CCEDNet hosts Minister Hussen for Week-Long Social Innovation Tour

February 17, 2021

During the week of February 8-12, CCEDNet had the great pleasure of visiting – virtually of course – nine examples of innovative community leadership across Canada.  These visits were part of a tour organized by CCEDNet for the Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. 

We learned about successful employment transition initiatives from Mother Earth Recycling, Embers Staffing Solutions, and Build Up Saskatoon.  We were inspired by community revitalization efforts from the Greater Dorchester Moving Forward Co-op, Shorefast, and Community Seniors Co-operative.  We saw how models can be successfully scaled while retaining a community-centred approach with SE Health

We learned about small business ventures that focus on people and community, not profits, with Akoma Holdings and Kaapittiaq.  Many of our tour guides spoke about the importance of ecological sustainability in their philosophy and in their operations.  They provoked deep reflections about some of the major and complex challenges facing our country: housing, seniors’ care, the justice system, and more. 

All in all, we were simply blown away by the amazing leadership and innovation going on in communities across the country.  (And, we realized that we are really anxious for a post-COVID world so that we can actually MEET some of these amazing people face-to-face!)

Screen capture of a Zoom call with Minister Hussen, the CCEDNet team, and virtual tour guidesWe capped off the tour with a round table discussion between Minister Hussen and members of the People-Centred Economy Group.  During the round table, Minister Hussen shared his appreciation for the good work that organizations are doing in their communities, and for the innovation that they bring to solve complex social challenges.  Quebec’s social economy ecosystem was raised as an example of what is possible in every region of Canada, with the right government supports and investments.  Representatives from Indigenous and women’s organizations affirmed that social innovation and social finance can create opportunities for those hardest hit by the pandemic.

It was a great way to spend a week.  But, we weren’t doing it just for fun.  The whole purpose of the tour was to see first-hand some of the impacts of the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) to date, showcase examples of the kinds of initiatives that can be expanded as part of the Social Innovation and Social Finance agenda (building on our campaign from late last year), and explore ways to create jobs and contribute to a strong economic recovery in ways that promote inclusivity and resilience while protecting the most vulnerable Canadians.

At every stop along the tour, our tour guides reinforced the need for social finance, social procurement, knowledge-sharing from community to community, increased access to federal innovation, business development, and skills training programs, and a supportive social economy “ecosystem”.  They spoke about the need for co-creation, with government, to ensure that changes to policy and legislation meet communities’ needs.  Coincidentally (or not!), these recurring themes are all part of the 12 recommendations of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Co-Creation Steering Committee.  Here at CCEDNet, we are working hard to raise awareness among decision-makers about these recommendations.  In particular, we are advocating for allocations in the upcoming federal budget to expand and renew the IRP, accelerate the Social Finance Fund, and implement a comprehensive Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy, addressing all 12 of the recommendations.

Enabling social innovation across Canada would powerfully and fundamentally change the way communities and community leaders see themselves as agents of positive change.  There are two ways you can help spread the word:

*The opinions expressed in blog posts are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of CCEDNet