Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Accountability and Funding as Impediments to Social Policy Innovation: Lessons from the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities

Document type Article
Author Graefe, Peter
Author Levesque, Mario
Journal Canadian Public Policy
Volume 36
Date 2010-05-16
ISSN 1911-9917
Pages 45-62


Social policy innovation in Canada remains stunted despite recent attempts at social policy renewal via intergovernmental agreements. The fusion of accountability and policy learning is typically blamed, yet this ignores other potential factors. This article examines the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities to highlight impediments to social program expansion and reform within governments as well as between governments, and how the design of recent agreements serves to reinforce those impediments. We find that the linkage of accountability and policy learning means that learning gets caught up in long-standing federal-provincial disputes over jurisdiction, and leads to a perverse form of learning. We also [End Page 45] find significant barriers to innovation in the nature of federal government funding, which provides neither incentives for “have provinces” to expand their programming nor sufficient funds for “have not” provinces to successfully transform their programs.