The Frontier Centre today released a report on the transparency of Saskatchewan municipal government. The study, Pulling Back the Curtain: How Transparent are Regina and Saskatoon? is a measurement of local government transparency in Saskatchewan’s two major cities.
The backgrounder examines how easy it is for residents to assess the performance of their local government in nine areas: Roads, housing, public transit, graffiti, fire service, snow clearing, parks and recreation, waste water and water services, and municipally-funded stadiums and arenas. Using comparisons with Westminster, England; Christchurch, New Zealand; Melbourne, Australia; and the Canadian cities of Kelowna and Prince George, the Frontier report found the following:
- Both cities measure their performance in certain areas but as a general rule fall short of the standard set by other municipalities. In each of the performance areas studied the Saskatchewan cities have fewer measurements;
- For Saskatoon and Regina, performance and expenditure are rarely linked, making it difficult for residents to gauge value for money;
“A crucial element of transparency is the ease with which people can find the policy goals of their government and the success of their government in achieving these goals,” writes the study author, Mike Bridge. “Any government will claim to perform well, but unless residents can test this performance, there is no way to distinguish between rhetoric and reality. Municipal government is no exception”.
The report made the following recommendations:
Measurements should be clear about a) the goal, b) the target, and c) the actual performance. For example: Goal: Snow is cleared from Regina/Saskatoon streets in a timely manner. Target: Accumulated snow is ploughed before reaching 75 mm in at least 90 per cent of measurements. Actual: Accumulated snow is ploughed before reaching 75 mm in 80 per cent of measurements.
- All municipal government performance measurements should be linked to expenditure, as residents need to know if they are getting value for money.
- Performance measurements should be comparable year on year.
- Performance measurements for each municipality should be published in the cities’ annual reports.
Copies of the Frontier Centre study Pulling Back the Curtain: How Transparent are Regina and Saskatoon? can be downloaded free here. For more information, contact the study author at:
Office: (306) 352-2915
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