Creating Pride Through Decent Work: Social Enterprises in Manitoba

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba

Author +
Josh Brandon and Molly McCracken

Year: 2016

Social enterprises fill an important gap in Manitoba’s economy for those struggling to enter the workforce. The provincial government has seen the value of investing in social enterprises through funding training and procuring housing retrofit services. This in combination with financing from the Manitoba Hydro Pay As You Save (PAYS) program is producing great results. For instance, 194 people are employed in the six social enterprises involved in this study. Over the past decade, a strong network of social enterprises has grown in Manitoba to help individuals develop the employment and life skills they need to enter and participate in the paid workforce. Social enterprises use a business model to promote positive social or cultural benefits including poverty reduction, fostering environmental sustainability, or other beneficial outcomes. Social enterprises have emerged to create pathways into the workforce for those who face barriers such as lack of education, racism, histories of involvements with gangs or other involvement with the justice system, and lack of work experience.

As one worker describes: “I was having a hard time finding employment because of my criminal history and whatnot. I just applied and got in and it was quite surprising to me to say the least. I spent so many years not being able to get employed, and then coming to a program like this and they accept you for who you are.” The unemployment rate amongst Aboriginal adults age 15 and over was 14.3 percent, more than six percentage points higher than the rest of the inner-city population (8.1 percent) (Lezubski and Silver 2015: 26). The mainstream route from school to work—graduating high school at age 18, attending a post-secondary institution, and finding a good job—is fraught with roadblocks for young people who experience the intergenerational impacts of colonization. Without a high school education, it can be challenging to find any job, undoubtedly a decent job.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Social Enterprises in Manitoba
Social Enterprises Provide Supports to Attain Decent Jobs
Journey to Employment
Safety Skills
Construction and Maintenance Skills Gained
Life Skills
Gaining Work Experience
Participants’ Housing
Criminal Involvement
Development of Workplace Culture
Challenges with Private Business Workplaces
Future Pathways for Participants
Social Enterprises and the Province of Manitoba
Challenges Facing the Social Enterprise Sector
Supporting the Development of the Social Enterprise Sector
Appendix A: Social Enterprises in Manitoba