Manitoba Announces First Social Impact Bond

Doula Project Aims to Strengthen Bonds Between Indigenous Mothers and Infants and Reduce the Number of Days Infants Spend in Care: Stefanson

The Manitoba government has entered a partnership with the Southern First Nations Network of Care (SFNNC) to deliver the province’s first-ever Social Impact Bond (SIB), Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“We want to help strengthen the bond between mothers and children to reduce the number of infants apprehended into the child welfare system,” said Stefanson. “Social impact bonds are an innovative way for government to work together with the private sector and community groups to find new solutions to pressing social challenges. Our landmark SIB in child welfare encourages a multi-sector relationship to meet a common goal of preventing the apprehension of infants and reducing the amount of time children spend in care.”

The two-year pilot project, Restoring the Sacred Bond, will match doulas with Indigenous mothers who are at risk of having their infant apprehended into the child welfare system.

“The Indigenous doulas will support those mothers through pregnancy, birth and the first months of their children’s lives,” said Tara Petti, chief executive officer of SFNNC. “The program will seek to reduce the number of infants apprehended in the days and months after birth – an event far too common in Manitoba today. We will continue to work closely with the non-profit agency Until the Last Child to create a strong foundation for this project, as they share our goal of long term stable outcomes for children in care.”

The doula pilot will support up to 200 at-risk expectant mothers. SFNNC will lead the project and work with the doula service provider, Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag, to identify expectant mothers who may not have resources to effectively parent their baby. These mothers will then be connected to doulas, who are women trained to help with childbirth and early care.

“We will identify and take referrals of expectant mothers across southern Manitoba and connect them with a doula to provide support before, during and after the birth of her child for up to one year,” said Jolene Mercer of Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag. “Part of the process will help the mother reconnect with traditional cultural practices and strengthen her support system.”

Program success will be measured on reduced days in care of children in the program compared to children outside the program.

“Our Indigenous grandmothers (Nokoomuk) have taught us that the soul of sovereignty lies in birthing,” said Jerry Daniels, Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization. “Restoring the Sacred Bond is a very important first step towards this end.”

SIBs rely on private investors to fund projects and government will repay investors if the project meets targeted outcomes proven through a third-party validation process. The province has budgeted up to $3 million for investor repayment if the SIB reaches success on its key metrics. The province has also worked with leading Canadian social finance consultant MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to guide its SIB strategy, and MaRS will work with the Southern Network to identify and secure private investors for the project.

“The Southern Network and Manitoba have a long history of working together on child welfare in the province,” said Adam Jagelewski, Executive Lead of the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. “This new model puts mothers and their needs first, reframing the partnership to customize supports and incentivize results. It’s fitting that the landmark SIB is an Indigenous designed and led program, a made-in-Manitoba partnership that holds significant potential.”

The project is now open for investment and investors may or visit for more information.

While this is the province’s first SIB, the minister noted the Manitoba government will proceed with submissions in other areas of government in the coming months.

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The Province of Manitoba is distributing this release on behalf of the government of Manitoba and the Southern First Nations Network of Care.

For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.

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