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public Policy : why it matters, what IT’s about, and how to advocate

public Policy : why it matters, what IT’s about, and how to advocate

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public Policy : why it matters, what IT’s about, and how to advocate

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  1. public Policy: why it matters, what IT’s about, and how to advocate Address to “Searching for Home: A National Forum” By the Canadian Association for Community Living & BCACL Vancouver, January 26, 2012

  2. So, Why does policy matter? • Public policies are never neutral or universal • Policies always connect to particular interests and groups of people, certain ideas and values, and specific organizations • Policies interact with each other, often in ways unintended or unappreciated by decision makers • Policies have positive and negative effects, rights and wrongs, opportunities and obstacles

  3. And, policy matters because • Determine programs and services that affect the material living conditions of individuals, families, groups • Contribute to the formation of identities of people as dependent or deserving or not • Shape relationships between people in terms of inclusion/exclusion, or respect/stigma • Structure clientele as a potential basis for political awareness, debate, and action

  4. what is policy? • Courses of action or inactions by public authorities • Made by governments: federal, provincial, municipal, Aboriginal • And made by public sector agencies in education, health, housing, social services • Existing policies may act as enablers or barriers • The absence of policy can also have positive or negative consequences

  5. Core Elements of policy • People: citizens, officials, neighbourhoods, communities • Purposes: a position, goals, objectives, intentions, claims, hopes, expectations • Procedures: ways and means of designing, delivering programs and laws • Products: income benefits, services, supports, rights and responsibilities, words and symbols • Power: roles of authority, ideas of legitimacy, and relations of advocacy and influence

  6. Housing policy • People: people with intellectual disabilities, families, and friends • Purposes: “real homes” with “real choice” on where and with whom they live, housing control and safety • Procedures: financing, planning, land use and zoning • Products: social housing, cooperatives, group homes, home ownership, and housing supports and services • Power: roles of all levels of government, non-profits, private developers, banks and other financial institutions

  7. Current policy and political context in Canada • Deficit reduction agendas for most provinces and the federal government: emphasis on greater efficiencies in delivering policies and programs • Financial constraints on city governments and other municipalities • Devolution of most housing policy by the federal government to the provinces • “Advocacy chill” – the lack of resources to community groups to undertake policy research and engagement in policy processes; the active discouragement of advocacy by governments

  8. Policy analysis • A practical social activity concerned with: • Developing and gathering knowledge of various kinds about issues, groups, programs and gaps between needs and results • Consulting and working with other agencies and community groups • Creating ideas and recommendations on desired policy directions and preferred program reforms • Responding to government plans, announcements and inactions

  9. Policy advocacy • Helping public policy ideas make their way into public awareness, general acceptance, and implementation by governments and other organizations • Speaking up and out about what: • governments and other public authorities are doing, or not doing • the public sector and other sectors should do, when, and how • governments or public organizations should stop doing

  10. Policy analysis & advocacy • Both are part of the character of political citizenship • Applied activities in building relationships, decision making • About making commitments and being involved and knowing when to walk away from a process or issue • Practising democratic politics • Exercising human rights and duties

  11. Disability-related policy analysis and advocacy in Canada

  12. Some Reflections • Policy is about people and their lives • Policy analysis and advocacy (individual, issue, policy or systemic) are democratic politics • Disability groups face challenges in doing policy development and policy advocacy work • Alliances and coalitions are important strategies • Recent successes in some policy making and advocacy campaigns • UN Convention offers principles, a language to talk about issues, and obligations on states to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities

  13. Some reflections • Search for a real home is: • a personal dream • a practical need • a public interest • Housing policy is: • social policy • economic policy • disability policy

  14. Possible directions • Federal role will likely be modest • Recent federal action was time-limited for 2 years • Perhaps advocate for another affordable housing initiative by Ottawa with cost-sharing with the provinces and territories targeted to low-income households who include a persons with a disability • Main focus on provincial governments and their housing agencies • Place of housing in poverty reduction strategies of provinces with such strategies

  15. Questions to ask of any housing policy • Who does this policy (program of proposal) affect? • From where does this policy get its justification? What specific kind of reasoning is a government using? • How are individuals, families and neighbourhoods included, supported, and empowered in the policy development processes? • How does this policy enable people to express their skills, and capacities, to have real choice and inclusion? • How is the experience and knowledge of people with disabilities valued and incorporated into decision making?

  16. Your Comments, ideas.... Thank you! Michael J. Prince Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy University of Victoria mprince@uvic.ca