Provincial, federal governments pledge $57 million to help Ontario businesses expand online presence

The government says this will also help create jobs nearly 1,500 students

The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario have announced the ‘Digital Main Street’ platform, which sets aside $57 million CAD to go towards helping small businesses enhance their online presence.

Specifically, $50 million is coming the federal government, with another $7.65 million being provided by the provincial government.

Altogether, the province says this will help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.

Specifically, Digital Main Street is broken down into three programs:

  • Digital Main Street Grant — small businesses can receive funding to adopt the necessary technologies and take advantage of digital marketing tools
  • Future-Proofing Main Street — the government will provide specialized, in-depth digital transformation services and support
  • shopHERE — focused on hiring skilled and trained students to help businesses with their online offerings

Digital Main Street will be available province-wide to all businesses at no cost.

This should prove particularly useful to small businesses, based on some figures provided by the provincial government. In its media release, the government notes that only about 60 percent of Ontario’s small enterprises have a website, with only seven percent actually having an online payment option. Further, Canadian businesses are estimated to be two years behind their U.S. counterparts.

Update: 12/06/2020 at 5:07pm ET : This article originally said the investment was coming from the provincial government, although it’s a joint provincial-federal funding initiative. This article has been updated to reflect this distinction.