Saturday, July 04, 2009

Shining a light on public service, Volume One

Last year while working on the concept that became Samara, I had the opportunity to speak with several hundred Canadians who were interested in the country and the strength of our public life. One commonly-cited observation was how little we do to shine light on positive examples of public policy development, public leadership and service in Canada. Many asked Samara to consider doing this as part of its work.

While there are awards of many types (e.g., the federal government's Public Service Awards of Excellence or Showcase Ontario's initiative to do the same in that province, and the Public Policy Forum recognizes public leaders at its annual dinner), it is true that stories of these types aren't typically in the news and rarely resonate beyond the award presentation.

While this is lamentable, it is also understandable. Public service is often anonymous, done quietly and without fanfare. Government employees almost always avoid the limelight - in fact, this is the expectation of them. However, a little good news never hurt anyone, so we're regularly writing up short stories of exemplary public service and will post them on the Samara blog.

Our first one features Vickie Cammack, the co-founder of PLAN. This organization, which provides information and resources to families of people with disabilities, developed a Registered Disability Savings Plan. The RDSP is similar to an RRSP or a pension through which caregivers can contribute to the future of a disabled friend or relative. Through the 2008 federal budget it became available to all Canadians. You can read more here, or by visiting PLAN's website.

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