Momentum building around a federal social innovation and social finance strategy

April 6, 2021

Overton Window diagram: More Freedom on top and Less Freedom below and the range of policy considerations from unthinkable to radical to acceptable to sensible to popular to policy and back again (the Overton Window sits between what is acceptable on either end)The Overton window: A sweet spot for policies that are aligned with the government’s agenda and within the range of policies politically acceptable to the voting public at a given time. 

Since last summer, efforts have ramped up to push for a national Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy as part of our COVID-recovery.  These efforts have come from all corners.

  • Members of the People-Centred Economy Group identified social innovation and social finance as one of their three key recommendations for COVID-recovery and raised the issue repeatedly…
    • …at meetings with Minister Hussen, Minister Anand’s staff, Minister Joly’s staff, Centre for Rural Economic Development staff, Senators Ratna Omidvar and Lucie Moncion, and Parliamentary Secretary Sean Fraser,
    • …in their two pre-budget briefs (August & February), and
    • …in letters sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, Ministers Freeland, Champagne, Fortier, Guillbeault, Joly, Monsef, and Qualtrough, Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole, MPs Candice Bergen, Dan Albas, and Peter Julian.
  • The Impact Response campaign, led by SVX and supported by over 100 leaders, outlined three key actions to respond to the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 by mobilizing social finance and social enterprise.
  • CCEDNet’s letter-writing campaign resulted in constituents in over 50 ridings writing to their MPs about the implementation of the 12 recommendations of the Co-Creation Steering Group, the acceleration of the social finance fund, and the expansion and renewal of the Investment Readiness Program (IRP).
  • All non-governmental members of the Co-Creation Steering Group signed a letter to Ministers Hussen and Qualtrough urging them to accelerate the deployment of the Social Finance Fund.
  • CCEDNet and its Policy Council have included social innovation and social finance as one of our national policy priorities, and have discussed it at length with ESDC officials, Minister Hussen’s political staff, Minister Qualtrough’s political staff, MPs Matthew Green and Leah Gazan, Senators Nancy Hartling, and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.
  • Ryan Turnbull, MP for Whitby, has been an indefatigable champion for social innovation and social finance, creating the Liberal Party Social Innovation Caucus, hosting round table discussions with stakeholders, and making the case with his parliamentary colleagues. 

We’ve been working hard to ensure that the upcoming federal budget contains a clear commitment to social innovation and social finance.  So far, it’s working.  The narrative is shifting.Screenshot of one of the virtual tours we hosted for Minister Hussen

In February, CCEDNet hosted Minister Hussen for a week-long virtual tour of social innovation examples from across the country.  According to departmental sources, Minister Hussen has been drawing on these examples regularly in meetings and conversations, most recently at a public talk at the University of Ottawa.  Most of the Liberal Caucus signed a letter to Ministers Freeland and Hussen asking them to accelerate the social finance fund and renew and expand the IRP, and 25 senators did the same in another joint letter.

More recently, because of our and others’ efforts, a number of articles have appeared in prominent media outlets and policy publications:

Our Overton window is open.  The government has committed, time after time, to build back better.  Civil society organizations and the general public are demanding that the recovery from COVID-19 be equitable and sustainable, that is strengthen communities and increase resilience.  A national social innovation and social finance strategy is the way to make it happen.

Will our efforts be enough?  We’ll find out on April 19 when the federal budget comes out.

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