CCPA/SFU Economic Security Project (ESP)

With significant transformation underway in the delivery and governance of public services in British Columbia the potential for adverse impacts on the economic and social security of vulnerable populations has become a serious concern. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - BC (CCPA-BC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) along with 20 academic collaborators and 23 community partners have undertaken a five-year project entitled the Economic Security Project (ESP) that will attempt to document and analyze BC’s recent policy changes and their direct effects on the economic security of vulnerable populations, and present workable alternative solutions for wide dissemination. The four main objectives identified for the project include:

  • Bring together interdisciplinary academic resources and community-based experience to document and analyze how policy reforms are affecting the economic security of vulnerable populations.
  • Understand BC’s government restructuring in the context of wider national and international political and economic changes.
  • Draw on the expertise of community groups and academics to collaboratively develop models for the governance and delivery of public programs that effectively respond to and meet the needs of all citizens, including the most vulnerable and marginalized.
  • Share the findings and recommendations of the project with community organizations, policy-makers, academics, and the general public in BC and nationally.

Given the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of BC’s recent policy changes and the myriad impacts on the economic security of vulnerable populations, a three-stream research approach will be used to investigate the theme. The three streams, outlined below, are: employment standards and barriers to labour market participation and economic security; welfare & social policy reform and economic security; and community health care restructuring and economic security. Within these streams are housed individual research projects that aim to carry out three stages of research over the project’s lifetime: document the policy changes (baseline work), analyze the effects of these changes, and propose alternative solutions.

Stream 1 - Employment Standards and Barriers to Labour Market Participation and Economic Security

This first research stream will look at recent policy changes in the sphere of employment supports and labour market regulations, and their effects on the economic security of vulnerable populations. Broadly speaking, this includes changes to the Employment Standards Act, regulations under the Act and the methods of its enforcement, and restructuring of employment support programs (such as training and child care).

Stream 2 - Welfare and Social Policy Reform and Economic Security

The welfare and social policy reform stream aims to investigate the impact of changes to policies and programs that provide support with basic needs - income, food, and shelter - to British Columbians and develop alternative models for enhancing the economic security of people living on low incomes.

Stream 3 - Community Health Care Restructuring and Economic Security

Stream three takes as its focus community health care delivery systems and services including: long-term residential care; home care and home support; assisted living/supportive housing; and primary care beyond strictly physicians services. This stream will investigate how changes to these delivery systems and services over the last decade and in the coming years may affect the economic security of both those requiring health care and of those who provide it.

Cross-Stream Projects

Several projects within the ESP have been designed to cut across research streams, with an eye to examining the full breadth and interconnected nature of BC’s recent policy changes. These projects will use the lens of a specific population to explore the full constellation of recent policy changes and their effects on the economic security of a vulnerable population.

In the course of undertaking the research, the Economic Security Project will:

  • Create a broad network of researchers and community advocates from academia, nongovernmental organizations, and community groups to share resources, knowledge, and expertise.
  • Enhance students’ education and employability by means of diverse opportunities to build knowledge, expertise, and work skills through hands-on research and training.
  • Enrich research, teaching methods, and curricula in universities through special courses, conferences, public and guest lectures and publications.
  • Improve community decision-making and problem solving capacity through project involvement.
  • Increase public awareness of policy changes and consequences.
  • Where research points to the need for change, encourage policy reforms.