What is the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)?

February 7, 2024

The Canadian federal government has made $1.4 billion in funding available to small to medium enterprises across Canada to help digitize businesses. The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), “aims to close the digitization gap between Canadian businesses and their competitors.” 

How do you apply?

Keenan, the Lead Growth Consultant at Longhouse Media, explains just how easy the process is. There are four key steps to the application process:

  1. Confirm your eligibility
  2. Complete your application
  3. Sign grant agreement
  4. Provide banking details

To get started, search up “CDAP” in google or click here to land on the official government website. You’re going to scroll down and find two grant options:

  1. Grow Your Business Online Grant
  2. Boost Your Business Technology Grant

From there, you’ll select the grant that best fits your business needs and complete the application. The application requires you to verify your personal identity. 

Only the sole proprietor or president of an organization can apply but in a formal process, directors can assign a “delegate” to fill out the application for them. 

Tip: Keep all necessary information such as personal banking information, CRA myBusiness information and tax information available on-hand as they’ll ask for these items multiple times. 

What’s the difference between Grow and Boost?

  1. Grow your business online:
  • Up to 90,000 micro-grants of $2400 and up to 11,200 job placements for young Canadians to help customer-facing small businesses develop and implement their e-commerce strategies.
  • Access e-commerce advisors to help small businesses discover and implement new e-commerce tools.

If your business made less than $500k, in the last financial year, then you fall under grow – a one time grant. 

  1. Boost your Business technology:
  • Up to 70,000 grants of a maximum value of $15,000 for advisory services to develop a digital adoption plan.
  • Access to a network of Canadian digital advisors.
  • Potential to get up to $100,000 interest free BDC loan to implement your digital plan.
  • 16,800 funded work placements for SMEs undertaking digital transformation.

If your business or organization made $500k and more then you fall under boost – funding in three waves with the intention to stop, collaborate and listen. 

There is a grant assessment tool to help you decide which grant fits your needs more. 

Tip: Make sure to utilize all the tools available to you. 

Finding a Digital Advisor

Once you’ve been approved for the grant, it’s time to look for a digital advisor. Approved digital advisors, like Jelly, are businesses from the private sector that are each thoroughly vetted. There are currently hundreds of advisors available in the marketplace and the program is available to any business in Canada.

The $15,000 grant is used to pay for advisory services (AKA: the invoice from your advisor). Anything between you and your advisor needs to be reflected in the invoice. Whether they’re giving you discounts or charging you for extra services, everything must be reflected in the invoice so that the program is aware. No secrets!

Tip: When interviewing digital advisors, make sure they’re enthusiastic and not trying to sell themselves. They should be aware that you are allowed to choose whoever you want to do the implementation and should be equally as excited about that.

Different Types of Services

This program has an abundance of digital adoption options available. One that is often overlooked is Cyber Security.

Matt, from Scout Technology Guides, states that “a cyber hygiene assessment is the only way to know how secure your website and or business is, as it’ll surface the areas you’re the most vulnerable in.” If you go out and spend a whole bunch of money on cyber protection but don’t have an assessment done first, you’re leaving back doors all over the place. 

Tip: With this program, in the words of Hannah Montana, you can get the best of both worlds with both a cyber security plan and a digital marketing plan.

Wage Subsidy

Magnet is the official wage subsidy provider for the CDAP. Their goal is for CDAP participants to maximize all their benefits that the program has to offer, specifically the wage subsidy.

Anyone who is approved for the program is already eligible for the $7300 wage subsidy. It’s up to the business and their advisor to decide what the best option is. Some people look to use the subsidy to:

  • Hire an employee short-term
  • Off set the onboarding costs of a new employee

The only criteria for a “Youth Hire” is that the candidate must be between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. Nisreen from Magnet says that “it’s almost a no-brainer! You’re bringing in fresh talent and a fresh pair of eyes.” These youth hires are meant for implementation of the strategic plan developed by advisors.

Tip: You can have up to 10 hires and they don’t have to be a new employee. An existing employee moving into a new role can qualify for the subsidy. 

BDC Loan

Talking to Isabelle from the BDC, she notes that the CDAP loan is a no fee, 0% interest loan with a five-year term with a 12 month capital postponement (six years total). Remember, just because you’re approved for the program, does not mean you’re pre-approved for the loan. How much you can request depends on your annual gross revenues:

  • $500k to $5M = a loan between $25k and $50k
  • $5M and more = a loan between $25k and $100k

The minimum revenue to qualify for a loan is $500k and they’re only looking at your last year’s financial statement. 

With the loan, you can’t pay off existing debt or buy the company equipment that is not a part of your digital plan. It is solely to be used for implementing your digital plan. Isabelle states that “the BDC won’t ask for invoices or proof of purchase but you are subjected to random auditing. So keep receipts and invoices on hand, just in case.”

Tip: This is a program for SMEs with less than 500 employees and a maximum revenue of $100M.

We hope this helped with any CDAP-related questions you may have had! We’re excited for you as you embark on this great opportunity.