Web & Digital Marketing

Canada Digital Adoption Plan (CDAP)  & Digital Economy Program (DEP) – Essential Guide for Alberta Business Owners

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The Canada Digital Adoption Plan Coverage is Not a Complete Picture

Did you know that an Alberta business owner investing in digital marketing actually has 3 options of assistance depending on the business owner’s situation?

It can be quite confusing for business owners in Alberta. Let me clarify how these programs work.

Canada Digital Adoption Program - ISED site screenshot

If you look at the Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada site, it looks like there are only two options for financial assistance that are available to business owners in Alberta specifically for digital marketing.   One gives you access to $2,400 and the other is $15,000.

Here’s the bad news:

⇒If you’re a business owner with no employees, you don’t qualify for the $15,000 program!

⇒If you’re a business owner with no employees AND you didn’t make more than $30,000 during the last business year, you won’t qualify for the $2,400 program.

Here’s the good news.  There’s another program created specifically for a starting solopreneur in Alberta. 

You get access to your own digital advisor intern for FREE.  This program is called the Digital Economy Program (DEP).

This program is administered by Business Link and the application process is not as rigorous as the CDAP grant programs.  Within the DEP, you get access to the Digital Service Squad (DSS) which is another term for the digital intern.

I know, all these darn acronyms are somewhat confusing but stay with me.

Digital Economy Program WebSite screenshot

What type of expenses/services are covered in these Programs?

Digital Economy Program (DEP):

The DSS (Digital Service Squad) is focused on providing 1-on-1 FREE local assistance for digital services to small businesses in any region of Alberta. It will include training and advisory support towards:

  • Digital strategy development,
  • Social Media and Digital Strategy Development
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Support
  • Google Business Profile (Google My Business) assistance
  • About 5-12 hours of advisory time allocated.

The DSS will be available through local business support providers.


Click to Apply

Note this support is supposedly scheduled to end near September 2024


Canada Digital Adoption Plan (CDAP) $2,400 Grow Your Business Online grant:

  • To develop a new e-commerce website or add functionality to your existing site (e.g. online reservation/booking tools, online ordering systems, electronic payments)
  • Redesign of an existing site is not eligible
  • To install an e-commerce platform (including subscription fees/costs)
  • To hire a consultant to develop digital marketing for your e-commerce store
  • To use website search optimization and social media advertising
  • Your grant cannot be used solely for website search optimization or social media advertising; such uses must be tied to an overall e-commerce implementation plan and not a standalone item
  • To track and manage inventory and sales, market to customers, offer discounts, maintain a loyalty program, or increase cyber security using e-commerce software
  • To pay up to 20% of the total cost of hardware and software

Eligible costs must be directly tied to the sale of goods and services online.


Click to Apply

⇒Note the underlined restriction as you can’t use this grant specifically for SEO & social media services without being tied to an e-commerce site.

Update: As of Feb. 21, 2024, This program is not accepting any more new applications.

Canada Digital Adoption Plan (CDAP) $15,000 Boost Your Business Technology grant:

The Boost your Business Technology Stream offers financial support to small and medium Canadian-owned enterprises (SMEs), such as small manufacturing and food processing operations, to adopt new technologies. Support for these businesses will be in the form of grants to offset the cost of retaining Digital Advisors who will develop Digital Adoption Plans tailored to the business. The grant will cover up to 90% of the cost to develop the digital plan, up to a maximum grant payment of $15,000.

To support the implementation of the digital plan, SMEs will be able to apply for a zero-interest loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) (up to $100,000). In addition, the Boost Your Business Technology Stream will make available youth placement wage subsidies of up to $7,300. Eligible SMEs must apply for the work placement, offering a valuable learning experience for a youth.

Click to Apply

⇒Note there are hidden restrictions in the loan amount allowed for each business.  If the business’ annual gross revenue is between $500K to $5M, then they’re allowed a max. loan of $50K.  If the annual gross revenue is above $5M then the business can have a max. loan of $100K.

⇒Also note the age discrimination of the wage employee subsidy in this program. The employee must be a new post-secondary graduate between the ages of 18-30.

What is the eligibility and how do you qualify for these programs?

Digital Economy Program – Digital Service Squad:

  • Home-based or commercial businesses
  • Small businesses registered in Alberta(exceptions apply for some Indigenous businesses)
  • Less than 50 employees (this includes self-employed business owners with no employees)

Non-profits, charitable trusts and franchises are not considered eligible businesses under this program.

Stream 1, $2,400 Grow Your Business Online:

  • You can get funding through CDAP if your business:
    • is a for-profit business (including for-profit social enterprises and co-operatives)
    • is registered or incorporated
    • is consumer-facing and provides in-person services to consumers
    • has at least one employee (other than the owner) OR had at least $30,000 in annual revenue in the most recent tax year
    • commits to maintaining a digital adoption strategy for six months
    • agrees to participate in follow-up surveys, share data about the experience, and have its name published as a grant recipient

    Your business is not eligible if it is:

    • a corporate chain, franchise or registered charity
    • a representative of a multi-level marketing company
    • a real estate brokerage
    • a business that is engaged in online reselling or drop-shipping reliant on third-party suppliers
    • a wholesale or distribution business and manufacturer (unless you sell directly to consumers)

Update: As of Feb. 21, 2024, This program is not accepting any more new applications.

Stream 2, $15,000 Boost Your Business Technology:

  • Is a sole proprietor whose owner is a Canadian resident
  • Is a business incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province or territory
  • Is a for-profit business
  • Has between 1 – 499 full time equivalent employees
  • Has at least $500,000 of annual revenues but not more than $100,000,000 in one of the previous three tax years from the date of submitting a grant application.
  • Is a privately owned business
  • Is a Canadian-controlled Private Corporation (CCPC) as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (applicable if the business is incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province or territory)
  • Is a business that respects human rights codes, labour, environment and anti-corruption standards, as well as engages exclusively in legal activities
  • Is not a business that has a class of shares publicly traded on a stock exchange (in Canada or outside)
  • Is not a majority or wholly owned subsidiary or branch or sales office of a multinational corporation (MNC)
  • Is not a business whose revenue model is designed to be economically dependent on non-commercial sources such as direct government funding or private donations
  • Is not a government organization or body (other than an Indigenous entity or body) or an entity in which a government organization or body (other than indigenous entity or band) owns equity interests
  • Is not a not-for-profit entity such as a union, charitable, religious or fraternal organization or business owned by such organizations, nor a business that exists as a fundraising vehicle for charities
  • Is not a business in which equity interests are held by any current member of the Parliament of Canada or any current member of the Senate of Canada other than a business whose equity interests are publicly traded
  • Is not a business that promotes violence, incites hatred or discriminates on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability nor does it trade with countries proscribed by the government of Canada
  • Is not a business that directly or indirectly promotes sexual exploitation or disseminates media content that is sexually explicit
  • Is not a business that has been determined to have pled guilty to or been convicted of tax evasion or a criminal offence


Overview & Highlights

Note: all these programs have conditions and terms and it’s important to read the details.  Check out the government resources and links below for more information.

Update: As of Feb. 21, 2024, “The Boost Your Business Technology” program is not accepting any more new applications.

If you’re still confused about these programs, please contact me.  I can help you navigate these digital marketing grants from the federal and Alberta governments.

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