Canadian Experiences Fund program guidelines


Section A – General information

1. Background

The Government of Canada's Canadian Experiences Fund (CEF), delivered by Canada's regional development agencies across the country, was announced in Budget 2019 as a two-year $58.5-million national program to help Canada's tourism sector innovate and grow.

Of this funding, FedDev Ontario has been allocated more than $11 million to deliver this program in southern Ontario.

The initial priority period for applications to the Canadian Experiences Fund ended June 3, 2019. Applications may still be submitted, however applications received by June 3 are being assessed on a priority basis. Projects received after this date will only be considered if funding continues to be available.

Projects must be completed by December 31, 2020.

2. Program overview

The Canadian Experiences Fund (CEF) provides non-repayable contributions to eligible recipients for projects that create, improve or expand tourism-related infrastructure, such as accommodations, local attractions and new tourism products or experiences.

The Canadian Experiences Fund will normally target investments that range from $25,000 to $500,000 for projects that focus on one or more of the following priority segments:

  1. Tourism in rural and remote communities;
  2. Indigenous tourism;
  3. Winter and shoulder season tourism;
  4. Inclusiveness, specifically for the LGBTQ2+ community; and
  5. Farm-to-table tourism, also known as culinary tourism.

Please refer to the eligibility and funding sections of these guidelines for more details.

Section B – Eligibility requirements

3.1 Eligible applicants

To be considered eligible for funding through FedDev Ontario, an applicant must be located in southern Ontario.

Eligible applicants are:

  • Municipalities
  • Not-for-profit organizations operating in the tourism sector
  • Incorporated businesses, including:
    • Businesses and/or corporations
    • Indigenous-owned businesses
    • Co-operatives

To be considered eligible for funding, applicants must demonstrate:

  • Evidence of project funding.
  • Managerial, technical, operational and financial capacity to achieve the project's stated objectives in a timely manner.
  • Evidence of opportunities for sector/industry growth.
  • How the project addresses a gap, including evidence of economic opportunities for tourism sector.
  • A viable project plan with achievable outcomes, supported by verifiable cost estimates.

Note: Eligible applicants must be legal entities capable of entering into legally binding agreements.

3.2 Eligible projects

The Canadian Experiences Fund will support the following types of activities carried out by the tourism sector:

  • Product and service planning, development and implementation: designing new or improved tourism services and products (e.g., attraction, festival, tour);
  • Market readiness training: working with tourism associations to provide market readiness training to business; and
  • Creating or improving tourism facilities: physical assets used by tourists (e.g., trails, campgrounds, shelters).

To be eligible, projects must fall into one of five categories (examples of eligible activities have also been provided):

Tourism in rural and remote communities: Investments to help attract tourists to rural and remote destinations, such as destination development planning, adventure trails, improving public tourism facilities and community beautification.

Indigenous tourism: Investments that increase Indigenous tourism revenue, such as market readiness training, festivals celebrating Indigenous heritage, culture and art, and interpretation guides and installations.

Winter and shoulder season tourism: Investments to encourage tourism more evenly across the year, such as festivals, tours and excursions to see local attractions, wildlife and culture, and tourism facility improvements, such as signage, specialized accommodations, and facility planning and development.

Inclusiveness: Investments to increase the number of participants in LGBTQ2+ tourism events, such as urban and/or local pride festivals, LGBTQ2+ market readiness and touristic art events.

Farm-to-Table tourism/Culinary tourism: Investments to grow food and beverage spending by tourists, such as developing and marketing regional culinary tourism trails, developing and implementing food festivals and farmers’ markets, and developing new culinary products and services using local produce.

3.3 Eligible costs

Eligible costs for project activities may include:

  • Labour
  • Expertise
  • Non-Capital
  • Capital

All costs must be reasonable and directly related to the eligible project activities. Eligible costs must be incremental and not cover ongoing operational costs.

3.4 Ineligible and/or unsupported costs:

Ineligible and/or unsupported costs include:

  • Any costs deemed not reasonable and/or not directly related to the eligible project activities.
  • Activities in support of regular maintenance and/or ongoing operation costs.
  • Cost incurred prior to the eligibility date as defined in the contribution agreement.
  • Costs incurred before the date of Application or after December 31, 2020.
  • Acquisition of land and buildings.

Section C – Funding

4. Funding

Funding for the Canadian Experiences Fund is non-repayable.

The amount of project funding available is dependent on the type of applicant:

  • Municipalities and not-for-profit organizations may apply for up to 100 percent of eligible and supported costs. While projects costing $5,000 can be supported, projects would normally be within the range of $25,000 to $500,000. However, the program may support up to a maximum amount of $1 million per project.
  • Incorporated businesses, including co-operatives and Indigenous-owned businesses may apply for up to 100 percent of eligible and supported project costs, from $5,000 to a maximum of $100,000.

Total government funding (including federal, provincial and municipal) cannot exceed 100 percent of eligible and supported project costs.

The CEF also allows for third party delivery. Not-for-profit organizations such as associations and municipalities can re-allocate or redistribute funding to other eligible organizations such as small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In this case, the SMEs must provide a minimum 50 percent cash contribution to the project. The maximum disbursement of a contribution that provides funding to SMEs as their ultimate recipient is capped at a maximum of $100,000 per SME under a FedDev Ontario project with a not-for-profit organization.

Government stacking up to 100 percent is allowed only for not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous-owned businesses.

For incorporated businesses, total government funding (including federal, provincial and municipal) for a project cannot exceed 75 percent of eligible non-capital costs and 50 percent of eligible capital costs.

FedDev Ontario support is not intended to replace or duplicate funding available from other funding sources, including private sector and/or government programs.

Financial assistance from government programs may have tax implications for an organization. It is recommended that applicants obtain advice from a qualified tax professional.

Section D – Applying for funding

5.1 Submitting an application

The initial priority period for applications to the Canadian Experiences Fund ended June 3, 2019. Applications may still be submitted, however applications received by June 3 are being assessed on a priority basis. Projects received after this date will only be considered if funding continues to be available.

Applicants are encouraged to contact FedDev Ontario prior to submitting an application by calling us at 1-866-593-5505.

Multiple and concurrent project submissions from the same applicant for this program are discouraged and may not be considered by FedDev Ontario.

5.2 Review & assessment

A complete application will undergo a due diligence review. It will be assessed against a number of factors, including managerial, operational, financial and market risks, benefits and impacts, including the degree to which the proposed project meets or addresses one or more of the priority segments.

The demand for funding has exceeded the funds available. The extent to which your project addresses the following criteria will be used by FedDev Ontario to prioritize whether, and the extent to which, the request for funding is supported or not:

  • skills development;
  • job creation;
  • economic sustainability; and/or
  • environmental sustainability.

All applications will be screened initially for completeness. Due to the high volume of funding requests, applicants with an incomplete application should not expect to be contacted. Incomplete applications will not be assessed and will be considered ineligible for funding.

All project activities under the Canadian Experiences Fund must be completed by December 31, 2020.

Complete applications are those that include all prescribed documentation containing all information needed for FedDev Ontario to complete the review. Information should be accurate, verifiable, relevant and consistent.

Assessment criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Project's contribution to achieving the objectives of Canadian Experiences Fund and alignment with one or more of the stated priority segments.
  • Demonstrated capacity of the applicant to successfully implement the project and achieve the stated objectives. Factors to be assessed include managerial capacity, technical capacity, operational capacity and financial capacity.
  • Risks (financial, technical) and mitigation strategies.
  • Benefits of the project.
  • Demonstrated need for FedDev Ontario's investment and its incremental impact on the project in terms of scope, location and timing.
  • Support for inclusive growth priorities (e.g., women-led or Indigenous-led organizations, young entrepreneurs, Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada and visible minorities).

5.3 Disbursement of funding

If a project receives approval, a contribution agreement will be executed with FedDev Ontario.

To receive funding, recipients must submit claims forms, on templates provided by FedDev Ontario, that summarize eligible costs incurred and paid within a period. Generally, the duration of these periods will be no more than once a month and no less than quarterly.

5.4 Reporting requirements & visibility requirements

Recipients must submit periodic reports and annual financial statements to FedDev Ontario. Project reports will provide details on project results and completion of deliverables, including achievement of performance indicators and project benefits identified in the contribution agreement.

Recipients must agree that its name, the amount of the Contribution and a description of the general nature of the activities supported under its contribution agreement with FedDev Ontario be made publicly available for reasons of transparency and proactive disclosure. Recipients must also agree to co-develop a plan intended to maximize visibility of the support received because of the project, including but not limited to support provided to ultimate recipients if applicable.


An Application Guide and Frequently Asked Questions have been developed to assist in the completion of a project proposal for the Canadian Experiences Fund. In addition, you may contact FedDev Ontario to discuss your application by calling 1-866-593-5505.

Your application must be complete and have all of the required information as outlined in this guide to be considered for funding.

FedDev Ontario reserves the right to modify these guidelines at any time without notice and may waive certain requirements on an exceptional basis.

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