by Andrew Sutherland

originally published in the March/April 2011 Issue

As part of its Economic Action Plan, the federal government is offering grants to apprentices studying in the Red Seal trades. What’s a Red Seal trade? Well, there are over 53 trades in the national Red Seal program. They include hairstylists, bakers, plumbers, roofers, and dozens of other hands-on careers that keep Canada moving. The Red Seal program “represents industry’s recognition of an interprovincial standard of excellence for the skilled trades.”Simply put, it ensures that provincial and territorial apprenticeship and certification programs all meet the same standards of quality.

The federal government started the apprenticeship grant program to, “make a career in the trades an attractive choice and encourage more apprentices to complete their training.” The grants are designed to help apprentices cover expenses such as the purchase of tools and other materials required for learning on the job, as well as cover travel expenses associated with classroom training. Depending on where you are in your apprenticeship, there are two different grants available, and eligible applicants could receive up to $4,000 total. Before you apply though, it’s important to make sure that you’re eligible.

Apprenticeship Incentive Grant

Registered apprentices who have successfully finished their first or second year/level in any Red Seal trade can apply for the apprenticeship incentive grant (AIG), which is a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year, up to a maximum of $2,000 for two years. The incentive grant program is open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and protected persons. It’s not open to high school students, but those enrolled in adult learning or professional upgrading classes aren’t considered high school students.

You must be registered as an apprentice with an employer, training trust fund, union training centre, joint apprenticeship training committee or apprenticeship authority. You must be able to provide documents indicating you have successfully completed the first or second year/level within an eligible apprenticeship program. Finally you must file the application by June 30 of the calendar year following the date you completed the year/level for which you are applying. So if you finish anywhere between January 1 and December 31 of 2011, your application must be received by the apprenticeship grant processing centre by June 30, 2012. According to Service Canada the most common reason AIG applications get rejected is because of missing proof of progression. Service Canada recommends you immediately mail your supporting documents to an Apprenticeship Grant-Processing Centre, or deliver them to a Service Canada Centre as soon as you complete your application. In Ontario, you will need to copy both sides of the registration wallet card to show proof of registration, and provide a copy of the official Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in-school training letter to demonstrate progression.

Apprenticeship Completion Grant

Registered apprentices who have successfully completed their apprenticeship training and obtained their journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade on or after January 1, 2009 are eligible for up to $2,000. The Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) is available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and protected persons. Much like the AIG, applications are due no later than June 30 of the calendar year following the date you completed your apprenticeship, so if you completed your apprenticeship between January 1 and December 31, 2010, you have until June 30, 2011 to apply.

It’s important to ensure you deliver your proof of completion or certification to either a Service Canada Centre near you, or mail it to the Apprenticeship Grant Processing Centre.

For both the AIG and ACG, Service Canada recommends that you apply online; the application is easy, secure and only takes about 30 minutes. You can also download a copy of the application, or you can request an application form by calling the Apprenticeship Grant’s toll-free number 1-866-742-3644.

If you’re sending in the application by snail mail, be sure it’s postdated before the deadline.

If you are approved, you can expect the grant payment to be processed in 28 calendar days. For further info, or to fill out an application, check out the Service Canada website at

Andrew Sutherland is a freelance journalist.

Toronto, Canada