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IMFG Papers

Policy In Place: Revisiting Canada’s Tri-Level Agreements

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of cities as partners in implementing and enforcing national and provincial policies, programs, and services. An important question that arises is: what is the best way for different orders of government and stakeholders to coordinate their activities to deliver local solutions to the national and global issues playing out in cities?

In a new paper for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), Professor Neil Bradford revisits Canada’s history of successful tri-level agreements to address homelessness, immigrant settlement, economic development, infrastructure funding, and more. Bradford argues that these agreements offer a model for place-based federalism – a form of bottom-up policymaking that includes all orders of government, including municipalities and communities.

Based on an analysis of the workings and achievements of five tri-level agreements over the past four decades, Bradford identifies specific policy fields where new tri-level agreements could have a positive impact and sets out six principles to inform their design and implementation.