Enable open dialogue and open policy making - Commitment 20


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Lead implementing department(s)
Treasury Board Secretariat
Privy Council Office
Reporting period

Mid-term (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017)

Other actors involved: Public servants, public engagement practitioners, civil society, civic tech, citizens

Commitment description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?

Public engagement through open dialogue and participatory processes is vital to the success of government. The Government of Canada recognizes that informed decision making requires the knowledge, views, values and skills of experts, stakeholders, and citizens to inform and shape effective government policies, programs, and services. Consultation provides participants an opportunity to state how an issue affects them, identify underlying values and contribute to shared outcomes.

What is the commitment?

The Government of Canada will foster enhanced citizen participation through greater collaboration and co-creation with the public and stakeholders within and across government initiatives.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?

Through this open dialogue commitment, the Government will engage citizens, stakeholders, and other governments, to participate in well-designed processes that create space for deliberation and collaboration of the participants involved. The Government of Canada will adopt common principles, clarify needs and implement tools and guidance to foster greater collaboration across traditional organizational boundaries.

Relevance to OGP values

This commitment is related to the OGP value of civic participation.

Status update

Deliverables in Action Plan

  1. Promote common principles for Open Dialogue and common practices across the Government of Canada to enable the use of new methods for consulting and engaging Canadians.
    • Engage with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to ensure that these principles and practices support meaningful engagement and reflect the renewed nation-to-nation/Inuit-to-Crown/government-to-government relationships.
  2. Identify necessary supports (e.g. skills development, resourcing, technological innovation) needed to deliver on the full potential of engaging with stakeholders
  3. Identify and support participatory processes undertaken by departments to share lessons learned and demonstrate the value of including stakeholders and members of the public throughout the policy, program or service design and implementation.
  4. Develop, implement the measurement of, and promote indicators for open government to support benchmarking and continuous improvement.

Expected result

The Government will be better equipped to engage and collaborate with stakeholders and citizens on government priorities, policies, programs and services.

Description of results

  1. Workshops to co-develop principles and discover possible measurement approaches were held at the Canadian Open Dialogue Forum and at GovMaker 2016 in Fredericton. Draft principles are available online.

    Workshops have been held with public servants to develop intercultural competencies that contribute to the knowledge needed to meaningfully engage with Indigenous Peoples. This is one of many efforts underway to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action (#57) that public servants learn about the history of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

    Preliminary work has begun on engaging Indigenous Peoples on data including hosting a workshop with Indigenous thought leaders entitled, “Indigenous Perspectives on Open Data” and facilitating Indigenous participation at the Canadian Open Data Summit.

  2. Technological innovation

    The Government of Canada has begun collaborating with civic tech and public engagement practitioners to co-create an eco-system of tools for citizens and government to engage online. At the Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton and Civic Tech Ottawa workshops in June 2017, citizens, public servants, developers and designers discussed the conditions under which they might contribute their knowledge and skills to this ecosystem.

    Prototyped the use of open source for more user centric and effective consultation, and learned about internal barriers to developing engagement tools– an eRegulations pilot (notice and comment on regulations online – Canada Gazette Part I) in collaboration with the Community of Federal Regulators.

    Usability tested the interface for online consultations, to inform improvements to Consulting with Canadians.

    Skills development for public servants

    Developed and delivered public engagement learning opportunities, including five 1-day training sessions for 135 participants within 4 months, with 2 train-the-trainers sessions to build learning sustainability in the federal public service.

  3. Collected baseline measures to inform measurement framework for engagement, e.g. Public Opinion Research on citizen engagement.

    Contributed to open repositories of data, methods and tools, e.g. releasing citizen input as open data (examples include Open Government and National Security consultations).

  4. Open government indicators have been developed and targets are being measured to support meaningful change and to track the impact of advancing open government in the Government of Canada. Additionally, work across Canadian jurisdictions is taking place to collaborate on developing a performance measurement framework for open government, with clear indicators that could be applicable to all Canadians jurisdictions (see Commitment 5).

Next steps to June 2018

  1. Implement principles in practice through Government of Canada engagement; publish principles on the Government of Canada’s Open Government web site.

    Collaborate with public servants from other levels of government, public engagement practitioners and others on making available guidance and supports that enable practitioners to engage effectively with citizens.

    Make available Government of Canada policy supporting principled engagement with citizens and greater collaboration.

    Identify engagement tools and practices that support and reflect a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

    Deepen engagement and collaboration with Indigenous thought leaders on data.

  2. Surface, pilot and test more methods and tools to enable online engagement, and document the conditions for success – for example, run another eRegulations pilot to learn about processes for public servants to efficiently analyze large volumes of data, while increasing the transparency of the process (making all comments available online).

    Build on content collaboratively and expand learning opportunities and skills development for public engagement at working to executive levels, considering partnerships with other levels of government to hold a Skills Symposium in Ottawa.

  3. Implement common measures and continue to build an evidence base and for engagement based on principles, to support citizen engagement within a transparent policy lifecycle.

    Collect and share case and stories publicly, including with the Open Government Partnership.

  4. Measure and report publicly on results of engaging Canadians.

Completion level

  1. Limited
  2. Substantial
  3. Limited
  4. Substantial
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