Addressing social issues at work

Provincial government grant for research and curriculum development to increase training and employment opportunities.

Two funding announcements out of Victoria last week should have positive implications for marginalized workers across the province.

One initiative concerned the Community Contribution Company (C3), a new business model unique in Canada that places a value on profit and social responsibility.

A C3 status will signal that a company has a legal obligation to conduct business for social purposes and not purely for private gain, with that obligation expected to attract capital investment not currently accessible to the social enterprise sector by appealing to philanthropic investors who still expect to see some financial return.

The second announcement was about a $181,500 provincial government grant for research and curriculum development to increase training and employment opportunities for labour market partnerships with enterprising non-profit groups.

During an 11-month period, non-profit enterprises will partner with eight leaders in social innovation and social enterprise in a number of B.C. communities, including Trail, Prince George and Vancouver.

These social enterprises will consist of businesses that generate profits to support a social cause.

The project will provide a comprehensive evaluation of the skills training and employment opportunities that social enterprises have the capability to provide, and make recommendations for using these practices to deliver more effective job training and employment support across the province.

Ken Gauthier, a Kelowna community planning consultant with his own company called Urban Systems, says these initiatives are significant steps in finding non-government ways to resolve social issues.

In this case, Gauthier says the job creation ideas will engage disabled workers, but he said marginalized workers generally also takes in aboriginal people, immigrants and women.

“It’s not just disability exclusively for if we can tap into all these marginalized groups on the periphery of society and find innovative ways to create jobs for them, I think there is a vast untapped labour potential out there that needs to be unlocked,” said Gauthier, a member of the B.C. Partners for Social Impact initiative.

“We are at a point where we can no longer expect government to take care of these problems. There are big affordability questions around social spending for government today…so we need to find ways to better take care of each other.”

Gauthier said the C3 concept is breaking new ground in creating new partnership ideas for social enterprises and profit-oriented businesses.

“It’s a first of its kind in Canada so we are fielding calls from groups in other provinces about how we are doing this.”

“That interest reflects a conversation going on in communities across the country about how we can deal with the social issues of our time,” Gauthier said.