The Parliamentary Secretary for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Dr. Kellie Leitch, recently hosted a federal budget consultation with representatives from the non-profit community, private sector, and labour movement in Winnipeg. The purpose of the meeting was to explore what the federal government should do around economic development, job creation, and skills development. It was a relatively small group invited, so everyone was able to participate and each person brought with them unique perspectives and priorities.
Brendan Reimer attended the meeting to represent the priorities of CCEDNet members, and spoke to the importance of federal government support for co-operatives, social enterprises, and community-based employment development programs. Emphasizing the facts that co-operatives are more sustainable business models that prioritize servicing their communities and members rather than focusing on profits, the point was made that they are more likely to sustain and create jobs and grow local economies in the long term. Brendan also provided examples of social enterprises in Manitoba that are achieving local economic impacts, while also creating skill development and job opportunities for folks that the private and public sector are not likely to hire.
The challenge that co-ops and social enterprises face in accessing existing business development tools and systems in Canada was also highlighted in conversation with other participants who worked in business development agencies. These participants also acknowledged the barriers and gaps in eligibility and services for alternative business models such as co-ops and social enterprises. In addressing the gap between labour market demands and the skill sets of the unemployed, one of our members (IRCOM) also spoke effectively about the need for community-based training opportunities that bridge this employability gap.
Meetings such as these provide CCEDNet a valuable opportunity to advance the policy priorities that our members have identified, and to build relationships with decision makers. These events also offer excellent opportunities to highlight our ideas to other sectors and individuals that might not otherwise understand them. Strong connections were made at this event, and we will be following up with various organizations.
As part of that follow-up, CCEDNet submitted a series of recommendations that call on Human Resources and Skill Development Canada to invest in the growth and development of co-operatives and social enterprises in 2013. Download the full submission here.