

There are many myths about government grants that stop too many companies from applying for them. As a result, businesses across industries miss out on thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars worth of Canadian government business grants.

Would you believe that less than 10% of small and medium businesses took advantage of up to 26 billion dollars of government grants and tax credits. That’s crazy!

We have helped over 700 companies secure 15 million dollars in interest-free funding. But we want to see more companies get money to expand their business, hire more people and provide training to their team.

We have come across every myth there is out there about Canadian government business grants and these are the top five. Don’t let these myths stop you from getting free money for your business.

Myth #1: Government grants are only for large companies that are innovative

Tesla and Apple are not the only mega companies who are able to get large grants. Too many business owners believe they have to be as big and innovative as them to access more government funding.

Reality

Canadian government grants are available for any size business. Some grants cater to companies that are beyond the start-up stage, which is defined as being established for at least 1 or 2 years. But most programs are geared to businesses with less than 500 employees from a range of industries including coffee shops, local grocery stores and tech companies.

Our client experience

The most unexpected grant available out there is for companies that hire young people under the age of 30 in any position, in any business, to gain full-time work experience.

Some of our clients are restaurants who experience high turnover due to the nature of their businesses. Getting a few thousand dollars through hiring grants has resulted in $10,000 to $15,000 in savings to provide work opportunities to youth. Win-win!

Myth #2: Government grants are available purely based on a particular demographic like being youth or female

Many people mistakenly believe that if they are part of an underrepresented group like being a young person, part of a particular ethnic background or female, they are likely to get funding. Some people often search for “grants for women” or “grants for young entrepreneurs.” While there are many of these kinds grants from other organizations, you’re not likely to find them from the Canadian government.

Reality

There are definitely programs geared to indigenous businesses and sometimes more support for companies in rural areas. But there are actually few Canadian government business grants that are given to a business owner based mainly on the fact that the person is part of an underrepresented group.

Our client experience

We are often approached by business owners, particularly those in start-up mode who look for “the pot of gold” of grants because they fit within a demographic profile. But there is a component of fairness that the government needs to stay within to avoid discrimination against those who don’t meet demographic criteria.

Myth #3: Government grants are available for capital expenditures like buying new equipment

Many business owners believe that there is funding to help build a facility or buy equipment like new computer. While these are important aspects to run and grow a business, these purchases usually don’t fit in with the government’s current initiatives.  

Reality

It is rare for the Canadian government to offer free funding for capital expenditure. The government sees these expenses as operational and should be incurred by companies as they grow.

The government needs to justify why they are granting a particular organization with taxpayer dollars. Unless the purchases have a direct impact on their initiatives, grants in this arena don’t happen.

However, the government have has quite a few options for loan programs to support capital expenditures, particularly for small businesses.

Myth #4: The average Canadian government business grant is $100,000

Because the Canadian government gives out billions every year, people often think that each grant is usually in the $100,000s.

Reality

Most Canadian government grants range between $3,000 to $20,000. It is possible to apply for multiple grants and each one is a separate application.

Here are some common examples of grants within this range:

  1. BC Employer Training Grant

This grant provides up to $10,000 in funding towards training skills for new or current employees for courses offered in B.C. or online. The type of training funding employees can get varies and includes:

  • Industry certifications like tourism and hospitality certificate
  • Management training
  • Essential skills
  • Social media marketing
  • Soft skills
  • Training to operate a specific software, equipment or machinery
  1. Digital Tech Internship

This hiring grant covers 50% of wages and provides a maximum wage subsidy of up to $15,000 for employers to hire a recent graduate aged 30 or under in digital tech positions.

  1. Post-Farm Food Safety Program

This market expansion program covers 70% of costs and provides a max grant of $20,000 for B.C. food and beverage manufacturers to enhance or establish food safety systems and practices in their business operations.

Our client experience

We have helped many companies take advantage of hiring grants that lead to significant savings. It’s not uncommon for businesses to receive multiple grants within the same program. For example, companies will often hire a new developer and digital analyst. Hiring these new employees could result in $20,000 to $40,000 in savings through government grants. One grant program, leveraged twice.

We had one client who needed someone to help the company promote online to new markets, attend trade shows in foreign locations and get their brand strategy together. The company received a $20,000 government grant to hire a recent graduate.

After the new employee came on board, the company realized they needed to upskill their digital marketing efforts. Because of this, they also got another $8,000 through a training grant to support their digital promotion activities.

Because the business was also engaging in international marketing efforts, they could also qualify for Canadian government grants between $10,000 to $50,000.

There are many opportunities to save money when companies apply to all of the grants they are eligible for.

Myth #5: Companies can rely on government grants as a regular funding source

There are some businesses that are able to access funding programs every year, but this is definitely not the case for most companies.

Reality

Grants change all the time and should always be considered as a bonus source of money rather than a reliable funding source for companies. The best way to leverage government grants is to look at activities that a business engages in and determine which grants could benefit the project.

Our client experience

Companies that are in growth mode, hiring people, training their current staff or expanding into new foreign markets are some of the general types of grants that Canadian businesses can take advantage of.

However, the funding often requires a matching contribution and pre-approvals before a company can engage in the grantable activities. Some government grant programs can also take a few months to review the application. So if business owners need cash flow within a month of applying for a grant, they usually won’t see a cheque another 90 to 120 days even if they were awarded the grant.  

Sometimes, the grant is a reimbursement program. This means you won’t get a cheque until all activities proposed are complete, receipts are sent in and a report is provided. In these cases, relying on Canadian government business grants as a funding source is a challenge.

Conclusion

We have heard every myth about Canadian government business grants and these are the top five:

  • Myth #1: Government grants are only for large companies that are innovative
  • Myth #2: Government grants are available purely based on a particular demographic like being youth or female
  • Myth #3: Government grants are available for capital expenditures like buying new equipment
  • Myth #4: The average Canadian government business grant is $100,000
  • Myth #5: Companies can rely on government grants as a regular funding source

Now that you know the reality of these Canadian government grant myths, don’t let these misconceptions stop you from applying for funding your business could be eligible for. There are a variety of hiring grants, government grants specifically for small business and employee training grants you can apply for.

We understand how confusing it can be in the world grants. So please contact us anytime you have questions on which government grants your business could be eligible for.

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