City of Toronto increases opportunities for small businesses through Poverty Reduction Strategy

This morning, Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale) announced the City of Toronto will be making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit companies that do social good, such as provide jobs and training to marginalized youth, to compete for City contracts and City business.

"The best way to help people out of poverty is a good, secure job. By providing the tools and resources for businesses who give back to our community to compete for City business we are maximizing the benefit to the public from public dollars," said Mayor Tory. "We’ve set ambitious goals to ensure more small businesses work with us and I am here urging businesses across the city to sign up so we can create jobs and opportunity for those who need it most.”

The Social Procurement Program was approved by Toronto City Council as part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy and will be launching an outreach campaign this fall with the goal of encouraging businesses to become eligible social procurement providers. By 2018, the City is aiming to ensure one-third of all procurement contracts over $5 million in value and 25 per cent of all direct suppliers have or are incorporating community benefits into their business with the City.

"Toronto residents, businesses and communities will all benefit from the Social Procurement Program," said Deputy Mayor McConnell. "Residents living in poverty will gain skills and work experience from workforce development opportunities. This provides a more qualified and productive workforce for businesses to hire from and will increase access to good jobs as envisioned in Toronto's Poverty Reduction Strategy.”

The Social Procurement Program will create jobs and drive economic growth by:

  • increasing the diversity of companies the City does business with by providing small and medium-sized businesses owned by diverse suppliers and non-profit companies with mandates to do social good with an equal chance to compete for City contracts
  • encouraging companies already doing business with the City to work with diverse suppliers and suppliers who provide community benefits and
  • increasing the number of employment, apprenticeship and training opportunities for those living in poverty, newcomers and young people.

Mayor Tory and Deputy Mayor McConnell kicked off the program by touring the Aboriginal Printing Corporation. As part of a social procurement pilot program, Black & Veatch, an engineering and construction company working on contract to the City on large water infrastructure projects, sub-contracted their printing needs to the Aboriginal Printing Corporation.

"Internationally our company has responded to many requests for proposals with social procurement and workforce development requirements," said Sean Partington, Project Manager, Black & Veatch. "It was encouraging to see these requirements in a call from the City which led to cost-savings, access to diverse suppliers and an entire community of potential new hires."

Other examples of successful social procurement projects include:

  • Regent Park Revitalization, which employed over 570 local residents
  • development of 1652 Keele Street Hub where 10 local youth were hired as apprentices to build a youth centre
  • Waterfront Toronto Employment Initiative, which connects residents to employment and training opportunities generated by waterfront revitalization projects

Toronto businesses and non-profit companies can be certified as diverse suppliers through the following organizations: Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, WBE Canada, Certified Women Business Enterprises, Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Social Purchasing Project.   

The City's Social Procurement Program is part of Toronto's Poverty Reduction Strategy. In the 2016 budget, the City invested over $100 million to fight poverty and help its most vulnerable residents. Poverty reduction initiatives include providing student nutrition programs for children, expanding homemaker and nurses programs for seniors in long-term care, keeping libraries open longer on the weekends, and providing young people and single parents access to good jobs.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy is known as TO Prosperity. Through this 20-year plan, Toronto is addressing issues, creating solutions and driving systemic change in an effort to create a city where everyone has access to good jobs, adequate income, stable housing, affordable transportation, nutritious food and supportive services. Visit to see how the City is working toward that vision.


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