Negotiating Neoliberal Environments in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada: Restructuring of State – Voluntary Sector Relations and Disability Organizations' Struggles to Survive Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • As the social programmes of the postwar welfare state have been dramatically cut back and transformed, many have looked to the voluntary nonprofit sector as the ‘beacon of hope’ in terms of delivering support and services to citizens in need of assistance. But at the same time as these organizations have been under mounting pressure to deliver support and services, they have also been subject to forces of change which limit their capacities to play this vital social role. In this paper, we examine how disability organizations in two Canadian provinces have been faring in increasingly harsh neoliberal environments. We look, in particular, at the ways in which these organizations are struggling to negotiate the pressures of diminished and inadequate funding, rising demand for their services, and changing regulatory relations with the state. Drawing on mail surveys of sixty-two disability organizations in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, we discuss the impacts that organizational survival strategies are having on clients, staff, volunteers and volunteerism, and on the operation and structure of such organizations. We show how disability organizations are experiencing significant pressures to change how they deliver services and supports to disabled people in need. These include pressures to diminish levels of service provision to clients, particularly those in greatest need, to reduce staffing levels and institute survival strategies that negatively impact working conditions, to rely even more heavily upon volunteer labour, and to modify their operations and organizations in a struggle to cope with harsh neoliberal conditions.

publication date

  • February 2008