A Scotland – Canada Partnership

The New Scotland – Canada Social Enterprise Partnership

By Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North

In February, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP announced a landmark international agreement to grow and sustain social enterprises in Scotland and Canada.

The Social Enterprise Academy, which provides learning and development for the sector in Scotland, has now launched a partnership with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, supported by Toronto’s Learning Enrichment Foundation and the SNP Government.

Image by K Gibson

Scotland and Canada are both globally renowned leaders in social enterprise and this collaboration will allow expertise and skills to be shared to help more businesses focus on creating positive change by reinvesting profits and finding innovative new business models.

In Scotland, social enterprise has already been advanced and developed through initiatives, such as our ten-year Social Enterprise Strategy, hosting the Social Enterprise World Forum, and funding for specialist social enterprises support service.

Of course, Scotland and Canada have deep historic, familial and cultural links, having exchanged ideas and innovations for centuries, with many Scots settling there. Islanders will be aware of its links due to the Highland clearances which impacted on Arran most severely between 1829 and 1840. More than 300 Arran islanders settled in Megantic County, Quebec. The largest group, more than 400, went to Dalhousie, New Brunswick to be pioneer settlers of the Restigouche-Bay Chaleur District. “Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is highland.” (A chlann eilean mo ghaoil bithibh dileas d’a cheile)

Today, Canada is one of Scotland’s biggest inward investors, with around 6,000 jobs provided directly by 50 Canadian companies in Scotland. Canada has also consistently been a top 20 export partner for Scotland, with exports of goods and services totalling £580 million in 2017.

This exciting new partnership will allow Scotland and Canada to exchange knowledge and promote business models that contribute to the common good, allowing us take further steps to improve the lives of those in our countries and further afield.

The announcement of this partnership came during the First Minister’s two day visit to Canada, made to strengthen business links between the two countries. During the trip she undertook trade and culture engagements, including opening trade at the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and opening the SNP Government’s new investment and innovation office in Ottawa. Its role will be to encourage investment between businesses in both countries and promote Scotland.

The First Minister also hosted a Scotland is Now reception in Ottawa to officially launch the new office and Scotland’s global marketing campaign to a Canadian audience for the first time.

As Brexit looms, threatening our economy, it is more important than ever to reassure our international partners that Scotland remains open for business and is an attractive place in which to invest, work, study and visit.