The days have gotten shorter and the temperatures continue to drop but it is still consultation time in the federal government’s schedule!

On my desk desk over the past few months I’ve seen 2017 Pre-Budget submissions, Innovation Science and Economic Development Innovation submissions and roundtables, the Labour Market Transfer Agreements priorities, Employment and Social Development’s Accessibility Policy and Infrastructure Canada. Earlier, it was the committee hearings on Bill C-227. [1]

 

The Infrastructure policy and Bill C-227 are two pending decisions that Buy Social Canada believes are very important paths to add a social value to existing spending.

Below are our recommendations; for the full submission sent to government please go to http://asiccc.ca/.

A social value on infrastructure offers opportunities to target employment opportunities, provide skills training and apprentice options, sub-contract supply chain needs to social enterprises and local businesses, and much more.

The $176 billion commitment to infrastructure investment over the next ten years – particularly the attention to the critical needs of Aboriginal communities and seriously needed social infrastructure –  is a huge opportunity for community based economic, employment and social development.

Along with our praise for the infrastructure investment decision our advice is that government achieve significantly greater return on investment for the taxpayers and attain significant impact in communities across Canada by applying a social procurement lens across the entire infrastructure contracting and delivery process.

Applying social value principles to the tendering and implementation of the infrastructure investment will also avoid the social value leakage and unintentional socio-economic damage that may occur using the current price-driven procurement policy.

Leakage is commonly understood as not getting greatest value when purchasing or investing because a value “escapes” somewhere in the process. Or as it is often colloquially referred to as ‘leaving money or value on the table’ when making a decision. In the history of infrastructure procurement government leakage has been not capturing the potential additional social impact that could have been leveraged from the same financial investment.

We believe that the federal government is able to effectively use the planned infrastructure investment to help tackle several complex social issues in our communities, including: enhance the training and employment for persons with barriers; expand SME suppliers market opportunities, especially focusing on the social enterprise sector; and empower Aboriginal community economic development initiatives.

The infrastructure investment will require setting priorities and making choices, whether related to congestion in our cities, reducing the impacts of climate change, or building a more inclusive society, but in every case we believe a social value impact lens will maximize the potential whole-value creation.

Buy Social Canada’s Recommendations:

 

1. Utilize a Cross Ministerial Collaboration Approach to Infrastructure Goals

Cross-ministerial collaboration will be step one to achieving the potential leveraging of greater value from the infrastructure investment.

2. Apply Social Procurement Policy to Infrastructure Contracts

“Social procurement combines the instrumental activity of procurement with the strategic intent of generating social value in response to identified societal needs, such as local employment creation and development of the third sector.” [2]

3. Achieve Social Innovation through Infrastructure Purchasing Demand

The government mandates of several ministries are exploring and working toward greater social innovation learnings and outcomes. The infrastructure investment is an excellent opportunity to use this demand opportunity to achieve social innovation learnings and impact.

4. Establish a Cross-sectoral Roundtable Implementation Design and Monitor Process

“When government are dealing with complex issues…they should start by declaring their inability to solve them on their own.” [3]  Successful implementation of the recommendations above will take more than the traditional top-down, government alone process. Multiple reports and analysis indicate that government alone will not solve the complex issues.   

5. Partner with Buy Social Canada, a Social Procurement Intermediary Service

We recommend that government engage with Buy Social Canada as an external intermediary service that shares their infrastructure investment goals. As recognized by Barraket et al, “Intermediaries are primarily focused on networking, advocacy and disseminating information and thus play a significant role in navigating institutional boundaries.”[4]

We look forward to collaborating with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Community to create the infrastructure investment model that will create the greatest possible value for all Canadian communities.

[1] Bill C-227 will allow the Minister of Public Works & Government Services to add a social value unto infrastructure expenditures.

[2] Social Procurement and New Public Governance, Barraket, Keast, Furneaux, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

[3] OECD Studies on Public Engagement Focus on Citizens Public Engagement for Better Policy and Services, page 221

[4] ibid Barraket et al


David LePage is a Principal with Accelerating Social Impact CCC, Ltd. (ASI), one of Canada’s first incorporated social purpose hybrid corporations.

 

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