A short history of policy development

The following list of actions taken by SiG or as a result of allied action into the development of social innovation in Canada does not include various meetings with public servants and Ministers, but is a reflection of the needed policy intervention we believe is consistent with a healthy social innovation ecosystem.

  1. An Integrated Inclusive Innovation Agenda
    Combining STEM, business, and social innovation leverages our national innovation assets in achieving inclusive innovation, reaping the benefits of inclusion as both a process and outcome of Canada’s innovation agenda. Full recommendations.
  2. Driving inclusive growth by strengthening R&D in Canada’s social sector
    Digging further into Recommendation 4 of the first submission, SiG also offered a policy brief on the opportunity to champion and bolster Research and Development (R&D) in the social impact sector to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Full recommendations.
  3. Canada’s opportunity to advance Inclusive Growth
    This was written in partnership with The J.W. McConnell Foundation and was submitted to the Advisory Committee on Economic Growth. Full recommendations.
  4. Modernize the rules and relationship between government and Canadian charities
    A response to the Canada Revenue Agency’s online consultation on charities. Full recommendations.
  5. A strong legacy of innovation with impact
    Tacking in a slightly different direction, we also submitted to the International Assistance Review of Global Affairs Canada. Full recommendations.
  1. To help raise awareness of the work social entrepreneurs are doing in B.C. and the contributions these businesses make to our communities and our economy, the Province has proclaimed May 2015 as Social Enterprise Month.
  2. Approval and launch of Social Venture Connexion (SVX) Québec
  • The Government of Alberta announces a $1B Social Innovation Endowment Fund – a tri-ministerial committee is appointed to develop it and SiG is asked to advise on its deployment.
  1. British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in Canada to create a Community Contribution Company (CCC or C3) – a hybrid corporation that bridges the gap between for-profit businesses and non-profits.
  2. Launch of Impact – A Social Enterprise Strategy for Ontario
  3. Official approval and launch of the SVX in Ontario
  4. The Ontario Social Enterprise Office worked with the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation to gain further insight into the social enterprise sector. More than 100 stakeholders contributed their thoughts and expertise.
  1. In April 2012, the Social Innovation Council presented a summary of their findings and an Action Plan to the BC Government. The recommendations focused on five key areas: supporting social enterprise; legislative enablement; social innovation labs; engaging communities; and learning and research. To implement this Action Plan they proposed the creation of the BC Partners for Social Impact.
  2. The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment’s Office for Social Enterprise was created.
  3. Envision Nova Scotia Social Innovation Conference: A full cohort of SiG leaders attended the event, recognizing it as a catalytic event for the local ecosystem. It coincided with the ALIA conference where select Directors led an all day social finance workshop.
  1. The Federal Finance Minister cites the Taskforce report in the Federal 2011 Budget:

    SUPPORTING SOCIAL PARTNERSHIPS Some groups, such as the homeless, persistently unemployed, and at-risk youth, face complex and continual social challenges and often the best solutions to tackling these difficult problems are found locally. All across Canada, citizens, businesses, charities and other groups, such as the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance, are working together to develop innovative ways to address local challenges. The Government will take steps to complement community efforts by encouraging the development of government/community partnerships, enabling communities to tackle local challenges and testing new approaches to improve performance. Details will be announced by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development over the coming months.

  2. BC Social Innovation Council formed. The Council was appointed in January 2011 to make recommendations to the Parliamentary Secretary for Non-Profit Partnerships and the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, “on how best to maximize social innovation in British Columbia, with an emphasis on social finance and social enterprise.”
  3. The Government of Ontario launched its first-ever Social Innovation Summit, hosted by three ministers, creating a Wiki to engage over 400 contributors in developing a social innovation policy paper.
  4. Ontario expands capacity of its regional innovation network, ONE, (Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs) to support social ventures and enterprising not-for-profits
  5. Ontario Centres of Excellence pilot $1-million social innovation partnership program
  6. Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration releases first Partnership Project report calling for greater government involvement in fostering social innovation/social finance
  7. Social Innovation Generation makes a Submission to the Expert Panel Review of Federal Support for Research and Development:

    “Revitalizing Canada’s innovation policy requires broadening the definition of innovation to embrace social innovation. By doing this, innovation can be more effective in sustainably generating both economic and social value for Canadians. It will demonstrate the relevance of innovation for tackling complex and intractable challenges facing our society.”

Taskforce on Social Finance releases 7 recommendations to mobilize more capital for public good:
  • Recommendation 1:  To maximize their impact in fulfilling their mission, Canada’s public and private foundations should invest at least 10% of their capital in mission-related investments (MRI) by 2020 and report annually to the public on their activity.
    Recommendation 2: The Federal Government should partner with private, institutional and philanthropic investors to establish the Canada Impact Investment Fund. This fund would support existing regional funds to reach scale and catalyse the formation of new funds. Provincial governments should also create Impact Investment Funds where these do not currently exist
    Recommendation 3: To channel private capital into effective social and environmental interventions, investors, intermediaries, social enterprises and policy makers should work together to develop new bond and bond-like instruments. This could require regulatory change to allow the issuing of certain new instruments and government incentives to kick-start the flow of private capital.
    Recommendation 4: To explore the opportunity of mobilizing the assets of pension funds in support of impact investing, Canada’s federal and provincial governments are encouraged to mandate pension funds to disclose responsible investing practices, clarify fiduciary duty in this respect and provide incentives to mitigate perceived investment risk.
    Recommendation 5:  To ensure charities and non-profits are positioned to undertake revenue generating activities in support of their missions, regulators and policy makers need to modernize their frameworks. Policy makers should also explore the need for new hybrid corporate forms for social enterprises.
    Recommendation 6: To encourage private investors to provide lower-cost and patient capital that social enterprises need to maximize their social and environmental impact, a Tax Working Group should be established. This federal-provincial, private-public Working Group should develop and adapt proven tax-incentive models, including the three identified by this Task Force. This initiative should be accomplished for inclusion in 2012 federal and provincial budgets.
    Recommendation 7:  To strengthen the business capabilities of charities, non-profits and other forms of social enterprises, the eligibility criteria of government sponsored business development programs targeting small and medium enterprises should be expanded to explicitly include the range of social enterprises.
  1. SiG and Causeway host a UK Study Tour to explore the range of market and policy products and incentives introduced by the country to build a social finance marketplace. Participants include the federal government and one province. This tour, meeting with UK leaders like Sir Ronald Cohen, was instrumental in informing and inspiring subsequent actions of Canada’s social finance community.
  2. SiG partners with the Public Policy Forum to host Accelerating Social Innovation: Smart Ideas for Canada. This conference brought sectors together for Canada’s first national, tri-sector conversation about social innovation and how it can change the way we support and interact with each other in the 21st century.

Ontario Innovation Agenda highlighted the growing importance of social enterprise. The Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy supported social ventures in tackling complex policy issues. This included an endorsement by the Province for what would become the SVX – a local, impact first platform connecting impact ventures, funds, and investors in order to catalyze new debt and equity investment capital for local ventures that have demonstrable social and/or environmental impact, including nonprofits, co-operatives, and for-profit corporations.


SiG@MaRS (Social Innovation Generation) formed to champion social innovation in Canada, supported by $6 million of Ontario government funding to start SiG@MaRS

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