The Alternative Federal Budget, a case example of policy practice

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MacKinnon, Shauna
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The goal of social justice differentiates social work from other helping professions but is often overshadowed by the clinical role. A challenge for social work, in the current environment of ever decreasing services, is to find ways to engage in methods of policy practice which recognize the mandated social justice goal of social work. The Alternative Federal Budget is an example of how academics, political scientists, social policy experts and community activists worked together to develop an alternative to current government policy. The Alternative Federal Budget model utilizes participation methods in an attempt to educate and inspire thought and discussion at the community level about the current direction of public policy in Canada. The Alternative Federal Budget builds an alternative vision based on social justice which is especially relevant for social workers practicing within the confines of the current political reality. This practicum report describes the Alternative Federal Budget model and process. It emphasizes the role of social work as being particularly placed as a liaison between "experts" and "community" to maximize participation, cooperation and community mobilization in social change efforts. The report closes with a critique of the Alternative Federal Budget and recommends changes for the future.