Broad New Horizons: Symposium 2022 Recap

Oct 31st, 2022

The theme of the 2022 Buy Social Canada Symposium of ‘Broad New Horizons’ beautifully encapsulates the breadth and energy of this year’s event. We heard from social enterprises, diverse suppliers, corporations, institutions, federal and local government and intermediaries of various sizes from across Canada, all working on social procurement.

Thank you to everyone who joined us. This work is critical as we collaborate to create regenerative economies and community capital. We are grateful to all the passionate speakers, sponsors, and participants.

With five engaging discussions and panels during the half day symposium event, with speakers from Vancouver all the way to St. John’s, there are several key highlights we’d like to share.


Almost every speaker highlighted the importance of storytelling for all players in the ecosystem – for suppliers to demonstrate value add and impact, for purchasers to create buy in and culture change, and for intermediaries to advocate for increased social procurement practices in their networks.

Measurement and reporting

As a developing movement, many speakers flagged that reporting and measurement are becoming an increasingly important part of a healthy, successful social procurement practice. In addition to an entire panel dedicated to cultivating a strong reporting practice, speakers throughout the event shared why they are tracking key metrics and using the information to remain accountable to community and continuously learn and iterate their practices.


As social procurement and social enterprise spreads throughout Canada, relationships between all parties play a key role. Intermediaries share information and updates and build relationships that enable people to share and take advantage of opportunities, purchasers and suppliers build relationships that help each other understand what the other needs for success, and how they can co-create tools and practices that help everyone achieve their social value goals.


In many ways collaboration both requires relationship building and comes out of building relationships. In almost every conversation throughout the Symposium, panelists raised the importance of working groups and engagements with both internal and external stakeholders as a key role in their work and implementation of social procurement and social enterprise practices.

Speakers had some key word of wisdom and advice.

We understand the power we have within the marketplace for individual businesses and communities and want to ensure that we have the impact we want to achieve through the Social Procurement Policy.

Register on Canada Buys, engage with Procurement Assistance Canada. There are offices across Canada waiting to hear from suppliers and intermediaries on what we can do to be successful.

“We all are on this journey together in terms of achieving these outcomes.”

– Mollie Royds, Public Services and Procurement Canada

For purchasers, think about accessibility and your processes for procurement. “If it’s not accessible then it’s really hard to be successful.”

Be open to dialogue, how are we trying to achieve this together? Through dialogue, relationship, and collaboration.

– Michelle Lackie, Exchange Inner City

“Don’t be afraid to identify a need to recalibrate and reset, and to search out and ask for help to get unstuck.”

When you’re trying to do true collaboration and co-creation, there has to be humility around the table.

– Jonathan Hildebrand, City of Winnipeg

Stay true to the values of your organization and present those as key to your success to differentiate from your competition. Don’t assume that people will “just get” the added social impact of doing business with you. Share impact, share it often.

– Breannah Flynn, First Light

“Do your research, talk to others, build your business case and obtain buy in from senior leadership.”

Stay engaged and communicate your successes. It’s not a straight line, treat mistakes as an opportunity to learn.

– Lisa Myre, University of Toronto

“Know what’s driving your journey, this is going to help you stay the course.”

It’s not a start to finish, you’ll do one part of the line, and then you’ll learn and have new ideas. “Go in with an open mind and be an active listener,” when working with others.

– Rachel Orser, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

You can’t go backwards and get more finite data. Collect all the data you can and then report out the aggregate information.

– Chase Smith, City of Calgary

Make sure what you’re measuring is meaningful, and then when you start measurement, “what gets measured gets done.”

– Kristi Fairholm Mader, British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative

Congratulations again to the Unnamed Public Servants, York University and CleanStart Property Services for your recognition as Social Procurement Champions. Learn more about their work.

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