Apply for funding for the Sectoral Initiatives Program

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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Application period

Current status: Closed

Learn more about other funding opportunities

This call ran from January 22, 2021 to March 4, 2021 at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Description of the funding

Eligible organizations can apply for up to $2,500,000 (per project, per year). We will fund projects that identify, forecast and address sectoral or cross-sectoral human resources and skills development needs.

Projects must be a maximum of 36 months.


This funding supports projects that focus on one or more of the following objectives:

  • develop and implement sector-based solutions to address the workforce challenges and needs of Canadian workers and employers
  • address specific workforce needs in support of economic recovery for a specific sector or across sectors

Project activities must align with one or more of the following categories:


To apply, you must meet all the following eligibility criteria:

Eligible applicants

  • Your organization must be one of the following:
    • not-for-profit organization
    • for-profit organization provided that the nature and intent of the activity is non-commercial and does not generate profit
    • municipal government
    • Indigenous organization including:
      • band council
      • tribal council
      • self-government entity
    • provincial and territorial government, institution, agency or Crown Corporation

Note to organizations located and operating in Québec

If we accept your proposed project, you will need to get approval from the Quebec government before you can accept our funding.

Consult the Act respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif

Eligible projects

  • Your project must meet all of the following criteria:
    • be no longer than 36 months
    • request no more than $2,500,000 per year, per project
    • have contributions from sources other than ESDC:
      • cash or in-kind
      • equal to or more than 10% of your total project costs
    • secure at least one partner

How we assess your application

We will assess your application based on the following criteria:

Organization’s capacity

  • Demonstrate that your organization has the knowledge of the specific skills issues in your sector (or across multiple sectors) required for this project
  • Describe your current partnerships at the national, provincial, and regional levels (including cross-sectoral partners) that would demonstrate your ability to carry out this project

Project objectives

  • Describe the needs or issues within a specific sector (or across sectors) that your project will address
  • Demonstrate how your project will achieve at least one of the following objectives:
    • develop and implement sector-based solutions to address the workforce challenges of Canadian workers and employers
    • address specific workforce needs in support of economic recovery for a specific sector or across sectors

Project activities

  • Describe how your project’s activities align with one or more of the following categories:
    • sectoral labour market intelligence and tools
    • sectoral training and worker transition
    • solutions for employers
  • Provide clear and relevant description of the project activities
  • Provide clear and feasible timelines to complete the project activities
  • Describe how the partner(s) will be involved in this project

Project results

  • Describe how the sector(s) will benefit from the project
  • Describe the expected results of your project. They must be specific, concrete and measurable
  • List the indicators that you will use to measure the progress towards your project results
  • Describe how you plan to gather, measure and report on results achieved by your project

Project costs

  • Provide a brief and clear justification of how you intend to use the money
  • Demonstrate that the costs are reasonable and support the project activities

Additional funding considerations

We will consider the following to select a diverse range of projects to fund:

  • focus on supporting underrepresented groups, such as:
    • persons with disabilities
    • Indigenous peoples
    • visible minorities
    • women
    • youth
    • newcomers
  • focus on projects in key sectors of the economy, including:
    • agriculture and food processing
    • construction
    • information and communication technology
    • health
    • manufacturing
    • natural resources and environment
    • tourism and hospitality
    • transportation
    • sector(s) not listed above that have pressing workforce needs due to COVID-19 and/or can contribute to economic recovery

Steps to apply

Gather your supporting documents and information

  • Completed application form
  • Letter(s) confirming partnership
  • Budget detail template

Decide how to apply

Apply online

  1. Create your GCOS account. It may take up to 10 business days to create your account
  2. Read the applicant guide to complete your application form. This guide includes details for each question of the form
  3. Complete the budget detail template and upload it in GCOS
  4. Apply online using GCOS

Apply by email or mail

  1. Read the applicant guide to complete your application form. This guide includes details for each question of the form
  2. Complete the Application form online or by hand
  3. Complete the budget detail template (PDF Format)
  4. Send your complete your application package by email or by mail to:
    • Mailing address:
      Sectoral Initiatives Program
      Coordination Unit Mailstop 402
      National Grants & Contributions Delivery Centre (ESDC)
      140 Promenade du Portage Phase IV 4th Floor
      Gatineau QC K1A 0J9

Note: If you cannot email the documents, you can send them by mail to the address above. In your email, tell us if you are sending other documents by mail.

After you’ve applied

We will review your application and decide if you will receive funding.

We expect to make funding decisions in summer 2021.


You will receive an automatic confirmation of receipt.

By email

You will receive an automatic confirmation of receipt by email.

By mail

You will receive a confirmation of receipt by email within 21 calendar days.

Contact us

If you have questions, email us at
We will answer questions sent before March 4, 2021 at 12:00 pm EST.

Information sessions

We will hold information sessions in early February. You can participate online or by teleconference.

If you are interested, send an email to We will provide the instructions on how to participate.

In your email, indicate if you would like to attend an information session in English or French. Also, indicate if you need accommodation to attend.


Sector-based solutions

Information, tools, and/or strategies that address sector-specific labour market issues faced by both the employers and workers.

Labour market issues could include, but not limited to:

  • recruitment and retention
  • skills development
  • capacity building for employers

Addressing post-pandemic recovery and/or challenges faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic

The development of information, tools, and/or strategies that:

  • contribute to the post-pandemic economic recovery, and/or
  • address specific challenges sector(s) are facing due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to:
    • upgrading the skills of workers
    • recruitment and retention
    • developing online e-learning systems
    • establishing and leveraging stakeholder and employer networks

Sectoral labour market intelligence and tools

The development and use of labour market information to help the following persons make informed decisions about their labour market and skills development needs:

  • employers
  • job seekers
  • students
  • educators

Sectoral training and worker transition solutions

The design and delivery of sector-specific skills development initiatives to address:

  • pressing gaps in the labour market
  • upskill workers for changing skills needs
  • transition displaced workers from declining sectors to in-demand occupations and emerging sectors

Solutions for employers

The development of new or scaling up of proven initiatives to address the specific needs of employers, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, in areas such as:

  • recruitment
  • retention
  • skills development for employees or potential employees
  • capacity building
  • diversity and inclusion

Cross sectoral

Partnerships or projects involving at least 2 economic sectors or sub-sectors that address mutual labour market challenges

Labour market information

Can take the form of a labour market research report or a labour market forecasting system:

  • labour market research report is a written document that contains analysis of labour market information. Labour market information examples include:
    • sector studies
    • situational analysis
    • labour market trends analyses
    • occupational supply/demand studies, including:
      • outlooks of shortages
      • surpluses
  • labour market forecasting systems estimate future labour supply and/or demand for key occupations within specific sectors. These are typically based on standard theory and techniques with customized frameworks to address sectoral or cross-sectoral and/or regional needs using:
    • historical and current data
    • employer perspectives
    • information related to population growth
    • economic and technological developments

National Occupational Standards

Define the specific knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform a job competently in the workplace. A National Occupational Standard (NOS) includes:

  • technical skills
  • essential skills
  • occupation-specific skills and knowledge
  • general knowledge relevant to the workplace
  • abilities required to perform the job

NOS projects aim to:

  • enhance labour mobility across Canada
  • facilitate job training in a dynamic labour market
  • improve worker productivity

It is expected that NOS projects will provide:

  • human resource managers and planners with tools that facilitate and improve recruitment and training efforts, such as:
    • competency dictionaries
    • skill descriptions and levels
    • profiles
  • educators and trainers with current standards to build curriculum and training
  • workers with clear criteria to improve job prospects
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