Abstracts & Bios
7 Concurrent Sessions
Friday June 17, 2005
2:15 - 3:45
D1. Paper presentations
Asset Building: New directions in social policy
Kathryn Verhulst, Ellen Whalley, Jim Wilson
Asset-building is an emerging area of social policy and practice. Its core idea is that to overcome poverty, opportunities to save and invest in a better future are as critical as income. Savings and assets can leverage new income, open new opportunities for education and development, enable productive risk-taking, and can build social capital by enhancing inclusion and participation. Current policies in Canada provide tax incentives for asset accumulation amongst middle and upper income Canadians. Asset-building initiatives in Canada are attempting to provide opportunities for low-income earners to do the same. This presentation will present the theories behind the asset-building concept and its integral role in poverty alleviation and increasing financial capability. A dual perspective on asset-building from a representative of SEDI, leader of the asset-building field in Canada, and the Fredericton YMCA, a local asset-building project administrator, will encompass discussion on current government policies and their impact on local project participants.
Kathryn Verhulst is a Project Coordinator and Communications Coordinator at SEDI, a national non-profit organization specializing in the design, management and evaluation of social policy initiatives that enable disadvantaged Canadians to achieve self-sufficiency. Kathryn holds an honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Ellen Whalley has worked with the YMCA of Fredericton for 15 years and since 2000 has held the position of project manager of learn$ave. A federally funded national demonstration of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), learn$ave is the largest test of asset-based projects for the poor that has ever been undertaken.
Jim Wilson has been working at the Fredericton YMCA for the past four years as a facilitator for the learn$ave project, providing case management support for local participants. Jim is an honors graduate of St. Thomas University. He has spent many years working in community development, especially in low-income communities.
The CIA and the poor: how the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) can help improve program coordination and outcomes for clients
Mark Nicoll, Yvonne McFadzen
This presentation will focus a policy analysis tool that hold significant promise in forging more responsive and equitable policies and programs for people living in poverty. Over 14 programs, often with divergent policy goals, offer financial assistance and in-kind benefits to low income Albertans. The resulting interaction sometimes creates problems for clients. To improve this situation, policy makers and analysts first need to determine what the cumulative impacts actually are for the target populations. To do so, a cross-ministry Work Group developed a micro-simulation Excel-based model of the impact of programs for typical low-income family types. Using graphs, it highlights how programs interact and create financial setbacks for clients. The model also allows for creation of what-if scenarios to explore how changes in program parameters can change impacts for clients. A CIA analysis is now required when proposing any changes to programs for low-income Albertans.
Mark Nicoll has worked in the area of evaluation, performance measurement and policy for 20 years. As Director, Planning and Analysis of Alberta Human Resources and Employment, Mark was a member of the CIA work group; liaising with the cross-ministry committee of Assistant Deputy Ministers.
Yvonne McFadzen is the Director of the Data Development and Evaluation Branch in Alberta Human Resources. She led the cross-ministry work group of policy and technical experts that developed and implemented the CIA model. The team’s accomplishments were recognized with a Premier’s Award of Excellence in June 2004.
D2. Paper presentations
Doing what’s needed: providing meaningful services and supports to diverse street youth populations in Canada
This presentation explores the alarming increase of street youth populations in Canada, noting the distinct and diverse characteristics of this heterogeneous population. Street youth ‘careers’ are examined – highlighting how young people enter street life, cope and survive on the street, and for some, the exiting process. Moreover, data from in-depth interviews across Canada (approximately 150 street youth and 60 service providers) suggest patterns of street engagement and disengagement and what diverse services/projects/supports appear to attract distinct street youth populations. As such, this presentation attempts to map out unique and creative service delivery systems throughout Canada that appear promising in attracting and supporting young people living on the street. At the same time, this analysis looks at “what works” and “what doesn’t work” in supporting young people living on the street.
Dr. Jeff Karabanow is assistant professor at the School of Social Work and Cross-Appointed with International Development Studies and Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University. He has published articles about street youth etiology; street youth culture and service delivery in numerous academic journals. His most recent work is a book titled Being Young and Homeless: How youth enter and exit street life (Peter Lang USA, 2004) which chronicles the stages of street engagement and disengagement for homeless and runaway youth.
The streets, basements and shelters: The new Asylums in Canada
The concept of community integration as it relates to persons with psychiatric disabilities was the underlying logic of the de-institutionalization strategy that took place in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s. Service providers within the psychiatric community were convinced that with proper treatment and the right supports in place, recovery from a debilitating mental illness was possible. At the same time, the Government of Canada and most provinces stopped supporting and producing social housing. The lack of community supports and supported housing has resulted in the creation of new asylums - the streets, basements and shelters - that offer few, if any, services. Within the context of the Kirby Commission on Mental Health and Addictions, widely considered to be the most comprehensive examination of mental health in Canada ever undertaken, this paper will provide some recommendations related to developing supported housing strategies and policies for Canada’s mentally ill community.
Judith McKenzie is one of four researchers collaborating on a CIHR research project titled the Health, Governance and Citizenship Project. They are examining how changes in governance have altered the delivery of social services at the local level. Four poor neighbourhoods from across Canada have been selected for this study. McKenzie is also a mental health activist and is currently on the National Board and the Advocacy Committee of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.
Connecting Homelessness and mental illness and affecting policy change
Individuals afflicted with a mental illness are slipping through the widening cracks of Canada’s diminished social safety net. Services that were put in place to help individuals with mental illness have eroded to the point where a disproportionately high number of the mentally ill find themselves homeless. Studies suggest that up to 50% of homeless men and 75% of homeless women have a mental illness (Cotter, 2003).
This paper will analyze the connections between mental illness and homelessness, provide a critique of media representations of mentally ill homeless persons and offer recommendations for policy change from a structural social work perspective. Reference will be made to United Nations declarations, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and municipal, provincial and federal policies that directly influence the quality of services mentally ill homeless people are entitled to in Canada.
Erin Maston is a fourth year Social Work Student, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick.
D3. Paper presentations
Community indicators as organizational practice: Opportunities and Challenges
Neale Smith, Lori Baugh Littlejohns
Government organizations are being pressed to account for the outcomes of their programs and services through formal performance measures or indicators. This poses some unique challenges when working in partnership with community. We propose to present in a critically reflective way the story of our own experience as health promotion practitioners. We worked with a number of geographic communities in central Alberta on a healthy communities initiative. This included the development of community indicators meant to show if effective community actions had been implemented. These community indicators were not warmly embraced. Community members were more likely to judge success by informal means, relying upon their immersion in the daily life of their community to observe change. This suggests that policies around measurement and accountability (as a traditional bureaucratic imperative) may need to be rethought for circumstances where community members themselves are significant partners in defining the meaning of successful, effective social policies or programs.
Neale Smith MA, MEDes was Research/Evaluation Associate with the David Thompson Health Region, based in Red Deer, Alberta, from 1996 to 2003. He was principal investigator on an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research project on community indicators of health. Neale joined the Centre for Health Promotion Studies at the University of Alberta in November 2003.
Lori has worked in the health promotion field since 1986. She holds a BSW from the University of Calgary and an MSc from Boise State University (Idaho). She has participated in several research studies in community health development, most notably the Alberta Heart Health Project (demonstration phase), and projects funded by the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and Health Canada’s Health Policy Research Program. Lori is now an independent consultant.
Qualitative methods in voluntary sector research: Explorations from research conducted in the Grandview – Woodland area of Vancouver
This paper explores the use of qualitative methods in research involving role of voluntary sector social services in Grandview-Woodland (Vancouver). I discuss some of the limitations of using conventional approaches in the study of social welfare in order to demonstrate how qualitative techniques can provide new insights into our understanding of governmental practices. Preliminary research findings are presented that highlight how qualitative methods can be used in the study of government and
politics in the social welfare field.
Karen Murray is the Principal Investigator of the Health, Governance, and Citizenship Project based at the University of New Brunswick. Murray's work draws on a variety of analytical strategies including governmentality, feminist analysis, and theories of citizenship. Her on-going research examines shifting relationships between government and private social service organizations in local settings. She has published in the Canadian Historical Review, Canadian Public Administration, and the Canadian Journal of
Levelling the playing field: Soft systems methodology and social policy development
Carla Gunn, Julie Devlin
Social problems are complex and contentious. In social policy development, there is often little in place for recognizing and reconciling the disparate perspectives of the parties and for addressing power imbalances. In this paper presentation, participants will be introduced to a new and promising participatory approach -- Soft System Methodology (SSM). SSM differs from other approaches in that it is a vehicle through which parties explore the psychological and social factors, such as personal biases and worldviews, which underpin different stances. As a transformative facilitation approach in which each party is on equal ground, SSM fosters shared understandings, lays the foundation for reaching agreement as to what constitutes a fair and equitable policy and brings potentially conflicting actors together for action. Participants will be introduced to this qualitative seven-stage process, with particular emphasis on the psychological and social variables that need to be explored in policy development and promotion.
Julie Devlin, Ph.D (Candidate), is Co-Director of Training and Research at Cogent Consortium Inc. She regularly teaches Ethics and Environmental Issues at the Maritime College of Forest Technology and has participated in numerous training sessions involving collaborative learning and problem framing in conflict & assessment.
Carla Gunn, M.A., is Co-Director of Training and Research at Cogent Consortium Inc. She has a research interest in social psychology and group processes, with work published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. For ten years, she has taught psychology courses at the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University.
D4. Paper presentations
Forging social futures for senior populations: Developing policy agendas from narratives
This paper proposes that industrial nations must act now to put in place effective and relevant government and agency policies to address the social, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of senior populations before the population pyramid in industrial countries disappears altogether and is replaced by a bulge in the 80+ age group. I draw upon available research (conducted by myself and others) to suggest possible directions for this policy. I argue that if policies develop from lived experiences and aspirations of those who are most affected, they will often be cheaper and almost always more relevant. I show that there is a dearth of knowledge and many unanswered questions about what older people and their primary carers actually want and I propose that a narrative model is of value for gaining the information needed for policy-planning purposes.
Rosemary Clews is Associate Professor of Social Work at St. Thomas University Fredericton, NB. Her research interests include rural communities, social work education, diversity, and aging. A qualitative and narrative researcher, she is committed to conducting policy-relevant and practice-relevant research.
Aging amongst immigrants in Canada: Policy and planning implications
In Canada, two interesting demographic trends have been underway: an aging population and a growth based upon immigration. These patterns combine to form a new group that seems to have evaded notice. Immigrants are older than the national average and almost 31% of the immigrants from Europe are over 65 years of age. Of the total senior population, 28.4% are immigrants (up from 16.9% in 1981) and 19.4% of all seniors are from Europe. One in twenty seniors in Canada are Asian. Overall, 7.2% of the senior’s population is a visible minority (up from 6% in 1996). These patterns have implications for policy development and service delivery. As immigrants age in Canada, they will have very different expectations for services than non-immigrants and immigrants who aged in their home country. This paper presents the current statistical data and presents recent research under the Metropolis project on senior immigrants and integration. It offers recommendations for policy planners and service providers in health and social welfare services. This research contributes to the “forging of our social future."
Douglas Durst has a solid research record and has been examining the issues pertaining to cross cultural social work practice and education. He has published in peer reviewed journals and books on culturally appropriate practice and has lead a domain driven research on senior immigrants under the Prairie Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration, a Metropolis project.
Developing ’needs-based’ agendas in aging: An example of a university-community collaboration
Mary Ann Murphy
This paper will present one model under development at a Canadian University to build both its curriculum and research agenda on aging in close consultation with its local, provincial and national community of senior’s and senior-serving organizations. The presentation will include a discussion of the philosophy of the approach to university-community partnerships, key policy issues identified in community consultations, future implications and plans for development.
Mary Ann Murphy holds a Ph. D. in Health and Social Policy from Brandeis University. She is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Sociology at Okanagan University College in Kelowna, British Columbia, where she holds a Cross-Appointment in Aging.
Time for a living wage
John Anderson, Dennis Howlett
The aim of this workshop will be to discuss the need to bring in a living wage policy at the federal and provincial levels. A living wage is a salary that allows a full time full year worker to earn wages above the poverty line for a single person in a large Canadian city. The idea of a living wage dates back to the turn of the century and in the English speaking countries was perhaps first best expressed in Philip Sheridan’s classic 1909 book entitled "Living Wage."
In the last ten years, major campaigns have been launched in the United States and some 119 cities as well as many universities have instituted living wage ordinances to fix the pay rates for work contracted by the city or performed at the university.
Today in Canada some 14% of workers who are full year full time earn below the poverty line rate.
In Canada the existing living wage campaigns have so far been tied at the provincial level to winning major increases in the minimum wage rates.
The aim of this workshop will be to discuss the current living wage campaigns which are now active in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland as well as the one being currently developed at the federal and pan-Canadian level.
John Anderson is the Vice-President of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances at the Canadian Council on Social Development, and has been active on the living wage issue for many years. He edited a Centre for Social Justice study by Chris Schenk on the living wage in 2001. He was the former vice-president for research at the CCSD and has been active on social justice issues for several decades. He has written extensively on this subject including a forthcoming article on unions and precarious employment.
Dennis Howlett is the Executive Director of the National Anti-Poverty Organization. Previous to this he was with Kairos and Ten Days for Global Justice. Dennis has been active in developing a living wage campaign at the national level.
Looking forward by looking back
Michael Goldberg, Ken Battle
This workshop will be presented by two social policy “elders”. The workshop will examine the state of affairs from the late 1960s/early 1970s through the present to see if several of the new directions in social policy could lead us to a more progressive future or are taking us backwards. Ken Battle will focus primarily on the federal level and will examine if changes towards the “new federalism” has the capacity to lead to progressive action. Michael Goldberg will focus on provincial changes that have taken place in British Columbia as a way of analyzing if greater “provincial autonomy” has made a difference in the drive towards a progressive social agenda. Workshop participants will be asked to share their perspectives on where the analysis rings true for them and to provide examples that could lead to other conclusions.
Michael Goldberg is the Research Director at the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC). He has been with the Council since 1987. Michael’s work in social change began in the late 1950s in the United States and in 1967 when he immigrated to Canada.
Michael has a BA in economics, a Masters of Social Work, and completed the course work and research towards a Ph.D. in social policy.
Ken Battle is President of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, a non-profit think tank based in Ottawa and Toronto. Before founding Caledon in 1992, he worked at the National Council of Welfare, the Department of Manpower and Immigration, Secretary of State, and Queen’s University.
Ken has a B.A. in political science from Queen’s University and an M. Phil. in sociology from Oxford University, where he specialized in social policy.
Forging the future of the Academic Journal in the Canadian social policy scene
Susan McGrath, Brigitte Kitchen
The social policy landscape has changed dramatically in the 25 years since the Canadian Review of Social Policy (CRSP)/ Revue canadienne de politique sociale (RCPS) was founded. Moreover, methods of disseminating social policy research have transformed radically.
What is the future of the academic journal in the Canadian social policy scene? How does a traditional research journal respond to social movement practice, community-based initiatives, and an increasingly inter-disciplinary audience? How does a semi-annual print journal retain value in a social policy space increasingly influenced by instant text messaging, online forums, chat groups, and listserves? Who is the audience for an academic journal and who will fund it?
Susan McGrath and Brigitte Kitchen, co-editors CRSP/RCPS, will lead participants in a roundtable discussion using the journal as a centrepoint example of the challenges and opportunities in forging the future of a progressive academic social policy journal in Canada.
Dr. Susan McGrath is the co-editor of Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue canadienne de politique sociale, the director of York University's Centre for Refugee Studies, and an associate professor at the York University School of Social Work.
Dr. Brigitte Kitchen is the co-editor of the Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue canadienne de politique sociale and an associate professor at the York University School of Social Work. She is a founding member of the journal.