Achieving Safer Communities… con’t.

Implicit in the establishment of this “centre” is that it will be charged with the responsibility of coordinating the efforts of a number of Ministries within the Alberta government as such efforts relate to making our communities safer.

This responsibility will necessarily entail a significant change in the way that government does business – it will mean a shift from designating legislative responsibility to individual Ministries, and the necessary funding requirements associated with this legislative responsibility, to designating “outcome responsibility” to the “centre”, the achievement of which outcomes will be dependent upon the ability of the “centre” to influence the activities (and allocation of financial resources) of a number of Ministries.

This truly does represent a paradigm shift in the way the government does business.

An analysis of the Recommendations contained in the Report indicates that implementation of many will require new legislation, or amendment of existing legislation, as well as policy development and implementation that presently falls within the realm of the following Ministries:

  • Justice and Attorney General;
  • Solicitor General and Public Safety;
  • Children’s Services;
  • Education;
  • Employment, Immigration and Industry;
  • Finance;
  • Health and Wellness;
  • International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations;
  • Municipal Affairs and Housing;
  • Seniors and Community Supports;
  • Service Alberta;
  • Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture; and
  • Treasury Board

As well, the outcomes the “centre” is mandated to address cannot be effectively tackled without the cooperation of other provincially legislated bodies that operate with varying degrees of independence from the government, among others such as:

  • AADAC;
  • The Alberta Mental Health Board;
  • The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission; The Provincial Court of Alberta;
  • Municipal governments;
  • The Driver Control Board;
  • The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission; and
  • The Health Regions

There are also Federal Ministries, Boards, Commissions, and so on, including the RCMP.

And finally, in addition to the very important work the “centre” will have to do within and across government, it will also be charged with coordinating service delivery efforts with community agencies (NGO), and research efforts with the academic community.

Clearly, with such a mandate, and such “outcome responsibilities”, the “centre” will have to be set up and structured in such a way that it will actually be able to function in a governmental environment that is presently structured far differently.

Given the breadth of mandate and responsibilities, and the milieu within which this will all have to occur, the preferred course would be to establish an independent Safe Communities Commission that reports to the Legislative Assembly – either directly, or through the Premier or Minister of Justice.

But in addition to the obvious logistical issues that a Commission would be best suited to address, there is also a more fundamental issue that the Report references – that of the need for initiatives to extend beyond “the election cycle”, and be removed from the realm of partisan politics.

Albertans clearly recognized that addressing the plethora of issues in our communities cannot be done in any kind of meaningful way in the short term – there are no quick or easy “fixes”, and programs and initiatives that arise as a result of media sensationalism or current (perceived) public sentiment are most likely, in the long term, to prove counterproductive to achieving the desired outcomes.