Minister Kenney highlights government support for entrepreneurs and social innovation

OTTAWA, Nov. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, highlighted the Government of Canada's support for entrepreneurs and championed social innovation to effectively deal with society's social challenges in remarks to Startup Canada's Day on the Hill.

"We recognize that government does not have all the answers to dealing with society's social challenges," said Minister Kenney. "Communities and businesses have long been the leaders in finding innovative solutions to helping vulnerable Canadians. Governments should tap into these solutions and no longer ignore them."

Social innovation is about tapping into all sectors to generate new ideas and tools that have a social impact and to address social problems in new ways. It is about recognizing that government is not and cannot be the universal fixer. For government, social innovation is also about looking at ways to spend tax dollars more effectively and deliver more sustainable results.

"Our government's top priority is creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity," added Minister Kenney. "Our government is helping entrepreneurs create jobs in Canada through tax relief, reducing red tape and expanding their access to venture capital."

Launched in May 2012, Startup Canada is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run grassroots organization. It represents more than 250 volunteers, more than 55 000 entrepreneurs and more than 400 non-profit organizations that provide capital, mentorship, space and services to entrepreneurs.

The Government is now testing cutting-edge projects to help community organizations develop and implement innovative ideas for social problems and achieve greater, lasting impacts for Canadians.

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.


Government Support for Small Businesses

Our government is helping small businesses create jobs and growth by:

  • Reducing the small business tax rate from 12 percent to 11 percent.

  • Through the Canadian Youth Business foundation, giving young entrepreneurs access to funds, mentors and other resources to help start their own business.

  • Helping entrepreneurs hang on to their money with measures like the Lifetime Capital Gains exemption for small business.

  • Extending and expanding the Hiring Credit for Small Business.

  • Increasing support for business innovation through the National Research Council and helping small and medium-size businesses access research at universities and colleges.

  • Creating a team at the Canada Revenue Agency specifically to focus on reducing red tape for small businesses.

  • Through the Venture Capital Action Plan, increasing access to capital for small businesses.

Social innovation

What is social innovation?
Social innovation refers to developing new ideas or using existing ideas to find solutions to social challenges. Social innovation is an initiative, product, process or program that creates positive social outcomes for societies.

What is social finance?
Social finance is an approach to mobilizing multiple sources of capital that delivers a social dividend and an economic return in the achievement of social and environmental goals. It creates opportunities for investors to finance projects that benefit society and for community organizations to access new sources of funds.

What is social enterprise?
Social enterprise is one model of social finance. It is the use of business strategies by both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to achieve a social good. This emerging business model is helping to increase the financial strength of community organizations by providing an alternate source of revenue to tackle complex social problems. Social enterprises are commonly run by a charity or not-for-profit organization. Revenue raised by the business operation is reinvested into the charity to support its programs and operations.

What is the OECD Better Life Index?
The Better Life Index is an interactive tool that allows citizens to compare Canada's well-being with that of other countries and is part of the OECD report How's Life? 2013. The Better Life Index looks beyond traditional metrics, such as GDP, and identifies 11 essential indicators of well-being: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

Canada scores exceptionally well, ranking among the top countries in a number of areas. For example, compared to the OECD average, more Canadians aged 15 to 64 have a paid job and there is less long-term unemployment. Canada is also well above the average in terms of education and is praised as being one of the strongest OECD countries in students' skills, scoring high in reading, literacy, math and science. In addition, Canada stood above the average in terms of housing and its citizens' level of satisfaction with their lives.

Employment and Social Development Canada's support for social innovation

National Call for Concepts for Social Finance
As part of broader efforts to research the potential of social finance to support social innovation and augment existing programs with new capital and new ideas, Employment and Social Development Canada asked Canadians to participate in the National Call for Concepts for Social Finance between November 2012 and January 2013.

The 154 responses to the Call showed that there are many innovative and collaborative solutions being developed to resolve a wide range of societal challenges by citizens, businesses, charities and other groups. Submissions featured social impact bonds, social investment funds and social enterprises, as well as ideas for structuring the flow of funds and suggestions for using social finance methods to scale up successful existing programs or introduce new services.

The subsequent report, Harnessing the Power of Social Finance, provides information on social finance, including national and international perspectives, and profiles 15 concepts from the Call.

Literacy and essential skills pilot
The Government of Canada is leading a pilot to test new ways of generating employer and private investments to improve labour market outcomes for Canadians. This pilot is inspired by the social impact bond initiatives seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

The pilot is expected to be active in late fall 2013 and reach 1 600 low-skilled workers or unemployed Canadians seeking work across the country.

The pilot includes:

  • The Association of Canadian Community Colleges' Essential Skills Social Finance Pilot. This stream will test models where private investors provide the upfront capital to fund programs to support unemployed people to develop the literacy and essential skills needed to better connect to available jobs.

  • The Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society's The Skilling Up in Environmental Service: A Social Finance Approach. This stream will test new incentives for employers to invest in literacy and essential skills training of workers and examine how a return-on-investment model could result in better outcomes for both.

SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information:

(media only):

Alexandra Fortier
Office of the Minister

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada

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