Overview

The Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund Program helps enhance processing capacity in Ontario through investments in major expansions and modernization of food processing facilities.

The Program supports high-impact Projects in businesses looking to expand existing operations/facilities, or Projects creating Net New Processing Capacity with exceptional economic opportunities.

These strategic investments will increase sector competitiveness and allow for the retention of existing markets, as well as access to new markets for the sector.

Program outcomes

Proposed Projects should strongly align with the following outcomes:

Increased processing capacity

Increased processing capacity through investments in infrastructure and/or new equipment to scale up and grow businesses capacity to produce food in Ontario.

Market expansion and retention

Competitiveness derived from the Project leads to increased market share domestically or internationally, and access to new markets for Ontario businesses or market retention. Increased competitiveness also allows for the retention of existing markets.

Regional impact

Support processing capacity in rural and northern areas.

Sectoral importance

Addresses a critical need for the sector/supply chain, or produces broader environmental, social, or economic public good, or strategic benefit beyond those derived by the individual business because of the Project.

Eligibility

An Eligible Processor (Established or a New Entrant) is a legal entity that Transforms or will Transform agricultural commodities, food and beverages in Ontario for human consumption. This includes primary food processing activities, such as any of the following: cutting, cleaning, packaging, storing and refrigerating raw plant or animal-based food products.

Note: alcoholic beverages and cannabis infused food or beverage products are not eligible.

Eligible Processors must meet the criteria of the Project Category that they are applying to, and:

  • be and remain in compliance with all Requirements Of Law for the duration of the Project
  • have a valid and up-to-date Premises Identification (PID) Number for the business location where the project is to take place (if applicable)
  • provide a Canada Revenue Agency Business Number as part of the application process, if applicable
  • be capable of entering into a Contribution Agreement with the Province of Ontario and meeting their obligations under it
  • be registered to carry out business in Ontario

Types of eligible business

  • Established Processor — a business that meets the definition of a processor and has three years or more of operations and three years of audited financial statements.
  • New Entrant— a business that meets the definition of a Processor, with less than three years of operations and are looking to start-up or have recently opened a New Premises in Ontario.
  • Spin-out — a newly established business formed from a subsidiary of an established business that meets the definition of a Processor, that does not yet have a New Premises in Ontario or is expanding an Existing Premises

A list of ineligible Processors is available here.

Program Categories

Funding is available through the following Program Categories:

Program Categoriesfootnote *

Overview of project types

Funding

New Production Capacity and Major Expansion of Existing Capacity

Two main project types under these categories:

Creation of New Production Capacity

Major Expansion of Existing Capacity

  • physically expanding or converting non-production space that creates Net New Processing Capacity within an Existing Premises in Ontario

Funding will target building processing capacity in rural and northern Ontario.

  • 20% of eligible costs, to a maximum provincial investment of $3 million per business.
  • Suggest minimum total project value is $5 million
  • Additional cost share incentive of 5% is available for eligible business with projects in Rural or Northern or an Applicant who is an Indigenous Person

Production Modernization

Modernization of an Existing Premises through the adoption of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology within the footprint of an Existing Premises, that will result in increased processing capacity.

Funding will target projects in rural and northern Ontario.

  • 15% of eligible costs, to a maximum provincial investment of $500,000 per business.
  • Suggested minimum total project value is $2 million.
  • Additional cost share incentive of 5% is available for eligible business with projects in Rural or Northern or an Applicant who is an Indigenous Person

Funding decisions will not be made until after the June 2, 2022 provincial election and a new government is sworn in.

Program category descriptions: New Production Capacity and Major Expansion of Existing Capacity

Purpose of program categories

The New Production and Major Expansions of Existing Capacity categories will fund high impact projects that present exceptional economic opportunities and will substantially create Net New Processing capacity to the province. Funding will target building processing capacity in rural and northern Ontario.

Target audience

Eligible Food Processing businesses, looking to undertake a major expansion, either through starting-up a New Premises in Ontario or expanding Existing Premises, that will result in Net New Provincial Processing Capacity.

Project eligibility

  • Projects that will lead to the creation of Net New Processing Capacity from either a:
    • new plant construction and adoption of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology with the intent of establishing a Processor business at that New Premises;
    • major expansion to an Existing Facility with the intent of establishing or continuing to operate a Processor business
  • Projects must have all required building/construction approvals and permits in place by the date on the Project Letter of Approval, if they have not already been secured at time of application.
  • Applicants requiring a license to operate must demonstrate that it will be fully compliant and licensed to operate by the end of the project to receive funding. For example: meat processing, companies must be able to demonstrate that they will be fully licensed (Under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (Canada) or under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001) by the end of the project.

Project types examples for each category

The following are examples of potential Projects that may be eligible under these Program Categories. This is not an exhaustive list and is meant to provide examples only. Individual Project details and costs should be reviewed against these Guidelines in their entirety.

Project Category One: New Production Capacity

  • A New Entrant that is a spin-out of another established Processor looking to construct a New Premises in Rural Ontario will create a new market for local producers that have been adversely impacted by a recent closure along its supply chain.
  • An Established Processor looking to open a second location and purchased a previously operational facility. The facility will require major renovations and net new processing lines that will fundamentally change to the type of processing the facility is able to accommodate and results in net new processing opportunities for regional suppliers in an underserved area

Project Category Two: Major Expansion of Existing Capacity

  • An Established Processor that is looking to expand its operation to double the number of lines producing its product, and through the adoption of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technologies within its operation with a 3000 square foot addition and will result in a 225% increase in production capacity, allowing it to retain market as demand for the products from key retailers increases.

Cost-share funding

  • Applicants may apply for up to 20% of Eligible Costs, to a maximum of $3 million per Applicant. Funding may be provided at the amount or percentage requested or at a reduced amount or percentage, depending on the merit assessment of the Project and funding availability.
  • Additional cost share incentive of 5% (to a maximum of 25%), for eligible businesses with projects in Rural, Northern or Applicant who is an Indigenous Person.

Project size

  • The suggested minimum total project value is $5.0 million.

Eligible Costs

New construction and construction of major expansions of existing facilities, including the adoption of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology and Equipment.

For approved Projects in this Program Category only, Eligible Costs can be incurred on or after the application submission date of July 25, 2022. The Province will not pay for any costs an Applicant incurs if the Applicant is not successful in having its Project approved.

Get the full list of Eligible and Ineligible Costs.

Plants must be operational by the Project’s completion date.

How to apply

Because of the size and scope of these Projects in these Project Categories, there are two key steps in the application process:

  • (1) An eligibility checklist.
  • (2) The application form.

Applicants must submit the Eligibility Checklist first. The Eligibility Checklist is to confirm the business and project appears to meet eligibility requirements.

Please note: If an Applicant meets the eligibility criteria at the Eligibility Checklist stage, the Applicant may still be found to be ineligible following a more detailed merit-assessment of the Application Form or the proposed Project may not merit being funded because other proposed Projects receive a higher merit evaluation. Determination of eligibility for funding is at the sole discretion of the province.

How to submit an Eligibility Checklist

  • Download the eligibility checklist
  • The Eligibility Checklist must be filled out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Applicants who complete this form using non-Adobe software will be required to redo and resubmit using Adobe software before it can be accepted.
  • Applicants must submit a completed Eligibility Checklist using the electronic checklist form and email to strategicfoodprocessing@ontario.ca.
  • The Eligibility Checklist must be submitted by April 22, 2022 by 5:00 p.m. EDT. Late submissions will not be accepted.
  • All complete Eligibility Checklists will be reviewed, and decisions communicated to the applicant.
  • Applicants found to be eligible will receive an application form by email.

Submitting an application

Only Applicants who have submitted an Eligibility Checklist and have been found to be eligible will receive an application by email

Eligible Applicants must submit a completed application form including all required documentation by the deadline of July 25, 2022, as outlined on the application.

Required documentation to support your application

The type of information that Applicants will be expected to provide based upon their business type, includes, but not limited to:

Required documentsEstablished ProcessorNew EntrantsSpin-Out
Business analysis documents (for example business plan etc.)YesYesYes
Quote(s) detailing proposed Project costs of eligible technology or equipment and, if applicable, the software necessary for technology integrationYesYesYes
Quote(s) or proposal(s) from third-party consultants or contractors conducting construction/facility modifications, detailing services to be provided, and costsYesYesYes
Purchase and sale agreement of the facility (land) or lease agreement highlighting the key terms (price, term and entities) (if applicable)YesYesYes
License, permit or plan – Copy of the approved license, permit, plan required for the project. If not approved yet, submit evidence in motion of getting the approval of the necessary license/permit/plan in order to meet commercialization within a set period from Project completion.YesYesYes
Any applicable zoning documents for facilities, specifically confirming that the operating premises and planned expansions are in compliance with local zoning.YesYesYes
If Applicant is incorporated, please provide:
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Articles of Amendment
  • Shareholder Register or ownership structure that clearly outlines the ownership percentage of the company
YesYesYes
If Applicant is a partnership or a sole proprietorship, please provide:
  • Master Business License
  • Partnership Agreement
  • list of partners
YesYesYes
Any lending institution funding source to support the proposed Project (such as a loan), please indicate the following amounts:
  • current loan amount outstanding
  • average interest rate
  • annual long term debt payments to be made for the next five years
YesYesYes
Projected financial statements for the next five years, this should include:
  • forecasted balance sheet
  • forecasted cash flow statement
  • forecasted income statement
The income statement can be project specific or for the entire company.
YesYesYes
Historical annual financial statements for the previous three years, this will include:
  • Audited financial statement: income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement.
  • Confirmation/evidence of financial capacity to cash flow the project such bank letters indicating sufficient resources to cash flow project.
YesN/AN/A
  • Financial capacity to cash for project. Confirmation/evidence of financial capacity to cash flow the project such bank letters indicating sufficient resources to cash flow project.
  • Demonstrate three years of operation or management experience in a relevant sector or equivalent experience.
  • Organizational chart indicating the members of the senior management team.
N/AYesN/A
  • Financial capacity to cash for project. Confirmation/evidence of financial capacity to cash flow the project such bank letters indicating sufficient resources to cash flow project.
  • Demonstrate three years of operation or management experience in a relevant sector or equivalent experience.
  • Corporate family tree that sets out the corporate structure showing the parent, affiliates and related entities of the applicant and their relationship with one another (if applicable).
N/AN/AYes

Optional – Letters of support for the proposed Project from potential supply-chain partners and broader agri-food sector.

Letters cannot be from sources with a direct financial stake in, or other close connection to, the project (such as a member of the board of directors, an employee of a company supplying a new piece of equipment for the project).

Application assessment process

Assessments will be based upon the information provided in the application form. A merit-based application review process will be used to allocate available funding to Projects that best meet merit assessment criteria.

Funding is approved through a competitive merit-based process. Although a Project may meet all Program outcomes and criteria, there is no guarantee it will be approved, as there may be other Projects submitted that more effectively meet program outcomes and merit criteria.

The minister maintains sole authority to approve projects.

Merit assessment criteria

Projects will be assessed based upon the following criteria:

1. General Project Impact and Benefits

Demonstrated alignment to Program outcomes. Higher Project merit scores will be assigned to the following priority outcomes for this category, and Applicants should ensure their Projects strongly aligns with the outcomes below, in order of importance:

  • Increased processing capacity:
    • increased processing capacity through investments in infrastructure and/or new equipment to scale up and grow businesses capacity to produce food in Ontario.
  • Market expansion and retention:
    • competitiveness derived from the project leads to increased market share domestically or internationally, access to new markers for Ontario businesses and/or market retention
      • note: Projects that only preserve or retain existing market share for a business will not receive as much merit as those increasing access in these Categories.
  • Sectoral importance:
    • produces broader environmental, social, or economic public good, or strategic benefit beyond those derived by the individual business because of the Project
    • addresses a critical need for the sector/supply chain
  • Upskilling
    • Project creates development opportunities for the agri-food sector workforce though upskilling existing jobs (for example a job that will be reclassified as a higher-skill position by the end of the Project)

Additional merit will be awarded to Projects that demonstrate alignment with the general Program outcomes above and show:

  • Regional impact:
    • support processing capacity to decrease regional disparity or improve access for underserved areas located in Rural or Northern Ontario
    • positively impacts local or regional economies (directly and/or indirectly).

2. Due diligence and project risks

Projects will be assessed based on financial and Project-based risk and mitigation strategies. Project risk factors and mitigation will be applied to a projects merit scoring, including:

  • appropriate financial and technical due diligence
  • project risks (such as financial, market, management risks), comprehensively identified, assessed, and mitigated.
  • project feasibility – the likelihood the project will be fully operational by Project end date

Projects will be reviewed by external due diligence advisors to assess the Applicant’s financial situation and risks associated with the Project (such as financial, market and technical assessors with knowledge of specific sectors to advise on likely impacts that the investments will have on the business’s productivity or the sector as well as assessment of Project risks). Additional documentation may be requested as part of the due diligence assessment process.

Compliance checks for Applicants include the following:

  • Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development—Health and Safety and Employment Standards
  • Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Accessibility compliance (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005)
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

External advisors engaged by Ontario will be bound by confidentiality agreements.

Project Start and End Dates

  • An eligible Project cannot start prior to the application submission date of July 25, 2022, the date the ministry indicates in the Project Approval Letter and that will be sent to a successful applicant after its application form has been assessed.
  • To be eligible for reimbursement, costs can only be incurred, invoiced, and paid for on or after July 25, 2022, the date of application submission date, as set out in the Approval Letter and before the project completion date. The province will not pay for any costs an Applicant incurs if the Applicant is not successful in having its Project approved.
  • Projects that are fully completed at the time of application is submitted are not eligible.

Projects must be implemented and completed no later January 15, 2024, and in accordance with all the other terms and conditions of the Contribution Agreement between the Province of Ontario and a successful Applicant.

Program Category Descriptions – Production Modernization

Purpose of Program Category

Funding of Projects to modernize Existing Premises through the adoption of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology, that will increase efficiency and productivity, to expand their capacity to process food.

Target audience

Eligible Processors, ready to implement Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology to increase efficiency and productivity resulting in significant increase processing capacity

Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology means semi or fully automated, robotic, or digitized technology and equipment that improves manufacturing or production productivity.

Project examples

The following are examples of potential Projects that may be eligible under this Category. This is not an exhaustive list and is meant to provide examples only. Individual Project details and costs should be reviewed against the Program Guidelines in their entirety.

  • A New Entrant looking to restart a recently closed business under new ownership. The project will leverage the existing lines of the plant but will improve efficiency and production capacity through the adoption of advanced technology along multiple production steps of the lines resulting in a significant increase in throughput from what the plant was able to process in its prior state.
  • An Established Processor is looking to adopt advanced technologies across all existing lines to improve efficiency and production capacity, allowing for retention of existing markets due to increased consumer demand.

Projects not Eligible

Upgrades to existing equipment models that do not advance the level of automation and only incrementally enhance processing productivity will not be considered Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology.

Cost-share

Applicants may apply for up to 15% of Eligible Costs, to a maximum of $500,000 per Applicant. Funding may be provided at the amount or percentage requested or at a reduced amount or percentage, depending on the merit assessment of the project and funding availability.

Additional cost share incentive of 5% (to a maximum of 20%), for eligible businesses with projects in Rural, Northern or Applicant who is an Indigenous Person

Project size

The suggested minimum total Project value is $2 million.

Eligible CostsAdoption of Advanced Automation/Manufacturing Technology and facility modifications that are required for the installation eligible technology/equipment.

Get the full list of Eligible and ineligible costs.

How to apply

  • Download the application form
  • The application form must be filled out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Applicants who complete this form using non-Adobe software will required to redo and resubmit using Adobe software before it can be accepted.
  • Applicants must submit a completed application using the electronic application form with all required documentation by email strategicfoodprocessing@ontario.ca
  • The application form and required documentation must be submitted by April 22, 2022 by 5:00 p.m. EDT. Late submissions will not be accepted.
  • All complete applications will be reviewed, and decisions communicated to the applicant.

Required documentation to be submitted with your complete application

The type of information that Applicants will be expected to provide based upon their business type, includes, but not limited to:

Required documentationEstablished ProcessorNew EntrantsSpin-Out
Quote(s) detailing proposed Project costs such as: eligible technology or equipment and, if applicable, the software necessary for technology integration.YesYesYes
Quote(s) or proposal(s) from third-party consultants or facility modifications, detailing services to be provided and costs.YesYesYes
Historical annual financial statements for the previous three years, this will include:
  1. Financial statement: Income statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement
  2. Confirmation/evidence of financial capacity to cash flow the Project such bank letters indicating sufficient resources to cash flow Project.
YesN/AN/A
  1. Financial capacity to cash for Project. Confirmation/evidence of financial capacity to cash flow the Project such bank letters indicating sufficient resources to cash flow Project.
  2. Demonstrate three years of operation or management experience in a relevant sector or equivalent experience.
  3. Organizational chart indicating the members of the senior management team.
  4. Forecasted five years of Cash Flow Statement.
N/AYesN/A
  1. Financial capacity to cash for Project. Confirmation/evidence of financial capacity to cash flow the Project such bank letters indicating sufficient resources to cash flow Project.
  2. Demonstrate three years of operation or management experience in a relevant sector or equivalent experience.
  3. Corporate family tree that sets out the corporate structure showing the parent, affiliates and related entities of the Applicant and their relationship with one another (if applicable).
  4. Forecasted five years of Cash Flow Statement.
N/AN/AYes

Optional – Letters of support for the proposed Project from potential supply-chain partners to support regional impact of the Project.

Letters cannot be from sources with a direct financial stake in, or other close connection to, the project (for example a member of the board of directors, an employee of a company supplying a new piece of equipment for the project etc).

Application assessment process

Assessments will be based upon the information provided in the application. A merit-based application review process will be used to allocate available funding to projects that best meet merit assessment criteria.

Funding is approved through a competitive merit-based process. Although a Project may meet all program outcomes and criteria, there is no guarantee it will be approved, as there may be other projects submitted that more effectively meet program outcomes and merit criteria.

The province maintains sole authority to approve projects.

Merit assessment criteria

Projects will be assessed based upon the following criteria:

1. General Project Impact and Benefits

Demonstrates alignment to Program outcomes. Higher Project merit scores will be assigned to the priority outcomes for this Category, and Applicants should ensure their projects strongly align with the outcomes below, in order of importance:

  • Increased Processing Capacity: through investments in infrastructure and/or new equipment to scale up and grow businesses capacity to produce food in Ontario.
  • Market Expansion or Retention: competitiveness derived from the Project leads to increased market share domestically or internationally, access to new markers for Ontario businesses or retention of existing markets
  • Upskilling: Project creates development opportunities for the agri-food sector workforce though upskilling existing jobs (for example a job that will be reclassified as a higher-skill position by the end of the project)

Additional merit will be awarded to Projects that demonstrate alignment with the general Program outcomes above and show:

  • Regional impact:
    • support processing capacity to decrease regional disparity or improve access for underserved areas located in Rural or Northern Ontario
    • positively impacts local and regional economies (directly and/or indirectly).
  • Sectoral importance:
    • addresses a critical need for the sector/supply chain
    • produces broader environmental, social, or economic public good, or strategic benefit beyond those derived by the individual business because of the Project

2. Project feasibility

  • Evidence of relevant and adequate resources, expertise, and skills to undertake the Project:
    • a well-defined work plan that demonstrates how the Project can achieve results within the specified budget and timeline
    • demonstration of a well-defined budget, with itemized costs that are substantiated (for example quotes, cost breakdown details etc.), and necessary for the Project, and align with defined eligible costs
    • evidence of technical expertise and relevant experience to undertake Project
    • evidence of financial capacity to undertake/cash flow Project
  • Demonstrates a plan to mitigate potential Project risks

3. Financial capacity

  • Approved Project funding will only be provided to the Applicant on a reimbursement basis, based upon satisfying the terms and conditions of the Contribution Agreement.
  • Applicants must provide evidence of financial capacity at the time of contracting, such as a letter from applicants' financial institution confirming financial capacity to cash flow the Project in its entirety.

Project Start and End Dates

An eligible Project cannot start prior to the date The Project is approved. This date will be communicated in an Approval Letter to a successful Applicant after its application has been assessed. To be eligible for reimbursement, costs can only be incurred, invoiced, and paid for on or after the start date set out in the Approval Letter and before the Project completion date.

Projects must be implemented and completed no later January 15, 2024, and in accordance with all the other terms and conditions of the Contribution Agreement between the Province of Ontario and a successful Applicant.

Terms and conditions

Not eligible to apply

Without limitation, the following Processors are not eligible to apply:

  • restaurants and food services, including catering services
  • retail food services or operations
  • packaging material manufacturers
  • pet food manufacturers
  • beverage alcohol
  • cannabis infused food products and beverages
  • bio-products
  • health or nutrition supplements
  • cigarette manufacturers
  • businesses that process household waste or household waste by-products
  • eligible brand or intellectual property owners

How often can I apply

Applicants can only submit one application per business, per Program Category.

Eligible Costs

Eligible Costs are expenditures that are necessary for the implementation of the Project. Project costs must be incurred and paid on or after the start date set out in the Approval Letter.

For costs to be eligible, Applicants must:

  • Follow a procurement process that is transparent, fair and promotes the best value for the money at competitive market prices. Eligible expenses will be reimbursed only after all discounts available to an applicant have been applied.
  • All businesses from which goods or services are purchased must be at Arm's Length from the applicant, meaning that they are not related to the applicant, not affiliated with the applicant, or controlled in any way by the applicant.
  • All procured equipment funded under this program must be intended for exclusive and permanent use in facilities in Ontario.

Project cost categories

Eligible Costs are limited to new investments to increase processing capacity and improve productivity, as opposed to costs related to on-going operations.

Specifically, these are the eligible cost categories:

  • project facilities and infrastructure
  • equipment and machinery
  • materials
  • specialized expertise (third-party)
  • training and upskilling costs

This list of eligible and ineligible cost categories is for reference only. A final determination of eligible and/or ineligible costs will be at the discretion of the Ministry.

Cost CategoryEligible CostsIneligible Costs
Project facilities and InfrastructureProject Category 1 - New Production Capacity and Major Expansion of Existing capacity:
  • new construction and construction related to major expansions of existing facilities,
  • for projects that are expanding (for example, increasing from 30,000 sq. ft. to 50,000 sq. ft. with 10,000 of that sq. ft. of productive space), only the costs associated with the additional 10,000 sq. ft. of productive space would be considered eligible
Project Category 2 – Modernization:
  • costs for facility changes, upgrades or modifications that are required for the eligible Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology and equipment
  • site servicing, power service upgrades, etc. required to execute the project
  • Costs to purchase or Capital lease land or buildings
  • costs associated with landscaping and staff parking lots
  • Costs and activities associated with non-productive space related an expansion of an existing facility that is not specifically required for the implementation of eligible equipment or expansion of Processing capacity
Equipment and Machinery
  • Equipment costs (including shipping and delivery costs) and installation or configuration costs required for Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology and Equipment. Equipment must all be onsite and fully operational by the project completion date identified in the Contribution Agreement
  • One-time costs for rental of equipment required for installation of eligible equipment approved by OMAFRA.
  • Costs of software and software customization necessary for integration of advanced automation or manufacturing technology
  • Purchase/lease or operation of vehicles
  • Ongoing software fees, extended warranties, or service costs for the continued operation of the equipment post implementation
  • Costs related to implementing or upgrading Enterprise Resource Planning systems
  • Costs of equipment or components that are ancillary to the operation of eligible technology or equipment, meaning providing support, however not necessary to implement or operate eligible technology or equipment (for example pumps, boilers, conveyers)
  • New equipment acquired via capital leases
MaterialsCosts of direct materials necessary for—specifically identified and measured as being used for—the completion of the project, including:
  • materials used for configuring and testing production processes and systems
  • materials used for training employees
  • Ongoing material or input costs required for normal production
Specialized Expertise
  • Costs of specialized third-party expertise required for the project including third-party engineering services, software development, management for implementation of eligible costs
  • Costs related to essential travel from out of province engineers or technicians necessary for the implementation of the eligible equipment, specifically meals and mileage (in accordance with the province's Travel, Meal and Hospitality Directive)
  • Costs of development and/or translation of automation or manufacturing policies and procedural manuals for the technology adopted under the approved project. Examples include health and safety policies, feedback systems, preventative maintenance procedures, standard operational procedures such as processing standards
N/A
Training / Upskilling
  • Third-party costs to provide skills training, directly related to the project (for example training program development for new equipment, technology, new lines etc.), including training materials, manuals, procedures etc.
  • Training costs supported by Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
  • Training infrastructure or equipment (for example, building retrofits for training room, construction or rental of training space, audio video equipment etc.)
  • Third party costs related to training for owners and/or management, to address specific business needs
  • Costs for recruitment to attract talent required for company growth
Permits and feesN/A
  • Permits and other regulatory approvals/inspections necessary to carry out the project
General working capital requirementsN/A
  • Debt service costs, federal or provincial income taxes, surtaxes
    • Financing charges, loan and lease interest payments, bank fees and charges as well as debt restructuring or fundraising
  • Marketing, sales or distribution/shipping costs
  • Costs incurred in preparing an application for the Program
  • Shareholder payments
  • Travel and meal costs, except as permitted for engineering or technician services
  • Normal costs of operating a business
  • Deposits (prepayments) for which goods or services are not yet fully received
  • Consultant and other contractor expenses for any hospitality (for example provision of food or beverages at events), incidentals or food
  • Hospitality costs (for example venue rental, food, beverages, AV, etc.)
  • Costs of gifts and incentives
  • Legal fees
  • Wage subsidies, executive salaries, bonuses or restricting costs;
Other costsN/A
  • Restructuring
  • Mergers and acquisitions (such as purchasing of an existing business)
  • Travel, hospitality, meal and incidental expenses
  • Rebates, credit or refund
  • In-kind contributions
  • Projects that are in whole or in part located outside of Ontario
  • Costs incurred before the approval date for the project by OMAFRA or after the project completion date identified in the Contribution Agreement,
  • Any cost that is unreasonable, improperly incurred or not specifically required for implementation of the project
  • Costs related to activities that directly influence or lobby any level of government
  • Costs of basic research
  • Taxes, including Harmonized Sales Tax
  • Eligible costs that are reimbursed through a refund or rebate the applicant receives or is eligible to receive
  • Costs related to retail space
  • Costs related to activities that are not intended to achieve increased capacity or production output

Projects not Eligible

Projects that are not eligible for cost-share funding include those that:

  • do not fit the eligible project category description
  • support normal operating costs associated with carrying out business
  • have the sole purpose of coming into or maintaining compliance with Requirements Of Law that pertain to current operations
  • are piloting or trialing Advanced Automation/Manufacturing Technology for research and design purposes and are not intending to integrate the technology into ongoing production practices or processes
  • involve directly influencing or lobbying any level of government
  • are located in whole or in part outside of Ontario

Stacking cost-share funding

  • Stacking of funds provided under this Program with funding under other provincial programs or the Canadian Agricultural Partnership or its successor is not permitted.
  • Applicants can stack cost-share funding from other Federal cost-share funding programs only, assuming stacking is permitted under the applicable Federal or Municipal program(s). However, combined federal cost-sharing funding and funding under this Program cannot exceed 85% of a Project's eligible costs. All Project funding sources (including stacking with Federal programs) must be disclosed in the application form.

Consultations with Indigenous groups

The Government of Ontario may have a duty to consult and, where appropriate accommodate, with Aboriginals (First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples) where an activity is contemplated that may adversely impact Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Consultation requirements will vary depending on the size and location of the Project (construction related to major expansion or new builds) in question. Applicants will be required to undertake consultations on behalf of Ontario (under Ontario’s supervision) and the ministry will determine whether any duty to consult obligations have been met before allowing the Project to begin.

Working with a third-party to complete an application

The individual who submits the application form must be a person who is authorized by the Applicant to apply to the Program on its behalf and to bind it to the contents. Any applications submitted by a third party on behalf of an Applicant will not be considered.

Any costs associated with the use of a consultant for a funding application are not an Eligible Cost under the Program.

Notifications of a funding decision

Applicants will be notified by email once applications have been reviewed and decisions have been made. There are two possible outcomes:

If the application is approved - the Applicant will:

  • receive an Approval Letter with details for example maximum value of funding approved, earliest approved Project start date).
  • be required to enter into a Contribution Agreement with the Province of Ontario and follow all its terms and conditions. No payments will be made to the successful Applicant until the Agreement has been signed and the Applicant is in compliance with its terms and conditions.
  • receive confirmation of claim procedures and submission deadlines, and a final report that must be completed at the end of the Project.
  • be required to register your business information in the Transfer Payment Ontario or update your business information if already registered.
  • be required to register to receive direct deposit payments through Supply Chain Ontario.

If the application is declined - the Applicant will receive a notification confirming that the assessment has been completed and a brief explanation for the decision.

Contribution agreements

Applicants that have been approved for funding will be required to enter into a Contribution Agreement with the province. No payments will be made until the Contribution Agreement has been signed and any conditions for disbursement have been fulfilled.

The terms of the Contribution Agreement will contain provisions in favour of Ontario, including:

  • conditions of disbursement; subject to annual funding allocation
  • representations and warranties
  • positive and negative covenants
  • reporting requirements including annual financial statements and project status reports
  • audit requirements including third party auditor certification of Eligible Costs
  • provisions relating to non-arm’s length transactions
  • provisions dealing with consultations with Aboriginals
  • insurance and indemnities in favour of the Government of Ontario
  • events of default; and remedies for default including but not limited to repayment of funds
  • a guarantee from a parent company or other related party may also be required (if applicable)

Approved Project funding will only be provided to the Applicant on a reimbursement basis, based upon satisfying the terms and conditions of the Contribution Agreement. There will be a 10 per cent holdback of reimbursement until after the Project has been completed in full and a Final Report for the Project is received and approved by the Ministry.

For Program Category Description 1: New Production Capacity and Major Expansion of Existing Capacity, Contribution Agreements will also require recipients to make commitments related to maintaining their Ontario footprint (the company’s jobs and facilities in Ontario for a specified time period). Closure of any Ontario facility, and failure to maintain an agreed employment footprint for all facilities in Ontario, are each events of default.

Claiming funding for approved projects

When funding is paid

  • Approved funding is paid after the Applicant has incurred and paid for expenses and has submitted a claim package that meets all requirements and has been approved by the Ministry.
  • Each eligible expenditure is reimbursed at the approved cost-share funding percentage.
  • There will be a 10% holdback of reimbursement until a Final Report for the project is received and approved by Ministry. 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 a claim is submitted

  • Claims must be submitted to Ministry no later than the deadline date given in the Contribution Agreement.
  • The Ministry may request any additional information from the applicant that is deemed necessary (for example copies of any permits obtained by the applicant in conducting the project, photos).
  • What your claim package must contain:
    • completed claim form
    • copies of all paid invoices
    • proofs of payment
  • Each proof of payment submitted for a paid invoice must verify:
    • what was procured
    • 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 posted cheque (For example, an 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.

Travel and meal expenses

Travel and meal expenses may be eligible for funding for some Projects where out of province travel related to engineering and professional services directly required for the implementation of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology and Equipment. Travel and meal costs must be identified and approved as such in the application for an approved Project.

Eligible funding for travel and meal expenses for an approved Project may be claimed when the most economical transportation and accommodation (for example, single accommodation in a standard room) is chosen.

Travel - the maximum eligible costs for personal vehicles driven within Ontario are:

Number of kilometresSouthern Ontario ($/km)Northern Ontario ($/km)
0-4,000 km0.400.41
4,001-10,700 km0.350.36
10,701-24,000 km0.290.30
More than 24,000 km0.240.25

Meals - Reimbursement for meal expenses is subject to the maximum eligible cost value set out in the tables 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 in Canada (CAD):

Meal typeMaximum Eligible Costs
Breakfast$10.00
Lunch$12.50
Dinner$22.50

Application declaration

To be eligible under the Program, an Applicant must agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions herein.

The Applicant must be a legal entity that meets all eligibility requirements as set out above and in Minister's Order Number 0001/2022.

The individual who submits the application form on behalf of the Applicant must be a person who is authorized by the Applicant to submit the form on its behalf and to bind the Applicant to the contents herein.

By submitting the application form, the individual is certifying to:

  • Having read, understood and abided by all Program requirements, as well as being in agreement to continue to abide by all Program requirements. These requirements include that:
    • All information submitted on the application form is true and complete, to the best of your knowledge, belief and understanding.
    • The business is in compliance with all Requirements Of Law
    • Amounts of funding sourced from federal government for a submitted expense do not, and will not, exceed 85 per cent of the amount of the expense.
    • The Applicant does not currently owe any money to Ontario, or a description of any the business' debt to Ontario is attached to the application form.

In addition, the individual certifies that the Applicant:

  • Will retain all records relating to any payments made to the business, including all invoices and proof of payment in an organized and business-like manner for at least seven (7) years from the date the application form was submitted.
  • Will consent to Ontario publishing information about the Project ('Activities') funded including without limitation, the amount of funding the business has been approved to receive and/or has received, and the nature and results of any Activities funded, along with the business' name and location.
  • Will use as part of its Project and retain ownership, possession and control of any tangible asset with a fair market value of over $10,000 purchased, contributed, constructed, developed or otherwise acquired by the business under this Program for at least two years following acquisition. For greater certainty, this includes refraining from leasing or otherwise encumbering these tangible assets. Further, 'fair market value' means the highest price that would be agreed to in an open and unrestricted market between knowledgeable, informed and willing parties acting at arm's length, who are under no compulsion to transact.

By submitting the form, the individual acknowledges and accepts that:

  • Ontario has reserved the right to refuse an application form where it is not completed to Ontario's satisfaction.
  • Funding is provided through a discretionary, non-entitlement Program and that the Applicant is not entitled to funding merely as a consequence of submitting an application form. Payment, if any, is subject to Ontario having sufficient money within its existing budget, including receiving all the necessary appropriations from the Ontario Legislature; the Applicant and the Applicant’s Activities satisfying eligibility criteria and eligible expense criteria; and the business' compliance with all these terms and conditions. If it is determined that the Applicant received a payment it was not eligible to receive, through administrative error or otherwise, it will repay any and all payments that the business was not eligible to receive as well as any surplus funding in full promptly upon demand.
  • Any payments made to the Applicant may be subject to recovery or offset against the business' pre-existing debts to the Crown in Right of Ontario. Ontario may also charge interest on any money owing by the Applicant at the then current rate charged by Ontario on their respective accounts receivable.
  • Ontario including the respective Ministers, directors, officers, agents, employees or representatives (as applicable), shall not be liable for any injury, damages or losses whatsoever, or howsoever arising, including injury, damages or losses arising from any advice, opinions, representations, warranties or the provision of information it may provide to the Applicant.
  • The rights and obligations under the Program are governed by Ontario law. The Courts of Ontario will have exclusive jurisdiction over any proceedings related to the Program.
  • The information provided may be used and disclosed to conduct audits, enforce the terms and conditions of the Program, confirm that the person in receipt of payments under the Program paid taxes on the payments, and collect any debt owing.
  • The information, with the exception of the Social Insurance Number (SIN) provided by sole proprietors, members of unincorporated entities and partners in a partnership where they do not have Canada Revenue Agency business numbers, may be collected used and disclosed to, amongst other things, verify compliance with other provincial and federal funding initiatives, confirm the information provided, verify eligibility and ensure there is no duplication of funding or surplus funding.
  • The information provided may, with the exception of the SIN, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Ontario) or the Access to Information Act (Canada).
  • Any money received under the Program is for the administration of a social or economic program or for the provision of direct or indirect support to members of the public in connection with social and economic policy.

By submitting the form, the individual is consenting to the following on behalf of the Applicant:

  • To provide accurate, timely and full information, including supporting documentation, to Ontario and to notify Ontario immediately in the event there are any material changes to the information already provided.
  • To provide Ontario and their authorized representatives with any information or access to a person, place or thing within the timelines provided by Ontario or its authorized representatives.
  • To comply with onsite field inspections and/or audits by Ontario and Ontario's authorized representatives upon notice, and during normal business hours, to verify eligibility, and to evaluate compliance with the requirements of the Program.
  • To comply with reviews by Ontario of information related to other programs and initiatives delivered by, or for, Ontario in which the business is enrolled or has applied.
  • The use of the Applicants business name and business contact information by Ontario to contact the business for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of programming, or for any other similar purpose.
  • To acknowledge Ontario's support in the following manner where the Applicant receives funding under this Program: "Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund Program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural"

In the event of a conflict, error, omission or inconsistency between anything set out in Guidelines, the Application Form, the Declaration and the Minister's Order 0001/2022 under which this Program were created, the Minister's Order will prevail.

Errors and Omissions Excepted.

Glossary of defined terms

Advanced Automation/Manufacturing Technology: means the use of robotic, digital, artificial intelligence or other forms of technologies that increases processing capacity and productivity.

Applicant: means a Person who has applied to the Program.

Approval Letter: A letter, sent by email from the Ministry, that is a notification of a conditional approval and sets out information including the amount of approved cost-share funding, project start date and project completion date.

Contribution Agreement: A legal agreement that successful applicants must enter into with the Province of Ontario, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Project is approved and the Applicant agrees to receive funding.

Existing Premises: a facility that is fully constructed and has operated as a Processor or is currently operating as a Processor.

Established Processor: meets the definition of a processor and have three years or more of operations and three-years of audited financials.

Eligibility Checklist: A form submitted by the Applicant to confirm if the business meets base Program eligibility requirements.

“Indigenous Person includes:

  1. An individual who is:
    1. Recognized as being an Indian in accordance with the Indian Act, or
    2. Recognized as being a Métis by a Métis Nation within Canada;
  2. An individual who identifies as being an Indian or Inuit and is recognized as being an Indian or Inuit by his or her community;
  3. A corporation:
    1. Where a majority of the voting shares are owned be individuals who meet the requirements set out under paragraphs (a) or (b) of this definition,
    2. Where a majority of voting members on its board of directors are comprised of individuals who meet the requirements set out under paragraphs (a) or (b) of this definition, or
    3. Where a majority of shares are owned by a Band Council or Métis Nation within Canada; or
  4. A partnership where more than fifty percent (50%) of the profit or loss of the partnership is allocated to individuals who meet the requirements set out under paragraphs (a) or (b) of this definition or a corporation as set out in paragraph (c) of this definition;
  5. An unincorporated association where the majority of the decision-makers for that unincorporated association are comprised of individuals who meet the requirements set out under paragraphs (a) or (b) of this definition.

Incurred Cost: A cost for which a successful applicant has become liable to pay that is necessary for the successful completion of their project under the Initiative.

Merit Assessment Criteria: Criteria used to establish the level of merit for funding of each eligible application, as set out in the merit assessment criteria in the guide.

New Entrant: Refers to businesses that meet the definition of a processor, with less than 3 years of operations and are looking to start-up or have recently opened a New Premises in Ontario. This also includes Spin-outs or newly established subsidiaries of established companies that do not yet have New Premises in Ontario.

Net New Processing Capacity: means additional capacity added to the processing sector through the construction of a New Premises or the addition of new lines to an Existing Premises or a wholesale change to the type of commodity processed on existing lines through major changes to form and/or function of the existing processing infrastructure.

New Premises: a physical location that will operate as a processing facility once constructed or a facility that is constructed but no Processor has operated there previously.

Northern Ontario: means the districts of Parry Sound and Nipissing as well as any areas north of these districts.

Program: means the Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund Program.

Processor: A legal entity that transforms or will transform agricultural commodities, food and beverages, in Ontario for human consumption and, for greater certainty, this includes primary food processing activities, such as any of the following: cutting, cleaning, packaging, storing and refrigerating raw plant or animal-based food products.

Program Category: Cost-share funding is made available under specific Program Categories, which each have their own parameters, criteria, and terms and conditions.

Program Category Description: Each Program Category Description provides the parameters, criteria and terms and conditions specific to a Program 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.

Rural Ontario: means all Statistics Canada census subdivisions, including lower-tier and single-tier municipalities, that either have a population of less than one hundred thousand (100,000) people or have a population density of one hundred (100) people or less per square kilometre, as identified in the most recent Statistics Canada Census of Canadian Population.

Spin-Out: A newly established subsidiary of an established business that meets the definition of a Processor, that does not yet have a New Premises in Ontario.

Transform: means the application of any value-added activity to a raw plant or animal agricultural inputs to produce food for human consumption, including cutting, washing, packing, cooking, storing or refrigerating.

Contact us

Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Email: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca