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Third Sector Restructuring and the New Contracting Regime: The Case of Immigrant Serving Agencies in Ontario

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:22 by Ted Richmond, John Shields
Many are aware of declining capacity in the NGO sector with respect to advocacy and community development, but to date there has been relatively little analysis of the causes and consequences of this alarming trend. As this paper will demonstrate, however, much more is at work in the service providing sector than simple “overload” due to expansion of service demands beyond available funding. We will document and analyse the ways that the NGO service sector in Canada, and with Ontario based immigrant serving agencies in particular, are being deliberately restructured through the shift from “core” to “program” funding, the de legitimization of community development work as a fundable service, and the imposition of complex and burdensome accountability schemes disguised as evaluation measures. We will also examine the consequences of this restructuring in terms of growing monopolisation within the sector and the consequent reduction of diversity of service alternatives, as well as reduced capacity for public education and community development. The paper will explore the paradox inherent in the fact that such restructuring is being imposed without public debate in the name of the public good, and propose potential solutions related to this crucial issue of Canadian public policy. As essential background to the analysis we will provide an overview of the growing and changing role of the “third sector” as the preferred delivery agent for human services within a downsized and globalized economy.
Keywords: CVSS, Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies, Working Paper Series, TRSM, Ted Rogers School of Management