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Canada Design Report 2018-2020

Canada’s fourth action plan is the country’s first plan to be developed in partnership with a multi-stakeholder forum (MSF). Structured under the pillars of inclusion, participation and impact, it expands upon commitments from previous action plans and includes a strong focus on advancing gender equality. In moving forward, priority should be given to earmarking resources for implementing OGP commitments and for ensuring that the issues tackled resonate better with priorities identified by stakeholders. Future plans could consider adopting a results- or performance-based approach to plan design and implementation.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2011
Action plan under review: 2018-2020
Report type: Design Report
Number of commitments: 10

Action plan development

Is there a Multistakeholder forum: Yes
Level of public influence: Involve
Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values 10(100%)
Transformative commitments 0
Potentially starred: 0

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A
Completed commitments: N/A
Commitments with Major DIOG*: N/A
Commitments with Outstanding DIOG*: N/A

*DIOG: Did it Open Government

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Canada joined OGP in 2011. Since then, Canada has implemented three action plans. This report evaluates the design of its fourth action plan.

General overview of action plan

The co-creation and early implementation of Canada’s fourth action plan coincides with a period during which the country assumed the role of lead government chair of the OGP Steering Committee alongside the civil society chair, Nathaniel Heller.

The co-creation of this action plan involved the gathering of information using a host of on- and off-line platforms. In total, some 10,000 participants contributed approximately 5,000 comments, ideas, suggestions. The Multi-stakeholder Forum (MSF) was launched after the bulk of these inputs had been gathered and analysis of their content had commenced. After its inception, dialogue between civil society and government members of the MSF was ongoing, albeit to vary degrees, with the civil members involved in drafting and informing many aspects of the action plan.

The key lesson learned from forum’s work centres on the extent to which the combination of government budgetary cycles, departmental and agency schedules, and political will determine the art of the possible when it comes to implementing ambitious commitments within the OGP’s two-year program cycles. In the absence of both alignment between the latter considerations and budgetary allocations earmarked for OGP commitments, moving forward with ambitious ideas and suggestions offered up during the co-creation process is exceedingly challenging.

The commitments set out in this fourth action plan reflect the three priorities the Government of Canada and the civil society chair set out for their respective co-chairship mandates: Inclusion, Participation, and Impact. Particularly notable in this regard, is the inclusion in the plan of a commitment focusing exclusively on Feminist and Inclusive dialogue, and its having been subject to a feminist and GBA+ review by external expert consultants prior to its publication.

The next action plan would benefit from being narrower in scope, and by having more issue-centred targeted commitments that bring open government and open data to bear more directly on challenges, issues, and problems that resonate with Canadians’ daily lives and well-being.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle.
Commitment 3: Corporate Transparency

Work with provincial and territorial governments to require federal corporations to hold beneficial ownership information

The transformative potential of this commitment hinges upon continuing coordination across federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and extending the right to access beneficial ownership records to the public To be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Commitment 7: Access to Information

Undertake a review of Access to Information Act, and improve both the tools for requesting government information, and transparency about personal information held by the government

The review process could be oriented to generating access to information legislation that adheres to best international practice with regard to right to information law. This includes further expanding the authority of the Information Commissioner to make binding orders to government institutions, and revoking current exclusions from ATIP requests of ministerial offices and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as ministerial advice and cabinet confidences To be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Commitment 8: Feminist and Inclusive Dialogue

Support greater inclusion and diversity in the federal government’s public engagement activities including applying an intersectional lens to open government activities

Demonstrating the impact of this commitment hinges on specifying benchmarks and metrics for determining whether and/or the extent to which the expected outcomes are being realized. These tools are equally important for identifying what works and what does not. It will also be important to work directly with equity-seeking communities to identify the most relevant and pressing issues to tackle To be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.



The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

1 Adopt a challenge/issue/problem-based approach to drafting future commitments and develop clear milestones built around specific economic, environmental, political, and/or social problems
2 Delineate between short- and longer-term commitment co-creation and implementation timelines
3 Consolidate the MSF’s role, and expand its reach directly into lead departments agencies
4 Earmark specific resources for the implementation of OGP commitments
5 Implement a results-based approach to action plan design and implementation



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