Addressing agri-food sector labour force challenges
Learn about funding for not-for-profit organizations that support a strong labour force for the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector.
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Purpose of Project Category
Short-term projects that focus on helping to build a resilient and strong labour force for the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector by assisting to identify and address challenges and opportunities related to promoting, attracting, training and retaining labour.
Project partnerships of not-for-profit organizations* involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector that:
- are heavily impacted by labour shortages; and
- have the capacity to address gaps currently facing the sector and/or region.
A not-for profit organization* may be eligible to apply as a sole applicant but will be given lower merit/preference in comparison to partnerships.
*Ontario-based not-for-profit organization (including Ontario Indigenous communities or organizations, and municipalities) that is not an academic/research institution, may apply as a sole applicant.
For-profit businesses are not eligible to apply.
Eligible projects include those that:
- Investigate challenges related to labour supply access, and identify opportunities to strengthen access to suitable labour supply and labour retention in the sector
- Support activities that require additional data or validation prior to the implementation of labour attraction or training projects
- Work to characterize and understand methods to reach identified labour force audiences
- Implement new or enhanced approaches to attracting or retaining labour (e.g. promotion of in-demand skills and career opportunities in the sector)
- Develop/implement new or existing programs or expand existing successful sector specific training approaches that address identified current and emerging challenges
Project Category Priorities
- Projects that conduct sector level labour and/or training needs assessments, audits or analysis with action plans to leverage other skills and training programming available in Ontario (e.g. Skills Advance Ontario).
- Projects that connect available labour supply with opportunities in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector.
- Projects that meet the needs of a specific sector and/or region.
- Projects that involve partnerships with the appropriate industry partners.
- Funding is available for up to 70 per cent of eligible costs up to $250,000. Funding requests for less than 70 per cent of eligible costs are preferred.
- Implementing new, enhanced or expanded approaches to attract, train or retain labour, such as:
- Marketing and promotional activities
- First-time planning, organizing and/or participating in workforce recruitment events in Canada (beyond normal business)
- Needs assessments, plans, audits or analysis
- Implementing new, existing or proven training approaches that address specific identified workforce needs including training related to Food Safety and Traceability, improved labour productivity or another labour skills gap
- Providing direct support for people working on the project for labour expenses such as travel costs, accommodations, meals, etc.
- Providing direct support for business hiring or wage subsidies
- Providing direct support to existing employees for labour expenses, such as travel costs, accommodations, meals etc.
- Purchasing capital items
Terms and Conditions
Applying for Cost-share Funding
Who may apply?
Two or more legally recognized entities that have an Arm's Length relationship from each other and are working together as partners on a project may apply, provided that each entity:
- is engaged in the project and will be contributing cash or in-kind resources towards the project;
- is involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector; and
- is in compliance with all Requirements of Law and agrees to remain in compliance with all Requirements of Law for the duration of the project.
Applicants must be represented by a lead entity capable of entering into a funding agreement with the Province of Ontario. The lead entity must provide a Canada Revenue Agency Business Number as part of the application process.
Applications from multiple partners are preferred.
An entity that meets all eligibility criteria, is not-for-profit and Ontario-based (including Ontario Indigenous communities or organizations, and municipalities) and is not an academic/research institution, may apply as a sole applicant. An entity that does not meet these criteria can not apply as a sole applicant.
For-profit businesses are not eligible to apply.
What types of projects are ineligible?
Projects that are not eligible for cost-share funding include those that:
- promote Ontario products explicitly over those of another province or territory and/or include Ontario specific promotional campaigns or branding (including the use of the Foodland Ontario logo)
- involve directly influencing or lobbying any level of government
- support normal operating costs associated with carrying out business or facility expansions
- have the sole purpose of coming into or maintaining compliance with Requirements of the Law that pertain to current operations
- support activities related to aquaponic food production, aquaculture, seaweed, fish and seafood production and processing
- are located outside of Ontario
When may projects start and finish?
A project cannot start prior to the date that OMAFRA approves the project. This date will be communicated in the Approval Letter to the lead entity. Eligible costs can only be Incurred, invoiced and paid for on or after the start date.
Projects must be implemented and completed no later than September 30, 2022, and according to the Terms and Conditions of the Contribution Agreement between the Province of Ontario and the successful lead entity.
How is an application assessed?
All complete applications received are evaluated based only on the information submitted and will not be considered if they do not meet eligibility criteria or if they are incomplete.
Complete applications that meet eligibility criteria are assessed using Merit Assessment Criteria. A merit-based application review process is used to allocate cost-share funds to projects that best meet Merit Assessment Criteria. Only applications that best meet the Merit Assessment Criteria will be approved.
What Merit Assessment Criteria are used to assess an application?
The Merit Assessment Criteria used to assess an application are:
Relevance to intended results of the Partnership funding:
- demonstrated direct alignment with the Project Category Priorities
- Project that conduct sector level labour and/or training needs assessments, audits or analysis with action plans to leverage other skills and training programming available in Ontario (e.g. Skills Advance Ontario)
- Projects that connect available labour supply with opportunities in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector
- Projects that meet the needs of specific sectors and regions
- Projects that involve partnerships with the appropriate industry partners
- demonstrated need/benefits/rationale for the project
- extent to which the project and its activities are new, enhanced or expanded for the applicant/sector(s)
- impact on economic growth
Benefit to sector/industry:
- documented industry support and partnerships/alliances with others; increased merit for projects depending on scope and level of participation of partners.
- extent to which there will be broad impact/benefit across sector/industry
Likelihood of success:
- demonstrated adequate resources, experience and skills to successfully complete the project
- demonstrated financial capacity to cash flow project costs
- demonstrated well-defined budget, with reasonable project costs that align with the defined eligible/ineligible costs for the applicable Project Category
Supporting documentation submitted with the application shows:
- Project costs are substantiated (e.g., quotes, in-kind cost breakdown, details on specific budget activities, etc.)
- A detailed work plan is provided for the project that shows the internal and external resources that will support project implementation
How do I submit an application?
Lead entities can apply for Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges programming beginning October 21, 2021. Detailed instructions for completing and submitting application forms are provided on the first page of the application form. It is critical that applicants follow these instructions to ensure their application is received and can be reviewed.
Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges application form can be found here. The additional form for entities that are not the lead entity is available here. This cost-share intake will remain open while funding is available.
Note: the form must be filled out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Although your form may appear to be filled out correctly when using non-Adobe software, Adobe Acrobat Reader is the only software that will properly retain your form details. Other PDF reader software, including your internet browser, is not compatible with this form. If you do not already have Adobe software on your computer, you can download a free version here: get.adobe.com/reader
Completed applications, including all required documentation, should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you submit an application, but do not receive an acknowledgement within two business days, please contact OMAFRA at: 1-877-424-1300.
How often can I apply?
- There is a limit of one application that a lead entity can submit.
How will I be notified of cost-share funding decisions?
The lead entity will be notified by email once an application has been reviewed and a decision has been made. There are two possible outcomes:
- Application is approved - the lead entity will receive an Approval Letter with details (e.g., value of cost-share approved, earliest project start date) and be required to enter into a Contribution Agreement with the Province of Ontario and follow all of its terms and conditions. The lead entity will also receive confirmation of Claim procedures and submission deadlines, and a Final Report that must be submitted at the completion of the project. The lead entity will be required to register their business information through the province's Transfer Payment Ontario (TPON) system, an online registration tool. The completion of the TPON is required before an agreement can be executed by the Ministry.
- Application is declined - the lead entity will receive a brief explanation for the decision.
Claiming Cost-share Funding for Approved Projects
When is cost-share funding paid?
Approved cost-share funding is paid after the lead entity has Incurred and paid for expenses and has submitted a Claim package that meets all requirements and has been approved by OMAFRA.
Each eligible expenditure is reimbursed at the approved cost share funding percentage.
There will be a 10 per cent holdback of reimbursement until a Final Report for the project is received and approved by OMAFRA. The Final Report submitted for the project must include a certification that the project has been completed within the project timelines stated in the Contribution Agreement, and the project must fulfil all other requirements stated in the Contribution Agreement.
How is a Claim submitted?
Claims should be submitted to OMAFRA by the lead entity no later than the Claim deadline date given in the Contribution Agreement.
OMAFRA may request any additional information from the applicants that is deemed necessary (e.g., copies of any permits obtained by the applicant in conducting the project, photos).
What your Claim package must contain:
- Completed Claim Form
- Proofs of payment
- Copies of all paid invoices
- In-Kind Claim Declaration Form (if applicable)
Proof of payment must verify:
- Who paid
- Who received payment
- The amount of payment
- The date of payment
Proof of payment may be any one of the following:
- Copy of front and back of cancelled cheque
- Electronic image of processed cheque
- Statement from banking institution indicating to whom the processed cheque was written, or electronic payment made, and for what amount
- Credit card or debit card receipt or statement clearly identifying amount and to whom the payment was made. Credit card or debit card numbers and other information, including costs that are unrelated to the project, should be blacked out
What costs are eligible for cost-share funding?
Eligible costs must be specifically required for implementation of the project, and may include the following within any limits given elsewhere in this guide, including in the applicable Project Category Description:
- cost of goods (including supplies), services and all related shipping or transportation costs
- costs of labour that is specifically dedicated to the project (such as contract salaries, benefits, and specific per diem fees)
- costs of land rental for research purposes
- costs for rental of facilities, equipment or machinery
- costs of communication materials including design, printing, translation, etc.
- for research services costs, overhead of a service supplier that is a research institution, to a maximum of 25 per cent of applicable eligible costs
- in-kind contributions to the limit of 15 per cent of the approved value of eligible project costs (see section: What in-kind contributions are eligible for cost-share funding?)
- travel and meal expenses (see section: What travel and meal expenses are eligible for cost-share funding?)
When incurring eligible costs, applicants must follow a process that is transparent, fair and promotes the best value for the money.
All suppliers from which goods or services are purchased must be at Arm's Length from the applicants, meaning not related to the applicants, not affiliated with the applicants, or controlled in any way by the applicants. If you have any questions about whether a supplier meets this requirement, please contact OMAFRA at 1-877-424-1300 or email@example.com.
What in-kind contributions are eligible for cost-share funding?
In order to be eligible, in-kind contributions must be identified and approved as such in the application for an approved project. In-kind contributions are paid after all reimbursement requirements are met, and the project is complete.
Allowable in-kind contributions and the documentation required when making a Claim are:
|Use of equipment|
|Materials and supplies|
|Use of land and facilities|
What travel and meal expenses are eligible for cost-share funding?
In order to be eligible, travel and meal costs must be identified and approved as such in the application for an approved project.
Eligible cost-share funding for travel expenses for an approved project may be claimed when the most economical transportation and accommodation (i.e., single accommodation in a standard room) is chosen.
The maximum eligible costs for personal vehicles driven within Ontario are:
|Number of Kilometres||Southern Ontario ($/km)||Northern Ontario ($/km)|
|More than 24,000 km||0.24||0.25|
Reimbursement for meal expenses is subject to the maximum eligible cost value set out in the table below. Original, itemized receipts are required, and the eligible cost value will not exceed the actual amount spent. Taxes and gratuities are included in the maximum eligible cost value.
Reimbursement is for restaurant/prepared food only and not available for alcohol purchases.
Maximum eligible costs for meals:
|Meal Type||Maximum Eligible Costs|
What costs are not eligible for cost-share funding?
Ineligible costs include but are not limited to costs identified as such in the Project Category Description, and the following:
- Costs Incurred before the approval of the project by OMAFRA or after the project completion date identified in the Contribution Agreement between the applicant and the Province of Ontario
- Costs Incurred in preparing an application
- Any cost not specifically required for implementation of the project
- Normal costs of establishing, expanding or operating a business or organization
- Normal costs of implementation of a facility expansion
- Goods or services provided by federal or provincial government departments or agencies
- Deposits (prepayments) for which goods or services are not yet fully received
- Costs for training and skills development projects that fulfill any academic requirements towards completion of a diploma or degree
- Mentoring and coaching, unless otherwise indicated in a Project Category Description
- Sponsorship of conferences and learning events or initiatives
- Membership costs
- Any travel or in-kind costs beyond those provided for in this Guide
- Consultant and other contractor expenses for any hospitality (e.g., provision of food or beverages at events), incidentals or food
- Hospitality (e.g., venue rental, food, beverages, AV, etc.)
- Purchase or lease of land, building or facilities
- Costs of vehicles, transportation equipment, mobile material handling equipment (powered or unpowered), and construction and agriculture machinery (e.g., farm equipment)
- Financing charges, loan and lease interest payments, bank fees and charges as well as debt restructuring or fundraising
- Gifts and incentives
- Permits and approvals
- Legal fees
- Costs related to activities that promote Ontario products explicitly over those of another province or territory
- Costs related to activities that directly influence or lobby any level of government
- Costs of basic research
- Taxes, including Harmonized Sales Tax
- Any refund or rebate the applicant receives or is eligible to receive
- Any Capital Cost item that is funded by government sources at 75 per cent or more
Can I stack cost-share funding for the same project?
Applicants can only access one funding source under the Partnership for a single project. However, applicants may access other government funding as long as those other programs also allow stacking. The maximum level of total assistance provided from all sources is 100 per cent of the total eligible costs. All funding for a project, including from additional sources, must be listed on the application.
Approval Letter: A letter, sent by email from OMAFRA, that is a notification of a conditional approval and stipulates the amount of approved cost-share funding.
Arm's Length: An entity is considered Arm's Length if they are not related, not affiliated persons, or otherwise controlled by another member or members. Refer to Section 251 of the Income Tax Act (Canada) for the detailed statutory provision for determining Arm's Length relationships. If you have any questions about whether a supplier meets this requirement, please contact OMAFRA at 1-877-424-1300.
Capital Costs: Include costs of machinery, equipment, software development/purchase and installation; renovations; site improvements; leasehold improvements; building improvements and construction.
Claim: A report submitted by the recipient to the Province of Ontario to provide the Province of Ontario with information on which to base a reimbursement payment. Claims must meet all of the requirements stated in the Contribution Agreement between the Province of Ontario and the recipient for the project.
Contribution Agreement: A legal agreement that applicants must enter into with the Province of Ontario if the project is approved. The legal agreement contains the terms and conditions that the applicant must follow to receive cost-share funding.
Incurred (Cost): A cost for which a business has become liable to pay.
Merit Assessment Criteria: Criteria used to establish the level of merit for funding of each eligible application.
Project Category: Cost-share funding is made available under specific Project Categories, which each have their own parameters, criteria, and terms and conditions.
Project Category Description: Each Project Category Description provides the parameters, criteria and terms and conditions specific to a Project Category under which cost-share funding is made available.
Requirements of Law: All applicable Requirements of Law, as may be set out in statutes, regulations, by-laws, codes, rules, ordinances, official plans, approvals, permits, licenses, authorizations, decrees, injunctions, orders and declarations, or any other similar Requirement of Law.
In order to apply, the lead entity must agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership ("the Partnership") Cost-share.
The lead entity must be a legal entity that is eligible under the Partnership Cost-share. The individual who signs the application form must be a person who is authorized by the lead entity to sign the form on behalf of the lead entity and to bind the lead entity to the contents therein. The lead entity is referred to as the applicant below. This person is referred to as "you" below.
You must certify on the application that:
- You have read, understand, and agree to abide by all requirements of the Partnership Cost-share.
- All information submitted on the application is true and complete, to the best of your knowledge, belief and understanding.
- All sources of funding for the proposed project, other than the applicants', have been disclosed in this application, including sources and amounts from federal, provincial and municipal governments, and such funds do not, and will, not exceed 100 per cent of total project costs.
- The applicant does not currently owe any money to Ontario, or you have attached a description of the applicant's debt to Ontario to this application.
- You are not, nor is any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) a current or former federal public office holder or federal public servant, or, if you, or any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are a current or former federal public officer holder or federal public servant, you or that officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Act, the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-employment, as applicable.
- You are not, nor is any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any), a member of the House of Commons or of the Senate, or if you, or any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are, you or the officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are permitted under the Parliament of Canada Act to receive funding from Canada under the Partnership.
You must further certify on the Application, that the applicant:
- Shall retain all records relating to any payments made to the applicant under the Partnership including, all invoices and proof of payment for at least seven (7) years from the date on which payment was received by the applicant.
- Shall consent to Ontario, Ontario's program administrator (if any) or Canada publishing information about the project/activities funded including the amount of funding the applicant has been approved to receive and/or has received under the Partnership, the nature and results of any project/activities funded, along with the applicant's name.
You must further acknowledge and accept that:
- The Partnership is a discretionary, non-entitlement program and the applicant is not entitled to funding merely as a consequence of submitting an application. Payment is subject to Ontario receiving all the necessary appropriations from the Ontario Legislature, Ontario receiving all the necessary monies from Canada, the applicant and the applicant's project (including all activities) satisfying eligibility criteria, eligible expenses criteria, as well as the applicant's compliance with all terms and conditions of the Partnership.
- If it is determined the applicant has received a payment the applicant was not eligible to receive, through administrative error or otherwise, the applicant will repay any and all payments that the applicant was not eligible to receive as well as any surplus funding.
- Any payments made to the applicant may be subject to recovery or offset against the applicant's pre-existing debts to the Crown in Right of Ontario or Canada.
- Ontario, Ontario's program administrator (if any) or, Canada, including, their respective Ministers, directors, officers, agents, employees or representatives (as applicable) shall not be liable for any damage or loss whatsoever, or howsoever arising, including, damage or loss arising from any advice, opinions, representations, warranties or the provision of information under the Partnership.
- The information provided for the Partnership may be disclosed by Ontario or Ontario's program administrator (if any) on behalf of Ontario to verify compliance with other provincial and federal funding initiatives administered by Ontario or another program administrator on behalf of Ontario or by Ontario in order to confirm the information provided, to verify eligibility and to ensure there is no duplication of funding.
- The information provided to the Partnership may, with the exception of the Social Insurance Number of recipients of funding who are sole proprietors or unincorporated entities, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Ontario), the Access to Information Act (Canada) or Privacy Act (Canada).
You must consent to the following on behalf of the applicant:
- To provide accurate, timely and full information, including supporting documentation, to Ontario or Ontario's program administrator (if any) and will notify Ontario or Ontario's program administrator (if any) immediately in the event there are any changes to information provided.
- To provide Canada, Ontario and Ontario's program administrator (if any), as well as their authorized representatives, with any information or access to a person, place or thing within ten (10) business days of any request, field verification or audit.
- To comply with onsite field inspections and/or audits by Ontario or Ontario program administrator (if any) upon notice, and during normal business hours, to verify eligibility, and to evaluate compliance with the requirements of the Partnership.
- To comply with reviews by Ontario of information related to other programs and initiatives delivered by, or for, Ontario in which the applicant is enrolled or has applied.
- The use of the applicant's name and contact information by Ontario, Ontario's program administrator (if any) and/ or Canada to contact the applicant for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the Partnership programming, or for any other similar purpose.
In the event of a conflict between anything set out in Guidebooks, Guidelines and the Minister's Order, the Minister's Order will prevail.
Errors and Omissions Excepted.