Speech for the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to announce the Investment Readiness Program


Montréal, Quebec,
June 12, 2019
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Hello everyone,

Thank you for the kind introduction.

First, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathering on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Mohawk peoples.

Thank you to Esplanade for welcoming us today and thank you to each of you for being here with us for this wonderful announcement.

The community and ecosystem you have created provide social innovators with the space, services, tools and networks they need to develop their projects and amplify their impact within their communities.

All of you here today know more than anyone the social, economic and environmental challenges that affect our communities from coast to coast.

These issues hamper economic growth, productivity and the development of our people, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.
Traditional solutions have proven ineffective at solving these challenges, despite the best efforts of communities and governments.

The invisible hand of the market, idealized by some conservative groups, is not up to the task, and leaves too many of our fellow citizens behind, alone and isolated.

On the global scale, climate change and the growth of economic inequality are the main challenges facing humanity.
In Canada, we are lucky to live in one of the most equal societies in the world, but our communities still face a number of social, environmental and economic challenges.

Social purpose businesses play a vital role in solving these issues, and for the very first time in our history, by making massive investments in the Social Finance Fund, the Government of Canada is recognizing the role of social purpose businesses in a concrete way.

For those still wondering what social economy is, here is my answer: Social economy is capitalism that cares.

It is economic activity for the benefit of society instead of just for the benefit of shareholders.

It is not just not-for-profit organizations, but also for-profit businesses that create jobs and stimulate economic growth, while reinvesting in society.

Let’s take the example of Insertech, a Quebec organization that installs, repairs and refurbishes computer products to provide training opportunities to unemployed youth and immigrants.

The company provides its interns with a structured, paid, six-month training program that includes personalized consultation services.
Since the creation of Insertech in 1998, over 1,100 youth have taken part in the program. Of these, 85% have found a job at the end of the program.

Furthermore, since 2015, Insertech has been carrying out local projects to help address the social isolation of seniors, including programs for training seniors on the use of computers and the donation of refurbished computers to long-term care facilities.

This is a concrete example of social economy and positive impacts for our communities.

And it is just one of many examples.

Currently, in Canada, social purpose businesses employ approximately 2 million people and contribute up to 8% of our GDP.

The $755 million that we will invest through the Fund announced this fall will help generate additional investments of up to $2 billion (plus $2 from the private sector for every $1 from the Government) and create over 100,000 jobs over 10 years.

Please allow me to re-emphasize this in English: through the Government of Canada’s Social Innovation and Social Finance Fund, we will invest $755M, generate additional investment of up $2B and create more than 100 000 jobs over the next 10 years.

By reducing inequality, social economy is also an answer to the populism that is plaguing much of the Western world.

In fact, it has already been shown that globalization and growing inequality have led to a type of social divide in our societies.

Many of our fellow citizens feel that only a minority of individuals and businesses benefit from the economic growth that comes with globalization.

By making massive investments in a form of economy that aims to reduce these inequalities, we are strengthening our social fabric.

This aligns perfectly with the political objectives that the Government of Canada has been pursuing since being elected.

We have always insisted on the importance of building a fairer, more inclusive society.

With the Social Finance Fund, we—like you—are committed to supporting the development of innovative solutions and want to create favourable conditions to help our communities develop and flourish.

A year ago, the Co-Creation Steering Group provided 12 recommendations for government’s consideration that outline measures that could advance the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy in Canada.

Today, I’m proud to see that the Government of Canada answering this call by launching the foundational steps of Canada’s very first national Social Innovation and Social Finance Fund.

Through the Strategy, we have an opportunity to collectively establish ourselves as global leaders in social innovation and social finance.
It is also an opportunity for Canada to maintain its global leadership and honour its commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, a global framework of action that includes 17 goals aimed at eradicating poverty and building a healthy planet.

Without further delay, it is my pleasure to announce that the Government of Canada is investing $50M over the next two years into the Investment Readiness Program in an effort to prepare social purpose organizations for an upcoming investment of $755M.

We know that many organizations do not have access to the capital they need to help grow the great things they are doing.
Many are constantly looking for ways to generate revenue to support their missions.

The Investment Readiness Program will allow these organizations to fully participate in the social finance market once the Fund is operational.

To facilitate and speed up the deployment of funds, I am pleased to announce that we have reached agreements with 17 partners across Canada.

There will be three types of partnerships:

  1. 4 major Readiness Support Partners who will make funding and supports available to diverse organizations;
  2. 4 Expert Service Providers who offer specialized knowledge to organizations, such as legal services, business plans, networking, etc.; and
  3. 9 partners responsible for mobilization initiatives to address key systems gaps such as supporting knowledge mobilization, measuring the impact of projects and strengthening social finance intermediaries.

The organizations that will be finance intermediaries are:

  • Community Foundations of Canada;
  • Canadian Women’s Foundation;
  • Chantier de l’économie sociale, in partnership with the CQCM; and
  • National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association.

The expert service provider organizations are:

  • Social Enterprise Ecosystem Projects (S4ES);
  • SVX - Social Venture Connexion
  • LIFT Philanthropy Partners Society; and
  • McConnell Innoweave.

The organizations that will be responsible for mobilization initiatives are:

  • Canadian Community Economic Development Network;
  • McConnell Foundation
  • Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (CSI);
  • New Market Funds Society;
  • The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience;
  • Startup Canada;
  • Sauder Social Innovation Academy; and
  • Imagine Canada.

These partners will work closely with all the players in the field to implement the Strategy and raise public awareness of social finance.

They will help find creative solutions in communities by providing funding and support to organizations all across Canada.

Quebec, with its expertise and well-developed ecosystem, can count on the recognition of its specificities.

Also, the Chantier de l’économie sociale will work closely with all the players in the field.

Under this strategy, we also have every intention of working as closely as possible with the Quebec government.

Other details will be provided in the coming weeks to let organizations know where and how to apply for funding.

I am also happy to announce today that we are implementing another recommendation of the Co-Creation Steering Group.

This morning, we launched the call for applications to establish the social innovation advisory council.

This council will provide the Government of Canada with strategic advice and expertise to support the implementation of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy.

It will also provide an important perspective that comes directly from the stakeholder community and will monitor the progress and emerging issues related to the Strategy.

The call for applications will be open until September 2. I encourage you all to share this good news with your network.

I hope you are all as excited about this news as I am.

The Investment Readiness Program and the advisory council are the first fundamental steps of Canada’s Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy.

Finally, I want to reaffirm that you are not alone in your mission and that the Government of Canada shares your goals.

I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the players in the field of social innovation.

You have been extremely dedicated throughout the processing of creating the Strategy, and the Government of Canada is proud to team up with you.

By collaborating and working together, we will boost our efforts to find solutions to the most complex social, economic and environmental challenges of our time.

By doing this, we will not only create wealth and jobs for those who need it the most, but also help build a more fair society where every citizen has a real chance to flourish.

Thank you.

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