A group representing voluntary and non-profit organizations in the province is touring the province speaking with representatives from local groups.
Penelope Rowe, chief executive officer with the Community Sector Council (CCS) of Newfoundland and Labrador, said they’re working on an action plan for the provincial government as part of its Way Forward strategy.
Rowe said last spring the province started to identify what they call industry sectors, such as mining, forestry, and technical industries. They also announced they were going to conceptualize the community sector as an industry sector.
Now, the CCS, in partnership with the province, is working on a plan looking at ways to increase the overall capacity of the sector, by reducing barriers, looking at what the challenges are and talking about what the solutions could be.
“It’s not about what government can do for us, or what we can do for government, it’s about what can we do together,” she said. “The way this process is working, we’re going through consultations, conducting research, looking to see what we don’t know.”
Rowe said when they talk about the community sector they’re talking about organizations that provide a whole array of services, be it golf clubs, skiing clubs, senior or social services, groups that sponsor heritage events, essentially any organization that is a non-profit.
“We see it as a sector that’s quite distinct from the public sector, government, and the private sector, business,” she said. “We see the province broken up into these three sectors.
“Typically people look at non-profit organizations by the mission they have. What we’re trying to do now is get a much more clear picture of how these organizations, outside of the social or cultural purpose they might have, how they actually contribute to the economy in the province.”
Rowe said a few years ago the CSS did a study with 45 organizations in the St. John’s area and discovered those groups collectively had revenue of $60 million in a 12-month period and employed, directly and indirectly, over 1,200 people.
When these organizations provide services they buy what they need from local businesses as well, she said, adding further economic value. It’s estimated 20,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador are employed in the community sector, Rowe noted.
“That would make us the biggest industry employer in the province,” she said. “So if we can optimize that by working together and create more jobs, then why not? We know there’s red tape, we know there are struggles.”
She said many times to access funding, organizations may have to adjust and shape themselves to what the government is looking for. One of the things they hope to have come out of these consultations is a better way to work together on funding and overall economic capacity.
After the consultations they will come up with the action plan, which will then go to the premier and then will be released in a summit. She said the provincial government has been very enthusiastic throughout the process and that she doesn’t know of anywhere else that the non-profit sector is working so well with government.
The engagement session for Labrador West is happening on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Wabush from 6:15-9:30 p.m. The Happy Valley-Goose Bay session is being held on Friday, Nov. 16 at Hotel North 2 from 9 a.m. to noon. Rowe said they would like to speak to people from any community sector organizations in the area.