Evidence of meeting #85 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was community.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Anne Kelly  Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
Suzanne Brisebois  Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada
Angela Connidis  Director General, Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Margaret Buist  Director General, Children and Families Branch, Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships Sector, Department of Indigenous Services, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Mary-Luisa Kapelus  Director General, Strategic Policy, Planning and Information, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Department of Indigenous Services, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Kelley Blanchette  Deputy Commissioner for Women, Correctional Service of Canada
Michelle Van De Bogart  Acting Chief Operating Officer, Parole Board of Canada
Donald Meikle  Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.
Lisa Lalande  Executive Lead, Not-for-Profit Research Hub, Mowat Centre
Joanne Cave  Senior Policy Associate, Not-for-Profit Research Hub, Mowat Centre
Adam Jagelewski  Director, Center for Impact Investing, MaRS Discovery District

4:45 p.m.

Joanne Cave Senior Policy Associate, Not-for-Profit Research Hub, Mowat Centre

We encourage the committee to also explore the opportunity for a national outcomes fund to identify and scale what works over the long term.

A national outcomes fund is a dedicated fund that offers matching contributions to other orders of government adopting outcomes-based funding models. In the U.K., many outcomes funds draw their resources from dormant bank accounts rather than the federal budget. The Bank of Canada estimates that there are approximately $678 million in unclaimed assets that the government could potentially draw upon for the outcomes fund and What Works Centre.

In B.C., this approach is used to apply a portion of unclaimed funds to the Vancouver Foundation for philanthropic purposes.

A national outcomes fund could provide capital for outcomes-based funding arrangements like social impact bonds in addition to grants to test and evaluate new, innovative programs. This blended approach to risk allows us to use resources more efficiently and to innovate.

A Canadian What Works Centre could be associated with the outcomes fund to define the measurement approach, agree on common indicators, and inform funding allocations. It could also help organizations build capacity to measure their own impact, making the outcome fund's investments more targeted and effective over time.

We applaud the committee's commitment in addressing this important issue. Social impact bonds and social finance tools are one approach to mobilize the capital needed to achieve a successful outcome. We consider the proposal for a What Works Centre and a national outcomes fund to be preconditions for exploring a social impact bond contract.

Furthermore, we encourage the committee to focus on indigenous-led solutions and invest in the long-term infrastructure that is needed to create meaningful social change. A national outcomes fund, with support from a What Works Centre, could work together to explore outcomes-based funding arrangements with the existing evidence base and also experiment with new, untested programs and services.

Thank you for your time and attention. My colleague and I welcome any questions you may have.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

Now, for seven minutes, we have Adam Jagelewski from the MaRS Centre.

4:45 p.m.

Adam Jagelewski Director, Center for Impact Investing, MaRS Discovery District

Thank you, Chair.

Good afternoon, members and members' staff.

I represent the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. We partner with governments, non-profits, and investors to direct capital to social problems. We advise governments on how to deliver better outcomes and results for vulnerable populations in Canada.

We cannot speak to the experience of indigenous women in the justice system. I was listening to the questions in the last session and I would have been able to answer none of them. However, what we can speak to is the chance to approach the problem in a new way.

I'd like to make two hypotheses to this committee: an outcomes-focused approach to the issue will enable those working with indigenous women to get better results, and a new tool, called a “social impact bond”, can facilitate the transition to an outcomes-focused approach.

Let me explain. Our public and philanthropic funding system spends an extraordinary sum on programs designed to rectify social problems. Governments pay non-profits to deliver many of those programs. How does the government pay for these programs? It writes a list of activities in which the non-profit may engage. The non-profit also has a list of eligible expenses.

The non-profit runs the program, stays within the bounds of the sanctioned activities, and submits its eligible expenses. The government pays those expenses and asks for a report on how many people went through the program, and it may hear something about how the program has helped those people.

Let me give you an example to bring this to light. A homeless shelter is funded based on its activities—namely, the number of clients housed. Shelters take in individuals in need, but do not have the resources to treat the underlying causes of their homelessness, such as illness or chronic depression, for example. Because the system does not focus on making the individuals better, but rather simply on whether the shelter filled its quota, the cycle of homelessness continues.

At the end of projects like these, we know the non-profit spent the public's money on the items on which it promised to spend the money. We can check off that basic accountability box, yet at the end of the project we very often don't know what the project achieved for the people it was meant to serve. We cannot check the accountability box that asks the value the program earned in return for the public's money.

That is way too simple a story, of course. Non-profits sometimes report on outcomes and academics and governments sometimes study social problems, but day-to-day social service delivery rests on what non-profits do, not on what they accomplish. That approach leaves too much potential—community potential, non-profit potential, government potential—on the table.

How else might the government pay for a social problem? The government might pay for social programs based on a program's results. It might pay for a program to the extent the program achieves the result it is set to achieve. Let me give you an example.

Roca Inc., a U.S.-based non-profit, has spent many years keeping young men out of prison. Roca is now delivering some of its services under what it calls a pay-for-success contract, which you may know as a pay-for-performance contract or a results-by-payment contract. Under that contract, Massachusetts agrees to pay Roca on its success in reducing prison days among young men already involved in the justice system. Roca, unlike many non-profits delivering social programs, knows its precise goal: to steer its clients away from prison. At the end of the program, Roca and Massachusetts will know about how to accomplish that goal. This is very similar to what Don was talking about earlier.

Another example is closer to home but is on a different social issue: heart disease and stroke, which kill many in Canada each year. High blood pressure puts people at risk, yet we know the modifiable behaviours that can curb this negative trajectory. In two weeks, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada will kick off a program designed to stabilize and reduce blood pressure among people approaching high blood pressure. The Public Health Agency of Canada has promised to pay for the program depending on how well the program actually helps people stabilize and reduce blood pressure. At the end of the project, the agency and the Heart and Stroke Foundation will know more about how to combat rising blood pressure in an aging society.

Both Roca and the Heart and Stroke Foundation did something unusual. They asked investors—foundations, financial institutions, corporations, individuals—to invest in their programs—not donate, not grant, but invest.

Like most non-profits, Roca and Heart and Stroke cannot take the financial risk that their programs do not work. They need money up front to pay the costs of their programs. They cannot wait a month or a year until they report results, so they ask investors to put up this upfront money.

The investors—and not the non-profits—are taking the risk that the programs do not work. If the programs work, the governments will pay a return; if the programs do not work, the investors will lose their money. This arrangement is called a social impact bond.

Social impact bonds in particular, and paying for outcomes in general, come with their own share of problems. Picking outcomes is not easy. Deciding the metrics to capture the change is difficult. Tracing cause and effect between a program and its results is a nuanced task. These steps are additional to the current grant and contribution process, and yes, when a program works, the government pays more: the cost of the program, plus a return to investors.

Might the benefits outweigh the costs? That's what we are here to find out. Social impact bonds are a tool devised to reframe how we think about funding social problems. The real value is not in the investment but in putting results first. If we put results first and build our response to a social problem with constant reference to a precise goal, won't we do better by the people we're meant to serve?

We have not answered that question yet, but given the stasis in too many social problems, we think it's a question worth exploring. We believe a focus on outcomes may help communities better serve indigenous women in the justice system.

Thank you.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

We're now going to start our seven-minute rounds, and we're going to start off with Emmanuella Lambropoulos.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you.

I would like to thank all of the witnesses for being here with us today.

I'll start off with Mr. Meikle. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about how your youth centre is working and how many benefits it can have for the kids and their mothers, who are staying together.

I'd like to know a bit more about that. Can you can share at least one of the stories with us and maybe talk to us a little about why kids in the system are being taken away from their parents?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.

Donald Meikle

With my 25 years' experience, I honestly believe that governments, for years and years and years, just keep doing the same thing, keep doing a lot of the same things over again in looking at social issues. It's not just provincial; it's federal also. They are often scared to ask the tough questions. As was just presented, they don't want to embarrass their minister. They don't want to embarrass anybody. Oftentimes it comes at the expense of young people.

I have a story I'd like to share. It's really quick. One mom who came into Sweet Dreams was gang-involved, and her child was in care with a family member. She had an addiction to crystal meth and suffered from severe anxiety. Today she's a functioning member of the community who has completed treatment, attends school daily, works with counsellors, attends play therapy with her son regularly, and is a mentor to her peers. Since coming into the program, she's acquired her driver's licence, bought a vehicle, and has worked diligently to build trust and to repair damaged relationships with her family and with her community.

When I heard the first presentation, I was taken aback. With our program and with these kids, we need that motivation. We spend billions and billions of dollars trying to help those who don't really want help, yet we're scared to help, or we don't want to really invest in, those who need help to help deal with what they need to deal with. They want to become contributing citizens. We're sometimes so often chasing our tails.

We got a lot of flak from government because we used the motivational approach versus an assessment. It was actually one of our investors who said, “You can't use these assessments. They're disrespectful to women.” It was all negative and about why they took their children.

To go back to the first presentation, it was kind of interesting when they were talking about knitting classes. I have pictures. I'm sorry that I only made three copies.

The initial investment in the social impact bond was $1 million, and now the total investment is worth about $3.5 million with the day care. It's kind of cute. We have an action to employment program that works with young people, and we have young people who provide services to seniors. It gets no government funding, but a lot of these young women went into the homes when we were doing the renovations on the old part, because we didn't have any funding for the old part except for community people like Home Depot. They came in and they ripped out the flooring and they did the painting. That's the thing with a lot of our thinking on women and indigenous women, and I see that all the time: our expectations are really low on what their possibilities are. They should be taking the same thing as men. You know what? We had these kids working in this house for about seven months. Two of them went into trades school. They wanted to be carpenters.

I don't know if I answered your questions. I get off the target sometimes; sorry.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

All right. Thank you.

I was just wondering if you can explain, Mr. Jagelewski, a little bit more about the social impact bond. I'm starting to understand what it is. It's the first time I've really heard of it, but I guess it's when regular investors invest in a social problem. Can you explain a little bit more how that works?

5 p.m.

Director, Center for Impact Investing, MaRS Discovery District

Adam Jagelewski

Sure. I'll try to concisely bring this to life.

A social impact bond is a new partnership agreement between government and a non-profit organization, and this agreement is based on the covenant that the organization will deliver on an outcome that government seeks to achieve. It's a way in which we can start to shift our thinking towards results, or what I'm calling an outcome, versus the activities or the inputs/outputs of a social intervention.

Because non-profit organizations do not want to take the risk of potentially failing and because they don't want to take the operational risk of delivering that program without that funding, they seek out investors to provide that working capital. The social impact bond is just a unique way to classify this new partnership agreement, whereby private investors put up upfront money to deliver a social program that is intended to generate better outcomes.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you. I have one minute left.

The last question I'm going to ask is this: have you seen instances of these types of social bonds, these types of new contracts that you all mentioned, seeming to work a lot better than what was done in the past?

5 p.m.

Director, Center for Impact Investing, MaRS Discovery District

Adam Jagelewski

It's too early to come to that conclusion. As a sector, as a market, we're trying to figure that out. Don's example in Saskatoon is one that is in the spotlight. Heart and Stroke, as I mentioned, is going to be launching its intervention in a couple of weeks. Canada only has a few of these launched. Globally, we're nearing a hundred. I wouldn't suggest that we can make conclusions on a hundred. I do think that we need to test these more to determine whether the outcomes are better for society.

Just as an anecdotal reference point, there are a few that have failed. Those that have failed stopped their programs early. Taxpayer money stays within the public purse, and investors' money is lost.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

I'm just listening. This is excellent.

We're now going to move over to Rachael Harder for seven minutes.

January 30th, 2018 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to be with us today.

I want to start off by directing my questions to Don.

Don, first off, I want to thank you for your work. Your boots are clearly on the ground and you're working very hard in order to serve a vulnerable population very well. It sounds like you're leading a team of people in a whole community approach to this, which is very much appreciated. Thank you.

Your organization is really the first one to use a social impact bond in order to create a difference within a community. Clearly you've made a very big difference for these women and their children, making sure that they have a vibrant future ahead of them, so I commend that.

Now with that, the question I would have for you is why, in your estimation, has it worked so well to do a social impact bond to approach the situation, the social concerns that we have, in this way?

5 p.m.

Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.

Donald Meikle

I believe the social impact bond was more than just a social investment. It was an investment in people, and it mobilized our community. It brought together federal and provincial.... It brought together community, and it continues to answer that whole need.

Our biggest challenge was fighting the bureaucracy. We all make a living off poor people. Researchers come in, they do their research, and they leave. We're there in the community and we stay in our community.

If you really believe.... I think this was the easiest thing we ever did, because we believe in our parents and we believe in indigenous people. We believe in the potential. None of these mothers who have come through the programs since 2013 are in an institution. They're all caring for their children, where they should be.

I think what's made it so successful and what continues to make it successful is.... In meetings I've had with bureaucrats and ministers, the investors aren't these big, bad people who just want to make money off the poor people. They want to see the difference. I've had many conversations with the Mahs. For them, it's about showing that you can make a difference.

I think what happens is—and I've seen it with the people in Ontario trying to do a social impact bond—the bureaucrats got involved, and they just overloaded it instead of looking at what you want to do and what the impact is. All of these other things about people going to university and people being employed are all the extras. That's over and above the cost of the bond. With no disrespect, do I care what the cost saving of that is? No, because that's not what the bond was about. The bond was a contract, and all of these other social....

We talk about whether it's too early to see if these are successes. You're damn right they're successes, and I could have brought 30 women here today to show that they're successes. It's not because somebody studies it or somebody says, “Well, maybe it's too early.” No. We kept mothers and children where they belong.

When we start building 14-bed group homes, orphanages for our children, because indigenous people are coming in at such an alarming rate, that's something we need to look at and worry about.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Don, thank you. It sounds like you have enjoyed overwhelming success. I certainly appreciate the hard work you have put into that and the investments that have been made, both by the government and also through private enterprise.

As you were presenting to us, one of the things you said was that politicians need to ask a couple of questions. One of them is what communities are saying, and the other is what families are saying, and we need to respond to that.

As a politician in this room right now, I'm asking you what families are saying and what the communities are saying. What do we need to take into consideration?

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.

Donald Meikle

Communities are different. Wherever we go, communities are different.

I hear lots of, “Well, we're indigenous-friendly” or we're this-friendly or we're that-friendly. Even with indigenous communities, elders have different ways of doing things. Everybody has different ways of doing things, and the people receiving the service have different ways of doing things, but we need to be asking the kids or the people in those communities.

I'm working with this kid. She's 17. She's involved in a gang, and I'm trying to help her get out of the gang. She has actually been asked not to be involved in the gang because she's working with a white guy who works for a community-based organization, so it brings heat on her. I asked her today what is going to keep her out of an institution. I said, “I'm going to do this presentation for some nice people today. What do I tell them? What do I tell them to keep you from going into an institution in the future?”

She said, “Don, you have to make sure I have a good place to live and that I'm safe. You need to make sure my mental health issues are dealt with, and you need to continue to fight for me to get proper services”—because she has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression—“and you need to believe in me, and you need to make sure that I have a proper opportunity for an education.”

When we're asking the people, why don't we lay off our committees and institutions in asking the women what they need?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

Am I out of time?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

You have 50 seconds.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Don, you're talking a lot about prevention. In my estimation, unfortunately, a lot of the conversation around this table thus far has been about responding to women after they have been incarcerated.

Why is prevention so key?

5:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.

Donald Meikle

It's like my fish story I used on some people some time ago. Use fish; don't use dead bodies.

My point in this whole thing is that we have to start looking upstream at the reason, It's like everything. It's like the sixties scoop and the residential schools if we keep doing the same thing.

It's like homelessness. We know that 60% of the people living on the streets have had child and family service involvement, so what are we doing there? We have to do prevention. We can't just keep....

What we're doing is really expensive, and your outcomes aren't always the best, so prevention is where it needs to start. We can't just keep doing the same thing.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you so much.

We're now going to move over to Sheila Malcolmson for seven minutes.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for reminding us how important it is to invest in families, and in women in particular, and that it pays dividends in every way for the whole country. Thank you for the work you're doing.

To Mr. Meikle from the Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre, can you draw for us a little bit more of a picture of the impact of interrupting parenting and interrupting families, and how that leads to the two-pronged problem that this committee is studying—not only the rate of incarceration of indigenous women, but also what many of us perceive as indigenous women's unfair treatment in the justice system?

We've been hearing from witnesses about access to legal aid, about the feeling that the police are not a safe place to go to. All of those pieces can end up landing indigenous women in jail, often through no fault of their own. Can you take us back to that family interruption and how that can get us deeper onto a bad path?

5:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.

Donald Meikle

If you look at indigenous women—and again, I've worked with them for 25 years—you see they have always been kind of the anchor in the home. They've been the provider. They have made sure they kept the family unit together. If you look at young women and that whole of flow of where we start, you see we often start at birth when we take their children away. We start taking their home away right from birth. We take away any kind of hope that they have for a better life, right at birth.

We kind of do things really backwards. We do things to indigenous people that we would never do to.... I see things on a daily basis that happen to these young women, and there's no way they would treat my daughters the way they treat these indigenous women.

The way we need to really start looking at is that when you talk to indigenous women in institutions—and my God, I've dealt with hundreds of them over my 25 years—often there's that feeling of hopelessness. Often you see that unresolved trauma, that unresolved abuse. Right from childhood they get punished for being victims of abuse and victims of our current system.

Until we start respecting and appreciating that, it's not going to change. They're in these institutions. They're angry and feeling hopeless. Giving them a sewing class is not going to help them once they get out of the institution.

We have a proposal in front of Status of Women right now. We want to get business in our community involved in helping young indigenous women to create and set up businesses and become contributing citizens in that way. We all have this mentality of “Here, have a welfare cheque and everything is going to get better.” It's not.

These kids I work with on a daily basis are no different from my kids. When they get out there and start to work and earn money, they want to earn more. They want the same things that all of our kids want, the same things that all of us wanted growing up. Until we come to that realization and have those expectations.... I'm sorry, but as long as we continue having sewing classes for indigenous women, it's not going to get better. We're not preparing them for life outside of the institution. The sewing classes don't cut it; I'm sorry.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Can you give us examples of how investments in keeping the family together—supporting families that are, as a result of trauma, having difficulties—and making those investments in the intact family prevents both the women and their kids from becoming either victims of crime or perpetrators of crime?

5:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc.

Donald Meikle

Again, from the social impact bond, we've created external longer-term housing for these young moms. Keeping them together and dealing with all of that crap is....

I have this statistic in my head and I have to spit it out. Then I can refocus.

Putting an infant in a group home now costs $600 a day. Can you imagine how much support we could parachute to these young women for 600 bucks a day? We could have somebody living with them and supporting them 24 hours a day.

The issues are so complex, but what you need to have is.... We have ongoing 24-hour support for our young moms. When there's an issue and they call and they need help, you need to be there.

We had a video company come. It was called HitPlay Productions. They wanted to bastardize the social impact bond, but after about a week of being there, when she was leaving, she said, “Do you know what? I realize why this bond and why this is working so well.” I looked at her and I said, “Finally, you're going to admit that it's going to work.” She said, “Yes. It's because you guys are there after the cameras are off.”

After the problems and after the issues and once the healing journey begins, because there are challenges, we need to be there after the cameras are off. We need to support women because their issues are so huge. Indigenous women are more likely to be sold on our streets in Canada than any other ethnic individuals. They're vulnerable. I think what we need to do is spend more time and more resources on healing. They don't want to see counsellors all the time, but they want to have better lives. That ability to move ahead is the best healing for any women, or anybody, really.

We need to set up our bonds or whatever we're looking at doing. We need to get our business involved. We need to get our community involved, because this committee that we have set up, if our proposal is accepted, is going to bring business, and they're not getting anything. Their investment is their time and their expertise, so we need to invest.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent, all. Thank you so much.

We're now going to move over to Mark Serré for seven minutes.