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Taking the Accord Forward: The First Report to Canadians on Implementing An Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector

Background Paper: Voluntary Sector Implementation

B. Priorities for the Future

The Voluntary Sector Forum is well aware that its efforts to implement the Accord and Codes of Good Practice are only just beginning. Time, ingenuity and resources will be needed to ensure that the thousands of voluntary sector organizations across Canada become aware of the Accord and Codes, and learn how to use them creatively in their relations with federal government departments. Over the next 18 months, the challenge will be to translate the ideas, frameworks and good will generated thus far into tangible, sustainable results.


Working on behalf of the voluntary sector, the Voluntary Sector Forum has identified clear priorities for moving forward. These priorities for action are based on feedback from the survey of voluntary sector organizations, as well as the anecdotal experiences of Forum members and others in the voluntary sector. They will guide the Forum’s work in this area over the coming months.

1) Continue a commitment to a joint partnership between the voluntary sector and the Government of Canada.

An Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector (December 2001) outlined the commitments that each partner, either jointly or separately, would undertake to strengthen their relationship and fulfill the principles and values of the Accord.

With respect to shared commitments, the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector agreed to: act in a manner consistent with the values and principles in the Accord; develop mechanisms and processes required to put the Accord into action; work together as appropriate to achieve shared goals and objectives; and promote awareness and understanding of the contributions that each makes to Canadian society.

In this regard, the Voluntary Sector Forum will continue its commitment to the partnership outlined in the Accord, which is based on the principles of independence, interdependence, dialogue, co-operation and collaboration, and accountability to Canadians. This includes a continued commitment to periodic meetings with the Ministerial Consultative Committee. In addition, the Voluntary Sector Forum will continue to work with others in the voluntary sector and with the Government of Canada to identify ways to strengthen and sustain the relationship, including securing the necessary investment of resources from both partners.

To achieve this commitment over the coming year, it is recommended that the following steps be taken:

  • Carry out a series of training sessions across the country and in federal departments using the training material and implementation guides developed by the VSF and Heritage Canada. Wherever possible, these sessions should be done jointly for sector and government representatives, using a train-the-trainer approach to promote local ownership and facilitate access to small organizations.
  • Identify “best practice” examples of voluntary sector-government partnerships and use them as demonstration cases to encourage similar action. A number of recent projects from the Sectoral Involvement in Departmental Policy Development (SIDPD) projects could be used for this purpose; this would also enable the sector and the government to examine lessons learned as a result of the SIDPD process. Additional good practices and success stories should be collected and shared with the voluntary sector and government departments.
  • Work with the Government of Canada to develop a mechanism for resolving disputes related to the Accord and the Codes, as outlined in the Accord.

2) Encourage government action on advocacy.

The Accord recognizes the importance of advocacy in civil society and the key role of the voluntary sector: “Advocacy is inherent to debate and change in a democratic society and, should not affect any funding relationship that might exist”. (Principles: Independence)

With this in mind, the Voluntary Sector Forum and other voluntary sector organizations seek a commitment from the Government of Canada to participate in collaborative discussions and deliberations at the ministerial level on legislative options to provide greater latitude for voluntary sector organizations, including registered charities, to participate in public policy debate and policy development.

3) Continue efforts to encourage government action on financing.

The Accord also commits the Government of Canada to: “Recognize and consider the implications of its legislation, regulations, policies and programs on voluntary sector organizations including the importance of funding policies and practices for the further development of the relationship and the strengthening of the voluntary sector’s capacity” (Government of Canada Commitments).

The Voluntary Sector Forum and other sector organizations seek commitment from the Government of Canada that the Accord and the Code of Good Practice on Funding will be implemented in a meaningful and sustained way. This includes ensuring that there are sufficient financial and organizational resources in the federal government and in the sector to follow through on implementation initiatives. In addition, the Voluntary Sector Forum will continue to encourage government action – both inside and outside of the joint relationship – to enhance the financial capacity of the sector. This includes finding ways to provide non-restrictive, multi-year funding for voluntary sector organizations, thus allowing them the flexibility to allocate those funds in the manner that best meets their missions.

4) Establish monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for voluntary sector awareness and use of the Accord and Codes.

The Accord identifies a number of measures that are needed to implement the Accord and Codes of Good Practice, including the development of “Processes for monitoring the Accord, reporting to Canadians on the status of the relationship and the results that have been achieved...” (Taking the Accord Forward). The Accord also includes a commitment from the voluntary sector to “Serve as a means for the voices and views of all parts of the voluntary sector to be represented to and heard by the Government of Canada, and ensuring that the full depth and diversity of the sector is reached and engaged” (Voluntary Sector Commitments).

To address these related commitments, the Voluntary Sector Forum will take steps to ensure that it has the resources and capacity to develop the necessary survey instruments and data gathering approaches for future reports. This will include working with the Government of Canada to identify resource requirements and sources, and soliciting guidance from voluntary sector organizations on how best to reach and represent the diversity of the sector.


  • “There needs to be more awareness about the Accord and Codes within the voluntary sector.”
  • “We need training if we’re going to make the Codes come alive to people working in the sector.”
  • “Do what has to be done to get both the sector and the government to buy-in.”
  • “Don’t forget about getting input from small organizations – they need to feel these initiatives are relevant to themselves, not just big national organizations.”

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Last Updated: 2019-08-19