New approach is possible and needed for social policy in Alberta

A new study by the Parkland Institute details the devastation to Alberta's social services sector following decades of experimentation by the provincial Tories. The main goal of many of these initiatives was to cut government spending on social welfare and offload provision to anyone willing to take them on – for-profit and not-for-profit organizations alike.

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The report suggests that the Ministry of Alberta Human Services should move away from these policies and, instead, embrace policies focused on the social welfare of those who need it most. In addition to funding, developing an appropriate relationship with Alberta’s vast not-for-profit sector will lead to increased efficiency in the delivery of services.

While there is a role for the not-for-profit sector in this new framework, it should only be to compliment that invaluable and irreplaceable work of a well-paid, well-trained, reliable and professional public sector.

Unfortunately, Alberta is not alone in promoting the offloading and privatization of public services. The Federal and Manitoba Conservatives along with the Ontario and BC Liberals have sought to financialize social services delivery with so called Social Enterprise and Social Impact Investing schemes. These privatization programs insert layers of banks and consultants between government ministries, service providers, and the public while driving-up costs and undermining public oversight and control.

These “social finance” initiatives encourage profiting from the most vulnerable and funding programmes with debt-financing instead of statutory tax-funding.

A special contribution by Barret Weber of the Parkland Institute to What’s Left.

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Infographic: Public Services vs Social Impact Bonds

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