February 26, 2009 – There is growing recognition that Canada’s major public policy challenges play out in local spaces. For example, analysts of social inclusion encounter the many barriers that individuals and families face living in distressed neighbourhoods. Rural areas and smaller centres confront another set of risks in managing change with declining, often aging populations. Common to all is an appreciation of how local geographic contexts – the form and nature of places – shape people’s life chances.
For national governments, these dynamics frame a novel set of challenges. Policy interventions must increasingly work from the ground up to generate solutions rooted in the particular concerns of local communities and the specific needs and capacities of their residents. But what policy frameworks and institutional arrangements will enable multi-level collaboration to actually work? The conceptual and practical challenges remain daunting for national governments everywhere as they rethink and retool for an era of more intensive global-local interaction.
In Canadian Social Policy in the 2000s: Bringing Place In, CPRN Research Associate Neil Bradford of Huron University College, University of Western Ontario, explores departures in Canadian social development policy towards more place-based approaches. Bradford uses innovations in policy thought and governing practices among OECD countries to bring Canadian policy communities more fully into the international conversation on place-based policy. The paper shows the degree of federal policy experimentation aimed at better integrating policies for places and people, but which is still disparate and not yet systematically conceptualized.
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The paper was originally published in Plan Canada, January-February 2009.