BENNETT: St. Paul’s sets an example

In looking at any significant issue affecting Canadians, whether it’s youth unemployment, climate change, transportation, affordable housing or public health, we find that the responsibility for managing these issues rests with multiple levels of governments and various jurisdictions.

Unfortunately, we also see constant roadblocks to progress on these issues because of the difficulty in planning across the silos of government departments and competing jurisdictions. Considering it’s their tax dollars funding it all, Canadians are rightfully
annoyed about the constant squabbling over who pays.

In St. Paul’s we are very proud of what has been called “The St. Paul’s Model”, in which the elected representatives from all levels of government are committed to working together for the benefit of the citizens they serve. For the past two years, I have convened a regular summit, where MPP Eric Hoskins, city councillors Joe Mihevc, Josh Matlow and Josh Colle, and school trustees
Shelley Laskin and Jo-Ann Davis meet twice a year to hear from our impressive engaged citizens.

At our most recent summit, on Nov. 17, we heard from residents on a wide range of issues, most of which are handled by more than one level of government.

Childcare is one such issue.

When a mother raised the issue of access to affordable child care, I could speak to the need for a national strategy to address this pan-Canadian problem, while my provincial and municipal counterparts discussed the current funding levels and challenges in providing access to care in a large urban centre like Toronto.

Similarly, discussions on transit, healthcare and affordable housing gave residents an opportunity to hear how their representatives at all levels of government are working to address concerns.

To make real progress on the issues that affect the everyday lives of Canadians we need departments at every level to take a “whole of government” approach. This, combined with meaningful mechanisms to listen to citizens and work for their benefit from the bottom up across the jurisdictions, is a clear path to creating sound, workable public policy.

At least we’ve started in St. Paul’s!

The Council of the Federation has shown real progress amongst the premiers. It’s time for the federal government to show up at the table with the other very willing partners.

Canada is facing serious economic, environmental and social problems and it’s time we start addressing them together.