End of May and beginning of June 2010
National Summit on a People-Centred Economy in 2010
Université Carleton, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

In 2008, several networks and organizations began to discuss the possibility of holding a National Summit on a People-Centred Economy in 2010. Building a people-centred economy has long been at the heart of cooperative, credit union, social economy and community economic development (CED) movements, along with a broad swath of the non-profit world. All these sectors grew out of the historical struggle against want, impoverishment and deep inequalities.

The global financial and economic downturn, combined with energy, food and water security issues in the context of climate change and increasing petroleum scarcity, highlight the local and global imperative to find ways of integrating social and environmental goals into a triple bottom line covenant to build a sustainable future.

Citizen-led innovation employs a wide range of tools and strategies. New financing instruments for non-profits and social enterprises; a new wave of co-operative creation including multistakeholder co-operatives forging innovative solutions across a range social and economic sectors; tailored approaches to integrating high risk populations into jobs through enterprises that combine earned revenue with progressive private and public funding sources; co-operatives and non-profit projects that increase housing affordability, community based renewable energy projects and carbon reduction and energy savings strategies; and comprehensive community based approaches to community revitalization and poverty reduction; these are a few of the arenas of innovation.

To scale up the capacity for social innovation, as well as extend exemplary practices and models already proven, remains an area where investment is urgently needed. Building on what is working seems common sense, yet scaling up success does not receive enough attention from most public authorities. As a result, resources directly relevant to enhancing the resilience of citizens and communities remain grossly underutilized.

Simultaneously, the 5-year National Social Economy Research Partnerships is completing its term in 2010, having mobilized hundreds of academics, students and community partners in all regions of the country. A selection of the lessons and findings from this work will be of benefit to practitioners and policy makers alike.

Members of the National Summit Steering Group (as of November 2009)

The following networks/organizations are currently engaged in the national steering group:

  • Canadian Community Economic Development Network
  • Canadian Co-operative Association
  • Chantier de l’économie sociale
  • Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships
  • Causeway
  • The Social Enterprise Council of Canada
  • Enterprising Non-Profits
  • Canadian Centre for Community Renewal
  • Women’s Economic Council
  • BC-Alberta Research Alliance on the Social Economy


The process leading up to and including the 2010 National Summit seeks to strengthen the foundations for a broadly based movement. It involves deepening relationships, weaving together the actors committed to building an economy that is ecologically, socially and economically vibrant and responsible. The outcomes generated by this process will be:

1. Mobilization of networks and organizations to strengthen the relationships and cohesion among actors committed to constructing a triple bottom line, people centred economy, including defined priorities to guide movement actors, researchers and partners to invest more strategically, particularly in scaling up what works and strengthening the movement infrastructure required for expansion.

2. Increased awareness by politicians, policy makers, non-governmental sector leaders and the mainstream media of the strategic innovation, mobilizing and problem solving capacity and potential of this emerging movement.

3. A showcase of the best research evidence from the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships relevant to the major summit themes, and strategic discussion of an ongoing research agenda will be advanced.

4. Discussion and development of public policy priorities for action by federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions will be facilitated based on analysis of what is working, in Canada and in other OECD countries.

5. An Action Plan for Summit follow up, identifying next steps for key priorities.


A Preparatory Process that Coalesces in the National Summit The national summit will be the converging point for preparatory engagement processes designed to actively involve constituencies and possibly government policy makers. Some ideas being considered include:

1. Mobilization activities enlisting regional players in each constituency to convene preparatory events to discuss issue papers and proposals for action.

2. Designing and organizing one or more study tours that target municipal, provincial and federal policy makers to one or more jurisdictions where policy innovation is yielding results in Canada (Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and, more recently Ontario).

An Integrated Summit Design The National Summit will be designed by the Summit Steering Group, to create a process that will build consensus for action on key priorities, while reaching the outcomes identified above:

1. A portion of the summit (such as a well known keynote speaker) could be made free to the public to draw in a larger audience.

2. A closed ‘Government Dialogue’ event could specifically deal with challenges faced by government officials and share lessons across departments and jurisdictions

3. Dates that dovetail with the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER)/ Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) meetings at Congress in Montréal later that same week. This means that the Summit will be held at the end of May and beginning of June 2010 in Ottawa.