Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Framework Begs the Questions

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Framework Begs the Questions

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Framework begs the questions

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An editorial from the Red Deer Advocate, published July 25 :

Whenever the province sets out to consult us voters on some policy initiative or other, the discussion is often far too directed to qualify as consultation. Instead of asking the big questions about where Albertans would like new policy directions to go, we are asked to simply approve their agenda.

It's not like they're even asking us to choose from a list. Instead of "do you prefer A or B," government questionnaires lead responders to say how much they just love option A.

That's not exactly the case with the current provincial consultation on a new framework for social policy titled Speak. Share. Thrive. But again, instead of asking Albertans what they think about the vast, expensive safety net that our tax dollars and volunteer labours support, we're simply asked to rank priorities already in existence.

Why are we being asked to rank on a scale the importance of services for the elderly, versus child poverty or supports for people with disabilities? Why does the government's web questionnaire ask us to pick three items from a long list of social needs?

The answer, of course, is so the people who parse the responses can present a scaled list of programs that Albertans are most likely to accept as higher priorities for funding.

But as far as creating a government framework for social policy, that hardly reaches the mark.

Nor do the online blog and comment options. That's like trying to make decisions in a public meeting on the basis of who can shout the loudest.

There are two major areas where Alberta's broad social policy framework falls short. One is that the framework plays favourites in funding. The other is that the evolving relationship between the private sector, the public sector and the non-profits needs a new definition.

First, let's look at the unfairness built into our current funding framework. Alberta tax dollars do not support people who need supports. …

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