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These 10 recommendations for action for the federal government were endorsed by the delegates of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) 2016 Convention.  The goal of these recommendations is to help strengthen Canada’s network of quality community services. For more detail on each recommendation, see: A Plan to Strengthen Canada’s Network of Quality Community Services.

Recommendation 1

Replace the Canada Social Transfer (CST) with three new federal transfers designed to provide federal funding to cover a portion of the costs provincial and territorial governments spend on the provision of post-secondary education, social assistance and income support programs, and community services.

Recommendation 2

Establish a Canada Education Transfer (CET) to cover a portion of the cost of providing post-secondary education in the provinces and territories. The total amount of the transfer would be equal to the current percentage amount (30.8 per cent) of the current CST ($13.3 billion for 2016/17) that the federal Department of Finance has calculated is spent on provinces’ post-secondary education costs. In 2016/17 fiscal year, this would represent $4.1 billion.

Recommendation 3

Establish a Federal Income Support Transfer (FIST) to cover a portion of the costs of provincial and territorial social assistance programs. On average, the current social services portion of the CST averages about 45% of social assistance costs for all provinces and territories. It is therefore recommended that the specific amount of FIST dollars transferred to each of the provinces and territories represent 45% of their social assistance costs. This amount should increase by 1% of each province’s social assistance costs each year until it reaches 50% of the province’s social assistance costs.

Furthermore, it is recommended that as a condition of receiving FIST funds, provinces must agree that their social assistance programs meet the following national standards of accessibility, adequacy, universality, accountability, right of appeal, and right to refuse work.

Recommendation 4

Establish a Canada Community Services Transfer (CCST) to cover a portion of the costs of the provision of community services that provinces and territories provide.The amount for the first annual CCST should be $3 billion dollars. The CCST should have a built-in escalator formula identical to that of the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to ensure stability and predictability of the amounts being transferred to the provinces and territories.

Recommendation 5

Enact a Canada Community Services Act (CCSA), which defines the authority and responsibility of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments with respect to the new Canada Community Services Transfer (CCST).

Recommendation 6

Establish clear and transparent objectives of the proposed Canada Community Services Act which articulates the purposes of the CCST funds, designates the services on which federal CCST funds are to be spent, defines standards for key services, establishes stable funding formulas for the transfer, and creates monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the expenditure of CCST funds.

Recommendation 7

Define the purposes of the proposed Canada Community Services Act to ensure that funding provided by the new CCST is compliant with section 36 of the Constitution Act, rights set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and all social and economic rights contained in international treaties that Canada is signatory to.

Recommendation 8

Designate the specific types of community services eligible for Canada Community Services Transfer (CCST) funding in the proposed Canada Community Services Act.

For a complete list of designated services see Recommendation 8 in NUPGE’s 2016 Convention policy paper A Plan to Strengthen Canada’s Network of Quality Community Services.

Recommendation 9

Include in the proposed Canada Community Services Act the following 8 national standards and conditions that provinces and territories must adhere to order to receive federal CCST funding: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, accessibility, fairness, accountability and transparency.

Recommendation 10

Establish as part of the Canada Community Services Act, an independent body known as the Canadian Community Services Council to ensure CCST funds provided to the provinces and territories are spent on the provision of designated services outlined in the CCSA, and to oversee the monitoring, compliance and enforcement of the objectives, purposes, national standards and principles outlined in the Act.

The primary role of the proposed Canadian Community Services Council would be to ensure accountability and transparency from all levels of government in the use of CCST funds and the implementation and administration of the CCSA.

It would have four major responsibilities: monitoring, reporting, overseeing a public complaints process, and enforcement.

Ultimately, the Council would have the authority to recommend to Parliament, the withdrawal of federal CCST funding in the case of provincial non-compliance with CCSA designations or standards.