Ontario, the most multicultural province in Canada, – home to about 10,000 social enterprises – has launched a five-year strategic plan to strengthen a thriving marketplace of sustainable and scalable social enterprises.
Ontario’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2021 will support social enterprises to grow their businesses, enter new markets and create jobs, while addressing complex social and environmental challenges. It will also integrate social entrepreneurship into mainstream entrepreneurship programs, such as those offered through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.
Ontario’s social enterprise strategy will include piloting one or more Social Impact Bonds (SIB) to improve social outcomes. Two SIB ideas are already moving forward. An SIB idea proposed by Mainstay Housing aims to provide stable housing and intensive support to 100 chronically homeless individuals. The program focuses on individuals struggling with mental illness who have been homeless for five years or more. Mainstay’s SIB proposal would use best practices from the Housing First model.
With the support of community partners, the proposed program will focus on helping young people make healthy lifestyle choices, while acquiring the necessary social, emotional and educational skills.
Some of the social enterprises that are already making an impact across the province include Building Up and Groupe Convex, which support inclusive employment; Twenty One Toys and Forward Vision Games working in the field of education; SolarShare and KARIBU Solar Power tackling environmental challenges; and QoC Health, which are improving health and wellness outcomes for under-served populations.