Over the course on the last ten months, the Canada Beyond 150 initiative convened a Canada-wide group of new public servants working in various capacities to participate in a professional development program designed to support leadership, and skills development, as well as drive culture shift across the public service.
Canada Beyond 150 was a training program designed to help early-career public servants learn new ways of developing policy through increased engagement and collaboration with stakeholders.
Last week was our last official meeting with our Canada Beyond 150 participants, where they presented their policy interventions to managers and stakeholders. On the final day, they had the opportunity to talk about their journey and their ideas with the Clerk of the Privy Council and fifteen Deputy Ministers.
I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication that the @CanadaBeyond150 participants brought to bear in the last 10 months. You have acquired and refined skills that will be crucial in the public service of the future. Kudos! pic.twitter.com/KN2ARTQIGL
— Michael Wernick (@Clerk_GC) March 28, 2018
— Laura Portal (@LauraPortal347) March 27, 2018
Over the past 10 months, Canada Beyond 150 participants have worked on 2 goals:
- Experimenting with new ways to develop policy;
- Learning to co-create and engage with a diverse spectrum of partners during early stages of policy development.
This will bring a positive cultural shift in the public service, and forward-looking insights into some of the most pressing issues facing the Canadian public policy environment.
If you’ve heard of Policy Horizons, you’ve probably heard that we’re a government think tank focused on strategic foresight. We call our experts futurists because they explore a wide range of possible futures – nothing to do with tea leaves ;). They study facts and events called “weak signals”, indicators of possible change that could potentially disrupt our current systems.
So what is foresight? How does it differ from forecasting?!
As an accountant and an auditor, my world is made of rules, roadmaps, and quantifiable, measurable inputs. Canada Beyond 150, however, did not give me clarity of direction; it gave me a sandbox to play in. It would be an understatement to say I was uncomfortable at the beginning of the project; I did not know what tools in this new sandbox were best to pick up and experiment with. At first this seemed like every accountant’s nightmare made real. However, it became quickly apparent that CB150 gave me a platform to engage people in a way that was entirely new to me.
A number of participants have asked for advice on practical ways to share what they have heard so far, and whether they need to act on the feedback. The answer is yes. As a minimum starting point, we all need to acknowledge the insights people share with us, honestly and respectfully. We know that Canadians care about their government engaging with them, and seeing evidence that their insights are helping shape policy.
If digital technologies bring us closer, do they conversely run the risk of forcing us further apart?
Employing a Social Determinants of Health and Wellbeing lens, our group has explored this question in interviews with academics, NGO’s and government officials. Though new technology and profound socioeconomic changes occurring in parallel may be cause for concern, the news isn’t all bad.
As we delve into the policy-making phase of Canada Beyond 150, I find myself reflecting on what a feminist government actually looks like. Beyond the superficial rhetoric and associated jargon, what does a feminist government mean to me? The stakes of not delivering on this complex, but important agenda are incredibly high—the possible consequences could bring more exclusion and inequality, especially for marginalized and vulnerable populations. And while I regret that this post doesn’t shed light on how we can achieve a feminist government, I want to share three key understandings that have emerged from many hours of consultations during this incredible journey with the Canada Beyond 150 feminist government team.
Have you ever felt like you were trapped inside a bubble? Have you ever wondered what’s going on outside your office walls? I was grappling with this feeling, which finally went away recently.
A few short months ago, I would have never believed how easy it was to collaborate with stakeholders from outside the Government, probably because I had never experienced this type of activity. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a simple email was generally enough to almost immediately get a show of interest from dynamic people and leaders who are ready to give of their time to further a cause that is important to them. Everyone I contacted agreed to take part, even if they weren’t sure what it was all about or if they had never heard of the Canada Beyond 150 program. I was also pleasantly surprised by the generosity and candour of the stakeholders I contacted. We had honest and profound discussions, sometimes on touchy subjects such as private companies’ responsibility to the environment—subjects that do not have widely accepted solutions. These discussion sessions were one of the most important things I learned from the program, and I quickly realized that collaboration is the key to the development of relevant, integrative policies.
Open Government is a concept. It’s a view into government. It’s an invitation to stakeholders, citizens and civil society to help shape government decisions and actions. It is not a program or policy, yet both can be part of achieving the vision of a government that encourages civic participation, invites accountability and demonstrates transparency. Examples of open government include proactively disclosing financial and human resources-related information online and publishing expenditures that can be displayed visually or as machine-readable charts. These measures are intended to strengthen public sector management.