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Addressing Social Inequality through Social Procurement

In November 2022, Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) and government agencies came together to discuss the path forward for social procurement in Newfoundland and Labrador. The event was hosted by the N.L. Social Enterprise and Innovation Coalition in collaboration with Buy Social Canada and brought together 89 leaders representing 45 agencies from across Canada.


Several key recommendations emerged through two days of in-depth dialogue, with the goal of informing emergent provincial government policies on social procurement. The recommendations are:

  • Set clear and specific goals

  • Define a multi-sector advisory committee

  • Develop internal and external training

  • Champion social procurement through an all-of-government approach

  • Design an adaptable framework

  • Test, monitor, and evaluate


One idea that all participants agreed on was that we have the ability to scale social impact through social procurement practices, however, we need support from the system on all levels to ensure that social procurement is implemented successfully. Governments know that they will have to spend public money regardless, so why not bake in a social requirement for that spending?

Choices for Youth (CFY) has been leading from the front when it comes to social procurement practices, particularly through our Education, Employment, and Social Enterprise (EESE) team. In recent years, our Impact Construction social enterprise renovated several Newfoundland and Labrador Housing (NLHC) units on Beothuk Street in St. John’s. This project generated 8,000 employment hours for 24 youth, many of whom would otherwise not have the opportunity to access the labour market and learn a skilled trade. 

This example of social enterprise employment resulted in $24,240 in paid income tax contributions and savings of $77,183 to the income support system. Each of the 24 youth participants received training in hard and soft skills and was paired with a support worker who helped them navigate the housing system, re-engage with the education system, connect with mental health supports, and reconnect with family. 


The data shows that engaging youth in this manner has a meaningful impact on their social determinants of health. Youth engaged in CFY’s social enterprises exhibit a 25% increase in stable housing and a 20% increase in access to mental health supports. 

Social enterprises like Impact Construction are creating jobs for young people and helping with their professional development. This coupled with the other supports that CFY provides to these young people is generating stability in their lives, making them less reliant on government for support. Social procurement practices like those employed by CFY social enterprises can make better use of limited government dollars while generating significant social value. 


Moving forward the EESE team is positioned to be a strong player in social procurement policy in our province. Leadership within the EESE team became certified in social procurement this past year and continues to leverage their experience and expertise when exploring new opportunities, big and small, to generate both economic and social value through CFY social enterprises.

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