Enabling Policy for Health and Social Co-ops in BC
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This paper examines the role that co-operatives are playing in the provision of health and social services in Canada and internationally, and the impact of government policy, legislation, and operating procedure on the ability of co-operative models to provide these services in British Columbia, Canada. The paper also examines other factors - both internal and external to co-op organizations - that affect the capacity of co-ops to play a more meaningful role in the production and delivery of health and social care services. The paper proposes that there are effective alternatives to the prevailing view that health and social services must be supplied either by government or the private sector. A third alternative, a social economy model based on consumer control and operating at a community level through a variety of community based, non-profit, co-operative, and social enterprises has been breaking new ground and warrants serious attention by policy makers and legislators. A social economy approach also requires governments to move beyond the strict utilitarian view of public services that has come with the application of private sector management models to the public sector.