Making Change Happen:
Building a Policy Agenda
2010 ALLIES Learning Exchange
May 7, 2010
• What is Public Policy?
• The Policy Development Cycle
• Who’s Responsible for What?
• Federal/Provincial Government Structures
and Decision Making
• Public Policy Instruments and Processes
• Over to you…
– to enhance participants’ understanding
about how governments make public policy
decisions so that you can participate more
effectively in the public policy process;
• Continuum of involvement in policy process
from being informed, being consulted,
initiating, collaborating, to participating in
• Public Policy matters
• Legitimate but not exclusive Government role
• Civil Society involvement improves policy
• Better understanding of how governments make
policy= more influence
• Better policy proposals = better advocacy
• Cross sectoral collaboration recognizes
interconnectivity of policy issues and strengthens
• Increased NGO policy capacity strengthens
What is Public Policy?
• A public policy is a deliberate decision made
by government(s) that addresses identified
objectives and concerns for the public good.
– End may be clear but means to get there may be hotly contested
– Range of possible actions need to be identified and analyzed
against number of factors before considered choice is made about
the most appropriate and workable means to a desired end
– Always trade-offs, compromise , different “publics” effected
– Increasingly complex, interconnected, horizontal
…What is Public Policy?
• Public policies best expressed as vision and
goals, associated strategic objectives,
workplan, activities, resources and leadership
to achieve that choice
• Public policy sets out the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of
something that is to be done and may be
expressed through a variety of policy
instruments (eg laws, regulations, programs,
procedures, expenditures, etc)
The Policy Development Cycle
• identifying the issue
• research and consultation
• developing policy options and
• influencing government decisions
• implementation, monitoring and
Policy Development Cycle
PU BL IC POL IC Y D EVELOPM EN T:
K EY ELEME NTS
Id e nt ify I ssue (s )
Co n du ct
M o n ito r an d
R esea r ch &
Eva lu a te
C o n su lta tion
Im p le m en t (o r D e ve lo p Opt io ns
In flu e nce &
Im p le m e nt at ion) R eco m m en d at io n
In flu e nce th e
D e cisio n
Policy Development Cycle
• Organic vs linear/cyclical
• Iterative, parallel vs sequential processes
• Can be quick but generally not
• Role for community at every stage
• Earlier the better for full impact
Issue Identification, Recognition
and Agenda Setting
• Most important to get the issue right
• Must be recognized by the government as an issue
that needs to be addressed in the broad public
interest: both demand and support present
• Issues can be identified internally and externally: you
• Remember your added value: emerging trends from
the ground, direct experience
• Must fit the government agenda
• Issue refinement may be ongoing
Timing and Context are
• International and domestic context
• Constitution and jurisdiction
• State of the economy
• Fiscal Situation
• Competing demands
• Political culture
• Public opinion
• Stage of mandate
Research and Consultation
• Have the facts
• Primary and/or secondary research
• Play to your strengths
• Use your networks and beyond: Who’s effected?
Who can help?
• Keep it simple
• Collect evidence re the problem: stories and data
• Collect ideas re possible solutions:What’s worked
where, how, why
Option Development, Analysis
• Always more than one option to achieve
• Don’t narrow too soon
• Analyze from variety of perspectives: eg.
maximum impact, least harm, speed, cost,
resources, doability, support, sustainability,
legality, ‘saleability”, etc
• Be prepared for incrementalism, compromise
• Building and maintaining relationships
• Know what you want
• Demonstrate demand and broad support
• Tell your story well: use the evidence
• Go to the right people
• Use variety of tactics
• Implementation is key to good policy
• Often range of implementation options can be
• Delivery experience, knowledge of
communities: your added value
• Pros and cons of community delivery
• Program design, resources, accountability
framework, values and mandate compatibility
Monitoring and Evaluation
• Measurable inputs, activities, outputs,
outcomes identified at outset
• Community role in identifying performance
measures, formal and informal monitoring
and evaluation, identifying unintended
• Reporting burden vs gathering the evidence
• Feedback/input loop
Who or what kicks off the action in
Policy initiatives are triggered by a variety of forces such as:
• Party commitments
• Caucus and constituent concerns
• Opposition pressure
• Priorities of other levels of government
• Lobbying by interested organizations (individual/coalition)
• Media coverage of domestic and international events
• Public opinion (polling)
• Success stories (other jurisdictions, other sectors, communities)
• Policy analysis (internal/external: civil servants, think tanks,
academics, task forces)
• Individual ‘champions'
Who should we influence?
Who’s responsible for what?
• What level of government?
• Who in government?
• Who are the influencers?
Constitutional Division of Powers:
Who’s Responsible for What?
• Jurisdiction quintessential Canadian issue
• Division of powers murkier given federal spending
• Complexity of issues/ changing roles
• Interest of all levels of government but different
powers, resources and levers to effect change
• Subsidiarity vs national programs
• Asymmetrical federalism
• Role of Municipalities as “Creatures of the Province”
Labour Market Integration of Skilled
Immigrants: Whose responsibility?
• Federal departments:
– Service Canada
– Industry Canada
– Regional Development Agencies
• Provincial ministries:
– Economic development
• Existing agreements don’t necessarily work: LMDA, LMA, Immigration
Government Hierarchy Political
Prime Minister/ Government
Public Service Political Staff
Clerk of Privy
Council/Secretary Principal Secretary
Privy Council/ Deputy Prime Minister's/
Cabinet Office Ministers Premier's Office
Secretaries of State/
Who influences decision-making?
First Minister Parliamentary/
& Cabinet Legislative
Public Opinion Firms (i.e.
Media Mid-level Deputy Ministers,
Officials (i.e. ADMs)
The Main Events – What are the key
decision-making points in government?
• Party Platform
• Speech from the Throne
• Cabinet Decisions and Minutes
• Treasury Board/Management Board Submissions
Public Policy Instruments and
• Federal and provincial governments have
variety of levers available to effect change
– legislation (Parliament)
– regulation (Cabinet)
– tax and fiscal policy (Finance)
– spending: transfers to individuals,organizations,
institutions,governments (Departments, Finance, Treasury Board)
– capital expenditures
– programs and services: deliver, contract, privatize (Departments,
– public education and information (Departments)
– research and knowledge transfer (Departments)
– coordination and leadership capital
…Public Policy Instruments and
• Not all instruments necessary or equally
effective for different issues
• Pros and cons of different instruments from
• Jurisdictional and political constraints
Why does the community voice
• Early warning system and first to respond in a
• Creative solutions to intractable problems
• Better results; realize that one size fits all
policy prescriptions don’t usually work
• Key partners in delivering on governments’
agendas; both on policy, and program and
• ESSENTIAL to the democratic process
Now over to you…
• What are some policy issues you think need to be addressed to
expedite labour market integration for skilled immigrants?
– What’s the problem to be addressed?
– What do we know and need to know about the problem?
– Who needs to be consulted? Involved?
– What are some options/instruments to deal with the issue:
• Is legislative or regulatory change needed?
• Program criteria changes?
• Funding enhancements?
• New program(s)?
• New processes?
– What are the pros and cons of each?
– What’s your recommendation?
– How can it be implemented?
– Which department in which level of government is responsible?
– Who in and out of government are the key players to influence?
– How do we get our message across?
– What would be an indicator of success?