A Federal Government - Voluntary Sector Accord: Implications for Canada's Voluntary Sector


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Making the Most of the Accord for the Voluntary Sector

Phase III: Monitoring, Reporting and Compliance

The stage of monitoring and reporting on how well government departments and voluntary organizations are adhering to the accord and codes of good practice, and promoting compliance requires the creation of more permanent machinery. As experience elsewhere has demonstrated, several mechanisms are required for effective monitoring and compliance: None of the existing agreements have yet developed a satisfactory, visible mechanism for registering complaints, although such a process is in the process of evolving. As noted above, the JAT may wish to consider in advance how the process might work for dealing with complaints about practices of both government departments and voluntary organizations.

What kinds of complaints are likely to arise? In the UK, the issues that have been brought forward by the sector to date relate to funding practices (in this case by the Department of Health) and were quite quickly addressed. In the Canadian context, issues related to both funding and consultation can be expected to arise as these are the areas in which government practices most directly impact the everyday activities of voluntary organizations.

In proposing an accord in the first place, the Joint Tables' Working Together report suggested that it should be 'evergreen,' that is capable of evolving as the relationship matures. As a framework agreement, an accord should have sufficient inherent flexibility to allow such natural evolution, but the JAT might want to consider incorporating a more formal provision in the accord for periodic joint review, say every five years.

The final consideration in the ongoing monitoring process is managing expectations. Knowledge about the accord will take time to be diffused throughout the sector, and relationships and practices will not be changed overnight. Nor can the accord alone change the relationship. If the first annual report or two do not yet show major changes, the accord should not be regarded as a failure. A important role of the sector's leadership in this stage will be to continue to build knowledge and support for the accord, but also to prevent overly optimistic expectations from derailing the change that is likely to unfold over time.

Notes

22. In England, this unit is the Active Communities Unit which, although housed in the Home Office, is established under not only the Minister responsible for the Home Office, but the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office as well. In Scotland, the unit was centrally placed in the Scottish Executive, but has recently moved to a Social Justice portfolio. Quebec has created the Secrétariat à l'Action Communautaire autonome du Québec (SACA) with an extensive mandate for coordination to lead implementation.


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