Canada: Is Your Food & Beverage Processing Business Hiring? These Government Grants May Help

Last Updated: November 11 2014
Article by Caroline Copeman

The Agri-Food Industry Landscape

Most people are aware that Canada's food & beverage processing industry, as well as our agriculture sector, is a major component of our nation's GDP.

What you may not realize however, is just how many people are employed by the industry. In fact, studies have shown that 1 in 8 Canadian jobs are in the ag or agri-food industries, with 740,000 roles existing in Ontario alone. What's more, the industry is growing; 59% of agricultural businesses are projecting an increase in hiring over the next two years. Last year there were 56,000 ag-related job openings across North America and looking ahead over the next five years, 28% of jobs in this dynamic field will be unfilled, creating plenty of opportunity for employment across a range of fields.

Both federal and provincial government bodies recognize the importance of this industry to Canada's economy. In Ontario, the government actually supports food & beverage processors by providing grants to offset hiring costs. If you're looking to hire new employees, be sure to look into these three grants to uncover what opportunities may be available for your business. For other types of government grants, please see our An Overview Of Grants For Your Agri-Food Business  blog post as well.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada– Career Focus Program

If your business hires recent graduates in agriculture, agri-food science or veterinary medicine, you may be eligible for one of the 80 agricultural internships as part of the Career Focus Program.

Each internship is meant to last between 4-12 months and provide a meaningful experience for the graduate. For example, you could potentially hire an intern to conduct research on the varying control methods used in a greenhouse.

Applications for the next round of funding are available on a first come, first served basis and are only open until November 15, 2014, for projects commencing on or after April 1, 2015. Each project can be funded for up to 50% of total eligible costs, up to a maximum of $20,000 in matching funds. To learn more, click here.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Rural Economic Development (RED) Program

This program focuses on job creation in rural Ontario in the areas of food processing, community revitalization and skills training. Any rurally-based food & beverage processing business can apply to develop a project related to youth attraction / retention, leadership development, job fairs, mentorship programs or industry training.

Funding can go toward the wages for new hires that will be completely dedicated to this new project, provided no other provincial funding has been allocated to the project, the business is also willing to provide funding and has the experience and knowledge to complete it. There are two streams of funding available: planning and implementation. For details on the two streams and how to apply, click here.

National Council Canada - Youth Employment Program

This youth-oriented program is designed to provide post-secondary graduates opportunities to work on technical projects, as well as technology-related projects, including research and development, market analysis, business development, multimedia, custom service improvement and engineering.

Businesses may apply for funding of up to $20,000 per employee, with two graduates hired for six-to-twelve-month terms. Since this program is geared toward innovation, your business must be willing to work with the National Research Council's Industrial Research Alliance Program (IRAP).

In addition, you must have 500 or less full-time employees and seek out a potential employee under the age of 31 before submitting an application to the program. One example of how this program could be applied to a food & beverage processing business is through hiring a recent graduate to determine the benefits of implementing a new traceability system for your cattle company. To learn more about accessing this program, click here.

Getting Started

While there are plenty of funding opportunities available for expanding your workforce, understanding which program is best suited for your current and future hiring needs can be a challenge. Working with a professional that understands your industry, hiring needs and the grant application process can help streamline your funding applications and lead to a higher rate of fulfillment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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