For first timers, the process of developing a service agreement can be complex and intimidating. You likely want to reach a deal that is fair, strong and meets the needs of your community. But how do you know if the service agreement you are negotiating is fair, or strong enough protect your community or will continuously meet the needs of your community?
Perhaps your community has an existing service agreement in place and you’ve been tasked with re-negotiating your agreement as the term of the agreement is set to expire. How do you know if your current service agreement is a good deal for your community?
Whether new to developing and negotiating service agreements or not the Pathways to Service Delivery website contains various resource tools to assist First Nations and municipalities through the negotiating process, including a Municipal Type Service Agreement Assessment Tool.
The Assessment Tool was developed to help First Nations and local governments identify and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the service agreement being negotiated or already in place. It was recently used at the Pathways to Service Delivery Introductory Workshops, where each participant had one of their service agreements reviewed to point out areas where they were strong and where there was room for improvement.
The Assessment Tool can be used in a number of different situations:
- You are preparing to re-negotiate your service agreement, and want to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the agreement you have in place.
- You are negotiating a service agreement, and you want a structured way to review a draft agreement that is presented to you.
- You are tasked with administering a service agreement that is already in place, and you want to be aware of what the agreement includes and does not include.
The Assessment Tool outlines 10 different components that are typically included in the terms of an agreement. The tool allows the user to rate the ‘performance’ of each component. Performance is broken down into three levels:
- Level 1: Needs improvement
- Level 2: Adequate Performance
- Level 3: Good Performance
1. Term of Agreement: Outlines the duration of the contract.
2. Renewal Terms: Makes it clear whether the agreement can be renewed, and the conditions for renewing it.
3. Service Area: Identifies what specific homes, buildings, or areas in the community will receive the services.
4. Level of Service: Clearly states the qualities of the service being provided and paid for.
5. Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly state what each party is responsible for under the agreement.
6. Suspension of Services: Identifies the conditions and procedures for temporarily stopping services.
7. Termination: Identifies the conditions and procedures for ending an agreement before the end of its term.
8. Notification: Outlines when each party needs to contact one another and the procedures for doing so.
9. Growth and Development: Establishes the conditions under which additional units, buildings, and areas can be added to the service agreement.
10. Dispute Resolution: Establishes procedures for when there is a disagreement between the parties.
To determine the performance level of each component, simply read the descriptions provided for the different levels and select the one that most closely describes your service agreement. For example, if your service agreement includes termination provisions but excludes specific conditions that would cause the agreement to be terminated, you would select level 2: adequate performance. The tool recommends service agreements achieve at least a level 2 on all 10 components. If your service agreement only meets a level 1 for one or more categories, make note of the reason why and discuss any concerns with your partner municipality as negotiations continue. It is not always necessary to strive for a level 3 in every category, if you and your service delivery partner are both satisfied with a level 2.
The assessment tool can be used by a First Nation independently or collaboratively with the service agreement partner, which can further strengthen the relationship and level of trust between the two governments.
Please note, the assessment tool is not intended to be a substitute for a legal review.