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Manitoba: Locating the Spaces for Policy Influence

Mon, July 12, 3:15 to 4:15pm, Virtual 2021, 2


In Manitoba, the order of government which relates most comprehensively to non-profit organizations and the non-profit sector is the provincial government. This relationship involves funding, regulation, delegation of authority and development of strategy to enhance the sustainability and effectiveness of the sector.

The non-profit sector is important in Manitoba. It has been found to have the second highest number of non-profit organizations proportional to population. Non-profit organizations are historically and contemporarily central to the delivery of health care and social services (i.e. child care). They are also centrally involved in delivering arts, culture and recreational services.

This combination of factors provides the non-profit sector with potential leverage both in broad policy advocacy and exercising influence in how funded services are delivered by particular organizations. However, the opportunity to actualize this leverage varies a great deal according to the department or agency to which the non-profit organization relates. It also varies according to the strength of self-organization within the non-profit sector and the extent to which the provincial government develops policy initiatives aimed at the sector as a whole.

With this in mind, this paper focuses on opportunities for influence.
First, research completed when a previous social democratic regime was in power will be presented regarding the opportunities for non-profit organizations to shape their own service delivery. We found that these opportunities varied a great deal based on the governance practices of various provincial government departments in the context of weak central agency (treasury board) control. Governance was exercised in various ways, through funding instruments which provide differential space for organization input, through accountability practices which embody varying degrees of hierarchical control and through cooperation strategies which vary from co-governance to principal-agent arrangements. We explore these changes and the responses to these changes from the sector.

Second, we will examine two provincial government iniatives related to the non-profit sector as a whole. We found that this experiment represented movement away from a new public management contracting regime, but not implementation of a collaborative governance approach with the non-profit sector.

The second initiative is a discussion paper released in May, 2019 called Building Capacity and Promoting Sustainability in Manitoba’s Non-profit Sector, which narrowly frames the sector as serving the marginalized and characterizes government funding as a problem of dependence on the state. This has raised concern, given its initiation by an austerity-oriented government. We will examine how organizations have interpreted the document and the strategies they are using to influence government with regard to it.

Last, we also explore the relationship between Manitoba’s largest city (Winnipeg) and the sector. While Winnipeg plays a residual role in the regulation and financing of the non-profit sector, it has done so with no guiding principles and could benefit from a formal ‘non-profit strategy’. Our paper ends with an examination how non-profits relate to the city and how they find opportunities to influence city councillors.