Options Youth


The Options Youth Program is an employment wage subsidy program, facilitated by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre and funded by Service Canada. We provide a significant wage subsidy to employers to assist their hiring of priority youth in Nova Scotia.

The objectives of Options Youth are to help employers cover the cost of training while helping priority youth (age 15-30) overcome multiple barriers to employment, and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to make a successful transition to the labour market or return to school.

Options Youth Provides:

  • $5/hour wage subsidy based on a 35hr work week for 20 weeks
  • Job advertising on job boards such as Indeed
  • Advice and monitoring throughout the program to ensure participants and employers are receiving the best possible experience

How it Works:

  1. Apply to the program
  2. We will post your job and short list candidates
  3. You interview and hire a qualified applicant
  4. Invoice the program each month for our portion of the salary

Employer Requirements:

  • Provide a minimum $5/hr top up (making the salary for a participant minimum wage at $11/hr)
  • Provide an additional 11.58% coverage of MERC (mandatory employment related costs -CPP, EI, Vacation Pay)
  • Assign an organization mentor to act as a mentor for the participant. Mentors spend on average one hour a week with each participant

Participant Requiements:

  • Must be between 15 and 30 years of age (inclusive) at the time of intake/selection
  • Must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person on whom refugee status has been conferred
  • Must be legally entitled to work according to the relevant provincial/territorial legislation and regulations
  • Must be not in receipt of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • in need of assistance to overcome employment barriers.

Skills Link participants are youth who may be at risk of not making a successful transition to the workplace but for whom, nonetheless, a reasonable expectation exists that employment may be possible following an SL work experience. Examples of employment barriers include, but are not limited to:

  • high school non-completion;
  • person with a disability;
  • Aboriginal origin;
  • visible or ethnic minority;
  • residing in a rural or remote location;
  • single parent;
  • recent immigrant youth;
  • official language minority community language barriers (i.e. Francophone residing outside Québec or English-speaking resident of Québec);
  • other reasons (to be specified as part of the proposal approval process).

For more information please see the Skills Link participant requirements  


If your business could benefit from receiving over $3,500 in funding to hire a priority youth, please fill out the application below. If you have any questions please contact [email protected]


Are you a youth facing a barrier to employment? Click here to view our job postings. We are constantly adding new postings so check back often!

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