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Canada

Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making (CA0061)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Privy Council Office; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-Term Report 2016-2018, Canada Mid-Term Report 2016- 2018

Starred: No

Early Results: NR

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: NR

Description

Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making Why do this: 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. How will it be done: 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.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

20. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

Commitment Text:

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.

Milestones:

20.1. 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.

20.2. Identify necessary supports (e.g. skills development, resourcing, technological innovation) needed to deliver on the full potential of engaging with stakeholders.

20.3. 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.

20.4. Develop, implement the measurement of, and promote indicators for open government to support benchmarking and continuous improvement.

Responsible institution: Privy Council Office; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Supporting institutions: Public servants, public engagement practitioners, civil society, civic tech, citizens.

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to improve public engagement by training public officials and instituting new technical solutions to facilitate communication with the public. Of particular note is Milestone 20.1, which addresses engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This reflects a prominent campaign promise made by the current government in the last election.[Note183: A New Nation-to-Nation Process, Liberal Party of Canada. Available at: https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/a-new-nation-to-nation-process/.] It also reflects a major human rights priority, as assessed in Canada’s most recent Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council.[Note184: National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21: Canada, 8 February 2013, UN doc, A /HRC/WG.6/16/CAN/1. Available at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G13/108/44/PDF/G1310844.pdf?OpenElement.] Although this commitment addresses an important thematic area, several of the milestones are vague with unclear benchmarks or even final deliverables. This limits the potential impact for this commitment to moderate. During consultations, First Nations stakeholders similarly assessed that the process had been marked by a lack of clarity and expressed frustration at the slow pace of change.[Note185: Ottawa consultation, 18 September 2017.]

Completion

Building on workshops that were held at the Open Dialogue Forum and at GovMaker 2016, the Privy Council Office in collaboration with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat developed and posted a set of draft principles for Consultations and Public Engagement (Milestone 20.1).[Note186: These are available at: github.com/canada-ca/welcome/wiki/Draft-Guiding-Principles-for-Consultations-and-Public-Engagement.] To improve engagement with Indigenous Peoples, the Privy Council Office arranged workshops for civil servants that dealt with engagement strategies, and facilitated a workshop with First Nations leaders at the Canadian Open Data Summit.[Note187: See: http://opendatasummit.ca/.] The government’s self-assessment reports limited progress on this milestone, but that it is on schedule for completion. This assessment seems accurate, partly due to the lack of specificity in defining completion for this milestone.

Regarding Milestone 20.2, the Privy Council Office fostered discussions at the Canadian Open Data Summit and the Civic Tech Ottawa workshops to improve online consultation tools and has developed an eRegulations pilot.[Note188: See: Lisa Fast, 'A Government Minimum Viable Product – Learning from small successes & small failures,' LinkedIn, 15 August 2017. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/government-minimum-viable-product-learning-from-small-lisa-fast/.] They also carried out training sessions for 135 participants, and well as two trainings for trainers. Substantial progress has been made on implementing this milestone, and it is on schedule.

Regarding Milestone 20.3, the Privy Council Office commissioned a study by EKOS to assess public views on engagement and the government.[Note189: 'Rethinking Citizen Engagement 2017,' EKOS, 31 March 2017. Available at: www.ekospolitics.com/index.php/2017/03/rethinking-citizen-engagement-2017/.] The Privy Council Office also added material to the Consulting with Canadians website, incorporating information on engagement efforts across different government departments.[Note190: See: https://www1.canada.ca/consultingcanadians/.] The government self-assessment reports limited progress for implementing this milestone, but that the commitment is on schedule to be completed, which seems accurate.[Note191: The draft self-assessment for Commitment 20 is available at: http://open.canada.ca/en/mtsar/commitment-20-enable-open-dialogue-and-open-policy-making.]

The government self-assessment reports substantial progress on implementing Milestone 20.4, because of work to develop open government indicators in Commitment 5.[Note192: The draft self-assessment for Commitment 20 is available at: http://open.canada.ca/en/mtsar/commitment-20-enable-open-dialogue-and-open-policy-making.] This seems accurate, though it is worth noting that this makes the milestone fairly duplicative of Milestone 5.3.

Next Steps

Promoting civic participation is a core aspect of the OGP. Given that the milestones in this commitment mostly target long-term improvements, this is a good area to continue. In particular, engagement with First Nations is essential as Canada seeks to establish nation-to-nation relationships after centuries-long abuse and mistrust. This process is further complicated by the diversity of the indigenous nations represented across Canada, each of which has its own unique culture and values that must be reflected in the dialogue process. Nonetheless, the status and circumstance of Canada’s First Nations are probably the gravest human rights challenge that the country faces,[Note193: In addition to the prominence of First Nations issues in Canada’s Universal Periodic Review, see Human Rights Watch's latest country chapter on Canada at: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/canada.] and engagement and civic participation are essential prerequisites to progress here.

The IRM researcher recommends working with First Nations governments to help build their own capacity for civic engagement and participation among their constituents. While this would need to respect First Nations’ autonomy in handling their own affairs, offers of technical assistance in establishing consultation mechanisms, in line with the work Canada’s government is doing to develop these processes itself, could be a valuable addition.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

20. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

Commitment Text: 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.

Milestones:

20.1. 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.

20.2. Identify necessary supports (e.g. skills development, resourcing, technological innovation) needed to deliver on the full potential of engaging with stakeholders.

20.3. 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.

20.4. Develop, implement the measurement of, and promote indicators for open government to support benchmarking and continuous improvement.

Responsible institutions:Privy Council Office; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Supporting institutions: Public servants, public engagement practitioners, civil society, civic tech, citizens.

Start Date: Not specified

End Date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to improve public engagement by training public officials and instituting new technical solutions to facilitate communication with the public. The commitment would advance consultation and engagement practices—particularly with regard to Canada's First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The commitment calls for identifying supports for stakeholder engagement and departments' participatory processes, and for developing and implementing indicators for open government.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

For Milestone 20.1, the Privy Council Office, in collaboration with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, developed and posted a set of draft principles for consultations and public engagement.[Note169: These are available at github.com/canada-ca/welcome/wiki/Draft-Guiding-Principles-for-Consultations-and-Public-Engagement.] The departments also arranged workshops for civil servants on engagement strategies and facilitated a workshop with Indigenous leaders at the Canadian Open Data Summit.[Note170: See homepage, Canadian Open Data Summit '18, http://opendatasummit.ca/.] Under Milestone 20.2, the Privy Council Office fostered discussions at the Canadian Open Data Summit and the Ottawa Civic Tech workshops to improve online consultation tools and developed an eRegulations pilot.[Note171: See Lisa Fast, 'A Government Minimum Viable Product—Learning from Small Successes & Small Failures,' LinkedIn, 15 August 2017, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/government-minimum-viable-product-learning-from-small-lisa-fast/.] The departments also conducted training sessions for 135 participants and two trainings for trainers to equip them to deliver their own workshops in future.

Regarding Milestone 20.3, the Privy Council Office commissioned a study by EKOS, a social and economic research company, to assess public views on engagement and the government.[Note172: 'Rethinking Citizen Engagement 2017,' EKOS, 31 March 2017, www.ekospolitics.com/index.php/2017/03/rethinking-citizen-engagement-2017/.] The office also added material to the Consulting with Canadians webpage.[Note173: See “Consulting with Canadians,” Government of Canada, https://www1.canada.ca/consultingcanadians/.] Under Milestone 20.4, the government researched existing global indexes and developed a draft framework for its indicators.

End of term: Complete

The government completed all four milestones. However, considerable work remains on Milestone 20.1, as noted in the government's self-assessment.

In December 2017, the government finalised and published the Public Engagement Principles (Milestone 20.1).[Note174: See “Principles and Guidelines,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/en/content/principles-and-guidelines.] However, the self-assessment notes that the government team did not have the skills to engage meaningfully with Indigenous peoples in a broad enough dialogue to support the development of engagement principles in that area. Under Milestone 20.2, the eRegulations prototype has been completed and is now available on GitHub.[Note175: The code for this tool is available at https://github.com/canada-ca/regs-consult-wet.] The government self-assessment also reports that the development of this tool has helped identify barriers to stakeholders participating online and internal barriers to creating online tools. The government also held workshops on designing public engagement approaches, including at a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency retreat on 10 April 2018 and a train-the-trainer session for the Public Engagement Community of Practice.[Note176: The facilitator guide from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Retreat and the slide deck for the train-the-trainer session were shared with the IRM researcher.]

Under Milestone 20.3, the self-assessment reports many instances where the government published citizen feedback as open data.[Note177: For two such examples, see “Open Government Consultation Data: Canada's Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership,” Government of Canada, http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/8ef41d2e-9309-486a-9f9f-bfd11945a959; and “Consulting on National Security Submissions,” Government of Canada, http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/5e9433bf-2334-463a-bd48-03ba53a7051c.] The Public Opinion Research team of the Privy Council Office also explored new approaches to more easily release datasets that were not in accessible formats, documenting the experience and lessons learned online.[Note178: See “Canada-ca/devex,” GitHub, https://github.com/canada-ca/devex/issues.] The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) also updated the “Cabinet Directive on Regulation.” The directive outlines the purpose, value, and process of engaging with stakeholders when developing or changing regulations.[Note179: See “Cabinet Directive on Regulation,” Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/federal-regulatory-management/guidelines-tools/cabinet-directive-regulation.html.] TBS also posted guidance on conducting Gender-Based Analysis Plus for consultations issued by Status of Women Canada.[Note180: “GBA+ IN CONSULTATIONS”, GCcollab, available at: https://gccollab.ca/file/download/60637 (sign-in required).] Regarding Milestone 20.4, the government published blog posts on principled engagement measurement, on a trust and data, and on a citizen engagement study by EKOS.[Note181: See “Does Principled Engagement Lead to Increased Trust?” Gvoernment of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/en/blog/does-principled-engagement-lead-increased-trust; and “A Study on Citizen Engagement,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/en/blog/study-citizen-engagement.] The self-assessment also refers to the performance management framework referenced in Milestone 5.3.[Note182: See “Open Government Performance: Measuring Impact,” Government of Canada https://open.canada.ca/ckan/en/dataset/f637580f-e0f7-5939-bf3f-ded35ce72d2a.]

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Marginal

Most of the milestones in this commitment target long-term improvements. From that perspective, the IRM observed work to develop indicators to assess Canada's open government progress, even if the short-term results are not as visible. Improving engagement with Canada's First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to reflect a nation-to-nation/Inuit-to-Crown/government-to-government relationship is a challenge which extends beyond the life of any single action plan. Indeed, this multi-generational process must reconcile centuries of harm. Consultations with First Nations stakeholders revealed a measure of scepticism regarding expected levels of progress under this commitment.[Note183: Ottawa consultation, 18 September 2017.] Further, there exist external indications that consultations between the government and First Nations remain challenging.

Notably, on 30 August 2018, Canada's Federal Court of Appeal released a high-profile decision challenging the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline project. The decision concluded that in this instance, the federal government had failed in its duty to engage First Nations stakeholders in a “responsive, considered and meaningful dialogue” on the project.[Note184: The full decision is available at https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fca/doc/2018/2018fca153/2018fca153.html.] It is also worth noting that, based on reporting, it appears that Milestone 20.4 was mostly duplicative of Milestone 5.3. As a result, this commitment is assessed as marginal.

Carried Forward?

Canada's fourth action plan contains some commitments which seem to expand on the indicators developed here. Particularly, the development of Gender-Based Analysis Plus indicators and their application to all national action plan commitments further this work.

Engagement with Canada's First Nations stands as a prominent feature of Canada's fourth action plan. In particular, Commitment 9 includes milestones to develop First Nations' open government and data governance skills, and to enhance consultation and engagement strategies. These are important priority areas, and their inclusion is consistent with the recommendations in Canada's 2017 IRM midterm assessment.


Canada's Commitments

  1. User-friendly open government

    CA0064, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Financial transparency and accountability

    CA0065, 2018, E-Government

  3. Corporate transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Beneficial Ownership

  4. Digital government and services

    CA0067, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open science

    CA0068, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Healthy democracy

    CA0069, 2018, E-Government

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Feminist and inclusive dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and open government

    CA0072, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Open government community

    CA0073, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, E-Government

  14. Provide and Preserve Open Information

    CA0045, 2016, E-Government

  15. Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

    CA0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Develop Open Government Skills across the Federal Public Service

    CA0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

    CA0048, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

    CA0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

    CA0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Increase Transparency of Budget and Other Department of Finance Information

    CA0051, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Starred commitment Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

    CA0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

    CA0053, 2016, E-Government

  23. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

    CA0054, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

    CA0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0056, 2016, E-Government

  26. Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada)

    CA0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Aid

  29. Engage Civil Society on Open Government

    CA0060, 2016, Public Participation

  30. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

    CA0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Promote Open Government Globally

    CA0062, 2016, Capacity Building

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Open Data

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Open Data

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Capacity Building

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Open Data

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Science & Technology

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Extractive Industries

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Transparency

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Right to Information

  44. Consulting Canadians

    CA0041, 2014, Marginalized Communities

  45. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency Initiative: Publish plan to make CIDA activities available and accessible

    CA0010, 2012, Aid

  46. International Aid Transparency Initiative: Implement plan

    CA0011, 2012, Aid

  47. Opening Government of Canada Records: Increase access to archived federal documents at Library and Archives Canada

    CA0012, 2012, Records Management

  48. Opening Government of Canada Records: Issue new mandatory policy on document classification

    CA0013, 2012, Records Management

  49. Opening Government of Canada Records: Make classified information available online

    CA0014, 2012, E-Government

  50. GCDOCS: Deploy wave one of electronic record and document management solution

    CA0015, 2012, E-Government

  51. GCDOCS: Deploy across federal government

    CA0016, 2012, E-Government

  52. GCWEB: Develop consolidated web presence

    CA0017, 2012, E-Government

  53. GCWEB: Implement new platform

    CA0018, 2012, E-Government

  54. Data.gc.ca: Expand number of datasets available

    CA0019, 2012, E-Government

  55. Data.gc.ca: Implement data.gc.ca portal

    CA0020, 2012, E-Government

  56. Data.gc.ca: Improve standardization of data

    CA0021, 2012, E-Government

  57. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Publish resource management and performance data

    CA0022, 2012, E-Government

  58. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Enhance search and data tools

    CA0023, 2012, E-Government

  59. Consulting Canadians: Develop new platform for consultation

    CA0024, 2012, E-Government

  60. Consulting Canadians: Develop standard approach to use of social media

    CA0025, 2012, E-Government

  61. Consulting Canadians: Pilot a crowdsourcing initiative

    CA0026, 2012, E-Government

  62. Consulting Canadians: Enable use of common online tools

    CA0027, 2012, E-Government

  63. Open Regulation: Federal regulators to post forward regulatory plans

    CA0028, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  64. Open Regulation: Simplify engagement activities

    CA0029, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  65. Open Government Directive: Issue Directive on Open Government

    CA0001, 2012, E-Government

  66. Open Government Directive: Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0002, 2012, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Issue Open Government Licence

    CA0003, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  68. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Adopt Open Government Licence

    CA0004, 2012, Records Management

  69. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Pilot of online request and payment service

    CA0005, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  70. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Implement ATI Solution

    CA0006, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  71. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Make completed ATI request summaries searchable

    CA0007, 2012, Right to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin design of virtual library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch virtual library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government