The Decentralization of Social Services: Canadian Responses
Gray, Diane I.
Gray, Diane I. The Decentralization of Social Services: Canadian Responses; A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty Of Graduate Studies in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Public Administration, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba. Winnipeg, April, 1996.
This thesis explores the administrative challenges that the provincial and local governments will have to address in moving beyond the current crisis of the welfare state. The argument that Canada is shifting away from state-centred social policy structures toward a more community based model of social service provision is developed and supported by specific examples from Manitoba and Alberta. Arguments and evidence incorporated into each study will move beyond advocacy and provide reasons for the decentralization and consideration of alternative program delivery methods. The fiscal and administrative decentralization that has occurred to date, has not been accompanied by political decentralization, which is fundamental to community empowerment. This thesis is based upon the premise that the political decisions to decentralize have already been made, as witnessed through a number of social policy shifts, including the Canada Health and Social Transfer. Because the political rationale to decentralize provides the theoretical framework within which to discuss administrative decentralization, this thesis takes the practical public administration perspective on how to implement the policy changes and create effective administrative systems for doing so. Conclusions are drawn in the thesis, including the fact that public policy and program design cannot be accomplished effectively by centralized planning or even centralized coordination of planning. However, there needs to be an effective administrative system established so as to avoid potential problems with accountability that may come with a decentralized social service structure. Public servants, and not unaccountable volunteers, should continue to be responsible for the provision and administrative implementation of social policy. A balance can be achieved with an organizational design that establishes policy development and program design at the centre, and policy implementation and program delivery in the field by public servants who exercise their discretion on the basis of delegated authority.