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					        C A N A D I A N                  P O L I C Y             R E S E A R C H                  N E T W O R K S                   I N C.

 Number 3
                    The Society We Want A Project of the Family Network
                                                                                                                      August, 1998

THE SOCIETY WE WANT has heard from thousands of Canadians over the past two years. Since we published the last newsletter, many groups
across Canada have held dialogue sessions. You gave us feedback on the pilot project, the kit and the dialogue process. You contributed your thoughts
on national issues and concerns. This newsletter gives you an update on what Canadians have told us and how that has shaped the project’s next phase.

Canadians Speak Out:
                                          We report the results of the pilot phase
The pilot phase of THE SOCIETY WE WANT took place between April 1996 and February 1998. During this time, about
3,000 Canadians gathered in 187 dialogue groups of 8 to 12 people each, and in several larger community-wide gatherings
to deliberate five issues: Our Children, The Social Safety Net, Health, The Role of Government, and Work.

An analysis of the discussion reports shows that some views are shared by par-
ticipants. Compassion and social responsibility are fundamental common values.
The disadvantaged are not blamed or held responsible for their situation. There is                            In this issue
widespread concern about poverty, unemployment and the social safety net. Ca-
nadians believe in the value of social programs and in universal access to health
                                                                                                       Canadians Speak Out:
care and social services. They endorse the view that government should play a
                                                                                                       We Report the Results
strong role in providing services and leadership. There is concern for fiscal re-
                                                                                                       of the Pilot Phase .................... 1
sponsibility, and sometimes a tension with social responsibility; but, for most
groups fiscal responsibility means refining government programs, not ending
                                                                                                       Learning and Growing:
                                                                                                       A Report from the Best
                                                                                                       Practices Roundtable ............... 3
For each of five topics, participants were asked to consider three choices. Here are
those questions and the detailed summaries.
                                                                                                       Richmond Youth
                                                                                                       Have Their Say ........................ 6
What kind of life do we want for our children?
                                                                                                       Looking to the Future –
Canadians believe that children are important in themselves, not just as future citizens;
                                                                                                       New directions for TSWW ....... 6
but, one in five children live below the poverty line. Cuts to health, education, day care,
and welfare programs will have a big impact on children; but, many people believe these
                                                                                                       Lessons from
cuts are essential. How far are we prepared to go as a society in looking after our children?
                                                                                                       Ste-Agathe-des-Monts ............ 7
And what matters most in doing that? Do we want a society that:
  • invests in children first?
                                                                                                       You Are Being Heard ............... 7
  • gives our children a debt-free future?
  • trusts families to raise their children?
                                                                                                       Molson Internet Support .......... 7
                                                                       Please turn to page 2

  THE SOCIETY WE WANT: The Family Network, 2 Carlton Street, Suite 1009, Toronto ON M5B 1J3                               Tel:416-343-1110
THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                      August, 1998

Continued from page 1

                                                                                  The groups said community and family were
                                                                                  important and offered practical suggestions
                                                                                  for how communities can help children.

                                                                                  The well-being of children should be meas-
                                                                                  ured not only by looking at poverty statis-
                                                                                  tics but also by considering indicators such
                                                                                  as child abuse, crime and education.

                                                                                  What kind of social safety net
                                                                                  do we want our society to
                                                                                  The economic and social environment is very dif-
                                                                                  ferent now than when many of our social pro-
               Participants share their experiences.                              grams were designed. Revenues no longer meet
                                                                                  expenditure demands, we are an aging popula-
Forty-eight groups (26%) chose this issue. Groups were fo-                        tion and employment patterns are rapidly chang-
cused on all children, not just on children ‘at risk’, or any    ing. Canadians value our social programs and we want to be fis-
particular age group. Compassion was a fundamental value         cally responsible. How can we create a social safety net that meets
underlying these concerns. In assessing the balance between      today’s goals and needs? Do we want a society that:
social and fiscal responsibility, groups indicated that com-       • puts the emphasis on self-reliance?
passion was more important than the national debt. They            • invests in people?
believe governments are responsible for programs to help           • acknowledges our responsibility to one another?
children and their parents. As one group said: “Nobody felt
the debt to be the very worst thing we could give our chil-      Thirty-nine groups (21%) chose this issue. Canadians want
dren.”                                                           to keep a strong social safety net with universal services.
                                                                 Some wanted a stronger safety net with more services, in-
Among the concerns, the dominant one was child poverty.          cluding a minimum standard of living. Only one group
Groups said a wide range of basic needs should be met “in-       thought universality was no longer affordable.
cluding health care, food, shelter, education, security, guid-
ance and love.”                                                  The groups called for an end to all poverty, specifically
                                                                 focussing on the homeless and children. Only rarely did they
Most groups felt children’s programs should be strength-
                                                                                                            Continued on page 4.
ened, not cut. They called for regulations – for example, to
deal with abuse; but, they put more emphasis on programs
to help poor families and children. They called for tax help,      The well-being of children should
particularly for parents at home. They also called for parent      be measured not only by looking
education programs and spoke of family values.                     at poverty statistics but also by
                                                                   considering indicators such as
                                                                   child abuse, crime and education.

THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                     August, 1998

Learning and Growing:                                                                         Who We Are
                                                                                     T H E S O C I E T Y W E W A N T is an in-
                       Participants Share Their Experiences                          novative nation-wide public dialogue
                                                                                     process in which Canadians meet – ei-
                                                                                     ther in small groups or in community-
Greater involvement of a diversity of Canadians will be one goal for the next
                                                                                     wide dialogues – to think and talk
three years of THE SOCIETY WE WANT. Ensuring that a wide variety of inter-           about the issues that will shape the
ests and viewpoints are represented in the discussion groups and community-          future of our country. Created in
wide dialogues was one of the recommendations from those who took part in            1996, by the Family Network of the
the first Best Practices Participants’ Roundtable.                                   Canadian Policy Research Networks,
                                                                                     Inc. (CPRN), THE SOCIETY WE
In March 1998, 25 representatives who organized discussion groups in 20              WANT offers a spring-board for new
                                                                                     solutions, builds respect for divergent
Canadian communities came together to share experiences and to help CPRN
                                                                                     viewpoints, and records what matters
assess the process.                                                                  most to Canadians.

                                                                                     THE SOCIETY WE WANT is a pub-
During a panel discussion, Anne George (B.C.), Augustine Jeyanathan (Toronto),
                                                                                     lic consultation process that offers
and Morris Twist (Guelph) reported on using the dialogue process. All three          deeper reflection and deliberation.
underlined the importance of dialogue. “Communities and individuals felt em-         Participants consider three provoca-
powered by the process,” Anne George stated. They emphasized the value of            tive positions and listen to arguments
dialogue groups characteristic of Canada’s diversity and said that greater diver-    for and against each one. Choices are
sity in the groups enriched the experience for everyone. Morris Twist suggested      intentionally difficult in order to help
                                                                                     citizens clarify their values and under-
that one way of doing this is to make changes to the kit.
                                                                                     stand the complexity of trade-offs.

Participants were enthusiastic about the dialogue kit as a useful tool for engag-    T h e F a m i l y N e t w o r k created THE
ing people and clarifying values on social policy, and were full of ideas for mak-   SOCIETY WE WANT as part of its
                                                                                     focus on values and evolving public
ing it better – more user friendly and more responsive to the needs of diverse
                                                                                     discourse. A 1995 report, Exploring
communities. Participants also provided insights on how to measure success at        Canadian Values, showed Canadians
the individual, community and national levels. A revised and improved kit will       want to be involved in a meaningful
be published in the fall.                                                            and democratic discussion about the
                                                                                     economy and the restructuring of so-
Participants wanted assurances that their messages would be carried forward to       cial programs. THE SOCIETY WE
decision makers. CPRN has had opportunities to present findings from THE             WANT provides them with this op-
SOCIETY WE WANT – for example, to House of Commons Committees and in
publications – and continues to expand its outreach.                                 Canadian Policy Research
                                                                                     N e t w o r k s , I n c . ( C P R N ) is a non-
                                                                                     profit, charitable-status research
More information:
                                                                                     organization with a mandate to create
The experiences of the pilot phase have been documented in a detailed report         knowledge and lead public debate on
by former Co-ordinator, Marit Stiles. It will be available on the CPRN web site      social and economic issues vital to all
later this summer.                                                                   Canadians. Our goal is to help build a
                                                                                     more just, prosperous and caring
                                                                                     society. We want to make Canada a
                                                               place where citizens can realistically
           Our recently updated web site provides
                                                                                     expect high levels of well-being and a
           m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t THE SOCIETY WE
                                                                                     resilient social fabric. CPRN has three
           WANT a n d C P R N .
                                                                                     Networks: Health, Work and Family.

THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                              August, 1998

Continued from page 2

blame individuals or make pejorative statements about wel-              want more cuts; but, they are concerned about bureaucratic
fare abuse or dependency.                                               management of the system and the role of health care pro-
                                                                        fessionals. Participants, particularly those who met more re-
Participants wanted more emphasis placed on employment                  cently, favoured preventative care and public education.
issues and a reduction in child poverty and less on debt and
deficit reduction. As one group put it: “We are connected               A very small minority of groups suggested that universality
and have a collective responsibility to maintain the social             is no longer appropriate, not because of cost, but because
safety net for the common good.”                                        they associated it with dependency.

What kind of health care system do we What kind of government do we want?
                                                                        Canadians seem increasingly frustrated by, and mistrustful of gov-
Canada enjoys one of the best health care systems in the world, a       ernment. To a troubling degree, government has lost our respect
system that guarantees equal access to doctors and hospitals to         and confidence, and yet we expect a great deal of it. Changing times
everyone, anywhere in the country, regardless of ability to pay.        are creating new challenges and demands. If government is not
But, our health care system is expensive, accounting for 13.5% of       accomplishing what we think it should, what kind of government
government spending. How do we balance budgets and still care           do we want? Do we want a society :
for our fellow citizens when they are at their most vulnerable? Do        • with more fiscally responsible government?
we want a society:                                                        • that engages all citizens as governments make decisions?
  • that guarantees universal health care?                                • with visionary leaders in government?
  • that is tough-minded and financially realistic about health care?
  • built on healthy living?                                            Twenty-nine groups (16%) discussed the role of government.
                                                                        The discussion groups favoured a strong and activist
Thirty-seven groups (19%) chose this issue. Canadians al-               government that helps citizens, and provides services and
most unanimously favour a universal and comprehensive                   leadership. Government should provide a fair and equitable
health care system. This means the full standard envisioned             social safety system including universal medicare, pensions
under the Canada Health Act – not
the abridged version resulting from
recent federal and provincial cut-

Over the past 30 years Canadians
have come to accept the concept of
universality and they are not will-
ing to give it up. They reject priva-
tization of health services.

However, there is a potential con-
flict: on the one hand, Canadians
value efficiency and keeping costs
down; on the other hand, they want
standards maintained. They do not
                                                          Participants in the Richmond, B.C., youth forum

THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                        August, 1998

for the elderly and support for small business. Government            port programs. Many people are concerned about abuse of welfare
should maintain consistent and universal standards across             and unemployment programs. Do we want a society that:
the country for such things as health, education,                       • is built on self-reliance?
transportation, welfare and communication. Participants                 • cares for its needy?
were not disillusioned with government and few called for               • promotes full employment?
less of it.
                                                            Twenty-four groups (13%) discussed this issue. There is enor-
At the same time, groups wanted a more accountable gov-     mous and widespread concern about unemployment, as well
ernment, that recognizes the participation and interest of  as the fate of the unemployed and poverty. The over-riding
citizens. They definitely wanted mechanisms that allow      theme was the lack of planning, by government and by indi-
more individual involvement. They also wanted mutual tol-   viduals. The question of who is responsible for the problem
erance between government and its citi-                                          – government or the individual – and
zens.                                                                            what to do about it received far less com-
                                            “We are connected and ment. Instead, the focus was on co-op-
All groups stressed the importance of fis-
                                            have a collective respon- eration and mutual support and respon-
cal responsibility. Those who met in 1996                                        sibility in a society that does not put ma-
were particularly concerned about bal-
                                            sibility to maintain the terial values above all others. A few
ancing the budget. They wanted govern- social safety net for the                 groups called for more self-reliance as a
ment to cut waste and duplication. All common good.”                             value in society; however, they were far
groups, but especially the most recent                                           outnumbered by those who wanted so-
ones, wanted fiscal responsibility to be                                         ciety’s values to reflect an increased em-
balanced by compassion, and not result in increased polari- phasis on collective responsibility.
zation between rich and poor.
                                                                      To solve the unemployment problem, some groups called for
There is a tension between self-reliance and collective re-           more programs to provide jobs or job-training. Some empha-
sponsibility, and the role of government. A few groups called         sized job-sharing and tax reform that recognizes parents at
for more self-reliance as a societal value; many more thought         home. The focus, when there was one, was on government.
society should put more value on collective responsibility.
They called for co-operation, mutual support and responsi-            A few groups were concerned with the issue of what is con-
bility in a society that does not put material values above           sidered work. Many recognized work in the home. Part of
all others.                                                           the emphasis on employment was a focus on education and
Work: are our income support and job
creation programs useful and affordable?                              A commonly held view was: “Cutbacks in education are false
Everyone wants to work. Many Canadians are struggling eco-
nomically. Unemployment is high, the overall economy is in trou-
ble and isolated regions of the country, especially, are experienc-
                                                                                          En français!
ing severe problems. Almost 20% of Canadians live below the
                                                                             Ce document est aussi disponible en français.
poverty line. At the same time, governments are in debt, their
                                                                             Téléphonez: 416-343-1110.
expenses exceed their revenues, and they want to cut income sup-

THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                August, 1998

 Looking to the                                        Richmond’s Youth Have a Say
    Future                                                 on National Issues
                                                                            by Justin Ho
 During its next phase THE SOCIETY
                                              When I came on board to THE SOCIETY WE WANT process in October
 WE WANT will extend the reach of
                                              1997, the whole idea was quite abstract yet full of potential and energy.
 public dialogue, and develop revised
                                              Since then, Richmond has played host to two successful community-wide
 kit materials on topical issues. The goal
                                              forums: a youth forum in February and a counterpoint adult forum in May.
 is to gradually build the capacity for on-
 going dialogue that reaches more and
                                              The youth forum was a unique experience for everyone involved.
 more Canadians and becomes an ac-
                                              Richmond, like other communities, has had many forums and town hall
 cepted part of the way Canadians prac-
                                              meetings on a myriad of issues, but only a handful have been geared for
 tice democracy.
                                              youth participation and even fewer have been spearheaded by youth.
  Our target provinces are British Co-        Although the point-counterpoint approach created some fascinating clashes
 lumbia., Ontario, and Quebec. We are         of opinions between generations, it was the youth-for-youth concept of
 looking at a launch date in the late fall.   the first forum that created the most enthusiasm in the community.

 Look for:                                    As chair of the youth organizing committee, I can report that we invested
                                              a lot of time developing the format for the day-long event and we believed
 • A revised dialogue tool-kit and new        we had put together a dialogue that was both relevant and captivating.
   tools that will appeal to a wider range    We could never have foreseen the resulting excitement the forum would
   of individuals and organizations.          generate.

 • A growing and broader base of par-
                                              While facilitating a group discussion with high school students, I quickly
   ticipation resulting from expanded
                                              realized that having the discussion itself was just as important as what
   outreach through current partners
                                              was being said. Youth have been asked before about issues such as teen
   and organizations working with di-
                                              violence or drug abuse, but have never been asked to share their thoughts
   verse and hard-to-reach citizens.
                                              on issues facing all of Canadian society – on our social safety net or the
                                              role of government. The discussions proved that young people are already
 • Outreach to more communities in
                                              educated about social issues and want to talk about them, but lack a venue
   more provinces, by linking with more
                                              to express them. THE SOCIETY WE WANT provided this venue. Every-
   community leaders.
                                              one present felt we were taking part in something worthwhile; however,
 • Roundtables and orientation sessions       this should only be the beginning.
   that will offer opportunities for
   shared learning on why and how citi-       Participants said they learned they “actually have a say in the way Canada
   zens can benefit from deeper engage-       is being run,” and that they “learned and discovered some ways to make a
   ment.                                      change.” This is more than enough reward for both the Richmond Foun-
                                              dation and the youth organizing committee. It is the reward of knowing
 • Reports on results to policymakers,        that it will be these participants that will be the next ones to give others
   academics, advocates, front-line prac-     their first glance of democracy in action. As our keynote speaker David
   titioners, and the general public.         Jang stressed: “We are all community leaders in our own way.”

THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                   August, 1998

 Linking Diverse Communities                                      You Are Being Heard
                    by Sheila Eskenazi                           We have been helping people clarify their values for only
                                                                 two years; but, already we can report that we are bringing
                                                                 your voices and concerns to current policy discussions. Re-
                                                                 sults of THE SOCIETY WE WANT dialogues will be reported
Our community is very fragmented, made up of permanent
                                                                 in What is the Best Policy Mix for Canada’s Children?, a Family
and recreational residents, where the lines between English,
                                                                 Network research project.
French and Jewish communities are rarely crossed. We have
worked very hard for many years to bridge these divides;
                                                                 Findings were also presented to the House of Commons
and, when I encountered the documentation for THE
                                                                 Standing Committee on Finance during discussions of the
SOCIETY WE WANT I felt that it would be an ideal vehicle
                                                                 budget; and to officials involved in the National Children’s
to that end.
                                                                 Agenda. THE SOCIETY WE WANT results have also been
                                                                 conveyed to policymakers through other CPRN communi-
With the support of our local chapter of the Canadian Club,
                                                                 cations – newsletters and presentations, speeches and brief-
I organized a pilot dialogue on The Role of Government. We
                                                                 ings by Suzanne Peters and Judith Maxwell in their travels
were ten people around a table for an evening of lively dis-
                                                                 across Canada.
cussion. While not representing the full range of the popula-
tion, we felt that this group would provide us with the foun-
                                                                 For example, Judith Maxwell spoke about THE SOCIETY
dation for building a larger project.
                                                                 WE WANT to groups such as the Ottawa Anglican Synod,
                                                                 the Ecumenical Decade Committee of the Diocese of Ottawa,
Most of that first group assembled in early May for a
                                                                 and the United Way of Guelph. Suzanne Peters made
facilitators’ training session given by Shaheen Sayed, from
                                                                 presentations to a Gordon Foundation forum in Toronto and
the Family Network. The next day we attended the Annual
                                                                 to the Canadian Council for International Co-operation in
General Meeting luncheon of the Canadian Club, where
Shaheen was the keynote speaker. The major lesson we took
out of the event was not to pack too many things into one
day. We had about 60 people for the luncheon, but the very                    Molson Web Site
slow restaurant service threw our schedule out completely.
                                                                  Last December, Molson Breweries launched the Work Issue
By the time we were ready for the roundtable discussion, we       Guide on their web site. Sponsoring the site was a demon-
were down to about 25.                                            stration of Molson’s interest in becoming more involved in
                                                                  social issues.
We broke out into groups on The Role of Government, and
                                                                  The site was a success as a first attempt at alternative
on Health, in which I participated. Most of the participants      dialogue methods for both THE SOCIETY WE WANT and
were invigorated by the level of input and exchange. They         Molson’s. We believe it has a lot of potential. However, the
discovered that, no matter how well they thought they knew        site required some fine-tuning and improvements, which
their neighbours, they had rarely explored the depths of their    we are currently working on. It has been temporarily closed
                                                                  and a new launch is anticipated in the fall coinciding with
feelings about these topics. Most would gladly be involved
                                                                  the revised Public Dialogue Kit.
in future discussions, and several took kits with them to try
to get involvement from other groups to which they belong.        We are also planning to include THE SOCIETY WE WANT
                                                                  information in the university student packages Molson pre-
And thus grows the web that binds the diverse communities
                                                                  pares as part of their “Take Care” responsible drinking cam-
                                                                  paign. We thank Molson’s for their continued commitment
                                                                  to THE SOCIETY WE WANT.

THE SOCIETY WE WANT Newsletter                                                                                 August, 1998

            The Partnership                                       Dialogue Is Not Debate
 T H E S O C I E T Y W E W A N T has 12 national, non-profit   Dialogue is collaborative:       Debate is oppositional: two
 partner organizations, which are linked to Canadians in       two or more sides work to-       sides oppose each other and
 daily community life. They are:
                                                               gether toward a common un-       attempt to prove each other
                                                               derstanding.                     wrong.
  • Anglican Church of Canada
  • Canadian Ethnocultural Council                             In dialogue one searches for In debate one searches for
  • Canadian Home Economics Association of Canada
                                                               strengths in the other posi- flaws and weaknesses in the
  • Catholic Women’s League of Canada
                                                               tions.                       other position.
  • Community Foundations of Canada
  • Democracy Education Network
  • Family Service Canada                                      Dialogue creates an open- Debate creates a closed-
  • Frontier College                                           minded attitude; an openness minded attitude, a determi-
  • Imagine Program of the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy    to being wrong and an open- nation to be right.
  • National Association of Friendship Centres                 ness to change.
  • United Way of Canada
  • YWCA of/du Canada                                          In dialogue finding common In debate winning is the
                                                               ground is the goal.        goal.
 Our 12 partners have been the main link between T H E
 S O C I E T Y W E W A N T and the public. Working with the
 TSWW team, they encourage communities to hold public          Dialogue opens up the pos- Debate defends one’s posi-
 dialogues and have served as advisors, ambassadors, con-      sibility of reaching a better so- tion as the best solution and
 venors and facilitators of small groups and community-        lution than any of the origi- excludes other solutions.
 wide dialogues.                                               nal solutions.

                                                               Dialogue assumes many peo- Debate assumes there is
          CHANGE IS GOOD!                                      ple have pieces of the answer right answer and that some-
                                                               and that together they can one has it.
  As we know, change is the one constant we can depend         put them into a workable so-
  on.                                                          lution.

  Shaheen Sayed has left THE SOCIETY WE WANT                   Dialogue remains open- Debate implies a conclu-
  project to take up a new position in communications with                            sion.
  the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. We extend our
  best wishes and thank her for all her contributions to the
  new directions for the project.

  Rhonda Ferderber ( has joined the    We want to hear from you!
  team as Manager, on an Executive Interchange Assign-
  ment from Health Canada. Her expertise in the area of        We are updating our newsletter mailing list
  citizen engagement and communications will help THE          and want to avoid waste and duplication. If
  SOCIETY WE WANT evolve to its next level.                    you wish to continue receiving the newsletter,
                                                               please verify your mailing address and fax or
         Please note our new address:
                                                               e-mail it to us. Please provide your:
         The Family Network
                                                                     Name, Title, Organization ,
         2 Carlton Street, Suite 1009,
                                                                     Address including postal code,
         Toronto ON M5B 1J3
                                                                     Telephone, Fax and e-mail.
         Telephone: 416-343-1110
         Fax: 416-260-1505
         e-mail:                                                      ISSN No.: 1480-591X