Today, with great excitement, we officially launched the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy: A Strategy for Creating Jobs Through Social Enterprise. A community-led initiative co-created by the Canadian CED Network - Manitoba and the Province of Manitoba, this document is a comprehensive collection of concrete policy and program recommendations to support non-profits creating jobs and training opportunities for people with barriers to employment.
Social enterprises are non-profit organizations that use a business model to realize social, cultural and environmental outcomes, such as fostering a more sustainable environment, providing important community services like child care, generating revenue for non-profits, or as this strategy is focused on, creating jobs and training opportunities for people with barriers to employment.
By connecting multi-barriered individuals to a comprehensive program of social supports and job training, social enterprises have proved effective at providing a sustainable pathway toward prosperity, while reducing poverty and crime, growing our labour market, increasing our tax base and decreasing the costs associated with health care, justice and social services.
The road to today’s launch began in the fall of 2013, when CCEDNet - Manitoba members passed a policy resolution calling on the Province of Manitoba to co-create and co-produce a sector strategy for social enterprises focused on creating training and job opportunities for people with barriers to employment. The Province responded in Budget 2014 with a commitment to support the development of a sector strategy, and shortly after a steering committee was struck, comprised of half community members and half government representatives.
Over the past eight months, CCEDNet - Manitoba has conducted broad research on best-practice, completed a Provincial program review, hosted consultations with social enterprise stakeholders in Manitoba, received expert advice from British Columbia to Scotland, and repeatedly took progressing drafts of the document to the community for feedback. The result is a thorough list of policy and program recommendations, finely tuned to the strengths and opportunities of the Manitoba social enterprise sector.
Increasing the amount or scale of social enterprise alone is not a panacea for our complex community challenges. The incidence of poverty and unemployment in our province is an issue that needs dedicated and ongoing action that includes but is by no means limited to growing social enterprises — without continued investments in our communities in areas such as affordable housing and child care, the potential for social enterprise will not be realized.
However, it is our sincere belief that by implementing the recommendations within the MSES, we will see more supportive jobs created and more pathways out of poverty realized. Communities in Manitoba have identified this approach as one way they can succeed, and this is one way that we can support community-led and -owned opportunities.
Today is a day to celebrate; tomorrow we get back to work. We look forward to partnering with stakeholders from various sectors across the province to implement the recommendations within this strategy, and look to the Province to signal its commitment to the strategy through investments within Budget 2015.
Together, we can ensure that more Manitobans who want to work have access to the training and employment opportunities they need, and a pathway can be forged to break the vicious poverty cycle too many of our community-members face.
The video below introduces one of Manitoba's successful social enterprises, BUILD, a member of the Canadian CED Network. More examples can be found among our Profiles of CED in Manitoba.
Darcy Penner is a Research & Policy Advisor with the Canadian CED Network. He has been working in community development through various capacities since graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a BA (Honours) in Politics.
Darcy was also a contributing author to the Alternative Municipal Budget for CCEDNet-Manitoba.