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Submitted by Bill Morris on
Hello Sandra, The caution you flag is important and appropriate to the discussion. I think we actually agree on most of the substantive points but may differ of the details. Since the goal of the blog is to spark discussion, let me test that out by offering some points. In doing so, I’d invite you and others to comment further. First, public policy and investment matters when it comes to addressing poverty and inequity, and we need the buy-in of Canadians to make real progress. As such, the federal government and its proposed Poverty Reduction Strategy can play an important role in supporting the efforts of wide range of others players in collective and individual efforts to promote social inclusion, opportunity and prosperity. Second, it is essential to set clear poverty reduction goals, and accurately measure progress against these at the community, regional and national levels. This needs to coupled with the capacity to assess the effectiveness of policies, programs and investments designed to achieve the goals, and report findings unflinchingly. This accountability and transparency is, I believe, crucial for ensuing the ongoing support of Canadians. Third, some entity needs to perform this critical role. The government’s assumption appears to be that they will do this. To ensure impartially and maintain the confidence of Canadians, we believe the job needs to be done by an organization independent of government, ideally a non-profit with a dedicate mandate, diverse governance and the resources do the work required. I agree wholeheartedly, this cannot be “a government agency masquerading as a NPO”. Fourth, and this may be where we differ, establishing such a NPO through legislation has some significant advantages, and done properly, would not impinge on its independence or integrity. As the paper notes, other non-profits that operate independently of government have been created this way. And, to ensure independence, the NPO should not have a funding agreement with government, but instead should be endowed with an initial capital investment of public funds sufficient to sustain its core operations on an ongoing basis. I’m certainly not arguing the what we have proposed is the answer. There may well be better solutions. In that spirit, I very much welcome you and others to critique and build on the ideas offered. Bill Morris

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