Local Initiatives Program (LIP)

The Local Initiatives Program or LIP was a federal program established by the Liberal government in 1971 to provide grants to a variety of community and cultural projects. The program was billed as part of the Pierre Trudeau’s effort to create a “Just Society.” LIP grants were intended to create jobs, especially in areas where de-industrialization had left many people unemployed.

From its beginning the LIP grants were highly controversial and the ruling Liberals were attacked by many conservatives who felt the program was wasteful and who were upset that the money might fund “radical” organizations. The federal government responded to these complaints by cutting its LIP spending each year until it was eventually discontinued in 1977 and replaced by the Canada Works program.

In Toronto LIP grants were provided to fund food co-ops, library access projects, and anti-poverty activities. LIP grants also funded The Women’s Press, a socialist publishing house devoted to women’s liberation, and Kids Can Press – a publishing collective dedicated to racial diversity and feminism in children’s literature.

Another very significant LIP grant provided funding for Downtown Community Television – a documentary initiative centred around Cable TV that attempted to cover news stories overlooked or neglected by mainstream TV outlets.

The east of downtown area of Toronto then known as Ward 7 had high rates of unemployment and poverty, and community groups in Ward 7 received a significant number of the LIP grants. Many local organizations were initially funded or kept alive through LIP funding. Seven News, for example, applied for and received several LIP grants during the early 1970s and began to struggle after LIP funding was no longer available.

Related Reading:
Donald E. Blake, "LIP and Partisanship: An Analysis of the Local Initiatives Program" Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques, Vol 1 no. 1 (Winter 1976)
Sixteen Local Initiative Projects approved (see p. 5)
30 Local Initiative Projects approved for Ward Seven (see P. 1)
Local Initiative project helps Riverdale women (see p. 4)
Local Initiative funds drying up (see p. 5)
He who pays the piper...