The federal government announced on June 8, 2017 that it is convening a committee to review and develop a strategy to advance social innovation and social finance in Canada.

The new group, called the Social Innovation and Social Finance Co-Creation Steering Group, has been brought together by Employment and Social Development Canada. The Steering Group includes 15 representatives from various charities, community organizations, businesses, and government, reflecting different components of the social innovation landscape – including social entrepreneurs, facilitators, service providers, and social investors.

The government describes the project as follows:

Members of the Steering Group will work to define the priorities the Strategy will address. By drawing on the broad range of expertise, know-how and ideas of its members, and through consultation and engagement activities, the Group will begin developing policy measures to advance social innovation and social finance in Canada.

Steering Group members will be asked to share their perspectives on three key challenges. These issues have been raised during discussions led by stakeholders on social innovation and social finance in recent years:

  • the skills and capacity of community organizations and governments to pursue social innovation and social finance, including their capacity to measure social outcomes and impact;
  • federal laws, regulations and policies that have an impact on the ability of community organizations to participate in social innovation and social finance initiatives; and
  • access to the capital needed to fund, replicate and expand the reach of social innovation and social finance projects.

The announcement acknowledges the need for innovative strategies to tackle persistent social problems affecting, in particular, Indigenous people, seniors, youth, immigrants, and women fleeing violence. The strategy is intended to provide better support for community organizations that are working to achieve solutions to these issues.

The process may include public consultations; as such, organizations in this space should watch for opportunities to contribute. It is encouraging to see that the government recognizes the potential of social innovation and social finance as well as the sector’s continuing evolution and its need for new thinking that keeps pace.

While the announcement does not set a timetable for the development of the strategy, we look forward to the results of the Steering Group’s work and will update our readers on public announcements as this project moves forward.