It’s 2016 – Time to Legislate Canadian Social Value Act: Part 3

Could 2016 Canadian multi-renaissance be extended just one inch forward to accommodate legislation of social value? Could we not only learn from the world around us but to lead the world instead?

We could, and we should. do have a power and expertise. We have influential, well-organized networks of social innovation centers across Canada (such is the excellent work being done by Tonya Surman and visionary people at the Center for Social Innovation) and NP think-tanks such is Ontario Non-Profit Network with maturity, drive and understanding of how movements are built.  Second, we have a critical mass of over 170,000 charitable and NP organizations across the country, strong provincial agenda for social enterprises (e.g. Ontario Agenda) and 1.3M workers sharing the common sentiment of being part of the industry that gives them purpose but not security. Third, we have the understanding of how the power of data must help us to capture and measure intangible values to provide evidence-based view on the outcomes (see innovative approaches to data sharing – Civic Tech To). Finally, we have lessons learned, comparable experiments overseas sufficient to at least open the conversation.

20160615_073355What we need is legislation. We need our own, home-grown Canadian Social Value Act to define four key elements:

  1.  The scope of social value in respect to local and national needs;
  2.  Shared national measurements and agreement on of how the data will be collected and represented (see different scales below);
  3. Shared educational protocols for both, procurement officers and SEs/NPs representatives that  will be based on shared logic models (e.g. Theory of Change); and
  4. Shared templates to guide provincial and federal bidding policies based on social value in addition to  the cost/benefit to encourage innovation.

What we also need is a strong, well-connected network of NPs and SEs rallying around the Act without reservation (well written, openly discussed collaborative document will serve well) and, of course, the leadership: a steering committee and a champion on the Hill to take this forward.

If legislated, social value will broaden the scope of procurement and give permission to focus on social capital. Questions like – does the project improve social cohesion and how; who else would benefit and for how long; will people be paid living wage; what kind of social innovation will be created; and will communities, environment and our rights not only protected but advanced and adopted.  

I love saving. Saving is great. Most of us are savvy shoppers too. But if, as a result, our fundamental rights and benefits need to be supplemented from our impoverished personal pockets we can conclude that our social and political institutions turned into pale copies of the current markets, indeed.  And the current markets and their ideology has failed to be proven useful or successful leaving most of us behind to clean up the mess – if we choose to trust the IMF and the Bank of England’s Mark Carney (the talk given at the 8th Annual Institute of International Finance G20 Conference, Shanghai) and William Davies, one of the leading contemporary economists. 

It is 2016: time for renewed hope and for creation of economy we need. This economy 2.0 needs to respond to challenging times we live in. It must be robust, agile, flexible and have social values at the front and centre for future generations to come. And the first step could be creating and legislating Canadian Social Value Act.


(Previous – part 1 and part 2)

(Head image courtesy of MCIS Language Solutions, Interpreters for Syria Project)


Social value reporting standards worldwide: