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Researchers Receive $2.5 Million To Explore
Policy-Making In Municipalities

Monday, March 1, 2004 - 00:00

Municipal-federal-provincial government relations is currently one of the most prominent issues in Canadian politics. It was announced today that researchers at The University of Western Ontario will lead a major national research project to examine how all levels of government can work together to deal with issues of both local and national importance.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) will provide $2.5-million in funding for the project, led by Robert Young, political science professor at Western and Canada Research Chair in Multilevel Governance.

Young's team of 66 Canadian researchers and 10 international scholars will focus on six key policy areas: emergency planning, federal property (including military bases and ports), immigrant settlement, municipal image building, infrastructure and urban Aboriginal policy.

The researchers will examine, for example, the strategies various municipalities use to attract and retain knowledge workers. They will also explore how different provincial governments mediate between the municipal and federal levels of government and how municipalities work together to advance common interests.

"In addition to studying the role of governments, we'll also be looking at the role of organized groups such as community and cultural associations, unions, business associations and NGOs," says Young. "While all of these groups are involved in the policy process to some extent, their level of participation and their influence varies a great deal. We need to examine how this contributes to policy-making."

"It's clear that all levels of government need to work together to help Canada's cities and towns generate wealth and improve the quality of life for their residents," says Joe Fontana, MP for London North Centre, who made today's announcement on behalf of Lucienne Robillard, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for SSHRC. "This research will help us understand how to interact more effectively and how to engage local groups so they have the opportunity to make their voices heard."

Nils Petersen, Western's Vice-President (Research), says, "This study is an excellent illustration of the value of social sciences and humanities research in improving the quality of life for Canadians. In Canada, intergovernmental relations is of critical importance and Professor Young's research will help create recommendations that will be extremely useful in developing effective policy to guide future intergovernmental cooperation in key areas."

Researchers from 26 Canadian universities, as well as from the United States, Belgium, South Africa and Germany, will take part in the study, comparing the development of local policies across jurisdictions and identifying successful models of partnership and cooperation from other countries.

SSHRC (www.sshrc.ca) is an independent federal government agency that funds university-based research and graduate training through national peer-review competitions. SSHRC also partners with public and private sector organizations to focus research and aid the development of better policies and practices in key areas of Canada's social, cultural and economic life.

The Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) program supports leading-edge research with true potential for intellectual breakthrough that addresses broad and critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance through the effective coordination and integration of diverse research activities and research results.

For more information, please contact Robert Young at (519) 661-3662 or young@uwo.ca, or Marcia Steyaert, Communications & Public Affairs, at(519) 661-2111 ext. 85468 or steyaert@uwo.ca.

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