Social Innovators: a Resource and a Strength for Canada

Social Innovators: a Resource and a Strength for Canada

I am pleased to provide an update on two separate and aligned efforts that I have been involved with over the past several months, and to recognize the effort of the many other groups from the field who have worked hard to address their communities needs in response to COVID-19.

The first effort, beginning early April, called the Community Call to Action addresses the need for capacity, capital and systems infrastructure that provide both short-term emergency relief and that will advance medium- to long-term recovery and regeneration. The Call to Action engaged over 100 organizations from across Canada who collectively designed three priority action areas. An overview of the Community Call to Action: Impact Response is available here. 

In early May, conversations began with over 20 organizations who took on the design of Action One: Enterprise Response Program. This group sought to better understand the impact of COVID on local communities and ways that our field can respond to rising needs. Input from these sessions recognized the value of locally based knowledge as critical to addressing community needs, the importance of taking an intersectional lens to address the needs of the most vulnerable Canadians and a commitment that together we can enhance gender-based and racialized equity. The goal was to work together as a country to support solutions that directly impact social inclusion and Canada’s action on climate through the diverse efforts of thousands of social purpose organizations and the ecosystem of supports.

From there a dozen organizations continued to meet to design the Enterprise Response submission to the Federal Government. This submission recommends an investment of an additional $150 million over the next two years into ESDC’s Investment Readiness Program (IRP) and focuses on the following: Incubation Grants direct to SPOs, enhanced capacity in rural and remote regions, enhanced access for SPOs led by Black and Indigenous and other people of colour entrepreneurs, increase capacity building programs for equity-seeking groups, and support infrastructure to track and assess the impact of SPOs in Canada including jobs created, and outcomes towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

In early July, a group of 24 organizations from across Canada met with Minister Hussen and his team.  Several of those on the call shared with Minister Hussen the work they do to support local social purpose organizations. This was a positive meeting and appreciated by the Minister. From here, this effort looks forward to continuing conversations with the Federal Government and working to align similar efforts with other networks in the field from across the country that contribute to Canada’s inclusive recovery. 

In parallel and closely aligned, another group has been meeting from across the social economy and social innovation field in Canada to discuss the inequalities of Black and African Canadians and Indigenous Peoples within our own fields of practice. With leadership from Social Economy Through Social Inclusion (SETSI), the group discussed how to take meaningful steps towards change, to jointly take responsibility for correcting inequalities within our fields and make a commitment to a new future together. Please read this Stronger Together Solidarity Statement available as well in French. This group will be connecting regularly with a strong impetus for action related to leveling the field and promoting leadership and opportunities among BIPOC social innovators. 

I have been working in the social innovation and finance field for over 20 years. While in many respects, things have never been more challenging, I’m also filled with optimism as I see the ecosystem connecting, maturing and evolving. Our voice is growing, and I hope, become more diverse. I look forward to continuing on this journey with all of you.

Yours truly,

Jo Reynolds

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