Impact Canada Initiative

Announced in Budget 2017, the Impact Canada Initiative (ICI) is a whole-of-government effort that will help departments accelerate the adoption of outcomes-based funding approaches to deliver meaningful results to Canadians. Outcomes-based funding approaches represent a new way of managing grant and contribution funding that shifts the traditional emphasis on process and outputs, towards one where payments are tied to the achievement of measurable economic, environmental, and/or social outcomes.

The ICI is launching in fall 2017 with two program streams:

  • A clean technology program stream to drive new solutions in areas such as climate change, green growth, and applying new technologies to reduce negative environmental impacts. This stream is delivered by Natural Resources Canada and will contribute $75 million in funding over four years.

  • A Smart Cities Challenge program stream to help communities of all sizes to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. This stream is delivered by Infrastructure Canada and will contribute $300M in funding over 11 years.

The ICI promotes the use of a range of innovative funding approaches, including:

  • Challenges – Issuing prizes for whoever can first or most effectively find a solution to a defined problem, and/or making use of structured, open competitions to solicit proposals to fund the best ideas with the potential to solve thematic problems.

  • Pay-for-Results – Using customized instruments to shift the focus towards issuing payments based on funding recipients achieving positive and measureable societal outcomes (e.g., social impact bonds, pay-for-success mechanisms).

The ICI is supported by a Centre of Expertise housed within the Impact and Innovation Unit. The team has extensive experience in executing novel and innovative programming in government in the following areas:

  • Innovative Funding and Partnership Approaches – staff have been directly responsible for implementing innovative funding approaches in government programs including social impact bonds, impact investing, and launching large-scale challenges to crowd-source solutions to pressing problems. These experiences all involved implementing multi-sectoral approaches that have drawn together government, private sector, philanthropic and non-profit sectors to achieve shared outcomes.

  • Impact Measurement – the team has worked with partners to co-design and co-develop evidence-based approaches to ensure improved program outcomes. The staff leverages a range of evaluation and impact measurement approaches, and works with partners to advance new impact and outcome measurement methodologies.

  • Behavioural Insights – the team has extensive experience supporting the execution and delivery of experiments and projects incorporating behavioural insights methodologies. The team’s work includes the application of evidence-based principles and approaches, running of small to large scale experiments, and the strategic application of behavioural science to policy development in direct support of the Government of Canada’s core mandate and commitments.

Other initiatives that the IIU is working on include:

  • Increasing Recruitment of Women into the Canadian Armed Forces
    In partnership with the Department of National Defence, the IIU is working to apply behavioural approaches to increase the number of women recruited into the Canadian Armed Forces. Building off an extensive research study completed in 2016, the IIU launched a marketing trial testing targeted messaging aimed at generating interest in CAF careers among women aged 18 to 34. The trial used Facebook and Instagram advertisements with images, text, and links to the CAF website to engage the target population. The team is analyzing the data from the trial now and final results will be posted in December 2017.

  • Charitable Giving in Canada
    In partnership with the Rideau Hall Foundation and the Behavioural Insights Team (North America), the IIU is working on a variety of initiatives related to charitable giving in Canada, including initiating a series of randomized controlled trials that apply and test behavioural science principles to fundraising initiatives. For the trial component of the project, the IIU has partnered with Heart and Stroke Canada and academics from Harvard University to launch a series of randomized controlled trials.

  • RESP Enrolment and Canada Learning Bond Uptake
    In partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada and provincial governments, the IIU is working to increase enrolment of the federal education savings incentives, with a particular focus on increasing uptake of the Canada Learning Bond. Work is underway researching user-friendly access points to Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and incorporating behavioural insights to help increase enrolment of the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond.

  • Increasing Uptake and Timely Completion of National Surveys
    Building off previous work completed on the Farm Financial Survey, the IIU is once again partnering with Statistics Canada on a project to test behavioural insights principles to increase participation in the Canadian Community Health Survey, with results expected in mid to late 2018.
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