Public Policy - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Running in place: Overcoming barriers for women in Canadian municipal politics

Date created: 
2016-03-22
Abstract: 

This paper explores ways that Canadian municipal governments can increase the number of women who run for Mayor and City Councilor positions. I first provide an overview of barriers for women’s political representation in Canada and an analysis of the current gender gap at the municipal level. I then outline my research, which consists of interviews both with women elected as Mayors and City Councilors in Canada as well as with subject matter experts. Based on these interviews the major barrier identified for women is a negative political environment, namely through gendered comments and assumptions. My research leads to five policy options which are analyzed using standardized criteria and measures. I conclude that gender-equity mandates for municipal boards and advisory committees is the best option for increasing the number of women who run for municipal office; this would happen via skill-building and making the political culture more welcoming to women.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Maureen Maloney
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

How poor is poor enough? Measuring the effectiveness of living wage policy implementation

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-21
Abstract: 

The following capstone addresses the policy problem of income inequality and poverty. This is achieved by measuring the implementation effectiveness of one identified policy tool used at the local level to combat this societal problem: living wage policy. The methodological design of this study includes: a literature review of living wage research in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom; a case study analysis of Vancity and the City of New Westminster; and policy options based on data analysis and literature review findings. Three policy options, or strategies, were proposed, outlining the level of implementation effectiveness available to organizations considering implementing living wage policy. This study recommends a tiered-implementation approach, consisting of an initial moderate implementation framework followed by a comprehensive implementation strategy. The study findings are of value to local organizations seeking an implementation assessment template for instituting living wage policy.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Maureen Maloney
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Mobile health technologies that enable patient-physician interactions: public policy perspectives

Date created: 
2016-04-19
Abstract: 

Canadians are fast adopting mobile devices and health apps, and surveys suggest that Canadians want to engage with their health provider using these technologies, yet they are seldom able to. This study seeks to understand why health apps are seldom jointly used between physicians and patients and explore policies that would allow us to leverage these tools within British Columbia’s health care system. Critical discourse analysis and case examples are used to identify key issues and inform the policy analysis. Policy options are evaluated according to effectiveness, implementation ease and equity. In the near term, I recommend the development of a directory of health apps reviewed by patients and medical experts according to an agreed-upon framework and criteria. Longer term, more rigorous processes of certifying or licensing health apps may encourage adoption of more sophisticated, high quality health apps. However, government funding may be needed to stimulate the development of apps that can satisfy more rigorous validation approaches.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Doug McArthur
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Failing Families: The Case for Increasing Supports for Families Impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date created: 
2016-03-16
Abstract: 

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is rising, and supporting individuals with ASD and their families is of increasing importance. Caregiving responsibilities associated with ASD are known to negatively affect employment and income. Yet in BC, government funding only partially covers the costs of autism treatments, leaving parents with significant out-of-pocket costs. An online survey of parents of children with ASD was used to gauge the actual impact of caring for a child with ASD on parental employment and income, and to identify policies that would better support their families. The results demonstrate that households impacted by ASD face high levels of financial stress, experience significant negative effects on parental employment, and need a range of more supportive government programs. Along with the status quo, this project assesses four policy options - increasing funding under the existing Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) program, adding coverage for autism treatment within the healthcare system, integrating ABA into the public school system, and offering leave for parents to care for their child. The report recommends increasing funding under the MCFD model, along with other supportive policies.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Olena Hankivsky
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Evaluation of the Government of Alberta's Direct-to-Tenant Rent Supplement and Identification of Entitlement-based Housing Allowance Options

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-10
Abstract: 

The Direct-to-Tenant Rent Supplement (DTRS) is a Government of Alberta housing allowance that is targeted to a broad section of low-income renters in the private market. It subsidizes the full range of the affordability gap, or the difference between actual rent and 30 percent of an eligible household’s gross income. However, the non-entitlement nature only replicates the horizontal inequities of social housing. Furthermore, the program also has vertical inequity issues due to the benefit formula’s indifference to household size. This study searches for an alternative method to define eligibility and allocate benefits within the context of an entitlement-based housing allowances. It is recommended that the provincial government restrict eligibility to low income working-age households with employment earnings. In addition, the program should only subsidize a portion of the affordability gap with benefit generosity adjusted for family size. This policy option demonstrated significant improvements in equity while constraining program costs.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Richards
Doug McArthur
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Working to live: economic security through policy innovation in vancouver's downtown eastside

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-22
Abstract: 

Economic insecurity has been a persistent policy problem in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Expert interviews with 33 high-level representatives from non-profit organizations and social enterprises in the DTES and a literature review were used to understand the context and factors contributing to economic insecurity. Key identified barriers include: earning limits and high income taxes; a lack of access to supportive, low-threshold employment; and insufficient supports. These findings informed the development of five policy options that were assessed with respect to effectiveness, budgetary cost to government, stakeholder acceptability, and implementation complexity. Based on this analysis, promising approaches to improve economic security in the DTES of Vancouver include introducing a 30% income tax on earnings above social assistance exemption limits; facilitating investment in enterprises that provide low-threshold opportunities; and, providing low-barrier employment supports including skills and work readiness training, on- and off-job supports, and other community-centred supportive employment services.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kora DeBeck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Supporting the development of affordable rental housing: A review and analysis of tax credit incentives and recommendations for Canada

Date created: 
2016-03-08
Abstract: 

One in five renter households in Canada spends 50% or more of their income on housing, a severe rent burden which can lead to poorer social and economic outcomes for households and communities. Below optimum levels of investment in the rental sector contributes to high rents, partly due to institutional structures which favour investment in the ownership market. This study examines the insufficient supply of affordable rental housing for low and middle income households in Canada, and how tax credit incentives can be used to address this problem. Three programs are reviewed: LIHTC in the United States, NRAS in Australia, and RHCTC in Manitoba. Three policy options are proposed and analyzed using criteria and measures. The final recommendation is to implement a non-transferable and non-competitive tax credit program which provides tax credits worth approximately 10% of total development costs for rental housing projects with at least 20% affordable units.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Doug McArthur
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Paving the Way for Smooth Transitions: Continuity of Care from Child to Adult Mental Health Systems

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-24
Abstract: 

There is a significant lack of programs and supports for youth transitioning from the child to adult mental health systems in BC. At the age of 19, youth age out of the child and youth mental health system without the proper supports and resources to smoothly transition into adult services. Though there has been significant discussion about what can be done provincially to address this issue, there has been limited discussion of how to address the issue at the regional level in BC. With this in mind, a series of policy options were developed that can be implemented through the Regional Health Authorities in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health). Systemic level changes are identified and included in this project; however, the focus of this project is on micro-level programs and policies that can be adopted regardless of the implementation of the systemic level changes. The policy options are based on transition programs developed in other jurisdictions. Background information and evidential support for the policies were provided from the 2015 National Consensus Conference for Emerging Adults, sponsored by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and from expert interviews. This project recommends a Transition Coordinator Pilot Project, in addition to adoption of systemic changes in the long term.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Richards
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Enhancing Intergovernmental Cooperation on Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy: The Case of Non-Urban Lands

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-18
Abstract: 

Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is a regional plan that sets out how the region will to accommodate urban growth in the next 25 years, while protecting some lands from urban development. Although the agreement has been adopted by all member municipalities in the region, some municipalities may choose not to implement certain aspects of the RGS. Furthermore, Metro Vancouver’s limited ability to enforce the regional plan presents challenges of uncoordinated planning by local municipalities, which may exacerbate the growing pains of urban sprawl, car dependence and urban encroachment of green space. This capstone study uses a literature review, interviews and case studies to analyse the challenges of regional cooperation and potential opportunities to encourage compliance on the RGS. This study identifies and evaluates a series of policy alternatives to better protect Non-urban lands from development before concluding with a final recommendation for moving forward on this policy issue.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Joshua Gordon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Patching the Gaps: Improving the Regulatory Capacity of British Columbia's Water Dam Safety Program

Date created: 
2016-04-12
Abstract: 

Aging infrastructure, watershed development, and the emergence of a risk-informed society has led to the need to re-examine dam safety through a societal lens. The incorporation of risk tolerance criteria and systems thinking into dam safety management necessitates a knowledgeable regulator. Lack of qualified personnel, discouragement from participating in learning opportunities, and overreliance on legislation and individual dam owners leaves British Columbia’s water dam regulator falling short of achieving regulatory excellence in many areas. Regulatory frameworks in other jurisdictions are examined to identify best practices for water dam safety regulation. Policy options that aim to improve the regulator’s capacity to understand the risks associated with dams and effectively manage them are evaluated.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nancy Olewiler
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.