Economic Development Initiative (EDI) Guidelines

Important note:

The program currently has limited budget availability due to a high demand. Please contact a FedNor officer to discuss your project prior to submitting an application under the program.

The EDI is a Government of Canada initiative that is part of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2023–2028: Protection-Promotion-Collaboration which reaffirms our government's commitment to official languages.

In Northern Ontario, FedNor received $4 million over five years through the EDI to support business and economic development activities that develop new expertise in innovation, economic diversification and business growth in Northern Ontario's Francophone communities (the official language minority community) and capitalize on economic opportunities made possible through linguistic dualityFootnote 1. The EDI is delivered under the Terms and Conditions of the Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP) and according to the regional implementation guidelines presented herewith.

Expected Results

The initiative is intended to enhance the economic vitality of Northern Ontario's official language minority communities (OLMC) – the Francophone community - and enhance the region's competitiveness through linguistic duality, by supporting projects designed to achieve the following results:

Enterprises developed

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including co-operatives, are able to grow and become more competitive, spurring trade, tourism and investment in new and existing markets, creating new, diversified products and services, commercializing research and development in products and services, creating jobs and increasing the number of innovative, diversified SMEs.
  • SMEs have better access to information and services about federal economic development initiatives meant to increase partnerships and opportunities for economic diversification.

Communities developed

  • The economic base of OLMCs is diversified as opportunities arise through increased trade, investment and numbers of SMEs.
  • The development of new or improved tools and/or services for planning and sharing of best practices.

Eligible Recipients

Eligible recipients include Francophone or other organizations that undertake project activities in both official languages, provide programs or services in French, and are located in Northern Ontario. This would normally include, for example, community economic development corporations, not-for-profit organizations, sectoral associations, post-secondary institutions that offer full-time programs of study in French and municipalities that serve the Francophone community.

Eligible Activities

The EDI is an incremental programming initiative that supports economic development activities and approaches that respond directly to related priorities of OLMCs and/or that address linguistic duality issues.

OLMC projects that meet the current priorities of the Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP) will continue to be administered by FedNor under the NODP.

EDI activities are anticipated to include, but are not restricted to activities designed to:

  • Strengthen governance and leadership capacity in OLMCs, such as providing support for youth interns as management trainees or to assume professional roles with not-for-profit OLMC cultural enterprises, festivals and events;
  • Enhance the capacity of the OLMC cultural sector, festivals and events to generate broad-based economic impacts and become sustainable;
  • Support service delivery models and economic development infrastructure that build critical mass, strengthen the vitality of OLMCs and generate economic opportunities (e.g., cooperatives, one-stop multi-service centres, virtual platforms);
  • Support networking and collaboration to achieve tangible economic results or enhanced services to citizens;
  • Develop other OLMC niche sectors and products (e.g., Québec-Ontario collaboration on business opportunity; economic opportunities through adoption of digital tools and new media);
  • Help SMEs capitalize on economic opportunities through linguistic duality (e.g., access new market); and
  • Support results-oriented OLMC business or community economic development (CED) research/planning initiatives to advance economic opportunities.

Eligible activities include incremental business and economic development activities such as those:

  • undertaken in French by, or for the benefit of, a Francophone client group; and
  • that encourage SMEs to provide their products or services in both official languages (e.g., to expand into Francophone markets).

For Youth Internships, the work experience must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • For Francophone internships, French is to be used substantively in project activities; and
  • For bilingual internships, the use of English and French is required to implement project activities.

Business Development

Examples of activities that lead to enterprises being developed or related capacities built include those that:

  • Enhance business competitiveness and access to national and international markets through the adoption of a second official language;
  • Strengthen the growth and competitiveness of the Francophone arts and cultural sectors and its products from a business development perspective (e.g., business retention and expansion initiative tailored to OLMC cultural enterprises);
  • Support youth interns as management trainees or in professional roles with not-for-profit OLMC cultural enterprises (e.g., minority community radio, newspapers, television, festivals, cultural centers); and
  • Promote adoption of a second official language in an SME's operations/services, leading to a new competitive advantage and opening doors to new markets.

Community Development

Examples of activities that lead to communities being developed or related capacities built include those that:

  • Foster results-oriented business or CED research/planning initiatives to advance economic opportunities for an OLMC;
  • Regional initiatives to help OLMC arts and cultural sectors (e.g. festivals and events) to become stronger generators of economic impacts for communities;
  • Strengthen and capitalize on the economic/business opportunities associated with the French language, cultural sector and niche products;
  • Help key OLMC initiatives keep pace with technological change, the digital economy, particularly new media and social media (in French);
  • Enhance OLMC economic or business development through models tailored to specific needs (e.g., cooperatives, one-stop multi-service centres);
  • Undertake a feasibility study or implement a plan to establish a one-stop Francophone multi-service centre;
  • Support youth interns as management trainees or in professional roles with not-for-profit organizations to advance OLMC CED priorities;
  • Support community strategic planning activities that enhance the economic base and competitiveness of Francophone communities, such as strategic and community planning or community mobilization and networking that lead to concrete results;
  • Develop leadership and engage OLMC youth in management and governance trainee roles with not-for-profit OLMC cultural industries (e.g., radio, television, theatre); and
  • Improve the capacity of Northern Ontario communities and businesses to address economic and business development needs and opportunities in OLMCs and/or through the adoption or enhanced use of both official languages.

Funding Conditions

  • Assistance is provided in the form of repayable and non-repayable contributions. Contributions will normally be repayable where proposed projects generate profits for the eligible applicant. Youth internships are non-repayable.
  • Eligible applicants are expected to contribute a minimum of 10 percent of project costs.
  • Costs for which the applicant has entered into a legal commitment prior to the application received date will not be considered eligible for reimbursement unless written consent is provided by FedNor.
  • FedNor may contribute up to 90 percent to a maximum contribution of $35,000 annually toward the eligible costs of salary and employee benefit expenses in a full-time position for the internship period for up to 18 months (for a maximum contribution of $52,500 towards the salary and benefits of the intern).
  • FedNor may also contribute up to 90 percent to a maximum contribution of $5,000 toward eligible ancillary costs such as equipment and training (for a total contribution of $57,500 towards the salary, benefits, and ancillary costs of the intern).
  • Project funding is subject to parliamentary approval of funds and to the maintenance of current and forecasted program-related budgetary levels.
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises are ineligible applicants under the EDI.

Project Assessment Criteria

Project applications are reviewed against EDI objectives and expected results, based on the project's merit, and according to the extent to which the proposed activities:

  • Generate net economic benefits for Northern Ontario;
  • Build partnerships among EDI recipients, business partners and other CED stakeholders;
  • Enhance opportunities to do business, interact, work and receive services in the language of the region's official language minority (French);
  • Demonstrate participation and support of the Francophone community;
  • Respond to a priority and need of the Francophone community as identified in a strategic and/or community plan, or through consultations;
  • Contribute significantly to the vitality of OLMCs; and
  • Achieve tangible results for citizens or foster the delivery of stronger services to citizens.

Project applications are also reviewed and funding levels determined based on criteria, such as:

  • need for assistance to make the project viable;
  • requested assistance complements and does not displace other funding from government programs or other sources; and
  • availability of FedNor's EDI funds.

Where applicable, FedNor requires that:

  • applicants address the requirements of the Impact Assessment Act and the Official Languages Act;
  • capital projects respect Canada's obligation to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate Aboriginal communities;
  • applicants use a fair, competitive and transparent procurement process to ensure the best value for money when supplies, equipment and services are purchased or personnel hired; and
  • an appropriate authority or regulatory body endorses the project.

Eligible Costs

Eligible costs include all expenses directly related to the project, and deemed reasonable and necessary for its execution.

Non-capital costs may include:

  • fees for professional and technical services, including project implementation, engineering services;
  • costs related to community engagement and planning, such as facilitation, rental of facility;
  • costs related to producing and disseminating results of studies/plans;
  • marketing costs, including design, promotional materials, advertising, product demonstrations and participation at trade shows; and
  • travel expenses and labour costs.

Capital costs may include:

  • leasehold improvements; and
  • machinery, equipment and technology.

Ineligible Project Activities and Costs

Certain activities and costs will not be considered eligible, including:

  • infrastructure supporting educational facilities, health care services and delivery (e.g., hospices, long-term care facilities, health centres), unless as part of a broader initiative that advances a key OLMC CED priority (on a case-by-case basis);
  • infrastructure related to retail, wholesale, accommodation and administrative facilities, unless as part of a broader initiative that advances a key OLMC CED priority (on a case-by-case basis);
  • activities and infrastructure primarily of a social/recreational nature such as museums, libraries, cultural centres, recreation centres, tourist information/welcome centres or arenas, unless as part of a broader initiative that advances a key OLMC CED priority (on a case-by-case basis);
  • theoretical research that does not lead to a concrete result, tool or plan for the community or businesses;
  • waste management disposal;
  • government services; and
  • land and rolling stock.

The following Youth Internship activities are ineligible for support:

  • fundraising and lobbying;
  • ongoing and regular administrative/operational activities of the organization;
  • those that displace existing employees; and
  • those that do not comply with all labour union agreements, where applicable.

Service Standards

FedNor is committed to providing quality service to all applicants and funding recipients in the official language of their choice.

Our goal is to:

  • acknowledge receipt of an application within (3) working days (FedNor has, on average, met this service standard in the 2021/22 fiscal year 100% of the time); and,
  • provide a decision on applications within eighty (80) working days of receipt of a fully completed application (FedNor has, on average, met this service standard in the 2021/22 fiscal year 80% of the time)Footnote 2.
  • render a payment decision on claim submissions within thirty-five (35) working days (FedNor has, on average, met this service standard in the 2021/22 fiscal year 86% of the time).

How to Apply

Please call 1-877-333-6673 to discuss your proposal with a FedNor Officer in your area or begin your application process.