Finding the Best Relationship Between the Government and the Sharing Economy

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As authors William D. Eggers and Paul Macmillan point out in their book, The Solution Revolution, public- and private-sector responsibilities have transformed with the emergence of the new sharing economy. Governments must focus on how to interact with these entities in a way that does not curb growth and prosperity. In some cases, it is these “disruptive” business models that will help take the pressure off strained government resources.

As the sharing economy becomes an emerging sector in Canadian cities, all levels of government struggle with taking a balanced approach to the impact on society and the economy. For example, the short-term rental service Airbnb creates extra income for property owners and cheap accommodation for consumers, yet also brings it’s share of problems to urban centres.

The Ontario government seeks to encourage new business models arising over the last decade and the economic opportunities they bring. However, laws and standards must be enforced. Given the potential for fraud, safety violations, neighbourhood disruption and tax evasion, the Ontario government saw a need to apply a regulatory framework to the popular service. As a result, it became the first province in Canada to partner with Airbnb to help protect both renters and hosts and ensure they were aware of their legal rights and responsibilities. The Home-Sharing Guide for Ontario Municipalities is readily available on the provincial government website.

The transformed economic sphere, spurred by private sector innovation, can benefit by partnering with the public sector in a way that ensures the rights and responsibilities of all parties are met.

This material has been drawn in part from SEEC’s upcoming program Masters Certificate in Public Sector Leadership (starting Feb. 4, 2019).

The program is designed to equip today’s public sector leaders with the skills and competencies critical to establishing frameworks of governance that will encourage innovation and ensure best practices throughout their organizations.