Is this the program you were talking about?
Tania: Looks like it
Tom:: Who is it for?
Tania: For people who are currently on EI or were eligible for EI within the last 3 years (5 years if you were eligible for maternal or parental benefits) and want to start their own business. They also need to have a viable business idea.
You don’t get SEB automatically, unlike EI. You have to apply for it first, and then undergo an admission process with presenting and defending your business idea. The entire process may take about 6 to 8 weeks. (You don’t have to wait until your EI runs out to apply for SEB.)
Tom:: Have you applied yourself, or do you know anyone that has?
Tania: Yes, I am currently on the program (you might find some information in my blog using the SEB tag), but for the application procedure and such you’d better refer to the official site. I can answer your questions and help you with filling the applications if you get to that stage.
You start by going to a HRDC office because there is a certain procedure.
I’ve sent an email here: http://www.tbdc.com/oseb.php
Tania: And you have to convince them that you are not employable in any other way.
Tom:: Should I be contacting an ‘official’ office?
Tania: I went to the one in Lawrence Square (700 Lawrence West). Call them first, tell them that you are interested in the SEB program and make an appointment. You may want to go to another one closer to where you live.
You will have to go through certain motions. The Human Resource will give you a counselor with whom you will have to fill a “back to work” plan. When it does not work, you can apply for SEB.
(Now, I don’t know if you still have to do that if you are not on EI any more. I was, at the time I applied.)
Tom:: Is the ‘benefit’ a loan or a grant? ie, do you have to pay it back?
Tania: No, you don’t have to pay it back, but they expect you to earn at least the same amount by the end of your SEB year. You fill an assessment after 6 months on the program, and if they see your business is not growing enough, they may stop paying you.
Tom:: Is there a set rate that they pay? Or is it varied depending on the opportunity?
Tania: Yes, they pay an amount equal to EI ($400 per week or so).
Tom:: So its approx $400 on top of EI which you continue to receive?
Tania: No, you can receive only one or the other.
Tom:: Interesting. So what is the advantage of the program, if it pays the same as EI?
You can report other income at the same time?
Tania: Because whatever you earn from your business, while you are on SEB, is not clawed back from your payments. While when you are on EI, it is.
Tom:: Ah. So that’s the main difference.
Tania: You can. I read (translated into Russian, actually) another one, Real success without a real job. I don’t think it is directly related to getting into the SEB program, but it will certainly help your motivation for self-employment.
Tom:: Right. OK, that’s great – I’ll take some time to speak with Service Canada and go through the necessary steps. You are finding benefit from the program?
Tania: Well, they give you information, then they give you a business advisor that follows you throughout the year. Then you get some networking, they help you write a business plan… etc. And the money, of course. BTW, what kind of business are you going to start?
Tom:: Not quite sure yet – still incubating a few ideas, while I look for something full time. Although the idea of being self employed is looking more and more tempting, especially in this economy.
Tania: Keep in mind that if you get a full-time job it may affect your right to SEB.
Tom:: Of course.
Tania: Your counselor probably will give you the details.
Tom:: I’ve got to weigh it all out.
Tania: You can go there and talk to them, it does no harm anyway.
Tom:: Did you speak with any agencies, or just the government directly? Since there are a number of local non government agencies that help with this sort of thing.
Tania: I went to HRDC at Lawrence Square. I am not sure if they count as government. Actually, I think this needs clarification – I went to HRDC at Lawrence Square, but they don’t do SEB themselves: they redirected me to Jobskills . I think there are other locations and other organizations in Toronto that do SEB, one around King and Dufferin, one in Mississauga etc. But you still have to start with the HRDC and “back to work” plan because this is one of the documents you submit when you apply for SEB.
Other documents include a business concept (they will give you a template for that, so it is easy to write, but if you have problems with it, I can help). If your business concept is accepted, you make a presentation to the agency (in my case, Jobskills). Your main task is to convince them that you are a strong-minded and resourceful person, and your business is viable.
Tom:: I’ll check them out. Thanks again!
Tania: You are welcome. Keep me posted. Good luck!
LATER UPDATE: ONTARIO SELF-EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS PROGRAM HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. BUT THERE IS A NEW PROGRAM. the name of the program is SED but, as far as I can see, it is very much like the late SEB program: http://www.toronto.ca/socialservices/pdf/Self-Employment.pdf.
There is also Ontario Works program that may help you financially while you are looking for a job.