Research | Breaking The Inertia: Repositioning the government-sector partnership

publication date: Jan 30, 2019
author/source: Authors Joanne Cave, Lisa Lalande, Lead Key Contributors Adam Jog, Lauryn Conway, Advisors - Hilary Pearson, Susan Manwaring, James Hughes, Bill Schaper

The social sector is a key strategic partner to Canadian governments as they seek to address big challenges like poverty or climate change. But the ways that the federal government works with, regulates, and supports the sector have not kept up. The latest report in Mowat NFP’s Enabling Environment series tackles this reality.

The report argues for a more integrated, transformative approach – one that focuses on both the regulating and enabling roles of the federal government. These roles, the report finds, should be situated in separate organizational units.

Drawing on international case studies, academic and non-academic literature, and input from both sector leaders and policymakers, the report concludes that the most promising approach is to establish a Social Sector Office as a permanent unit within a key central agency such as the Privy Council. The Office would focus on enabling functions and work in tandem with the existing regulator, the Charities Directorate, and the newly-proposed Social Innovation Council, with roles and mandates embedded in legislation.

Finding the best institutional model for enabling the social sector should be accompanied with other achievable reforms, also outlined in the paper. Overall, the recommendations in this paper describe how the federal government can work better with the social sector to attain the best outcomes for Canadians. This would complete a built-to-last transformation of the government-sector partnership that recognizes and deepens the roles each plays in achieving needed social change.

Breaking The Inertia: Repositioning the government-sector partnership is a report by Mowat NFP. A full version of the report is available here.


Joanne Cave, Social Policy Researcher

Lisa Lalande Executive Lead

Key Contributors

Adam Jog, Policy Associate

Lauryn Conway, Principal, Conway Research Consulting


Hilary Pearson President, Philanthropic Foundations Canada

Susan Manwaring Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

James Hughes, Executive Lead, Government and Partner Relations, McConnell Foundation

Bill Schaper, Director of Public Policy, Imagine Canada

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