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Ask the Expert: Government Funding for Businesses

Expert: Sharon Monahan

Dan asked:

Where can I find access to the best government funding for business growth grants and loans? My business is now 4 years old and I have discovered that most of the government assistance is available only to new businesses.

Sharon Monahan answered:

You are absolutely correct. There are a lot of programs out there that are specifically for new business startups. These are usually some sort of self-employment or youth employment initiative. There are however quite a few programs available for expanding existing operations. The bottom line for most government departments or agencies is, will your proposed venture create new employment or as it is often referred to, incremental employment? If your proposed venture is simply to maintain existing employment levels, (commonly referred to as employment maintenance) you will find that you will not be eligible for most programs. Oddly enough, employment maintenance is not a priority with most departments or agencies.

There are several places to look for information on these programs such as the Canada Business Service Center and Industry Canada's Strategis website. Personally I find these sites to be somewhat cumbersome and lacking information on provincial and local/regional programs.

There are also a few publications on the market claiming to have information on every government program available. The last time I checked these were quite pricey. As well, based on my years in the public service, I can tell you that programs fall in and out of favour so fast, that I'm not sure how up to date a printed resource would be.

This brings me to my favourite resource, "The Business Guide To Government Programs" (shameless plug). This is our very own site which we have developed over the last year. It concentrates exclusively on programs offering financial assistance to new and expanding businesses and it contains information on all levels of Canadian government programs. We also notify our website subscribers of any new program announcements so you don't have to worry about missing out on that one program that could mean all the difference. Check out the site at

I hope I have been of some assistance and whatever source you choose, happy hunting.

About the author

Sharon Monahan is President of "The Business Guide Inc.", a consulting firm specializing in government financial assistance programs and developers of "The Business Guide To Government Programs", a website and CD-ROM on Canadian government financial assistance programs. For more information, check out her company's website at

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