Online Businesses for Unemployed Canadians

An increasing number of Canadians are turning to online business as an income option while they’re unemployed, or to supplement a lower-paying job until they find a better one. Many do well enough to never go back to a conventional workplace.

Unemployment numbers periodically released from Statistics Canada tell us very little about the people who are unemployed in Canada.  Express Employment Professionals has released the results of a national survey, State of the Unemployed, providing a window into the lives of Canadian job hunters. Sadly, it shows more people are struggling to find work or even get interviews.

“Canada’s unemployed are increasingly stuck – with difficulty getting interviews and work,” says their press release. “Canada’s unemployed are now out of work for an average of 16 months, compared to 14 months in 2015. Nearly half (44 per cent) have not had a full time job in more than a year.”

36% of unemployed Canadians have given up on finding a job. 59% of those who have been unemployed for more than two years have given up on finding a job.

And all of this was before the pandemic, which will continue to impact the Canadian economy for at least a decade.

But the Unemployed Have to do Something

An employment option that is often overlooked is creating your own job, online. It isn’t only an income opportunity, it’s also a chance to broaden and improve your skill set with coveted experience. You can develop computer, Internet, eCommerce, writing, marketing and business management skills that are in high demand, and demonstrate proficiency in them. A properly marketed web presence can establish you as an expert in your field. In that respect, even if your attempt at online self-employment fails you won’t have wasted your time.

Many Canadian work-at-home online opportunities require little or no investment, or you can use income from other opportunities to help fund your primary business idea. You may even qualify for a business grant from your provincial or Canadian government.

Following are just a few online income opportunities:

  • Provide services on a freelance basis, doing what you do best. Any skills that can be performed online can be done on a freelance basis, such as office administration, data entry, transcription, translation, programming, and consulting.  Sign up on one of the major freelance sites like Freelancer, and away you go. You can provide services on a short-term basis or sign long-term contracts for positions as a virtual assistant. Read How to Become a Virtual Assistant (VA) in Canada for more info.
  • Start a blog, which can be monetized through advertising and affiliate marketing. Learn more from our free, ultimate guide: How to Make Money Blogging in Canada.
  • Consider drop shipping, which allows you to sell products without investing in inventory or shipping the products yourself.
  • Sell products without a website through Online Marketplaces.

We cover more inexpensive online business opportunities for Canadians in the article, 10 Low-Cost Side Businesses you can Start Online from Home.

Having a website gives you the opportunity to sell your own products and services or affiliate products with very little overhead.  Building a website is so much easier than it used to be. Most hosts offer “point and click” website builders that can have you online in an afternoon, or you can go with an eCommerce platform like Shopify Canada, which is designed for people who have little technical knowledge.  The same ease applies to blogging, with many website hosts offering a one-click installation of free WordPress software.

You can maintain your online business part time when you get a full-time job, or be so successful that it becomes your full-time job. It’s reassuring to have something “on the side” as back-up in an unstable economy as well.

The first step is to start a text file for ideas. Outline your goals, and identify what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Then, you’ll have some learning to do.

FREE resources to help you learn about online business:

Are you ready to take control of your employment? Please share your questions in the comments below or join us in our Facebook Group.


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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I’ve got until my EI runs out to prove it can be done. Actually before it runs out I guess. Why not, I haven’t anything else to do so I might as well start an online business and up my game if nothing else. If you have any more ideas I’d love to hear them but I’ll search the site before I ask dumb questions. 😀


Affiliate marketing is good way to earn comprehensive money but it needs time and dedication.
I am using PureVPN Affiliate Program for online earring. they offers 100% commission for first month.


It’s such a stuck feeling because there are few resources when you’re unemployed and can’t pay for them. I love the idea of working online but will prob have to get a job and do it on the side at first. That’s ok…I’m not afraid of hard work as long as I’m getting somewhere. In the meantime I might as well be working on something. maybe it’ll keep me from going crazy at home. LOL


I’d love to write my own digital products. I started an ebook but never find the time to finish it. I guess if I was unemployed I’d have time though.


im in toronto, i mean to sell leather men shoes online with affordable prices, can anyone be of help ?


I was laid off 8 months ago and I started freelancing the next week. I’ve done so well I’m launching a website this month and stopped looking for a job! Something bad happening can be something good in disguise! Good luck everyone!