Author: Jackie Sieppert

This report is a part of the Social Services Project, an initiative helping to expand the knowledge-base of Canadians about the non-profit sector.

The fundamental restructuring of social services in Canada is a recent phenomenon occurring predominantly in the 1990s. There has been the ongoing refinement of existing social service policies and continuous adjustments to a changing society, as well as debt and deficit-driven reductions to government spending.
The changes can be generally conceptualized as a shift away from the welfare state to a welfare society.

In Alberta, and across Canada, there is no comprehensive planning or review process for social services. There is a lack of adequate goal-setting, planning, delivery, and evaluation of social services.

Suggestions are offered for developing and implementing a stronger framework for shaping social services and addresses the challenge on the two fronts of information and innovation.


Build a meaningful information-base – There is a limited formal knowledge-base underlying much of social services.
Build a rigorous set of “social benchmarks”- Benchmarks serve as statements of goals, priorities and desired outcomes for social services.
Identify and encourage alternative service delivery models – Current directions in social services hold potential for improving the system.
This report has a double purpose: to provide Albertans with a starting point from which to debate the ongoing changes to Alberta’s social service sector; and to suggest directions that these changes might usefully take.