Social Impact Bonds

Learn about ideas being considered for the Social Impact Bond pilot project and how they could help find solutions to pressing social challenges.

An innovative social impact tool

Social Impact Bonds are an innovative social policy tool that bring together different groups — governments, corporations, private investors, foundations, service providers and social enterprises — to deliver effective and prevention-focused solutions to the toughest issues facing communities.

Private investment is used to finance interventions upfront, which are delivered by social service providers with proven track records. If agreed-upon social outcomes and cost savings are achieved then financial returns are paid to investors out of the savings realized by government.

Robust performance monitoring and an evaluation system with interim reporting will ensure that these projects will remain on track to deliver good results for Ontarians.

Social Impact Bonds do not replace current government funding or existing programs that Ontarians rely upon. Their aim is to allow the government to explore innovative policy solutions while minimizing financial risk and delivering better outcomes for people.

About the pilot program

In the context of its Social Enterprise Strategy and Poverty Reduction Strategy,  the government will pilot one or more Social Impact Bond(s) in Ontario.

In 2014, 83 individuals and organizations, such as non-profits and municipalities, submitted proposals for Social Impact Bonds to address one or more of the following high-priority social policy challenges:

  1. housing and homelessness
  2. youth at risk
  3. improving employment opportunities for persons facing barriers

Short-listed ideas

Through a rigorous evaluation process, the Province has short-listed four high-potential ideas for Social Impact Bonds. These ideas are under review, and require further testing, business case development and validation with potential partners to confirm their viability as Social Impact Bond pilots. Not all short-listed ideas will necessarily proceed to the piloting stage.

YOUCAN (Ottawa)

The Social Impact Bond idea proposed by YOUCAN intends to decrease future days of incarceration by up to 50% for more than 500 participating young adults in Ottawa that have recently been imprisoned, or are currently in closed custody.

The proposed program would be conducted over five years.

Anticipated social and economic benefits

  • Increase employability and educational progress of participants
  • Increase safety in the local community from reduced crime
  • Increase time outside of prison to help young adults focus on their economic and social development
  • Decrease the likelihood of a continued path for repeated criminal behaviour into adulthood
  • Reduce cost for all levels of government due to fewer incarcerations

About the organization

YOUCAN is a non-profit organization that provides mentoring services, such as conflict management and violence prevention, to young people. It operates in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton.

Mainstay Housing (Toronto)

The Social Impact Bond idea proposed by Mainstay Housing intends to provide stable housing and intensive support to 100 chronically homeless individuals.

The program focuses on individuals struggling with mental illness who have been homeless for five years or more. Mainstay’s SIB proposal would use best practices from the Housing First model. The model means to improve the efficiency of the existing social-housing stock to serve homeless people who are often the most difficult to house.

To help tenants stabilize and transition from intensive site support to moderate support while retaining their tenancy rights, the proposed program would involve:

  • two years of intensive, customized, on-site support
  • a one-year period to help participants move to a more sustainable level of care within the community in the longer-term

Anticipated social and economic benefits

  • Improve housing stability and quality of life for all participants in the pilot
  • Improve access to public services and benefits (e.g.: primary healthcare provider)
  • Improve mental and physical health
  • Reduce emergency healthcare use (e.g.: Emergency Room visits, ambulance rides)
  • Reduce contact with criminal justice system (e.g.: arrests, police interactions)
  • Reduce use of emergency shelters

About the organization

Mainstay Housing is the largest non-profit organization that provides housing to survivors of mental illness and addiction, in Ontario. It has a long-standing commitment to innovative approaches that address the poverty, homelessness and stigma experienced by people living with serious mental illness and addictions issues.

Confederation College (Northwestern Ontario)

The Social Impact Bond idea proposed by Confederation College aims to improve employment for more than 2,100 unemployed or underemployed individuals in northwestern Ontario. It involves a learning solution centered on the client, enabled by technology, cost-effective and accessible to people living in remote communities. It is based on collaboration with major employers in northwestern Ontario (e.g.: in the Ring of Fire), to identify their needs, and to make the transition into employment easier for participants.

The program focuses on:

  • young people aged 18-29 who are considered at-risk
  • First Nations peoples
  • people experiencing barriers to employment

Anticipated social and economic benefits

  • Enhance participants’ employability and labour market-attachment
  • Build stronger and more sustainable northern communities, while leveraging Ontario’s investments in the development of the “Ring of Fire” region
  • Reduce expenditures on social assistance

About the organization

Confederation College has nine campuses located throughout northwestern Ontario. It delivers education services to 3,400 full-time and 5,400 part-time students and delivers community-based training services, often in collaboration with community agencies and First Nations partners.

The RAFT (Niagara)

The Social Impact Bond idea proposed by the RAFT targets over 900 at-risk young people, primarily in underserved rural areas surrounding Haldimand-Norfolk County, Niagara Region and Hamilton, to increase high school graduation rates and improve key employment and social outcomes. 

With the support of community partners, the proposed program will focus on helping young people make healthy lifestyle choices, while acquiring the necessary social, emotional and educational skills they need to become independent and self-sufficient members of the community.

Anticipated social and economic benefits

  • Provide safe, stable housing to young people who are considered at-risk
  • Improve high school graduation rates (e.g.: pilot participants to achieve the provincial average high school graduation rate of 83%. The current rate is 55%)
  • Help young people develop enhanced life skills and use them to make good choices
  • Increase savings by reducing the use of emergency shelter

About the organization

Niagara Resource Service for Youth (“The RAFT”) is a non-profit agency that offers programming to help young people considered at-risk access appropriate housing and related social supports, while staying in school.

Next steps

One or more high-potential idea(s) to pilot Social Impact Bonds will be selected based on their viability.

Not all ideas will necessarily proceed to the piloting stage.


Please email us.

Updated: July 9, 2015