As mentioned in the context of the above Report to the Standing Committee, the Budget also comments on the ongoing initiative to facilitate the development of new ideas for social finance in Canada. The potential for social finance to strengthen government-community partnerships had been noted in the 2011 and 2012 Budgets, and in November 2012 the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development launched a public policy engagement process – the “Call for Concepts” – to seek ideas from individuals, non-profits and business organizations in Canada that would help identify new ways that the Government can address social and economic issues.

The Budget notes that the Call for Concepts specifically sought solutions to complex social issues that would be funded through social finance instruments. It states that the response to the Call for Concepts exceeded expectations and generated a range of suggestions to address key priorities for Canada’s long-term prosperity, such as supporting youth at risk, reducing homelessness and improving employment outcomes for persons with disabilities.

The Budget states that the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development will continue to build on the Call for Concepts by bringing together key players in the non-profit and private sectors to develop investment-worthy ideas and tap the potential of the social finance marketplace.

While the Budget does not propose any specific measures, it is encouraging to see continuing progress in the development of social finance proposals as well as the Federal Government’s acknowledgement of the importance of this emerging concept. We hope that this initiative continues in earnest. Charities and non-profits who are engaged in social finance or social enterprise should consult the Ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development website to ensure that they take advantage of opportunities to contribute to this process.