Harper Government reaffirms commitment to working with communities and private sector to tackle Canada’s social challenges

Ottawa, Ontario, May 6, 2013—Today, at the inaugural Women in Social Business Forum, the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, discussed the potential of social finance as an innovative approach to addressing social challenges in Canada and released a report on the results of last year’s National Call for Concepts for Social Finance.

“As we tackle social and economic challenges, we must look at new ways to unlock innovation in local communities,” said Minister Finley. “We need continued partnership from public, private and not-for-profit sectors to improve results and maximize our investments.”

The report, Harnessing the Power of Social Finance, highlights the benefits of social finance and social innovation in creating new financial tools and partnerships to broaden the impact of existing programs or to support new initiatives. The report profiles 15 concepts that represent a wide range of the proposals received and includes information on national and international perspectives. Many of the proposals support at‑risk youth, the unemployed, people with disabilities and seniors. Various financial tools were suggested, including social impact bonds, pay-for-performance contracts, investment funds and social enterprises.

Through consecutive economic action plans, the Harper Government has highlighted the importance of social finance and acknowledged the numerous opportunities it can provide to help improve social outcomes.  Last year, the Government launched a National Call for Concepts for Social Finance to develop a bank of ideas and received over 150 submissions.

“I am pleased to announce that the report on the Call for Concepts for Social Finance is now available to the public,” added Minister Finley. “Moving forward, our Government will follow through on these concepts by immediately bringing together key players in the non-profit and private sectors with the goal to develop “investment ready” ideas into social finance pilot projects.”

The Government of Canada remains focused on maintaining strong and healthy communities. Economic Action Plan 2013 builds on the Government’s record of support through its plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

To read the full report, Harnessing the Power of Social Finance, visit  




Social finance is an approach to mobilizing private capital that delivers a social dividend and an economic return in the achievement of social and environmental goals. It creates opportunities for investors to finance projects that benefit society and for community organizations to access new sources of funds.

Social finance engages a wider field of participants in generating new ideas for more effective programs in many areas—such as unemployment, poverty or homelessness—while introducing private sector best practices.

As part of broader efforts to research the potential of social finance to augment existing programs with new capital and new ideas, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada asked Canadians to participate in the National Call for Concepts for Social Finance between November 2012 and January 2013. The questionnaire was designed to capture a broad spectrum of input, and asked submitters to outline the social problem being addressed, the population being targeted, as well as provide specific information on the social finance idea being proposed.

The 154 responses to the Call showed that there are many innovative and collaborative solutions being developed to resolve a wide range of societal challenges by citizens, businesses, charities and other groups. Submissions featured social impact bonds, social investment funds and social enterprises, as well as ideas for structuring the flow of funds and suggestions for using social finance methods to scale up successful existing programs or introduce new services.

The Report, Harnessing the Power of Social Finance, provides information on social finance, including national and international perspective, and profiles fifteen concepts from the Call.

The fifteen concepts illustrate the wide range of ideas submitted and social finance tools described in various parts of the country. 

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada’s Skilled4Success, a concept for introducing young people to career options in the skilled trades
  • Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Cancer Coaching concept to increase that seeks to improve the quality of life for cancer patients
  • Pathways to Education Canada’s Northern Graduation Network, a concept to increase high school graduation rates in northern communities
  • Aboriginal Savings Corporation of Canada/J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s proposed First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Fund, a concept for accelerating investment in these areas
  • Social Finance for Supportive Housing Working Group’s concept to fund 10,000 housing units for people living with mental illness
  • JVS Toronto’s Youth Reach Program, a concept targeting marginalized youth who are at risk of conflict with the law
  • Valuenomics’ Avanti Program, a concept for addressing skills shortages in northern British Columbia’s resources sector
  • Ottawa Community Loan Fund’s Senior Housing Project, a concept that would develop small-scale, independent community-based living units
  • Maytree Foundation’s Immigrant Mentoring Program, a proposed support system concept that pairs new Canadians with experienced professionals in their occupations
  • OMEGA Foundation’s SmartSAVER, a concept to boost participation of lower income families in the Canada Learning Bond and Registered Education Savings Plan
  • Mouvement des Caisses Desjardins’  microcredit program, a concept that provides interest-free loans, longer payback periods and business training to underserved entrepreneurs
  • The Toronto Enterprise Fund, a concept that provides business coaching and financing to social enterprises staffed by marginalized people
  • Carleton Centre for Community Innovation’s Canadian Impact Infrastructure Exchange, a concept describing a proposed method of building capacity for large-scale public/private investment
  • SEA Change Nation’s LEARN-LAUNCH-SHARE Program, a concept to scale up a social enterprise that introduces at-risk youth to business and provides support for their new business ideas
  • YMCA Canada’s Single-window Solution for Youth Employment Support, a concept proposing a national service delivery model for streamlining access to internships and job opportunities