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

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A Breath of Fresh Air: Policies to Address Second-Hand Smoke Exposure in British Columbia's Multi-Unit Rentals

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

Despite a decline in provincial smoking rates, data specific to British Columbia indicates that a large portion of residents of multi-unit dwellings are exposed to the second-hand smoke of their neighbours. Further, renters and lower income persons are exposed at higher rates. A large body of scientific evidence confirms the negative health impacts associated with second-hand smoke and in particular, that there is no safe level of exposure. Interviews with relevant experts, international case studies and survey data analyses identify key considerations as well as barriers and facilitators to inform potential policy options. This study assesses four policy options: smoke-free housing for all multi-unit rentals, including balconies and patios; amending the right to quiet enjoyment in the Residential Tenancy Act (2002) to include intrusive second-hand smoke; implementing a disclosure law requiring landlords to state the smoking status of the building, unit and premises in the tenancy agreement; and, initiating a public health education campaign on the health hazards associated with neighbour smoke. To promote widespread awareness and to provide tools for addressing exposure, a public health education campaign is recommended in the short term. As smoke-free housing represents the most effective option for protection of health, it is recommended to ban smoking in multi-unit rentals in the medium term under the condition that the liberty and equity risks which arise under this option are addressed. A disclosure law is recommended in conjunction with smoke-free housing to promote awareness and compliance as well as to inform tenants of potential exposure resulting from grandfathered leases or exceptional circumstances.

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.

Opioid overdoses in supportive housing facilities: how to keep people safe

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-31
Abstract: 

Supportive housing facilities are a high-risk environment for opioid overdose fatalities and have been identified as an area where overdose prevention and response efforts are crucial. To help understand the context and dynamics of opioid overdoses in supportive housing, and identify and evaluate potential policies, qualitative interviews and focus groups were conducted. Research participants included frontline supportive housing staff and managers, health professionals, a coroner, and several clients from one supportive housing agency in Vancouver. A range of policies aimed at reducing the risk of fatal opioid overdoses in supportive housing facilities were identified and evaluated using a multiple-criteria analysis. The evaluation criterion included: effectiveness, stakeholder involvement, budget, and implementation time. Based on this analysis, it is recommended that all frontline supportive housing staff receive annual opioid overdose prevention and response training, and that supportive housing agencies develop and implement opioid overdose intervention protocols for their unique settings.

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

School Choice in Vancouver: Implications and Policy Options

Date created: 
2016-04-01
Abstract: 

This paper examines the effects of school choice legislation introduced by the Provincial Government in 2002 on the Vancouver School Board (District 39) elementary and secondary schools. It employs qualitative and quantitative research methods to determine the changes in school enrollment and school performance post-choice policy. It found a correlation between average student test performance in a school and changes in the school enrollment, with the top performing schools increasing their enrollment and the worst performing schools undergoing a decline. Since average socio-economic status of a school’s students contributes to average student performance in a school, improving student performance in a choice system becomes a matter of compensating for the socio-economic inequalities within a school system. The paper analyzes and proposes policies that the Vancouver School Board can implement in order to deliver equitable student outcomes in a choice model.

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.

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.