The Economic Security Project ran from 2004 to 2009, and examined the dramatic shift in the delivery and governance of public services in British Columbia since 2001. The project set out to analyze how this policy shift affected the economic security of vulnerable populations, and to explore what policy solutions would better meet their needs. The project, led by the CCPA and Simon Fraser University, partnered with 20 academics and about 25 community groups.
The ESP conducted research on nearly 40 topics within the broad categories of labour and employment standards, welfare and social policy, and community health care.
Key successes include:
The only comprehensive evaluation of recent public policy changes
The ESP conducted the only comprehensive evaluation of major public policy changes related to economic security that were made between 2001 and 2004. In many cases, our research on the impact of policies on vulnerable groups went well beyond the policy evaluations carried out by the provincial government (which in some cases conducted no evaluation of its policies).
Research in the labour and employment standards stream gathered information on the impact of employment standards and enforcement changes (data that did not previously exist) for young workers, immigrants, women and migrant workers. The research also highlighted the need to connect labour policies with other types of policies such as housing, welfare, immigration, in order to meet economic security needs.
A deeper understanding of poverty in BC
Out of the welfare and social policy research stream, there emerged a deeper understanding of the welfare regime in BC: day-to-day life on welfare is about survival, there is a clear link between welfare rules and homelessness, there is a welfare “paper wall” that prevents or discourages people from seeking welfare. Further, the research in this stream established ways in which we as a society pay for welfare and social policies that do not adequately meet the economic security needs of vulnerable populations.
A spotlight on successful, innovative health care programs
Our community health care research was able to establish the extent to which BC public policy is lacking in providing health care, particularly for seniors. But this stream also highlighted many small-scale community health care innovations that have been developed in the BC public health system.
Action on poverty and wage issues
A number of projects have evolved into broader outreach projects (such as the Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Living Wage Campaign) that seek both to raise public awareness and to engage with government policy-makers about policy changes that would better meet people’s economic security needs.
Development of best practices for community-academic research
The ESP developed best practices to ensure meaningful community-academic research collaboration and participation from community groups and students. For example, the ESP provided financial resources to community-based researchers and community groups (many of whom rely on volunteer time) to enable their participation in research projects.
For more information, visit Simon Fraser University's Economic Security Project website.