Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities - Applicant guide

From Employment and Social Development Canada

November 2014

Applicant guide

Name of the Program: Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF)

Type of process: Continuous intake

Notice to applicants:

The information collected in your application will be used, and may be disclosed, for the purposes of assessing the merits of your application. As part of the assessment process, the information may be shared with external consultants, review committee members, officials in other departments, federal, provincial and/or territorial governments or Members of Parliament.

It may also be used and/or disclosed for policy analysis, research, and/or evaluation purposes. In order to conduct these activities, various sources of information under the custody and control of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) may be linked. However, these additional uses and/or disclosures of information will not impact on your project.

In the event that the application contains personal information, the personal information will be administered in accordance with the Privacy Act.

The application is also subject to the Access to Information Act (“ATIA”). The ATIA provides every person with a right of access to information under the control of the department, subject to a limited set of exemptions. Instructions for obtaining access to this information are outlined in the government publication entitled Info Source, which is available at InfoSource. InfoSource may also be accessed on-line at any Service Canada Centre.

On this page

  1. Purpose
  2. Introduction
    1. Objectives of the program
    2. Assessment criteria
    3. Application deadline
  3. Review eligibility
  4. Develop application for funding
  5. Submit application
  6. Follow-up after application

1. Purpose

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) accepts Opportunities Fund applications for regional projects on an ongoing basis.

Applications for funding for national projects are selected through a Call for Proposals process.

The purpose of this Applicant Guide is to provide information to assist you with the completion of your Application for Funding to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/ Service Canada (SC).

It is recommended that you submit your application well ahead of the projected start date in order to allow sufficient time for the application process. If you require information or clarification that is not provided in the Applicant Guide, please contact 1-800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) (TTY: 1-800-926-9105).

For every section in the Application for Funding, the guide shows the type of details Opportunities Fund requires for your organization to complete an application.

The Government of Canada is under no obligation to approve any application for funding. In the event that your application is approved, your project may be randomly selected for review and/or audit.

2. Introduction

a) Objectives of the program

The objective of the OF is to assist persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain and keep employment or become self-employed, thereby increasing their economic participation and independence. This supports the Government of Canada’s overarching goals of promoting skills development, labour market participation and inclusiveness as well as ensuring labour market efficiency.

The expected outcomes for the OF program are:

  • ultimate outcome: persons with disabilities are integrated into the labour market
  • intermediate outcomes: persons with disabilities are financially self-reliant; persons with disabilities have entered labour market to their fullest potential; persons with disabilities are accessing employment opportunities; employment opportunities are available to persons with disabilities; and
  • direct outcomes: persons with disabilities are participating in skills enhancement activities, they have the tools, skills and information required to obtain employment, they are employed or self-employed; and employers, stakeholders and persons with disabilities are aware of the OF program

b) Assessment criteria

The criteria-based assessment process for evaluating proposals ensures that all project proposals are evaluated objectively against the Terms and Conditions of the Program, availability of funds, and stated priorities.

Proposals are assessed, recommended and approved based on the following criteria:

  • eligibility of the applicant
  • how proposed activities will address identified needs
  • experience and results achieved in delivering the specified type of activity
  • degree to which the proposal’s identified needs and proposed activities support program objectives and priorities
  • means to measure the progress of the participants and the success of project activities
  • organizational capacity to manage the project, including financial controls
  • clarity of project objectives, outcomes and scheduled timeframes
  • expected project results for participants -- the proposal must target a minimum success rate of 60%, of participants served, for the key performance indicators ‘number of participants employed’ and ‘number of participants who have returned to school or remained in school’ with an expectation that the majority of successful participants will find employment
  • demonstration of partner support required for success (may include letters of support from partners, and/or leveraging information) – for those proposals which include a wage subsidy component, applicants are required to submit a list of potential employers (including information on the sector and size of employers) with whom participants could be placed
  • proposals are required to leverage a minimum of 20% (cash or in-kind) of total project costs (this includes employers funding their own wage subsidy activities) or include some form of social innovation (see Social Innovation above). If required, please consult the following website for the calculation of percentages: Percentage Calculator; and
  • value-for-money (e.g. cost per participant)

In addition to the above-mentioned assessment criteria, the following are areas of priority for the Program:

  • proposals where some or all project activities target youth with disabilities (defined as being between the ages of 15 -30 inclusive who is legally entitled to work in Canada and is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person who has been granted refugee status in Canada) – such proposals may include part-time employment experience (up to 15 hours per week) for secondary and post-secondary students (both full- and part-time) during the school year
  • proposals which include work placements within the private sector; and
  • proposals which include work placements with small- to medium-size employers (defined as having fewer than 500 employees)

Please note that the Department is obliged to consider the geographical distribution of projects when recommending funding: proposals which would otherwise be eligible for funding may not be recommended due to a concentration of available OF activities within a particular region. Generally, there exists a lack of projects within rural and remote communities.

Following the assessment and approval of proposals, applicants will be notified in writing of ESDC/SC's decision. Please note that project recommendation and approval are subject to the availability of funds. In addition, funding of proposals may be approved in part or in their entirety.

c) Application deadline

  • ESDC/SC accepts OF applications for regional projects on an ongoing basis
  • Please send your application for funding completed and signed with all required attachments

3. Review eligibility

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants include:

  • not-for-profit organizations
  • municipal governments
  • aboriginal organizations (including band councils, tribal councils and self-government entities)
  • for-profit organizations; and
  • provincial and territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations

Project activities

Funding decisions are based on program priorities, labour market needs, program terms and conditions, and available funding.

The following is a list of activities eligible for funding under the OF program:

  • skills for employment
  • wage subsidy
  • self-employment
  • enhanced employment assistance services; and
  • employer awareness

OF – Community Coordinator (OF-CC)

An OF Community Coordinator (OF-CC) is a contribution recipient that receives funding to enter into its own agreements with eligible participants and employers to undertake activities that further the objectives of the OF program.

An OF-CC may provide a wide spectrum of activities for OF-eligible participants; ESDC may have an agreement with an OF-CC to deliver one or more of the program options (Wage Subsidies, Employer Awareness, and Self-Employment). As well, Enhanced Employment Assistance Services (EEAS)-type activities and Skills for Employment may be included in, but not the sole activity of, an OF-CC agreement.

OF activities

Please note that projects, excluding stand-alone employer awareness agreements, must include an employment experience component (either self-employment or wage subsidy).

To be eligible for funding under the Opportunities Fund, proposed projects must involve a minimum of 8 participants.

Within rural and remote regions, exceptions may be made vis-à-vis the minimum participant requirement. Applicants must include a strong justification in the proposal as to why the minimum requirement of 8 participants cannot be fulfilled.

OF Skills for Employment (OF-SFE)

OF-SFE enables a participant to undertake short-duration training (maximum of 6 months) and develop skills, from basic to advanced, that are required for employment. This activity, during which time participants may receive income support and other supports (participants may receive a negotiated level of income support and other supports such as dependent care, while participating in this activity), must be used to provide training to participants with a specific employment opportunity related to a stable or expanding sector, where there is a reasonable expectation of employment. The specific skills training supported under OF-SFE should reflect current or projected local employment opportunities.

Training may be:

  • full-time or part-time
  • short classroom-based courses
  • distance learning
  • internet-based instruction; and
  • correspondence courses

Examples of eligible OF-SFE training include:

  • pre-apprentice training
  • clinical placement
  • examination preparation courses
  • short course skills training; and
  • practicum

Skills for Employment cannot be the sole activity of an agreement and must be combined with an employment experience intervention (either self-employment or wage subsidy).

OF Wage Subsidy (OF-WS)

OF-WS provides financial support to employers to encourage them to hire persons with disabilities whom they would not normally hire. The subsidy provided to the employer is an established share of actual wages paid to the participant and mandatory employment-related costs; wages paid should be in line with the prevailing labour market rate for the position to be filled by the participant.

The subsidy rate can vary during the life of the funding agreement. A descending scale may be used, such that the amount of the subsidy diminishes over the duration of the intervention. The intervention may also include one or more blocks of time during which the employer covers the entire cost of the wages.

In order for this activity to be eligible for funding and in support of labour market needs, participants must be placed in vacant or newly created positions that offer meaningful mainstream employment opportunities and that are part of an employer’s normal business operations.

Proposals targeting youth with disabilities may include part-time employment experience (up to 15 hours per week) for secondary and post-secondary students (both full- and part-time) during the school year.

Wage subsidies can be delivered to a minimum of 8 participants through either a Community Coordinator agreement (with or without other activities) or as a sole activity through an agreement directly with an employer.

OF Self-Employment (OF-SE)

OF-SE provides support to help persons with disabilities create jobs by starting a business. Participants may receive income support (participants may receive a negotiated level of income support and other supports such as dependent care, while participating in this activity) and other supports, as well as technical and consultative support to help them assess their business concepts, prepare business plans and launch the enterprise.

Participants should provide evidence of their ability to personally invest – a minimum of 10% of the cost of the launch of the business -- in their business.

Examples of eligible OF-SE activities include:

  • information sessions to participants potentially interested in OF-SE;
  • entrepreneurial training (offered by the contribution recipient or third parties);
  • workshops and coaching/mentoring activities to help participants develop and implement their business plan;
  • orientation sessions to enable participants to assess risk, business viability, ability to cover costs, and personal suitability;
  • mechanisms for independent review of the viability of the proposed business concepts and business plans;
  • on-going group and individual mentoring and support as participants develop their businesses; and,
  • post-participation follow-up and support.

Eligible and Ineligible Business Activities

Eligible business activities:

  • new business
  • part-time business (if appropriate given a participant’s capacity)
  • existing business in which the participant has had no prior ownership
  • conversion of a hobby to business
  • business that is seasonal in nature (participant must be able and prepared to devote full-time effort to business development and implementation); and
  • home-based business

Eligible business structures:

  • sole ownership, in which the OF-SE participant owns 100% of the business and has complete control
  • partnership, in which the partnership agreement demonstrates that the participant is a major decision-maker and has control of the venture
  • corporation/limited company, in which the participant holds the majority of voting shares
  • ownership or membership in a new worker cooperative; and
  • franchise (if they have some flexibility with respect to the operation of the franchise and making day-to-day business decisions)

Ineligible business activities:

  • business that is partially or entirely based on commission when it is acting as an agent of a parent company (e.g. real estate agent, insurance broker)
  • business that is currently in operation and open for business, in which the participant has ownership
  • business in which the participant previously had ownership
  • business previously, or currently, owned by the participant’s spouse, parent or child where the participant has had significant involvement in the management/decision-making processes
  • any activity that involves: sexual exploitation; illegal activity; the production of materials that promote hate, discrimination, or illegal activity; or, proselytizing of a particular religious or political opinion; and
  • not-for-profit organization that does not qualify as a business under Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regulations

Self-Employment is delivered through CC agreements and must include a minimum of 8 participants.

OF-Enhanced employment assistance services (OF-EEAS)

OF-EEAS supports the provision of a mixture of activities (special services and interventions) tailored to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in order to facilitate their integration into employment. These services help individuals to prepare for, find, obtain and maintain employment.

Examples of Eligible OF-EEAS Activities include, but are not limited to:

  • labour market information and information on other employment-related resources
  • Identification of barriers to employment for persons with disabilities, such as needs determination, vocational testing and diagnostic services
  • employment counselling services including: decision-making and learning strategies for individuals with barriers to employment, addressing issues during participation in interventions, and supporting employment maintenance once a participant has obtained a job
  • group sessions to help participants improve their job search capabilities
  • assistance in determining appropriate skills training
  • job placement services, including assistance to participants in choosing and applying for suitable job opportunities, preparing résumés and developing effective interview skills
  • employment preparation activities, such as pre-employment workshops; and
  • provision of job coaches, advisors, technical experts and teaching assistants to assist with integration into the workforce

Note: Income support is not an eligible expense under OF-EEAS.

Enhanced Employment Assistance Services cannot be the sole activity of an agreement, therefore must be delivered within a CC agreement to a minimum of 8 participants, and must be combined with an employment experience intervention (wage subsidy or self-employment).

Employer awareness

Funding can be provided for employer awareness projects to raise the profile of persons with disabilities within the employer community and to highlight the capabilities and skills of workers with disabilities. This may include working with the employer community to address barriers and increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Applicants are encouraged to explain how they will share lessons learned and successful models and tools to raise employer awareness. This activity must be used to promote the valuable contribution persons with disabilities make to the workforce, and is the only OF activity that is not participant-based.

Examples of awareness activities:

  • marketing skills inventories of unemployed persons with disabilities to employers experiencing labour shortages
  • information sessions supporting the hiring of persons with disabilities
  • events profiling businesses with positive hiring practices for persons with disabilities (could include testimonials from persons with disabilities who have successfully integrated into employment)
  • in support of larger events (such as those mentioned above), the production and distribution of information tools such as a brochure dispelling myths of hiring persons with disabilities, outlining accommodative strategies and providing success stories, or a video of success stories on the integration of individuals with disabilities into the workplace; and
  • any new or “innovative” method of raising employer awareness

Employer Awareness can be delivered as a stand-alone activity within a CC agreement.

Eligible participants

Participants are recruited by the contribution recipients.

To participate in the Opportunities Fund, individuals must:

  • self-identify as having a permanent physical or mental disability that restricts his or her ability to perform daily activities
  • be legally entitled to work according to the relevant provincial and federal legislation and regulations
  • be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person who has been granted refugee status in Canada
  • not be eligible for assistance under Employment Insurance (EI) employment benefits or any similar programs that are the subject of agreements with provinces, territories, or organizations entered into pursuant to Section 63 of the EI Act (unless approved by a departmental official); and
  • require assistance to prepare for, obtain and keep employment or self-employment

Eligible costs

Financial assistance may be provided to cover a maximum of 80% of the costs associated with operating and delivering approved activities; contribution recipients are required to leverage (to include contributions {cash or in-kind} provided by project partners other than the Department) a minimum of 20% of total project costs (contribution recipients who are employers funding their own wage subsidy activities would be included as providing leveraging). For instance, if the total calculated budget for a project is $100,000, then the applicant (or other partners) is required to provide a minimum of $20,000 and $80,000 may be requested of the Department.

Costs may include:

  • overhead costs, including costs related to central administrative functions of the contribution recipient organization that are drawn upon to support agreement activities (such as shared postage, telephones, IT maintenance and head office support)
  • costs such as materials and supplies
  • wages and mandatory employment related costs for both participants and staff (MERCS)
  • honoraria and hospitality costs
  • printing and communication
  • travel
  • professional fees (e.g., consultants, research, audit, translation)
  • capital costs only for repairs or renovations to support the participation of persons with disabilities (capital costs for the construction of a building or the purchase of land or buildings are not eligible costs)
  • sub-agreement costs of contribution recipients that redistribute contributions
  • participant costs, such as costs for tuition for a course or program of instruction, living expenses (participants may already have disability-related income supports and these will be taken into account when negotiating any participant- financial support), expenses relating to specialized services, arrangements or equipment, dependent care, and disability accommodation

The requirement to leverage 20% of the total project cost may be waived if a project entails some form of social innovation (for further details, see Social Innovation below).

Social innovation

The requirement to leverage 20% of the total project cost may be waived if a project entails some form of social innovation. If your project entails a social innovation, please provide a detailed description in Appendix – A of the Application for Funding (see Develop your Proposal).

For the purpose of the Program, ‘social innovation’ may encompass one or more of the following three (3) options: social partnerships, pay-for-performance, or social enterprise.

Social Partnerships: The concept of social partnerships involves the idea of recipient organizations collaborating with a variety of stakeholders (e.g. citizens, private-sector companies, governments) to: develop innovative ideas the results of which would exceed basic program expectations); increase the impact of federal spending (using less federal funding for the same or better results); increase the sustainability and self-sufficiency of expected project results; or, encourage volunteerism and the participation of people and organizations (including the business sector) in projects.

Pay-for-Performance: This process increases the focus on project activity outcomes by making the disbursement of payments dependent upon the achievement of pre-determined performance targets and/or outcomes.

A recipient organization would receive a reimbursement for some of the eligible project expenditures through the regular payment process (e.g. a fixed portion of the wage subsidy, all project overhead costs, or a percentage of total eligible project costs). The recipient would receive reimbursement of the remaining portion of eligible expenditures depending on the demonstration that the project achieved 100% of agreed upon performance expectations or milestones. The choice of the performance targets must be closely linked to OF objectives, for example, a participant remaining employed (or self-employed) post-intervention.

Social Enterprise: This concept refers to businesses operated by not-for-profit organisations that are directly involved in the sale of goods and/or services for the purpose of generating income, which is generally re-invested in the business, combined with social, cultural and/or environmental goals. Depending upon the type of social enterprise, they help in addressing social challenges by providing marginalized persons with learning and employment experiences.

An example of a social enterprise would be a not-for-profit recipient organization that employs homeless persons in a restaurant, thus providing them with skills and generating revenue to support the business.

Applicants should explain how the social innovation approach they chose will achieve expected results.

4. Develop your Application for Funding

The Application has four parts:

Please read this section carefully before completing your application. Provide your answers on the application form template and attach only the documents requested.

All required documents must be attached, otherwise your application will be considered incomplete. You are required to submit your application in one complete package.

If you need additional space to answer any of the questions, please use the space provided in Appendix A of the Application for Funding.

Please note: All items marked with an asterisk (*) in the Application for Funding are mandatory unless otherwise specified.

Additional documents required:

Included below are additional documents that are required to be submitted with your Application for Funding:

  • Budget Detail Template* (Appendix B)
  • Supporting documentation from project partners (letters of support, confirmation of financial or in-kind support from other partners {20% mandatory leveraging}, list of potential employers for ‘wage subsidy’ activities)

Note: Proof of Workers’ Compensation coverage and/or liability insurance will be required when negotiating an agreement. (A copy of the policy or documentation proving Workers’ Compensation coverage for participants is required. Service Canada’s Comprehensive General Liability Insurance {CGLI} covers all projects, project employees and students engaged in OF-funded activities. However, this insurance only applies when the recipient’s insurance is insufficient to cover the costs of a claim for damages involving the project’s participants or activities. The existence of Service Canada’s CGLI does not exempt employers from the requirement to obtain Workers’ Compensation or equivalent coverage for all OF participants.)

How to fill out your Application for Funding

Part 1 - Organization

Section 1A – Organization identification

ESDC uses the information you provide in this section to establish your organization’s identity.

Question 1 – Legal name

Please provide the legal name of your organization. This is the name associated with your registration with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This must be an exact match to what was captured when your organization registered with CRA. If there is a discrepancy between these two sets of information, the Department will be unable to validate your application. This could also be the name that appears on funding cheques.

Question 2 – Operating (common) name (if different from legal name)

Please provide the operating (or common) name of your organization if it is different from the legal name.

Question 3 – Business or registration number

Please provide your 15-digit CRA business number or, for registered charities and not-for-profit organizations, your registration number.

Example: 123456789 AB 1234

For more information, please visit the CRA website.

Question 4 - Organization type

Your answer to this question must be one of the following:

  • Not-for-Profit
  • Private (i.e. for-profit)
  • Public

Question 5 – Organization category

Please select the appropriate category from the following:


  • Aboriginal Not-for-Profit Groups
  • Associations of Workers and/or Employers
  • International Non-governmental Organizations
  • Local community, charitable, voluntary organizations
  • Non-governmental Organizations with a focus to encourage employment
  • National Non-governmental Organizations
  • Not-for-Profit Band Councils
  • Provincial Non-governmental Organizations
  • Sector Councils
  • Unions


  • Banks
  • Businesses, bodies incorporated or unincorporated
  • Indian Band Corporations (profit basis)
  • International Sector
  • Private Band Councils
  • Private Universities and Colleges


  • Contributions to Provinces and Territories
  • International Government Organizations
  • Municipal Governments and Agencies
  • Provincial Governments and Agencies
  • Public Degree-Granting Colleges
  • Public Degree-Granting Universities
  • Public Community Colleges and vocational schools
  • Public Health
  • School Board/Other Educational Institution not classified elsewhere
  • Territorial Governments

Question 6 – Year established

Please indicate the year your organization was established.

Questions 7 – 11 – Organization address

Please indicate the address of your organization.

Only project activities that take place in Canada will be eligible for funding.

Questions 12 – 13 – Telephone and fax

Please indicate the telephone and fax number of the organization.

Question 14 – E-mail address

Please indicate the e-mail address of the organization.

Questions 15 – 19 - Mailing address

Please indicate the mailing address if different from your organization’s address.

Questions 20 – 21 – Telephone and fax

Please indicate the telephone and fax number if different from your organization’s address.

Question 22 – Organization’s mandate

Please describe the primary work of your organization, including your mission, mandate and objectives.

Section 1B – Organization contact

Please provide a main contact for the purposes of communicating with your organization about this project. This could be a project manager or coordinator, an executive director or someone else. Typically, the person responsible for the project is identified here.

Please note that the individual listed as the organizational contact should be available to respond to questions or requests for additional information following the submission of your application.

Question 23 – Given name

Please provide the name of the person in your organization who will be ESDC’s main contact for the project.

Question 24 – Position title

Please provide the title of the organization contact identified in Question 23.

Example: Executive Director

Question 25 – Preferred language of communication

Please indicate the preferred language of the organization’s main contact for both written and spoken communication.

  • EN indicates English
  • FR indicates French

Question 26 – Organization contact - Address

Please indicate whether the address for the Organization Contact is the same address as the Organization Address or the Organization Mailing Address given in Section 1A. If different, please indicate in the box.

Questions 27- 31 – Contact address

If you selected “Different” in Question 26, please provide the address for the Organization Contact here.

Questions 32- 33 -Telephone and fax

Please indicate the telephone and fax numbers of the Organization Contact.

Question 34 – E-Mail address

Please indicate the e-mail address of the Organization Contact.

Section 1C – Organizational capacity

ESDC uses the information provided in this section to help assess the organization’s capacity to manage a project.

Question 35 – How many employees does your organization currently have?

Please indicate the number of people employed in your organization. The number of employees must be a whole number.

Question 36 – Has your organization undergone any important transformations in the past two years?

Important transformations refers to events such as a change in leadership in the board of directors or at the executive level, an important reduction, increase or turn-over in staff, a merger with or split from another organization, a change in mandate or main activities, etc.

If you answer yes, please provide a description of the changes.

Question 37 – Please describe how your Organization has the experience and expertise to carry out the proposed project activities? If applicable, please include any past experience(s) with ESDC and the results of the project(s).

Please provide a description of your organization’s experience and expertise in administering projects. This information will help ESDC to assess the extent to which your organization is capable of undertaking the proposed project activities and achieving the expected results. You may wish to highlight related past achievements in addition to describing current expertise and activities or projects. Please include a description of:

  • previous experience in delivering projects related to persons with disabilities funded by ESDC/SC and by other federal departments, municipal, provincial, or territorial governments (include department, responsible project officer, project name, date length, funding, proposed targets and outcomes); and,
  • previous OF projects.

Question 38 – Does your organization owe any amounts to the Government of Canada?

If yes, please indicate the amounts owing in the spaces provided. See the following example:

Amount owing Nature of amount owing Department or Agency to which money is owed
$10,000 Overpayment Employment and Social Development Canada

Answering "yes" to this question will not invalidate your application. However, you must provide details as to the type of debt owed and the arrangements that have been made for repayment.

Question 39 – Is a payment plan in place?

Please indicate whether or not payment arrangements have been made.

Part 2 - Project

Section 2A – Project identification

Question 40 – Project title

Please provide a brief, descriptive Project Title.

Questions 41 and 42 – Planned project start and end dates

Please indicate the planned start and end dates of your project.

Please note that activities cannot begin before your project is approved and an agreement has been signed by both the recipient and ESDC.

You should not assume any commitment on the part of ESDC until funding has been approved and a formal agreement has been signed by a representative of ESDC. ESDC will notify you in writing of the outcome of the review of your application.

The maximum duration of an OF agreement is 3 years.

Section 2B – Project description

ESDC uses the information you provide in this section as part of the assessment in determining whether or not your proposed project is eligible for funding.

Question 43 - Project objectives

Please outline the objectives of your project.

Project objectives should (but are not limited to):

  • be consistent with the funding program’s objectives
  • identify a specific outcome(s) that the project is designed to accomplish (e.g. participants secure employment)
  • ensure that these outcome(s) are measurable
  • identify who will benefit from the project; (e.g. Official Language Minority Community); and
  • show how meeting the project objectives will help to achieve the identified outcomes

Project objectives

Provide a clear and measurable description of:

  • project objectives, goals and measurable milestones
  • expected outcomes, including how project activities will benefit the community and assist participants in acquiring employability skills, finding employment, becoming self-employed, or returning to school
  • targets for the number of participants completing the project and the number of participants achieving the results listed above; and
  • other positive outcomes related to proposed activities

Question 44 - Project activities

Please describe the proposed project activities.

Project activities are the steps that will be taken to meet the objectives of the project. Activities should be specific, measurable, realistic and relevant to the project objectives and demonstrate how the project outcome(s) will be achieved.

Your project should be broken down into various steps (milestones) that reliably show your expected progress and plans to complete the project on time and within budget.

Please include details about how the project will be delivered. For example, will there be third-party agreements, or will the organization deliver all aspects of the project?

There should be a clear link between the project activities and the project costs outlined in the project budget. The information you provide here will have a significant bearing on the assessment of your project and of your organization’s ability to undertake the project successfully.

Proposed activities are key components of the proposal and should be clearly defined.

This section should include information about the participants you plan to recruit.

Question 45 - Expected results of the project

Please summarize the expected results of your project. The expected results of the project must be clearly linked to the project objectives. They must also be specific, concrete and measurable.

Expected results should be listed under the following Opportunities Fund key performance indicators:

  • the targeted number of participants to be served
  • the targeted number of participants who will become employed
  • the targeted number of participants who will return to school or stay in school; and
  • the targeted number of participants who will have enhanced their employability (Participants will have been deemed as having enhanced their employability when they have: participated in and completed one or more OF activities; or, commenced participation in an OF activity but did not fully complete it because they obtained employment)


This project will have 20 participants and of these 20 participants:

  • 15 will have found employment
  • 3 will have returned to school
  • 2 will neither be employed nor return to school
  • 20 will have enhanced their employability.

For multi-year projects which include participants, post-participation follow-up and reporting must be included in your project activities. You must follow-up on the status of each participant at 6 and 12 months following the completion of their activity, and you must report these results to ESDC within the duration of your agreement. Follow-ups and consequent reporting should be directly related to the OF key performance indicators.

With regards to employer awareness activities, which do not involve participants, the following would be examples of expected results:

  • the number and size (number of attendees) of events planned; and
  • the quantity and nature of documentation to be produced and distributed (including where it will be distributed)
Section C – Project details

Question 46 – Does the project include results measurement indicators?

Please describe how you will meet and track the expected results of the project.

Having a clear strategy to measure results is the best way to ensure that you know how your project is progressing towards meeting the expected results. ESDC uses the information you provide in this section to assess the quality of your application and your capacity to demonstrate results.

Provide a description of how each participant's progress, achievements and/or how the overall success of the project will be measured, monitored and reported during and after the project.

Question 47 – Does the proposed project fit with your organization’s other activities?

Please describe how the project relates to the ongoing work of your organization. You may wish to highlight how past achievements and current activities and/or projects are related to your proposed project. This information helps ESDC to determine the extent to which your organization is able to undertake the proposed project and to achieve the expected results.

Question 48 – Will any of the project activities be delivered in a different location than where your organization is located?

Please indicate “Yes” or “No”. If “yes”, please list the main address first, followed by each additional location.

If there are more than five locations, please include in Appendix A.

Question 49 – Is your project designed to benefit or involve people in English or French-language minority communities? If yes, please provide an explanation and any details on whether consultations will take place with these communities?

ESDC is committed to enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minorities in Canada by supporting and assisting their development and fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society. Official Language Minority Communities are English-speaking communities established within the province of Quebec and French-speaking communities established outside the province of Quebec.

If your proposed project will involve official language minority communities, you should answer ‘Yes’ to this question and ensure that this is listed and described in your answer to Question 43 - Project Objectives.

Please also identify the linguistic profile of the beneficiaries targeted by the project, document any special needs of the official language minority community and indicate whether or not they were consulted. The related budgetary items can be identified in Part 3 of the Application.

Answering "no" to this question will not invalidate your application.

Question 50 – Will any other organizations, networks, or partners be involved in carrying out the project?

As the OF program requires the support or partners, the answer to this question must be ‘yes’ (unless the applicant is an employer who will be funding wage subsidy activities). Please describe the other group(s) or individual(s) as well as the role(s) and expertise they will bring to the project.

This information will help ESDC to assess the support base for your project, and to what degree labour market needs/gaps are being addressed by project activities.

This section should specify details concerning:

  • any consultations that may have been done with the employer community
  • employers' participation and other partners (i.e. name, type of organization, location, experience dealing with the target group, etc.)
  • proposed job descriptions outlining the roles and responsibilities of partners involved; and
  • relationships between the various partners and the applicant, including monetary and/or in-kind contributions, and details concerning the specific involvement and relevant experience (if applicable) of each partner in the project

Question 51 – Does the proposed project address the Program’s priorities?

Please indicate “Yes” or “No”. If “yes”, please select all that apply. Program priorities are listed under the ‘Assessment Criteria’ section of this Guide.

Question 52 – Does your project include activities that are listed in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s (CEAA) Regulations Designating Physical Activities established under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012?

Please note: Applicants need to verify if their proposed activities are listed under the above Act – Please visit The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to access the list of Regulations Designating Physical Activities.

Please indicate “Yes” or “No”.

If the answer is NO -No Environmental Assessment will be required

If the answer is YES, then, as per the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, applicant must submit the project description electronically to the CEAA for further review. The CEAA will determine if an Environmental Assessment (EA) is required based on the project description.

Important: ESDC funding will be conditional upon receipt by ESDC of, as the case may be, CEAA confirmation that an EA is not required -or- a copy of the completed EA and confirmation that your organization is equipped to appropriately address the EA findings.

Part 3 - Funding

Section 3A – Anticipated sources of contribution

The OF program requires applicants to leverage a minimum of 20% (cash or in-kind) of total project costs (or include some form of social innovation) for their proposed project from other sources of funding. Each program has a “stacking limit”, that is, a maximum permitted amount of combined funding from federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments for any one project or initiative. Contributions to the project cannot exceed 100% of eligible expenditures.

ESDC uses the information provided in this section to verify that your funding request conforms to any stacking limit or requirement for funding from other sources.

“Other sources of funding” includes any source of funding (including from your organization) other than the program to which you are applying for funding.

Question 53 - Source name

Please include the name of the organization that will contribute funds and/or in-kind contributions to this project. ESDC should be listed as the first source name and any other sources listed below.

Question 54 - Source type

Use the following list to identify the type of anticipated funding partner:

  • Crown Corporation
  • Federal Department or Agency
  • Foreign Governments
  • Not-for-Profit
  • Private Sector
  • Provincial/Territorial Government
  • Regional or Municipal Government
  • Sponsor/Organization/Contribution Recipient
  • Union
  • Other (please specify) (If employers are contributing please record this as “employer”)

Question 55 - Cash

Please include the amount of funding that will be provided.

Question 56 - In-kind ($ value)

In-kind contributions are non-monetary goods or services that may be contributed to the project by your organization or other organizations or partners for which your organization will not be requesting re-imbursement. In-kind support may include donated equipment, services or facilities necessary for the proposed project that would otherwise have to be purchased.

To be considered valid, in-kind contributions should contribute to the success of the project, and their monetary equivalent estimated at fair market value.

Question 57 - Confirmed cash and in-kind

Cash and in-kind contributions should be committed to in writing by the contributing party. Please check (x) if this has been confirmed.

When applicable, and if possible, written confirmation of partner involvement should be submitted prior to signing a contribution agreement.

Section 3B – Project budget

ESDC uses the information provided in this section to assess the overall cost of the proposed project, as well as the general nature of the expenditures to be covered by all anticipated sources of funding.

Please find in Appendix B the Budget Detail Template* which must be included as part of the application.

Question 58 – Cost categories

Please itemize your project budget according to the Budget Detail Template* attached in Appendix B.

Key elements to consider in determining the project budget are:

  • contributions from other sources
  • duration of the project
  • occupations
  • prevailing wage rates; and
  • type of project activities

Please note that applicants must also detail monetary and/or in-kind contributions from other sources that reflect a commitment to the success of the project.

No costs are eligible as a contingency option. Costs must be foreseeable to be negotiated in the original agreement and will otherwise require a negotiation and amendment of the contribution agreement.

Costing Options for OF

ESDC has developed an approach whereby applicants for OF community coordinator agreements can choose one of two costing options. *Note, if your organization is not a community coordinator, you will not be eligible for these flat rates.

One of these costing options includes a flat percentage rate developed to represent actual costs of delivering a project and/or operating a business. Contribution recipients must keep receipts and supporting documents that support the expenditures under the flat rate as they could be subject to an audit; and if asked must supply this supporting documentation. The options available to applicants are:

1. Departmental Flat Percentage Rate: a flat percentage rate that is offered by the department for Projects Costs (3C in the eligible costs listing) and, if applicable, Administrative Costs (1A). The rates offered by ESDC to applicants are:

  • 5% for Project Costs (3C): 5% of Staff Wages (3A) plus Participant Costs (3B); and
  • 5% for Administrative Costs (1A): 5% of (Staff Wages (3A) plus Participant Costs (3B) plus Project Costs(3C); or

2. Reimbursement of Actual Costs: reimbursement is based on actual expenditures incurred.

The applicant will select a costing option and submit an application based on that chosen method. The costing option cannot be changed over the course of an agreement.

Also, choosing a costing option using a flat percentage rate requires that a flat percentage rate be used for cost type 3C as well as, if relevant, type 1A costs. In other words, applicants cannot choose a flat percentage rate for cost type 1A and request reimbursement for actual costs incurred for cost type 3C.

Cost categories

Eligible expenditures are the expenses, incurred by the contribution recipient, considered necessary to support the purpose of the funding. The following list of items consists of possible expenditures if they are related to the project’s activities and eligible under the program.

1. Administrative Costs

a) Administrative Costs

Means costs related to:

  • Audit fees
  • Bank fees
  • Basic telephone fees (including fax lines)
  • Contracting (if not contracted specifically to support the project), bookkeeping, janitorial services, Information Technology (IT), equipment maintenance services, security, translator, training fees, consultant fees, printing contracts fees (i.e. large job)
  • Equipment repair and maintenance (includes photocopy meter charges)
  • Insurance (fire, theft, liability)
  • IT maintenance
  • Legal fees
  • Materials and office supplies (e.g. pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, cleaning supplies, subscriptions)
  • Monthly internet fees
  • Management and administrative staff wages not working on outcome of projects including Mandatory Employment Related Costs (MERCs), vacation pay and benefits
  • Operational printing contracted externally (business cards, letterhead, ad hoc unanticipated print jobs, minor updates and/or printing of organizational or program brochures, etc.)
  • Other non-participant-based costs (e.g. water where public water is not safe for drinking, staff and volunteer recognition)
  • Postage and courier fees
  • Rent, lease (including applicant owned premises), repairs and leasehold improvements which do not specifically support the project; and
  • Staff and volunteer transportation (bus fare, taxi and parking required for delivery of project activities but not part of travel claims; does NOT include monthly parking fees nor bus pass)

Note: if using a flat rate option, include the total amount calculated for Type 1A costs. In that case, details by cost item are not required, however this information should be maintained for audit purposes.

2. Capital Costs

a) Capital Assets

Any asset/expenditure requiring agreement of disposition, with a purchase cost exceeding $1,000 (excluding sales tax). For example:

  • computer
  • furniture; and
  • software

All capital purchases require prior written approval from ESDC and must include a plan for disposal upon completion of the project. Also, it is a sound business practice to obtain more than one quote when purchasing capital assets.

3. Direct Costs

a) Staff Wages

Means wages, MERCs, Employer Health Tax and benefits paid to or on behalf of staff working directly on the project (including mentors and coaches). MERCs mean Mandatory Employment Related Costs and include EI Premiums, CPP / QPP contributions, vacation pay, etc.). Benefits means payments an employer is required to make by virtue of company policy or a collective agreement such as contributions to a group pension plan.

b) Participant Costs

Means participant wages and Mandatory Employment-Related Costs (MERCs); other employment-related benefit costs where warranted by current organizational Human Resources policies and/or provincial/territorial labour standards

General project participant costs:

  • Adaptive-technology set-up
  • Dependent care
  • Disability-related incremental costs (i.e. additional per diems for fees for assistance provided, etc.)
  • Disability-related supports (attendant care, note takers, sign language interpreters)
  • Emergency assistance (financial assistance provided to a participant to cover accommodation, food, laundry, telephone calls)
  • Living expenses
  • Materials and supplies, books and testing materials to be used by/for participants
  • Participation and completion recognition
  • Professional fees related to participants – sub-contracting (i.e. vocational assessments, needs assessments, guest speakers, etc.)
  • Travel, transportation; and
  • Tuition fees

c) Project Costs

In the context of the flat rate, cost items do not need to be detailed or negotiated. However, for audit purposes, it is important to keep in mind that this category means:

  • Advertising (newspaper ads, website ads, flyers, etc.)
  • Conference attendance fees
  • Conference fees (meeting room rental, guest speakers, etc.)
  • Equipment lease, rental or purchase (including computers, fax machines, etc.)
  • Computer software (with a value that is less than the amount identified in the funding agreement under the disposition of capital assets clause or without lease to own)
  • Furniture (with a value that is less than the amount identified in the funding agreement under the disposition of capital assets clause)
  • Goods and services tax (GST) / Harmonized sales tax (HST) / Provincial sales tax (PST)
  • Hospitality
  • Materials and office supplies (e.g. pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, cleaning supplies, subscriptions)
  • Memberships fees (professional and organizational), affiliation fees and business licenses and permits
  • Professional fees related to project activities
  • Reference materials (books, periodicals, subscriptions, etc., which cannot be easily traced/tracked back to usage by project participants)
  • Signage
  • Significant project costs associated with the following types of expenditures (i.e. non-standard/non-basic amounts over and above the regular, day-to-day operational costs)
    • Contracting (if contracted specifically to support the project) (e.g. bookkeeping, janitorial services, Information Technology {IT}), equipment maintenance services, security, audit costs, legal fees, translator, training)
    • Internet (web page design, etc.) and other IT requirements (significant costs associated with project activities, which increase expected internet related costs beyond normal operating requirements)
    • Postage fees (significant costs associated with project activities, which increase expected costs of postage beyond normal operating requirements)
    • Printing fees (significant costs associated with project activities, which increase expected printing costs beyond normal operating requirements)
    • Telephone (installation and extraordinary costs related to telephones and/or fax lines required over and above regular operating requirements)
  • Staff disability supports (duty to accommodate)
  • Staff training for disability-related issues (e.g. sign language training)
  • Utilities; and
  • Support to individuals (paid through contribution recipients)

d) Rent

This category includes rent, lease (including applicant owned premises), repairs and leasehold improvements.

Note: For each space rented detail the cost per square footage, monthly and for the length of the project in the Detailed Budget Description column. Detail all costs related to the rental (e.g. security, secretariat, parking, etc.) in that column as well. The rent must be in line with fair market value.

e) Travel

Means staff, consultant and volunteer travel (costs may include transportation costs, taxi, kilometric charges, per diems, accommodation, etc.) as per staff/volunteer travel claims.

Ineligible Costs:

  • costs associated with fundraising activities
  • CRA or payroll penalties
  • parking tickets
  • fines or penalties
  • entertainment costs
  • depreciation on fixed assets
  • board membership fees
  • capital costs for the construction of a building (other than minor repairs or renovations) or the purchase of land or buildings
  • purchase of motor vehicles
  • legal fees and court awards for inappropriate dismissal or other inappropriate/illegal activity
  • membership fees for privates clubs, etc. (golf clubs, gyms, etc.) unless part of existing (non-monetary) employment benefits package
  • staff salary bonuses if not originally negotiated into agreement
  • purchase of alcoholic beverages
  • purchase of any illegal substances; and
  • unreasonable gifts or unreasonable payments for recognition

Costs can be based on historical data but they must also reflect current rates of similar costs in the geographical location of the project. Depending upon your organization's taxable status, you may be entitled to receive a portion of the GST/HST paid on goods and services reimbursed by the CRA. As such, it is important to declare your organization's GST/HST reimbursement rate to ESDC on the submission of your application for funding so that ESDC does not reimburse a second time for the same cost. In your proposal, the budgeted amount of a cost item should include only the GST/HST portion eligible to be claimed.

Contracting and subcontracting

Please clearly identify in your application any use of contribution funds that may result in a contract or subcontract of $25,000 or over. Contribution recipients must receive approval, in writing, from ESDC/SC for all such contracts and receive approval in writing for the subcontracting of any part of the project activities. All contracts and subcontracts of $25,000 and over must involve a competitive process including at least three bids, otherwise, a justification for sole-sourcing must be provided in writing to ESDC and approved by the appropriate ESDC official. Please note that contracting and subcontracting with non-arms-length organizations is not permitted.

For all cost categories where travel costs are requested, applicants must indicate, in the Detailed Budget Description column, who in the project will require travel, the reason, the destination, the period, the transportation method (including tokens or commute transportation passes), the meals and the accommodation, if applicable. An approximation of the mileage required must be included, if applicable. Travel rates cannot exceed National Joint Council rates.

Other participant costs

Financial assistance may be provided to individuals through the recipient to cover all or a portion of living expenses. Assistance may also be provided to cover all or part of the incremental costs related to participation such as living expenses, disability-related supports and incremental costs, dependent care costs, transportation and accommodation costs. Provide a description of the type of assistance required and how many individuals it will benefit. Indicate how it is related to the individual's participant in the project.

When completing questions 58-61 on the Application please provide budget totals for categories 1, 2 and 3.

Any detail or additional information regarding the proposed budget that does not fit on the Budget Detail Template* (Appendix B) can be included in Question 64.

Question 59 – 61 – ESDC/Other - Cash/ Other - In-kind

Please provide the total planned expenditures.

Section 3C – Budget details

Question 62 – Associated businesses or individuals.

Please check all statements that apply to your planned expenditures of ESDC funding.

In carrying-out projects, contribution recipients may have to purchase various goods or services needed to perform the project from contractors. Some recipients may also contract-out with third-parties (i.e. outside providers) to perform part of the project activities and aid the contribution recipient to achieve the objectives of the project.

”Associated Businesses or Individuals” means:

  • an officer, director or employee of your organization
  • a member of the immediate family of an officer, director or employee of your organization
  • a business in which an officer, director or employee of your Organization, or a member of their immediate family, has a financial interest; or
  • a business which is related to, or associated or affiliated with, your organization

Question 63 - Capital Assets: Are capital assets among your planned expenditures with ESDC funding?

Please indicate Yes or No.

Explain how your project will benefit from the purchase of capital assets. A disposal plan for the capital assets should also be included.

A capital asset is any single or composite asset with a purchase value of more than $1,000 (before taxes) that is not physically incorporated into another product and that remains functional at the end of the project.

A composite asset is a collection of unique assets that form one identifiable functional unit, where all components are required for the asset to be functional. The collection of assets is treated as a single capital asset if the total cost of all individual items together is greater than $1,000 (before taxes).

For example, a personal computer composed of a hard-drive, a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and cabling is a composite capital asset. Four $300 chairs are not capital assets because each chair is functional on its own and, as single units, fall below the established threshold of $1,000 (before taxes).

Capital costs

Any asset with a purchase cost exceeding $1,000 (before taxes) requires prior written approval from ESDC, and must include a plan for disposal upon completion of the project. Also, it is an excellent and sound business practice to obtain more than one quote when purchasing capital assets.

Question 64 – Further budget details

Part 4 - Declaration

Please ensure that your application is signed by an official, authorized representative of your organization. People with signing authority are normally one or more of the executive members of the board of directors (president, vice president, secretary or treasurer) and employees of the organization (chief executive officer, executive director, chiefs of finance or human resources).

The Application for Funding must be signed in accordance with the organization’s statutes, by-laws or other constituting documents. For example, the president and the chief financial officer may be required to sign all outgoing documents.

Appendix – A

Please use this section to complete questions from previous sections of the application; and specify the question or section meant to be continued.

Appendix – B

5. Submit your application

Apply Online

ESDC encourages applicants to submit their application on its new online system, Grants and Contributions Online Services (GCOS). The online application process is quick and easy and, if approved for funding, provides for a convenient method of managing project documents. A confirmation number that confirms successful receipt will be generated once the online application is submitted.

Apply Online

ESDC encourages applicants to submit their application on its new online system, Grants and Contributions Online Services (GCOS). The online application process is quick and easy and, if approved for funding, provides for a convenient method of managing project documents. A confirmation number that confirms successful receipt will be generated once the online application is submitted.

Registration for GCOS can take up to two (2) weeks, therefore we invite you to register as soon as possible using this link, if you are not already registered: Register for GCOS.

Grants and Contributions Online Services: User Guides

The following documents will guide applicants/recipients through the creation, modification and submission of Applications for Funding, claims, Forecast of Project Expenditures (FPE) and activity reports. Questions regarding these user guides should be submitted via the GCOS Contact Us.

Mailing applications

Employers and organizations may also submit their completed applications in-person or by mail. Please consult the listing below to find out where to submit an application in your area.

Edmonton (serves north of Red Deer)
1440 - 9700 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton AB T5J 4C1

Calgary (serves Red Deer South)
1816 Crowchild Trail North-West
Calgary AB T2M 3Y7

British Columbia
Kelowna (serves Vancouver Island/Northern BE/Southern Interior)
471 Queensway, Room 306
Kelowna BC V1Y 6S5

Vancouver (serves the Lower Mainland)
125 10th Ave E
Vancouver, BC V5T 1Z3

Brandon (serves rural Manitoba)
1039 Princess Avenue
Brandon MB R7A 6E2

Winnipeg (serves Elmwood, Point Douglas, Winnipeg North, Winnipeg Centre, and St. Boniface areas)
280 Broadway Avenue, Suite 115
Winnipeg MB R3C 4M5

New Brunswick
Fredericton Service Canada Centre
633 Queen Street
PO Box 12000
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5G4
Newfoundland and Labrador

For Eastern Newfoundland

St. John's Service Canada Centre
P.O. Box 8548
223 Churchill Ave, Pleasantville
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 3P3

For Western Newfoundland and Labrador

Stephenville Service Canada Centre
133 Carolina Avenue
Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador A2N 3B5
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon

300 Main Street
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2B5

Nova Scotia
Halifax Service Canada Centre
Program Delivery Unit
PO Box 1800
7001 Mumford Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3V1
Ontario Service Canada
Kitchener office
4295 King Street East,
Kitchener ON N2P 0C6
Prince Edward Island
Service Canada
85 Fitzroy Street
PO Box 8000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 8K1

Applications can be mailed to the following address:

Service Canada
1001 Maisonneuve Boulevard East, 4th Floor
Montréal, Québec H2L 5A1

Applications can also be submitted in-person to your local Service Canada Centre.

Saskatoon (serves Northern SK)
101 - 22nd Street East
Saskatoon SK S7K 0E2

Regina (serves Southern SK)
200 - 1783 Hamilton Street
Regina SK S4P 2B6

6. Follow-up after you apply

Under normal conditions, we will acknowledge receipt of your proposal within 21 calendar days of receiving your application.

We will notify you, in writing, whether or not your application has been approved.

Please note, that decisions are final and applicants have no right to appeal.

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