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What is the Assistance? Do I Qualify? Where do I Start? FAQs

"At the 6 month juncture of this program, I can't express my appreciation for the business training we received.  The BERN staff from all the locations were not only well informed and professional but they truly had our best interests at heart.  No matter how many different hats you have worn before your start of your own business - you can always learning something new."  Jayne Gray, Mile Stones, Collingwood

"I graduated the program in September of 2007 and in the months that I attended workshops, networking events and other activities, I made some good friends, colleagues and potential clients.  The program taught me a lot about running a small business, attracting clients and networking with other business people.  In the 2 years since I graduated, as an alumni, I have been involved with Business Plan reviews and ongoing training of the new intake clients.  This is important to me because I believe in continuous learning.  This program gives every entrepreneur a good start with knowledge and resources and motivates them by keeping them in contact with other successful graduates."  Pamela Toutant, Toutant Business Services, Orillia

More Testimonials


Am I Eligible and How Do I Qualify?

To qualify you must be unemployed OR working less than 20 hours a week AND:

  • You have an EI (Employment Insurance) benefit period established with Service Canada, or,
  • You have an EI benefit period ended within the last 36 months, or
  • You are re-entering the labour force after having left it to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The benefit period must have begun within the last 60 months during which you were paid maternity or parental benefits, and you have no re-call rights to your previous employer.

Your proposed business must be:

  • A full-time business venture
  • A new business, or
  • An existing business in which you had no prior ownership, and
  • Suitable for public funding (e.g. must not exploit sex, religion, politics, discrimination or illegal activity).

The business concept may be:

  • Seasonal in nature; however, you must demonstrate how you will devote a full-time effort to the business for the duration of Ontario Self Employment Benefit (OSEB) period.
  • A home-based venture.
  • A conversion of a hobby to a business.

The business cannot be:

  • Partially or entirely based on commission or solely contracted by another business.
  • A part-time business.
  • Previously owned or similar to a business previously owned by you, the applicant.
  • A previously established family business.
  • A franchise.
  • A home-based day care.
  • A not-for-profit corporation.

You must also demonstrate that you can finance the start up and operation of the business.

If you are considering a partnership or incorporation, you will be required to demonstrate through the partnership agreement or letters of incorporation that you are the decision-maker in control of the business.


To find out about your Employment Insurance eligibility:

Service Canada
English Enquiries 1-800-206-7218
French Enquires 1-800-808-6352



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