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Canadian cannabis startups can apply for this $250-million COVID relief fund

Up to 12 weeks of wage subsidies are available to cannabis businesses with under 500 employees that pass “an evaluation of [their] economic situation and growth potential”, The Rise has learned. The deadline to apply is April 29.

2 min read

Having been mostly excluded from the tens of billions of dollars Ottawa has committed to helping Canadian businesses survive amid the COVID-19 shutdown, cannabis entrepreneurs have finally been offered a potential lifeline.

The National Research Council (NRC) of Canada has confirmed to The Rise that cannabis companies are allowed to apply for funding through its Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). As part of the federal government’s pandemic relief plans, IRAP received a $250-million funding boost in mid-April specifically to support early-stage firms.

Wage subsidies will be provided through the IRAP Innovation Assistance Program. The NRC “welcomes all applications” to that program, a Council spokesperson told The Rise in response to emailed questions about the eligibility of companies working in the legal cannabis sector.

However, “only applicants who meet all of the criteria will be considered for funding,” the spokesperson added.

“Eligibility does not guarantee funding.”

Money will be distributed “on a priority basis,” the NRC spokesperson said, noting decisions will follow “an evaluation of applicants’ economic situation and growth potential.”

Many (including this writer) have criticized federal cannabis policy in Canada for effectively ignoring cannabis entrepreneurs as part of the country’s broader small business community. 

More recently, Ottawa has faced intensive scrutiny for excluding vast swaths of the Canadian business community from its initial COVID-19 relief plans. The $250-million boost to IRAP was intended to partially address early shortcomings.

Below is a breakdown of the full funding criteria for the program. Check it out before deciding whether to apply on behalf of your cannabis business.

Applicants must:

  • Be ineligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
  • Be incorporated as a profit-oriented small or medium-sized business in Canada no later than March 1, 2020
  • Have no more than 500 full-time equivalent employees
  • Plan to pursue growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada
  • Lack sufficient financial resources to sustain operations from April 1, 2020 to June 23, 2020 inclusive
  • Have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) business number

If your business checks all those boxes, applications must be submitted here before 11:59pm ET on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. 

Payments to successful applications are expected to begin during the week of May 11, 2020.

This is not an offer to sell or a recommendation to trade in securities. This content may contain forward-looking information and/or data from third parties and is subject to limitations as discussed under The Rise's Terms of Use. Forward-looking information is based on assumptions that may be incorrect and is subject to risks, including those set out in Canopy Rivers' AIF and MD&A available at The views expressed above are those of The Rise’s editor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Canopy Rivers. Readers should not place undue reliance on this content.