There have been recent changes to the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) program. COJG is a government funding scheme designed to support employers that invest in staff training. Since 2014, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development has been providing funds to Ontario businesses, non-profit organizations and consortia to share the costs of training course purchases. Any employer that purchases a job-related training course for staff from an external third party trainer, has been eligible to receive a grant covering 2/3 of course costs of up to $10,000 per trainee. Since the program’s inception, we have been helping our clients navigate the complex COJG application process and successfully obtain COJG funding.

As time goes by and the program grows in popularity, its $192 million annual budget has stretched thinner. As a result, the Ministry continually evaluates the effectiveness of funded projects and makes changes to the program rules and processes. The changes are made to ensure the funds offer the best value for their investment and the benefits to citizens of Ontario.

In April 2019, the Ministry released a series of updates to the COJG guidelines. The updates place some new restrictions on eligibility, so to help our clients understand how they impact their funding potential, we have broken down the key changes.

Employer Financial Contribution
The government will now cover 50% of direct training costs for large employers (100 or more employees) and 83% for small employers (fewer than 100 employees). Applications may qualify for 100% funding if the small employer is hiring and training unemployed individuals.

Classifying your Trainer – Product Vendors vs Private Trainers
When applying for funding, the employer must specify what type of trainer it is contracting to deliver the course. This may be a public college or university, a school board or a union-based centre, a private career college, or a product vendor. Until now, the “product vendor” category was used as a catch-all for any private training consultant or business that did not fit the other categories. However, this resulted in many incorrectly classified applications, with product vendor training accounting for nearly half of all approved applications. To clarify the definitions, the Ministry has decided to split this into two categories: Product Vendors and Private Trainers.

Product Vendor training is any training whereby the vendor is involved in the creation or sale of business-related materials being purchased by the employer (such as technology, equipment, software, or proprietary processes), and is conducting training on the purchased product. In this category, COJG will no longer fund training on the basic operation of how to use the product or service. Product Vendor training must be limited to advanced applications of the product. For example, if a company purchases a 3D printer, the Product Vendor is ineligible for training on how to use the printer; however, if it offered a course on advanced design principles, the Product Vendor would be eligible to deliver that type of training. Product vendors are only eligible to deliver training that is unrelated to the use of the product or service.

Private Trainer training is the new “none of the above”, when the course is conducted by a trainer who is not a College of Applied Arts and Technology, publicly assisted university, school board, product vendor or a union based training centre. Private Trainers may provide training on the operation of a product, if they are not the vendor of the product. In this case, the Private Trainer must be completely independent of the product vendor, not an exclusive trainer for the vendor, and the training fee cannot be included in the product purchase contract. So in the above 3D printer example, a Private Trainer would be eligible to conduct training on how to use the printer as long as he/she is not related to the company that manufactured and sold the printer.

Course Restrictions
The Ministry aims to help employees gain career-related skills that will allow them to obtain a new or better job or avoid layoffs. Thus COJG funding can cover a wide variety of training subject matters, including leadership, business management, technical, sales, communication, etc. However, the following types of training are no longer eligible for funding:

To all our accounting friends, don’t worry – professional development courses as part of the Chartered Professional Accountant are still eligible.

Eligible Trainees
COJG is open to new hires or incumbent staff, including full-time, part-time, contract, and seasonal staff. However, certain high-level personnel are excluded from funding coverage. Ineligible staff can still participate in training if they wish to, but COJG will not compensate the employer for those individuals’ course fees.

Additional Allowances
It’s not all cutbacks! COJG has added a number of areas for additional coverage for special situations:
COJG has added a travel allowance for participants. Eligible training must take place within Ontario, but the delivery method can be online, on-site, classroom-based, or any combination of those. In the past, COJG would not compensate for travel costs, if the employees had to attend training away from the workplace. Now, if the trainee must travel more than 24km each way to attend a course, they may receive additional funding of up to $500 per person for travel costs.

COJG has also increased funding allowance for small businesses that offer training to unemployed individuals. If a company with 50 or fewer staff is providing training for an unemployed person who will be given a job as a result of completing training, then the employer can receive 100% of the course cost of up to $15,000 per trainee. The above changes came into effect as of May 12, 2017.

So, is your business planning to invest in any employee training? Contact RDP to apply for COJG and other training grants.