Profiting from Poverty or Putting People First? CASW Releases Paper on Social Investments

OTTAWA, Sept. 14, 2016 /CNW/ - Today the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) released "The True Cost of Capital: A Social Work Perspective on the Potential of Social Investments in Canada." The paper highlights the potential dangers of pay-for-performance social finance tools, recommends alternatives, and demystifies the various types of social investments being proposed nationally and within federal-provincial-territorial partnerships.

Broadly described as the mobilization of private funds for social programs or services, dialogue around the concept of social finance has been growing worldwide, and the inclusion of a Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy in the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development's mandate letter has brought the discussion home.

"As the shape of this social finance strategy remains to be seen, we want to get ahead of the conversation and stress the importance of a social work perspective that emphasizes both cost efficacy and compassion in future policy development," stated CASW President, Jan Christianson-Wood. In particular, The True Cost of Capital shines a light on the historical underpinnings of social investments, points to current research, and discusses the efficacy and potential fiscal and ethical impacts on the current Canadian social landscape.

"CASW absolutely supports innovative, evidence based funding models," explained Christianson-Wood, "but certain of these pay-for-performance social finance tools may come at the price of violating Canada's social contract with its citizens. CASW advocates for responsible social investments that improve upon current social programs and services without replacing existing structures."

The paper also points out that social finance is often presented as a solution to an inability to afford the type of social programs and supports that Canadians require. However, evidence shows that Canada can afford to offer publicly administered, high-quality services without compromise by investing in policies and programs that support Canadians comprehensively, reducing costly negative health and social outcomes down the line. 

"Most of all, CASW is adamantly against programs that could turn a profit off of poverty," concluded Christianson-Wood, "private profit has no place in the provision of services to vulnerable Canadians."

Read the paper in full at


SOURCE Canadian Association of Social Workers

Image with caption: "Logo: Canadian Association of Social Workers (CNW Group/Canadian Association of Social Workers)". Image available at:

For further information: Fred Phelps, MSW, RSW, 613-729-6668


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