Taking the Accord Forward: The First Report to Canadians on
Implementing An Accord Between the Government of Canada and the
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,
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
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
- 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
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.