Report of Client Discussions on Social Assistance Reform

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The 2013 Ontario Budget contained some initial steps for reforming social assistance. The budget also notes that the government is committed to starting “discussions with recipients, municipalities, delivery partners and others to set priorities and work through the choices required for transformation”.
As part of this initiative, the Ministry of Community and Social Services wished to hear directly from both Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program clients. Clients have a unique and highly valuable perspective on what is and is not working in the system.
Over the summer and fall months of 2013, the Public Policy Forum conducted a series of half-day discussion sessions with clients, on behalf of the Ministry—particularly regarding employment. These sessions were held in 10 cities across the province. Clients were encouraged to draw on their personal experiences to identify and propose ways to reform the system. This paper summarizes the findings from those client discussions and, in the process, provides a unique perspective on social assistance and the pathway to employment.
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Employment-Focused Roundtables: Summary Report

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In October 2012, the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario published its final report, Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario. Between January and May 2013, the Ministry of Community and Social Services held six roundtable meetings in Toronto with a group of some 30 stakeholders and clients from across the social assistance and disability communities to hear their perspectives on employment services and to discuss with them the options for reform. This report provides an overview of the process and a summary of key points and ideas discussed.
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Healing Through Collaboration

This study looks at the Government of Nunavut’s Poverty Reduction process, a remarkable, year-long process that engaged some 800 of Nunavut’s 33,000 people, across the territory. The process resulted in recommendations in eight key areas, including the creation of a new kind of collaborative organization to lead community engagement on poverty reduction.
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Rescuing Policy: The Case for Public Engagement

This book argues that public engagement is the right response to the rise of the consumer model of politics and the crisis that it has created in public policy. The book is an authoritative and accessible guide to collaborative policy-making and the engagement processes that support it. With original case studies, this book will be of interest to students of government and governance from across the policy community.

This book draws on the findings of the Public Engagement Project, a two-year initiative involving seven provincial/territorial governments – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut – the Canada School of Public Service, the City of Hamilton and the Government of Australia.

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Praise for “Rescuing Policy”

“Governments work best when they include people in the decisions that touch their lives. Lenihan’s work provides a thoughtful analysis of the factors that influence those decisions, and draws a roadmap toward new models of citizen engagement.”
Hon. David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
“A great read and a reminder why I come to work each day…”
Chris Murray, City Manager, City of Hamilton
“…a must-read, particularly for the skeptics, who still think of engagement as utopia. It can be done, and Lenihan shows us how.”
Graham Fox, President and CEO, Institute for Research on Public Policy
“This book gives me hope that our elected governments really can work with the public to find sustainable solutions to the complex public policy issues of our generation”
Penny Ballem, City Manager, Vancouver
“Governments need to find new ways to restore confidence and generate new processes. Public engagement may just be the answer.”
Lynelle Briggs, Former CEO, Medicare Australia
“Lenihan delivers a sharp and telling critique of the shortcomings of contemporary policy-making… He also proposes a provocative way out…”
Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister, Consumer Services, Government of Ontario
“Don Lenihan sets out a blueprint for a new open-source democracy which is an ambitious call to action for citizens, elected officials, and policy leaders…”
Nik Nanos, President & CEO, Nanos Research
“…a persuasive and very readable book that makes a compelling case for public engagement…”
David Zussman, Jarislowsky Chair in Public Management, University of Ottawa
“This work…provides a valuable contribution to our discussions on effectively engaging citizens in the public policy process.”
Brian Manning, Former Deputy Minister of Executive Council, Government of Alberta
“…an important analysis of the challenges facing policy makers in an increasingly complex and interconnected world…”
Hon. John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services, Government of Ontario
“Rescuing Policy shines a much needed light on the damage “consumer politics” is having on Canadian society and offers an exciting alternative to realize the potential and promise of our communities.”
Karen Farbridge, Mayor, City of Guelph
“Don Lenihan accurately frames the emerging challenges confronting policy-makers created by changing demographics and expectations among citizens. There is growing need to rethink how government engages the public, and Lenihan’s ideas are part of the solution.”
David Eaves, Blogger and Public Policy Entrepreneur

Building a Strategic Design Capacity for Co-Design

This paper serves as the final report on the Australian Government’s Co-Design Community Engagement Prototype, a project that involved the federal government, the State of Victoria, 9 communities in Victoria, community service providers and residents, in 9 separate dialogue processes aimed at aligning services.
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The Canadian Sport Policy Renewal Process

This roundtable series, which was part of the Canadian Sport Policy Renewal Process, brought together federal, provincial and municipal officials as well as sport and community leaders to determine whether a policy framework could be created that includes community-building but leaves the core business of sport unchanged.
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Co-Design: Toward A New Service Vision For Australia?

The article, co-written by Don Lenihan and the former CEO of Medicare Australia, Lynelle Briggs, begins by examining the evolution of service delivery in Canada and Australia. It goes on to consider and compare the Forum’s work on public engagement and Medicare Australia’s work on co-design and how these may be leading to a new approach to service delivery in Australia.
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Rethinking the Public Policy Process

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Working with 9 provincial and territorial governments through the Public Engagement Project, the Forum developed a Framework Paper that explains what public engagement processes are, why we need them, how they work, and some of the special issues, challenges and opportunities they pose for governments.