CALGARY, Oct. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - In a keynote speech at the Social Enterprise World Forum hosted by the Trico Charitable Foundation, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development today highlighted the importance of social innovation in addressing social challenges in Canada.
"Our government is playing a leading role in bringing together the private business and charitable sectors to find effective and results-oriented ways to increase the participation of marginalized populations in our communities and in our economy," said Minister Kenney. "For too long, governments have imposed solutions to Canada's social development challenges, while ignoring the innovative and successful approaches being developed in local communities and the private sector. Through social financing, the government can link civil society with those who want to invest in results-oriented projects in local communities to solve social problems."
Social innovation takes proven ideas that work and applies them to pressing social issues while building relationships with new partners. This includes social enterprise and social finance, business and financial models with dual goals—to create positive returns for investors as well as positive economic and social outcomes for society.
In his speech, Minister Kenney took the opportunity to announce the launch of a literacy and essential skills pilot. The pilot will bring new and effective ways of generating employer and private investments to help unemployed and underemployed Canadians develop the literacy and skills they need to better connect to available jobs. Employers and investors will be reimbursed as they meet the objectives they established together. The pilot is expected to be active by fall 2013 and reach 1 600 low-skilled or unemployed Canadians seeking work across the country.
The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), joined Minister Kenney at the Social Enterprise World Forum, delivering remarks at a plenary session held on the Forum's opening day. During the Forum, Minister of State Bergen met with national stakeholders on a range of issues related to social inclusion, Canadians with disabilities, Aboriginal issues and homelessness.
Since 2011, the Government has signaled its support for social innovation initiatives in successive Economic Action Plans. Last November, the Government launched the first National Call for Concepts for Social Finance, receiving over 150 submissions. Some of the submissions were featured in a report entitled Harnessing the Power of Social Finance.
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.
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 enterprise?
Social enterprise 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 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.
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.
Trico Charitable Foundation's Enterprising Non-Profits Canada project
In 2013, Employment and Social Development Canada announced $1.5 million in funding for the Trico Charitable Foundation's Enterprising Non-Profits Canada project. The project supports the development of the social enterprise sector by creating a network of social enterprise program support hubs across Canada. It will also develop knowledge about the process of building social enterprises and their capacity to respond to social problems. Its ultimate goal is to develop social enterprise to the extent that it can stand next to government and philanthropy in funding and fuelling solutions to Canada's complex social issues.
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 by 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:
Fortier Office of the Minister
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
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