On December 14th the Province of Ontario announced a new entrepreneur program to attract foreign nationals to invest and move to Ontario. The provincial government is hoping to generate $20 million in business investment by attracting 100 entrepreneurs, with a pathway toward permanent residency.

The news release is the only official information on the program released to date and it contains scant details. All we know, as of this writing, is as follows:

  • The provincial government envisions the stream as a two-year program.
  • The investment must be a minimum of $200,000 and can be for a new or existing business in a geographic area outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), i.e. GTA investments are not allowed under this $200,000 threshold.
  • The province will favour investment in the information technology, life sciences, and tourism sectors but it is not clear if investment in additional sectors will also be permitted.
  • The program will operate through an invitation-to-apply model. 
  • Entrepreneurs will have to run their business for at least 18 to 20 months before they are allowed to apply for Canadian permanent residency. This is know as the performance agreement.

Unfortunately, all of the above criteria is exactly the same as what already exists under the current (and seldomly used) Ontario entrepreneur stream, so it’s not clear what exactly is “new” about this announced program. Under the current program, there is a points system, minimum net worth requirements, and other factors that are not discussed in the December 14th news release, meaning it is not clear as of yet if the same additional qualifying criteria will also apply to this program. In addition, no actual start date has been announced, although a March 2022 start date is likely (subject to continued disruptions from the pandemic).

While we are pleased that the province of Ontario is turning its mind toward attracting more entrepreneurs to Canada, we are waiting for the release of further program details before we are able to determine if this application stream has a chance of competing against other successful programs including the federal intra-company and Start-Up Visa programs. We will publish further details as soon as they are released.

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