Good jobs, business the focus of mayor’s speech

Good jobs, business the focus of mayor’s speech

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps spoke to businesses during the chamber’s annual meeting

Tim Collins


When Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps took the podium as the keynote speaker at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting Wednesday, she did so with one message in mind — good jobs plus good business equals better community and the increased well-being of all residents.

The concept is central to the Action Plan on Social Procurement and Social Enterprise announced in March and was the culmination of more than six months of collaborative effort by the mayor’s task force of the same name. The action plan laid out strategies to help employ and advantage those marginalized members of the community who have difficulty finding employment.

“With support, you may be able to hire marginalized people who you may not be able to hire without those supports,” Helps said, adding that sometimes the best social program is a job.

The meeting of the chamber was the mayor’s opportunity to drive the message home to the city’s business community and she did so with a personal conviction borne out of both exhaustive study of the issues and a personal conviction in the efficaciousness of her plan.

“This plan will work. It has worked in the U.K., in Scotland and elsewhere. What we need to do is to commit to making it work and then make it happen,” said Helps, adding it comes down to a need for the business community to embrace the plan in order for it to be successful.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the problems…about poverty…and we need to change that narrative. Let’s stop talking about poverty and start talking about prosperity and how we ensure that everyone has the opportunities to achieve that prosperity.”

She emphasized the need for businesses to adopt social enterprise development as part of their business models, and finding ways of doing business with community benefit in mind.

The key, said Helps, is largely attitudinal. She emphasized the need to believe in the plan and move from an attitude of “we’ll try” to an attitude of “we will”.

“We need to change our thinking about social responsibility in the 21st century,” said Helps. Once we do that, everything is possible and we can build better communities and a better city.”

The mayor’s speech was described by several of the business leaders in attendance as “inspiring” and a positive message everyone in the room should take seriously.