School boards used to be appointed by the provincial government, but now they are elected by the population at large. Health boards are still appointed by the Provincial Government. Regional economic development boards are a combination of appointments by their member organizations and elections, while the Regional Councils of the Rural Secretariat are appointed by government.
When it comes to delivering municipal services at a regional level, there are voluntary-service arrangements but no formal elected or appointed regional councils. Are these the best ways of ensuring public participation and civic engagement in decision-making? Are they the most effective means of service provision?
The Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development of Memorial University is asking people across Newfoundland and Labrador to share their experience and opinions on the issue of elected or appointed representatives on their regional boards.
Director of the centre Dr. Rob Greenwood, announced today that they are now posting the second question for public debate to their innovative online forum. “We would very much like to hear from stakeholders from all levels of the community and right across the province,” said Dr. Greenwood. “What we are asking is ‘Would you rather vote for the people who serve on regional boards and councils or have them appointed? And why?”
Launched in May, the forum is designed to encourage public debate on best practices for locally managed healthcare, education, economic development, and municipal government. The inaugural question “Do we need regional boards in education, health, economic development and municipal government?” attracted several posts.
“Much of the debate centred on the need for more money in health care and education, particularly around the issues of more locally delivered services,” said Dr. Greenwood. “Some of the anonymous posts called for more accountability by elected regional boards. There was one suggestion, in health care, that each hospital hold semiannual public meetings where citizens can express their concerns to hospital management and any significant issues would be passed on to the regional board. There was also general agreement that all boards must be accountable to the public.”
Dr. Greenwood also announced today that the Harris Centre is making the forum website more user friendly. “While there were a lot of viewings in the past three weeks we have heard that some people have had difficulties posting to the site, so we have made changes to it.” People entering the site now have fewer steps to view the discussion and they can choose to enter using their name or enter anonymously.
The forum will remain in place over the next four months gathering public experience and insight. This information will form part of a workshop presentation at an international conference hosted by the Harris Centre, October 16-18, in St. John’s.