Ready-To-Eat Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative, for Non-Federally Licensed Businesses

Thank you for your interest in the Ready-To-Eat Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative, for Non-Federally Licensed Businesses. The application intake is now closed. Applicants will be notified once decisions have been finalized.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) is a five-year federal- provincial-territorial initiative to strengthen the agri-food and agri-products sectors, and increase their competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability.

Under the Partnership, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) administers cost-share funding to RTE fruit and vegetable packing house businesses.

The cost-share funding is designed to help packing businesses to make improvements to their operations to reduce food safety risks through:

  • Equipment and/or facility improvements, and/or;
  • Enhancements to sanitation practices.

Cost-Share Funding

This Guide provides details on the RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing Facility Initiative (the Initiative) for Non-Federally Licensed businesses. The Initiative will support businesses to implement microbial detection and interventions and improve packing house environment and sanitary design.The Initiative includes commodities that are commonly consumed without being processed such as, but not limited to, tender fruit, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, mushrooms and apples.

RTE fruit and vegetable packing house businesses can access cost-share funding during the offered intake period as long as they are not:

  • Federally licensed under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Businesses with activities that are federally licensed are not eligible under this Initiative;
  • Packing imported produce;
  • Transforming produce (e.g. chop, slice, peel).

RTE fruit and vegetable packing house businesses can access cost-share funding for equipment/ facility improvements to sanitation practices that will eliminate or prevent microbial contamination.

All projects must be completed by January 31, 2022.

Approved projects may receive 50 per cent cost share, up to a maximum of $20,000 for the lifetime of the Initiative.

Application guidelines and details about the Initiative are included in this Guide. Information in this Guide is subject to change without notice.

Apply for Cost-Share Funding

Who Can Apply?

Packing house businesses:

  • That packs RTE fruit and/or vegetables that have been commercially grown in Ontario and are commonly consumed without being processed, such as but not limited to, tender fruit, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, mushrooms, and apples and;
  • Wishing to reduce food safety risks by implementing microbial detection and interventions and improving packing house environment and sanitary design are eligible to apply for cost-share funding.

Federally licensed RTE fruit and vegetable packing house businesses are not eligible under this Initiative.

Business that only pack imported produce and/or transform produce (e.g. chop, slice, peel) are not eligible under this initiative.

The applicant must:
  • Be in compliance with all Requirements of Law and agree to remain in compliance with all Requirements of Law for the duration of the project
  • Acquire a valid and up-to-date Premises Identification Number* (Premises ID) for the business location where the project is to take place
  • Provide a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Business Number as part of the Partnership application process.

*To register for a Premises ID, visit the Provincial Premises Registry (PPR) website.

What Costs are Eligible for Cost-Share Funding?

Eligible costs must be specific to food safety improvements which may be made to the packing operations.

Eligible items are listed in the Project Category Description. When incurring eligible costs, successful applicants must follow a process that is transparent, fair and promotes the best value for the money expended at competitive prices no greater than fair market value after deducting available discounts.

All businesses from which goods or services are purchased must be at Arm's Length from the successful applicant. For any questions about whether a supplier meets this requirement, please contact OMAFRA at 1-877-424-1300.

What Types of Projects are Ineligible?

Projects that are not eligible for cost-share funding under the Partnership, include those that:

  • Are located outside of Ontario
  • Support normal operating costs associated with carrying out a business
  • Are for the purpose of coming into or maintaining compliance with Requirements of the Law that pertain to current business operations
  • Are for the purpose of increasing production capacity
  • Cannot be completed by January 31, 2022.

How Often Can a Business Apply for the Cost-Share Funding?

There are no restrictions on the number of times an eligible business may apply for cost-share funding.

However, the maximum cost-share the business may receive is $20,000 over the life of the Initiative.

How is an Application Assessed?

All applications received are assessed on merit criteria and awarded cost-share as long as funding is available.

An application needs to clearly explain the outcomes of the project and how it will reduce food safety risks through equipment/facility improvements and enhancements to sanitation practices. The assessment will be based on the strength of the explanation provided. Incomplete applications will not be assessed.

Only applications with projects that will be completed by January 31, 2022 are eligible; project completion means that equipment has been purchased and is operational or that facility improvements/ sanitation enhancements are completed.

How Do I Submit an Application?

Applications must be received by OMAFRA during the intake period of March 15 to April 9, 2021 by 4:00 p.m., or while funds are available, whichever comes first.

  • By email at: agpartnership@ontario.ca
  • If you are unable to submit your application by email, please call: 1-877-424-1300.

How Will I Be Notified of Cost-Share Funding Decisions?

You will be notified by email once applications have been reviewed and decisions have been made. There are two possible outcomes:

  • Application is approved
    • You will receive an Approval Letter via email with details (e.g., value of cost-share approved, earliest project start date) and be required to enter into a Contribution Agreement with the Province of Ontario and follow all its terms and conditions.
    • You will also receive confirmation of claim procedures and submission deadlines, and a final report form that must be completed.
    • You will be required to register your business information through the Province's Transfer Payment Ontario system.
  • Application is declined - you will receive a brief explanation of the decision.

When Do Projects Start and Finish?

The earliest start date for each project is the date OMAFRA approves the project. This date will be communicated in the Approval Letter to the successful applicant. Eligible costs (e.g., equipment purchases, or work started on facility enhancements) can only be incurred, invoiced and paid for by the applicant on or after the approved start date.

Eligible costs must be incurred and invoiced by the project completion date stated in the Contribution Agreement.

All projects must be completed as set out in the Contribution Agreement (e.g. equipment purchased, and operational and structural upgrades completed) no later than January 31, 2022.

Claiming Cost-Share Funding for Approved Projects

When Is Cost-Share Funding Paid?

Approved cost-share funding is paid once you have incurred and paid for all eligible expenses and the project is complete (e.g. equipment has been purchased and is operational, facility improvements/sanitation enhancements are completed), and your submitted claim package has met all the requirements as set out in the Contribution Agreement and been approved by OMAFRA.

What are acceptable proofs of payment?

Proof of payment must verify:

  • Who paid
  • Who received payment
  • The amount of payment
  • The date of payment
Proof of payment may be any one of the following:
  • Copy of front and back of cancelled cheque Electronic image of processed cheque
  • Statement from banking institution indicating to whom the processed cheque was written, or electronic payment made, and for what amount
  • Credit card or debit card receipt or statement clearly identifying amount and to whom the payment was made. Credit card or debit card numbers and other information, including costs that are unrelated to the project, should be blacked out.

How Is a Claim Submitted?

Claims must be submitted to OMAFRA no later than by the claim deadline date given in the Contribution Agreement. Only one claim must be submitted per project. A claim can include multiple invoices and proofs of payment.

The Final Report submitted for the project must be submitted with the claim and must include a certification by an official authorized to bind the successful applicant regarding the project as stated in the Contribution Agreement, and the project must fulfill all other requirements as stated in the Contribution Agreement.

There will be a 10 per cent holdback of reimbursement until the submitted Final Report for the project is approved by OMAFRA.

OMAFRA may request any additional information from the successful applicant that is deemed necessary (e.g., copies of any permits obtained by the successful applicant in conducting the project, photos).

Your claim package must contain:
  • Completed Claim Form
  • Proofs of payment
  • Copies of all paid invoices
  • Final report

What If I Miss a Deadline?

You may forfeit your cost-share funding if you do not complete the project according to the requirements including timelines given in the Contribution Agreement.

Can I Stack Cost-Share Funding for the Same Project?

Applicants can only access one funding source under the Partnership for a single project. However, applicants may access other government funding as long as those other programs also allow stacking. The maximum level of total assistance provided from all sources is 100 per cent of the total eligible costs. All funding for a project, including from additional sources, must be listed on the application.

RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative (FSTG-OA-A) Cost-Share Information

Project Category Description

Purchase of equipment and/or structural changes that will improve sanitation practices to reduce food safety risks through the prevention of RTE fruit and vegetable contamination.

To Apply You Must

  • Be a packing house business that packs RTE fruit and/or vegetables that have been commercially grown in Ontario and are commonly consumed without being processed, such as but not limited to, tender fruit, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, mushrooms, and apples, and
  • Not be federally licensed under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

If you have questions regarding eligibility of your packing house where your commodity is not listed above, please call 1-877-424-1300 or email agpartnership@ontario.ca.

Federally licensed RTE fruit and vegetable packing house businesses are not eligible under this Initiative.

Available Cost-Share

Cost-share of 50 per cent, to a maximum of $20,000 over the life of the Initiative.

Required Documentation

Cost validation, such as a quote or proposal from the manufacturer/ contractor detailing costs of equipment/ materials and installation, equipment pamphlet, print-out or catalogue.

Eligible Items

Costs to purchase and install equipment or make structural changes noted below, that will reduce food safety risks through equipment/facility improvements and/or enhancements to sanitation practices, may be considered eligible.

Description:
  • Monitoring devices
    • Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) test units
    • pH meter
    • Oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) meter
  • Improvement to cleaning equipment
    • Applicators
    • Foamers
    • Industrial hoses, nozzles
    • Bin washers
  • Equipment upgrades to prevent contamination
    • Upgrading equipment that does not have adequate sanitary design (e.g., replacing horse hair roller brushes used in the fruit cleaning process - rollers are hollow and brushes allow for microbial buildup)
  • Upgrading or replacing food contact surfaces to prevent contamination
    • Upgrading or replacing food contact surfaces on equipment (e.g. upgrading to stainless steel)
  • Improved facility process flow to prevent contamination
    • Structural modification/infrastructure (e.g., adding a drain)
    • Dividers/screens/folding walls/sliding walls (excludes plastic curtains)

Ineligible Activities and Expenditures

Ineligible activities and costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Costs incurred before the approval of the project by OMAFRA or after the project completion date identified in the Contribution Agreement between the applicant and the Province of Ontario
  • Costs incurred in preparing an application
  • Any cost not specifically required for implementation of the project
  • Normal costs of establishing, expanding (including to a new plant) or operating a business
  • Ongoing routine maintenance and costs associated with regular business activities
  • Deposits (prepayments) for which goods or services are not yet fully received
  • Costs for training and skills development projects that fulfill any academic requirements towards completion of a diploma or degree
  • Mentoring and coaching, unless otherwise indicated in a Project Category Description
  • Sponsorship of conferences and learning events or initiatives
  • Honorariums or membership costs
  • Any travel, hotel accommodations, meal or incidental costs, including consultant and other contractor expenses
  • Gifts and incentives
  • Multi-use items (e.g., items that can be used beyond the scope of the project including computers, printers, pressure washers, vacuums, etc.)
  • Purchase of land, building or facilities
  • Lease of land, buildings or facilities for the purpose of starting up a new business or as part of normal operations
  • Financing charges, loan and lease interest payments, bank fees and charges as well as debt restructuring or fundraising
  • Permits and approvals
  • Legal fees
  • Expenses incurred for other approved Partnership projects
  • Costs related to activities that promote Ontario products explicitly over those of another province or territory
  • Costs related to activities that directly influence or lobby any level of government
  • Costs of basic research
  • Taxes, including Harmonized Sales Tax
  • Any refund or rebate the applicant receives or is eligible to receive
  • Any other expenditure deemed by the Minister to be ineligible
  • Equipment or structural modifications that are not related to food safety
  • Equipment for the sole purpose of expanding production (e.g., to increase capacity, volume, speed)
  • Consumable food safety related items (e.g., disposable/one time use gloves, swabs, chemicals, ink, labels)
  • Any in-kind costs including time for staff training or training of staff
  • Extended warranties or costs related to ongoing support
  • Gap assessments, pre-audits and certification audits.

Merit Assessment Criteria

  • Ability of the project to reduce food safety risks through equipment/facility improvements and/or enhancements to sanitation practices in the packing operation.
  • Eligible costs are clearly defined and aligned to project goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What RTE Fruit and Vegetable Commodities are Eligible for Cost-Share Funding?

Commodities that are commonly consumed without being processed such as, but not limited to, tender fruit, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, mushrooms and apples are eligible for cost-share funding.

If you have questions regarding eligibility of your packing house where your commodity is not listed here, please call 1-877-424-1300 or email agpartnership@ontario.ca.

How Much Time Do I Have to Submit an Application?

This cost-share Initiative has a continuous intake from March 15 to April 9, 2021 by 4 p.m., or while funds are available, whichever comes first.

What Are My Obligations Regarding Equipment Purchases Made Using the Partnership Cost-Share Funding?

Ownership of any asset purchased or created with the funds from the Partnership must be retained by the business for at least two (2) years from the expiration date of the Contribution Agreement unless otherwise provided under the Contribution Agreement.

The business must not lease or otherwise encumber any asset purchased or created with cost-share funding or toward which cost-share funding was provided for at least two (2) years from the expiration date of the Contribution Agreement, unless otherwise provided under the Contribution Agreement or as OMAFRA directs in writing.

Will Someone Visit My Business to Inspect the Project?

Projects that have received cost-share funding are routinely inspected.

Can I Make a Deposit on Equipment Prior to Project Approval?

A deposit on its own is not an eligible expense. A deposit is eligible for reimbursement when it is part of the claim and incurred on or after the project has received approval, and as long as the goods are received or delivered within the timelines for project completion indicated in the Contribution Agreement. Costs will only be reimbursed after proof of payment is submitted.

Why Are Federally Licensed RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Businesses Ineligible to Apply Under This Cost-Share Initiative?

This Initiative is aimed to assist small provincial packing house businesses enabling them to keep pace with evolving food safety requirements.

Are Businesses That Pack Imported RTE Fruit and Vegetable Produce Eligible for Cost-Share Funding?

No, businesses that pack imported produce are not eligible.

Are Businesses That Transform Produce (E.G. Chop, Slice, Peel) Eligible for Cost-Share Funding?

No, this Initiative is focused on reducing food safety risks in packing houses only.

Definitions

Approval Letter: A letter, sent by email from OMAFRA, that is a notification of a conditional approval and stipulates the amount of approved cost-share funding.

Arm's Length: An entity is considered Arm's Length if they are not related, not affiliated persons, or otherwise controlled by another member or members. Refer to Section 251 of the Income Tax Act for the detailed statutory provision for determining Arm's Length relationships. If you have any questions about whether a supplier meets this requirement, please contact OMAFRA at 1-877-424-1300.

Claim: A report submitted by the successful applicant to the Province of Ontario to provide the Province of Ontario with information on which to base a reimbursement payment. Claims must meet all of the requirements stated in the Contribution Agreement between the Province of Ontario and the successful applicant for the project.

Contribution Agreement: A legal agreement that successful applicants must enter into with the Province of Ontario if the project is approved. The legal agreement contains the terms and conditions that the applicant must follow to receive cost-share funding.

CRA Business Number: The CRA Business Number is a unique number the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) assigns a business as a tax ID. It is a nine-digit identifier that is used when dealing with federal, provincial or local governments.

Incurred (Cost): A cost for which the successful applicant that has signed a Contribution Agreement has become liable to pay.

Initiative: RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative.

Partnership: The Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Premises Identification Number (Premises ID): A Premises ID is a unique identifying number assigned to a parcel of land that is associated with agri-food activities. In Ontario, premises are identified and registered in the Provincial Premises Registry. For more information on applying for a Premises ID, go to ontariopid.com.

Requirements of Law: All applicable Requirements of Law, as may be set out in statutes, regulations, by-laws, codes, rules, ordinances, official plans, approvals, permits, licenses, authorizations, decrees, injunctions, orders and declarations, or any other similar Requirement of Law.

Application Declaration

To apply, the applicant must agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership ("the Partnership") Cost-share for RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative for Non-Federally Licensed Businesses.

The applicant must be a legal entity that is eligible under the Partnership Cost-share RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative for Non-Federally Licensed Businesses. The individual who signs the application form must be a person who is authorized by the applicant to sign the form on behalf of the applicant and to bind the applicant to the contents therein. This person is referred to as "you" below.

You must certify on the application that:

  • You have read, understand, and agree to abide by all requirements of the Partnership Cost-share RTE Fruit and Vegetable Packing House Initiative for Non-Federally Licensed Businesses.
  • All information submitted on the application is true and complete, to the best of your knowledge, belief and understanding.
  • All sources of funding for the proposed project, other than the applicants', have been disclosed in this application, including sources and amounts from federal, provincial and municipal governments, and such funds do not, and will, not exceed 100 per cent of total project costs.
  • The applicant does not currently owe any money to Ontario, or you have attached a description of the applicant's debt to Ontario to this application.
  • You are not, nor is any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) a current or former federal public office holder or federal public servant, or, if you, or any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are a current or former federal public officer holder or federal public servant, you or that officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Act, the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post- employment, as applicable.
  • You are not, nor is any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any), a member of the House of Commons or of the Senate, or if you, or any officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are, you or the officer, director or employee of the applicant (if any) are permitted under the Parliament of Canada Act to receive funding from Canada under the Partnership.

You must further certify on the application, that the applicant:

  • Shall retain all records relating to any payments made to the applicant under the Partnership, including all invoices and proof of payment for at least seven (7) years from the date on which payment was received by the applicant.
  • Shall consent to Ontario, Ontario's program administrator (if any) or Canada publishing information about the project/activities funded including the amount of funding the applicant has been approved to receive and/or has received under the Partnership, the nature and results of any project/ activities funded, along with the applicant's name.

You must further acknowledge and accept that:

  • The Partnership is a discretionary, non-entitlement program and the applicant is not entitled to funding merely as a consequence of submitting an application. Payment is subject to Ontario receiving all the necessary appropriations from the Ontario Legislature, Ontario receiving all the necessary monies from Canada, the applicant and the applicant's project (including all activities) satisfying eligibility criteria, eligible expenses criteria, as well as the applicant's compliance with all terms and conditions of the Partnership.
  • If it is determined the applicant has received a payment the applicant was not eligible to receive, through administrative error or otherwise, the applicant will repay any and all payments that the applicant was not eligible to receive as well as any surplus funding.
  • Any payments made to the applicant may be subject to recovery or offset against the applicant's pre-existing debts to the Crown in Right of Ontario or Canada.
  • Ontario, Ontario's program administrator (if any) or Canada, including, their respective Ministers, directors, officers, agents, employees or representatives (as applicable) shall not be liable for any damage or loss whatsoever, or howsoever arising, including damage or loss arising from any advice, opinions, representations, warranties or the provision of information under the Partnership.
  • The information provided for the Partnership may be disclosed by Ontario or Ontario's program administrator (if any) on behalf of Ontario to verify compliance with other provincial and federal funding initiatives administered by Ontario or another program administrator on behalf of Ontario or by Ontario to confirm the information provided, to verify eligibility and to ensure there is no duplication of funding.
  • The information provided to the Partnership may, with the exception of the Social Insurance Number of recipients of funding who are sole proprietors or unincorporated entities, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Ontario), the Access to Information Act (Canada) or Privacy Act (Canada).

You consent to the following on behalf of the applicant:

  • To provide accurate, timely and full information, including supporting documentation, to Ontario or Ontario's program administrator (if any) and to notify Ontario or Ontario's program administrator (if any) immediately in the event there are any changes to information provided.
  • To provide Canada, Ontario and Ontario's program administrator (if any), as well as their authorized representatives, with any information or access to a person, place or thing within ten (10) business days of any request, field verification or audit.
  • To comply with onsite field inspections and/or audits by Ontario or Ontario program administrator (if any) upon notice, and during normal business hours, to verify eligibility, and to evaluate compliance with the requirements of the Partnership.
  • To comply with reviews by Ontario of information related to other programs and initiatives delivered by, or for, Ontario in which the applicant is enrolled or has applied.
  • The use of the applicant's name and contact information by Ontario, Ontario's program administrator (if any) and/ or Canada to contact the applicant for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the Partnership programming, or for any other similar purpose.

In the event of a conflict between anything set out in Guidebooks, Guidelines and the Minister's Order 005/2018 establishing the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Strategic Initiative Theme Program, as amended from time to time, the Minister's Order will prevail.

Errors and Omissions Excepted.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments to encourage innovation, competitiveness and sustainability in Canada's agriculture industry.

Partnership for Agriculture, Government of Ontario & Canada


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca