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Accessing Government Funding in Canada - Page 6: Know Your Environment

By Sharon Monahan. President, The Business Guide Inc. |

When applying to government departments and agencies for financial assistance it is very important to be cognizant of the environment in which you are operating. Although there are some similarities, it is not at all like dealing with a bank - some may say that is a good thing. Here are some of the important things to keep in mind:

Political Environment

All government departments have political masters, i.e. Ministers. This means that there are political considerations involved with much of the decision making that takes place. Don't misinterpret my meaning here. I am not referring to political interference. I can quite honestly say that in my years of experience within the public sector I saw no evidence of political interference. I am referring to legitimate political considerations such as:

  • each constituency being treated equitably with regard to budgetary allocations,
  • elected officials being involved and informed as to what is happening in their riding,
  • the potential for controversy involved with any funding decision.
For these reasons and more, politicians are more than pleased to lend their support to proposals, provided of course they otherwise make sense. As an applicant you should therefore seek the written support of your provincial and federal representative. This not only lends credence to you proposal but it may also expedite the assessment process. (This is why our "Business Guide To Government Programs" provides complete contact information for all provincial and federal elected officials.) If you are going to apply for government financial assistance, ask them for their support. You've got nothing to lose.

Bureaucratic Environment

Always remember you are dealing with bureaucrats and as in any bureaucracy, the wheels can only turn so fast. There are usually several individuals involved with making funding decisions. This is done to protect the public purse. What ever you do, don't let this frustrate you or if it does, don't take it out on the person with whom you are dealing. Public servants have had a rough ride over the last several years. It has become politically popular to downsize and to ask those remaining to do more with less. Most haven't had a salary increment in years and despite the public perception, most civil servants are hardworking, conscientious individuals. The bottom line here is treat them, as you should anyone, with dignity and respect. It will make the whole application process a lot less painful and hopefully more fruitful.

That's it for this month's installment and indeed for this series of articles. I hope I have shed some light on the machinations of the public sector and perhaps I have helped some of you obtain the financing you require. I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors and if I can be of assistance in the future, you know where to reach me. I would also like to thank Canadaone for providing me with the opportunity to share my experiences with you.

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