Each year, the Government of Canada transfers upwards of 10 billion dollars to the provinces and territories in support of social services with no idea how the money is actually spent.
The Canada Social Transfer is a substantial chunk of funding that’s dumped into general revenue of the provinces and territories with virtually no requirement to report back on how it’s used. With no principles or accountability to guide the Canada Social Transfer, it may very well be used to fix potholes rather than supporting children and their families – we just don’t know.
Without any way to measure the impact and outcomes of the Canada Social Transfer, Canada is missing a crucial piece that would have the power to help unite the commendable strategies this government has implemented to reduce poverty and support children in Canada.
Accountability has been a centerpiece for the Government of Canada; placing high importance on data, science and innovation – tying its targeted funding for homecare, mental health and housing to principles and performance.
From the perspective of accountability, it’s ironic that the smallest of non-profit organizations that receive a federal government grant are held accountable to performance indicators, yet the largest transfer in support of social service requires no reporting of any kind.
For health, it has long been understood that in order to support equitable services across Canada, the provinces and territories must be held accountable to the funding they receive through the Canada Health Act – upholding principles, such as fairness, accountability, and public administration
To address this, CASW is advocating for an Act that includes principles similar to those of the Canada Health Act, to help guide the Canada Social Transfer (CST) and other social investments, making possible shared performance indicators across our country.
Such an Act would help guide the provinces and territories in developing policies that best fit their unique needs, while assisting the federal government better understand where dollars are being spent – and, in turn, where more targeted investment might be needed.
This would help not only to foster dialogue around shared issues, best practices, and evidence-based programs, but also aid in producing comparable outcomes across Canada.
Without federal leadership guiding social transfers and investments, national strategies on housing and poverty reduction aren’t going to have the success they deserve.
To renew our advocacy for a Social Care Act for Canada, CASW is building on the 2015 release of A New Social Care Act for Canada with ‘Version 2.0:’ a fresh look at why we need this Act to guide us into a better future with shared goals – and successes.