By 2026 Canada will face a social deficit of up to $23 billion as demands for the services provided by charities and nonprofits exceed our existing capacity to fund those services.
This social deficit will not show up on any public balance sheet, but will manifest itself as unmet demand, delayed provision of services, and overworked staff. Charity and nonprofit revenue traditionally closely mirrors GDP trends.
Many economists project slower long-term economic growth than we have seen in the past and require innovative solutions. We are calling on the government to embrace an agenda of smart growth (sustainable growth that is equitable, inclusive and environmentally responsible).
Social procurement is a viable solution!
Social procurement is essentially looking at ways to get the most social value for the money already planned on spending and making it standard practice at the federal level.
To leverage the dollars already being spent on procurement to help reduce poverty, improve the environment and advance equity is one way to achieve smart growth and reduce the social deficit.
Social procurement in action
Across Canada there are instances of government, nonprofits and private sector businesses engaging in social procurement, whether it’s diversifying its supply chain or developing workforces.
Buy Social Canada has set up a Community of Practice on social procurement and aims to bring socially driven purchasers and social enterprise suppliers together, and build business relationships that generate social benefits to communities across the country.
Community Benefits Agreements
A community benefits agreement (CBA) is an agreement for the developer to provide specific amenities or other long term benefits, such as jobs and skills training, in return for the community’s support.
In Ontario, community benefits frameworks have been agreed on a number of infrastructure projects, including the Eglinton Crosstown, which aims to provide 300 jobs to people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, and has a budget set aside for contracts with social enterprises.
Just like with social procurement programs, community benefits agreements leverage money already being spent to provide services and social value to communities.
We are closely following the progress of the private member’s Bill C-344, an Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit).
Bill C-344 gives the Minister of Public Services and Procurement the discretionary power to:
- require bidders on government-funded projects to provide information on the community benefits that result from these projects. T
- require the developers to provide an assessment as to whether the project has indeed provided community benefits.
- report back to Parliament at the end of every fiscal year to demonstrate what community benefits were delivered from the CBAs (community benefits agreements) that were signed.
The aim of this bill is to encourage the use of community benefits agreements. Bill C-344 is currently in its second reading in the House.
We would like to see in the implementation of the Bill a requirement for the Minister to speak with communities impacted by any said community benefit agreements. We believe this would strengthen the amendments made to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and encourage more contractors to engage with communities to provide a meaningful benefit.