Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

Third Sector Organizations in Québec and the New Public Action in Community Development

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

Third Sector Organizations in Québec and the New Public Action in Community Development

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The third sector has been invited over the past 30 years to enrol in a "partnership" with the state, characterized by the participation of third sector community organizations (TSCOs) in public policy development. This "Québec model" that responds to health needs of individuals and communities is a hybridization among the Anglo-Saxon heritage of the welfare state, the American model of a community-based approach, and the republican model of centralizing the French state (Savard & Bourque, 2014). Over the past 30 years, relations between the state and TSCOs have intensified and taken many different forms, depending on the areas of intervention. Some models offer opportunities for TSCOs to participate in the co-construction of responses to social and health problems lived by individuals and communities. This was the case in the field of early childhood services (including child care), which are now supported by a progressive public policy involving a configuration that includes for-profit organizations, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The latter form the majority among the three and are called early childhood centres (centres de la petite enfance or CPEs), wherein parents hold the majority of seats on the boards. Since these centres receive significant financial contributions from the provincial government, fees for parents were capped at $7 per day until January 1, 2015 (yet, fees are adjusted based on parental income and range from $7 to $20 per day). Other configurations assign a role to TSCOs that is centred primarily on the provision of services or programs whose strategic choices have been determined outside local jurisdictions.

The objective of this article is to analyze the impact of the arrival of a new player, a private foundation, on the role of third sector community organizations in the field of health and social services in Québec. Firstly, we started by presenting the social and political context in which the TSCO and the Québec government developed their partnership. Secondly, we discuss a model or typology adapted from Coston (1998) that we developed to describe the multiple configurations that the relationship between a TSCO and the state can take in the province of Québec. The third section of this article is the core of our subject matter. In this part, we expose how the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon (FLAC) has modified both the function and the role of the TSCO in communities where it operated. In the final section, we postulate on possible future developments, considering the recent evolution of the attitude demonstrated by FLAC representatives and their will to engage TSCOs in a way that is more respectful of their historic engagement in the response to the health and social needs of vulnerable populations.

PARADOXICAL PARTNERSHIPS

Partnerships are linked to the notion of paradoxical dynamics because they relate simultaneously to disparate logics and embrace both the potential democratization of the public management of the social sphere and the risk of instrumentalizing TSCOs (Lamoureux, 1994). Thus, on one level, Duperré (1992) considers that partnerships are the result of both a descending logic (government institution policies on community use) and an ascending logic (demands by social actors, including TSCOs, for autonomy and leverage). We may add, however, that on a second level, each of these logics is itself fraught with paradoxical dynamics. Thus, the descending logic is itself composed of two paradoxical logics originating with the state, identified by Lamoureux (1994) as the logic of according leeway to partnerships in terms of their supervision and control (TSCO participation and empowerment versus technocratic management strategy). The ascending logic, as well, is composed of two logics identified by Proulx (1997) as (1) the autonomist, which is the result of demands from TSCOs for the self-determination of practices; and (2) the complementarist, in the form of demands for integration into state policy that originate in the descending logic and are often the result of financial need. …

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