Category: Social Policy meets the Frontline

A guide to Politics and Coalitions in the dance of neutrality in —contested policy making activities

Karin Ingold’s post explains the role of scientific knowledge brokering in coalitions  in Integration and Implementation Insights     In Ottawa, we have had various examples of this, be it the  Alliance to End Homelessness or  harm reduction networks.  I find it useful to reflect on Ingold’s point that suggests that the loss of neutrality in Adversarial advocacy results in, ” no possibility for knowledge brokerage exists.” and need to become “non neutral actors.”

What roles can science and scientific experts adopt in policymaking? One way of examining this is through the Advocacy Coalition Framework (Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith 1993). This framework highlights that policymaking and the negotiations regarding a political issue—such as reform of the health system, or the introduction of an energy tax on fossil fuels—is dominated by advocacy coalitions in opposition. Advocacy coalitions are groups of actors sharing the same opinion about how a policy should be designed and implemented. Each coalition has its own beliefs and ideologies and each wants to see its preferences translated into policies.

via When are scientists neutral experts or strategic policy makers?


Supportive housing, election discussion now beyond a debate

“No matter who forms the government” how do we come together to develop supportive housing?  TVO’s The Agenda explores how all the political parties are endorsing this approach.  Steve Lurie, CMHA – Toronto –links, explains and bridges The Mental Health Commission’s – Housing First Chez-Soi with the supportive housing policy  of the Ontario Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council. 

Lurie usefully connects how LHIN’s, municipalities, ministries and community organizations can and already do come together to work from aspiration to results. 

It is impressive to me that the supportive housing discussion during an election, has substance to galvanize to further action.


See the video here:


A health professional’s “call” of health policy in the Ontario election

On TVO’s The Agenda, this health care scientist (Dr. Doug Manuel of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute) works to fairly call the direction of health policy the political parties in Ontario are advocating for. He describes the problems with “lids” on hospital funding, without addressing the systemic – preventive, downstream efforts needed to address patient’s care.

See the Interview here:

Ontario Nonprofit Network opens up the conversation on actions to engage in the Ontario election

The Ontario Nonprofit Network Election 2018 site provides a rich set of resources on how to enter the fray of an election. to move towards greater recognition of the role of  the nonprofit sector for people living in Ontario.

They state:

Elections provide meaningful opportunities for public benefit nonprofits to engage communities and capture the attention of political parties and candidates.


… It’s time for public benefit nonprofits to get involved!

You can meet with candidates, invite them to meet your board, volunteers and/or staff and learn about your organization, attend all-candidates meetings and ask questions, and share information about voting with your colleagues and the people you serve. Check out our election toolkit for more information, tips and the rules to be aware of – but not afraid of!  …

Nonprofit sector advocacy examples

Some great advocacy examples are emerging as the provincial election approaches:

Below is their Graphic, “when democracy doesn’t work,” it helps to explain why nonprofits need to enter the election arena and bridges well with health practitioners working with clients to strengthen their participation in the community as citizens, aka as a critical component of – the social determinants of health.

Social Planning Council of Ottawa 90th Anniversary Celebration

From The Social Planning Council of Ottawa.   “We are beyond proud that we have had the opportunity to serve our great city for nine decades, working along side and with other great organizations, groups and businesses to be able to be a catalyst for economic and social development.”

…Did You Know?…

The first meeting of the Ottawa Council of Social Agencies took place in 1928 at the Chateau Laurier. There were 24 agencies in child and family welfare, health, education, and recreation. The constitution for the Council of Social Agencies was actually approved in 1933. Its principle purposes were to “promote the study of the social needs of the community; establish how agencies could improve their services or respond to unmet needs; and increase the awareness and interest members of the community in the social needs of all community members.” (Moscovitch, 2003)


May 23rd, 2018

5:45 – 8:00 p.m.

Knox Presbyterian Church – 120 Lisgar St, Ottawa

The event will start at 5.45 pm with the business portion (AGM).

The “pay-as-you-can” dinner will commence at 6;30 pm followed by our celebration speeches and cake!

Please RSVP to including any requested accommodations or special diet needs.

We truly hope you are able to make it out this special occasion and celebrate with the SPCO board, volunteers and staff.



Calls for urgent attention on new Omnibus bill and seeking explanations of the downward trend of health funding in Ontario

When budgets and Legislation meet. The Ontario Health Coalition alerts us to new relevant legislation and Defend Public Health Care critics of the provincial health budget. 

It would be useful to have actual discussion on the meaning and practical impacts of what is happening here.  For example, are provincial funds being strengthened into core parts of the Social Determinants of Health like housing and employment instead of going into the category of health care?  Thus potentially suggesting a re-framing of “Health” by the government? 

Omnibus Legislation

The Ontario government is moving forward with legislation that lifts the ban on private hospitals, rolls private hospitals in with private clinics and renames them, offensively, Community Health Facilities, and makes it easier for private hospitals and clinics to expand and more difficult for the Minister to stop them.

This legislation was brought in with no prior public consultation. It is a massive omnibus bill that repeals or enacts 7 entire Acts, and amends more than 30 Acts. We were given 5 minutes to present to the Standing Committee on this massive piece of legislation. Now we have only four days to try to get the worst part of it withdrawn. Without due consideration of the consequences, the government is making a grave mistake that could easily usher in very significant new privatization and threats to our local public hospitals.

Health care funding

provincial health care expenditures in Ontario and Canada
Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 — 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).
See the full presentation by Doug Alan, Defend Public Health Care here:

Policy Partnerships within government itself, ingredients for “buy-in”

The Centre for Urban Studies via  supports linking of policy to practice. One example of their efforts focus’ specifically on policy development within government itself, providing this paper below.  

Using Win-Win Strategies to Implement Health in All Policies: A Cross-Case Analysis

  • Agnes Molnar,
  • Emilie Renahy,
  • Patricia O’Campo,
  • Carles Muntaner,
  • Alix Freiler,
  • Ketan Shankardass


Our results yielded no support for the use of awareness-raising or directive strategies as standalone approaches for engaging partners to implement HiAP. However, we found strong evidence that mechanisms related to “win-win” strategies facilitated implementation by increasing perceived acceptability (or buy-in) and feasibility of HiAP implementation across sectors. …

Win-win strategies were facilitated by mechanisms related to several activities, including:…

  • the development of a shared language to facilitate communication between actors from different sectors;
  • integrating health into other policy agendas (eg., sustainability) and use of dual outcomes to appeal to the interests of diverse policy sectors;
  • use of scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of HiAP;
  • and using health impact assessment to make policy coordination for public health outcomes more feasible and to give credibility to policies being developed by diverse policy sectors. …