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


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Learning from Experience, Respecting Differences

The primary experience from which Canada's experiment with a framework agreement can draw upon is that of the UK where similar compacts have been developed between the voluntary sector and the national government, each using slightly different approaches.7 In addition, accord-like provisions that create responsibilities on the part of governments to develop better practices toward the sector have been initiated by governments in the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Quebec and Newfoundland. An important lesson from the experiences of these other jurisdictions is that the structure of the voluntary sector and its historical relationship with government is key in working out appropriate processes for developing and monitoring an accord. Although these comparative experiences are instructive for the JAT, they cannot be transplanted directly in the current context given differences in both the sector and the nature of government. A brief review of these experiences is useful, however, in highlighting specific issues that may arise in the Canadian context.

Notes

7. A framework agreement has also begun to be developed in New Zealand, Portugal and the United Nations. New Zealand's government has recently completed the first phase of consulting with the community and voluntary sectors, through it's Ministry of Social Policy. A working party, with representation from both government and the voluntary sector, was created in August 2000, with a goal of developing a framework for an agreement between, and to strengthen the relationship with, the Government and the community and voluntary sector. The call for such an agreement came from the Community Sector Roundtable, a group of voluntary sector leaders from national organizations formed in 1996. The length of the preliminary phase, which initially was to be four months, has been extended and there is no clear time frame as to when and how the process will unfold. Information is drawn from the website of New Zealand's Ministry of Social Policy unless otherwise noted. This website is located at http://www.mosp.govt.nz/voluntary/. See also Patrick Hanley, "Third Sector and State Partnerships: Perspectives from the New Zealand Community Sector", a paper delivered to Third Sector and State Partnerships Conference, Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights, Deakin University, Melbourne, p. 2.


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