Canada

   

Executive Capacity

#6
Key Findings
Canada’s highly skilled, comparatively powerful government office falls into the top ranks worldwide in terms of executive capacity (rank 6). Its score in this area has improved by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Planning capacity is robust, though decentralized. Draft bills are vetted by central policy and finance-oriented agencies with highly skilled analysts with sectoral expertise. Despite promises to strengthen evidence-based policymaking, policy evaluation is often undermined by a lack of data or budget cuts.
Consultation with external stakeholders has been significantly improved, though work with indigenous communities remains uneven. Communication policies are considerably more open than under the previous government. The government’s electoral agenda has been implemented at a rapid pace.

Publication of ministers’ official instructions has improved transparency and external monitoring capacities. While provinces have broad policy discretion, the federal government imposes funding-related standards in areas such as health care and carbon reduction. International engagement has again become a priority.

Strategic Capacity

#2

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
8
Neither the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) nor the Privy Council Office (PCO) has an official planning unit today. In 1997, Policy Horizons Canada was established under the PCO with a mandate to provide analysis and help the federal public service anticipate emerging policy challenges and opportunities, in order to support medium-term policy development. Its budget is small, however, and this unit has not reported through the PCO since 2007. Nevertheless, there are thousands of public servants employed by the PCO, the Department of Finance and the Treasury Board (close to 3,000 individuals in all) who have no specific program responsibility. Their purpose is to manage politically sensitive files and to plan. Therefore, some argue that the planning capacity of the government of Canada is as strong as that of other Western countries, and in some cases even stronger.

The Trudeau government has made ample use of special advisory groups to provide information and consultations on a number of policy areas (e.g., economic growth, cultural policy and issues relating to young people). In theory, discussions in these groups will influence long-term policy. For example, the Prime Minister’s Youth Council advises on issues affecting young people, including future energy policy. How influential these groups are in crafting policy, however, is unclear.

How influential are non-governmental academic experts for government decisionmaking?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental academic experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Scholarly Advice
8
There are a number of different ways that Canadian government departments and agencies effectively tap into expertise of academics and other experts outside the government. Many government departments and agencies have multiple advisory committees, which can have considerable influence but rarely dominant policymaking. Government departments and agencies often commission experts to organize research projects on high-profile issues.

In addition, a number of government departments and agencies appoint academic experts to advisory positions or chairs within the organization for a one-to-two-year period. Examples of this type of position – and hence of the influence of experts on policy – include the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist Chair at the Department of Finance and the Simon Reisman Visiting Fellowship within the Treasury Board Secretariat. Similar posts exist at the Competition Bureau and the Bank of Canada, among others. In recent years, these positions have often been vacant for long periods. Finally, external academic experts are frequently asked to meet with senior government officials, either on a one-on-one basis or as speakers at departmental retreats.

In September 2017, Mona Nemer was named Canada’s new Chief Science Officer. Nemer’s task is to integrate scientific evidence into government decision-making and make that evidence publicly available.

Interministerial Coordination

#6

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills substantively?

10
 9

The GO / PMO has comprehensive sectoral policy expertise and provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO has sectoral policy expertise and evaluates important draft bills.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise, but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
9
Draft bills are vetted primarily by the Privy Council Office and to a lesser extent by Finance Canada and the Treasury Board. These central agencies are prestigious places to work, and indeed, central-agency experience is highly valued (some even say a prerequisite) for advancement to senior levels within the federal public service. Consequently, central-agency staff members are generally highly skilled and possess the comprehensive sectoral-policy expertise needed for the regular and independent evaluation of draft bills based on the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.

Can the government office / prime minister’s office return items envisaged for the cabinet meeting on the basis of policy considerations?

10
 9

The GO/PMO can return all/most items on policy grounds.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO can return some items on policy grounds.
 5
 4
 3


The GO/PMO can return items on technical, formal grounds only.
 2
 1

The GO/PMO has no authority to return items.
GO Gatekeeping
9
In general, Canada’s government office, the PCO, can both legally and de facto return items to initiating departments on the basis of policy considerations. Indeed, this happens frequently. On the other hand, as one deputy minister in Ottawa once observed, “He who writes the first draft, controls policy.” To be sure, central agencies have significant influence within the machinery of government in Ottawa. However, there is ongoing dialog between central-agency staff and line-department officials. Things tend to be sorted out before items are “returned” to line departments. Moreover, unless draft legislation has a financial resources component to it, neither Finance nor Treasury Board officials are likely to take a strong interest.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination in the GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
9
Line departments and central agencies have interrelated or complementary capacities for the coordination of policy proposals, with ultimate authority lying with central agencies. Thus, line ministries in Canada have a relatively high level of responsibility to involve the government office, the PCO, in the preparation of policy proposals. On the other hand, it is well known that line departments are not always forthcoming with information that may cast their departments in a bad light.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The large majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
8
Cabinet committees have both the legal and de facto power to prepare cabinet meetings in such a way as to allow the cabinet to focus on vital issues. The de facto power to sort out issues before they go to cabinet belongs to senior officials in the PMO and PCO, not to cabinet committees. Still, this allows the cabinet to focus on strategic policy issues.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
8
Many policy proposals are coordinated by line ministries with other line ministries. However, due to issues of departmental mandates and authorities, this process is generally not as effective as the central-agency coordination process. On certain issues, the line department may be unwilling to recognize the role or expertise of other line departments, or have fundamental differences of perspectives on the issue, and hence may fail to consult and/or coordinate a policy proposal with others. The paramount role of central agencies in policy development means that departments have in fact little ability to effectively coordinate policy proposals.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
7
Many, but not most policy proposals are coordinated through informal mechanisms, such as informal meetings with government members or across levels of government.

It is worth noting that Canada’s federal system has no formal provisions that deal specifically with federal-provincial coordination. Pressing federal-provincial issues and other matters that require inter-governmental discussions are usually addressed in the First Ministers’ Conference, which includes the prime minister, provincial premiers and territorial leaders, along with their officials. These meetings are called by the prime minister and have typically been held annually, but there is no formal schedule. The lack of any requirement for the conference to be held regularly is cause for concern, as it is critical for first ministers and the prime minister to engage in face-to-face discussions or negotiations, given the many policy areas that demand federal-provincial coordination. The previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, called the last First Minister’s Conference in 2009, but it was a further six years before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, following the election in 2015, meet with provincial leaders again.

To promote provincial-territorial cooperation and coordinate provincial-territorial relations with the federal government, provincial premiers and territorial leaders have met at the Council of the Federation twice a year since 2003.

Evidence-based Instruments

#13

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
7
Canada’s assessment of the potential socioeconomic impact of draft laws is somewhat irregular, as regulatory impact assessments (RIA) are performed randomly, except in areas such as environmental projects where they are required by statute, or in cases when the Treasury Board’s authority and approval are required, as is true of regulatory measures and government projects. In particular, the Treasury Board regulatory development process requires the submission of a regulatory impact analysis statement (RIAS) before the any regulation is drafted. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of Canada is formally charged with so-called performance audits, which aim to provide an independent, objective and systematic assessment of whether government programs are being run with due regard for economy, efficiency and environmental impact. The OAG has considerable discretion regarding which programs it will examine, and takes requests from parliamentary committees, members of parliament, citizens, civic groups and other parties to conduct audits in specific areas. It conducts between 25 and 30 performance audits each year, and publishes the results in reports.

Although the Liberals promised to strengthen evidence-based policymaking, a rigorous evaluation of proposed policies has frequently been undermined by a lack of data or budget cutbacks. In collaboration with the federal government and the University of Ottawa, Mitacs (a national, not-for-profit research and training organization) recently established the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship, which matches academics with various government departments for a year-long term, so that government departments can consult academic experts.

The Liberal government also pledged to make Statistics Canada fully independent. However, the chief statistician of Statistics Canada resigned in 2016, citing concerns that the required usage of centralized information technology services across all federal agencies compromised Statistics Canada’s ability to fulfill its mandate. Bill C-36, introduced in 2017, is intended to strengthen the independence of Statistics Canada, but does not address the use of Shared Services Canada.

Citations:
Parliament of Canada, Bill C-36: An Act to Amend the Statistics Act, posted at http://www.parl.ca/Content/Bills/421/Government/C-36/C-36_3/C-36_3.PDF

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
6
The quality of regulatory impact assessment (RIA) in Canada is in general satisfactory. Stakeholder participation in the past has been encouraged, although recent changes in environmental legislation have put limits on such participation. RIA results are accessible under Freedom of Information provisions. However, there is little evaluation of the quality of RIA by independent bodies.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
7
Canada does not have a formally adopted sustainability strategy. In a sense, this is not surprising, as there are different types of sustainability (environmental, economic, social). There is also no consensus as to what sustainability means or to how it should be measured. To be sure, many RIAs address sustainability issues, but the methodologies used differ widely. RIAs generally try to integrate sustainability checks in order to provide a basis for decision-making, develop an exhaustive set of impact indicators, and analyze both short- and long-term impacts. However, most assessments lack at least one of these criteria in practice.

Societal Consultation

#5

To what extent does the government consult with societal actors to support its policy?

10
 9

The government successfully motivates societal actors to support its policy.
 8
 7
 6


The government facilitates the acceptance of its policy among societal actors.
 5
 4
 3


The government consults with societal actors.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Negotiating Public Support
8
The departments and agencies of the Canadian government hold many consultations with economic and social actors on public policy issues. These consultations are motivated primarily by the desire to obtain input from Canadians before the government decides on a policy course, not by the desire to sell a particular policy to the population (this is not done through consultations). The most important consultations relate to the preparation of the annual budget. While the importance of trade unions in the consultation process has fallen significantly in recent years, this is not necessarily the case for other groups.

The duty to consult and accommodate Canada’s indigenous peoples as laid down in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 has always been part of the legal and constitutional relationship between Canada and its indigenous population, and was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2010. However, many First Nations leaders allege that there is a general and persistent lack of genuine consultation at both the federal and the provincial level.

Prime Minister Trudeau promised that the consultation process would be restructured and that various groups, including indigenous groups, would be given greater voice. Trudeau’s government organized public consultations and engaged a large number of stakeholders across many policy areas, including innovation, electoral reform, childcare and the renegotiation of NAFTA. Consultation with First Nations remains uneven, though. A recent example is the construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia. Many independent organizations, academics and First Nations groups have argued that the dam would undermine treaty rights and contradict the government’s position on indigenous rights.

Citations:
Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. v. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, [2010] S.C.J. No. 43.

Amnesty International (2016). The Point of No Return: The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples Threatened by the Site C Dam. Available at http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Canada%20Site%20C%20Report.pdf

Policy Communication

#1

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

The government effectively coordinates the communication of ministries; ministries closely align their communication with government strategy. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 8
 7
 6


The government coordinates the communication of ministries. Contradictory statements are rare, but do occur. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries are responsible for informing the public within their own particular areas of competence; their statements occasionally contradict each other. Messages are sometimes not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
Coherent Communication
9
The Liberals under Trudeau have made good on their campaign pledge to adopt a more open communication policy compared to the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Conservative government’s communications were managed top-down and tightly controlled by the Prime Minister’s Office. Ministers are now responsible for coordinating communications between their departments, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office. A recent paper on the government’s communications strategy offers some insight into the strategic media management of both the current and previous governments, and draws on interviews with government officials and internal communications templates. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the author of the paper concluded that considerable efforts are made to spin and frame government information. While the Trudeau government’s media relations are more decentralized, the Prime Minister’s Office has not fully abandoned control over ministers and departments. The prime minister now conducts a series of town hall meetings, which are open to Canadians across the country. These meetings are a sign of his willingness to engage and obtain feedback.

Citations:
Marland, Alex. (2017). Strategic Management of Media Relations: Communications Centralization and Spin in the Government of Canada. Canadian Public Policy. 43(1).

Implementation

#1

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Efficiency
8
As a result of a parliamentary system in which members of Parliament are elected in single-member constituencies through first-past-the-post voting, the Canadian federal government frequently holds an absolute majority in the House of Commons and thus has considerable freedom to pursue its policy objectives unilaterally.

Halfway through its term, the Liberal government has already implemented many of the policies that the party campaigned on in the October 2015 election. In its first year, the Liberal government formed a gender balanced cabinet, reinstated the long-form census, revoked regulations that restricted scientific research, introduced a new child benefit system, and cut taxes for middle-income earners while increasing taxes for high-income earners. The Liberal government continued to implement policies from its electoral platform in its second year, including progressive tax reform, pension reform, approving cross-country pipelines, legalizing marijuana and increasing the independence of Statistics Canada. The public mandate letters given to each minister will allow the assessment of ministers’ performances relative to expectations. Many social problems targeted by public policy, such as persistent education and health care disparities between Canada’s indigenous and non-indigenous populations, are complex social phenomena that are only partly amenable to public policy action. In addition, many of the programs funded by Canada’s federal government – including health care, post-secondary education, social services and the integration of immigrants – are implemented by provincial governments and requires provincial cooperation to achieve federal policy objectives.

To what extent does the organization of government provide incentives to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
10
In the Canadian system, the prime minister, in consultation with political staff, forms the cabinet and appoints his or her ministers, who serve on a discretionary basis. Any cabinet minister who is not perceived by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to be a team player, or is seen as a political liability, will have a short career. Cabinet ministers are evaluated and hence promoted and demoted on the basis of their ability to deliver on the government’s agenda. The prime minister and his office (PMO) have an important role in appointing deputy ministers and chiefs of staff. Deputy ministers are appointed by the prime minister on the advice of the clerk of the Privy Council Office. Deputy ministers are promoted (or less often demoted) for a variety of reasons, including the attempt to match their talents to the requirements of the department, efforts to establish a gender and linguistic balance, and so on.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
10
When appointed to a portfolio, a minister receives a mandate letter from the prime minister, while a deputy minister receives one from the clerk of the Privy Council. The importance of mandate letters depends on the department, and more importantly on changing political and economic circumstances. In the case of the current government, ministers’ mandate letters detail priorities for their departments as seen from the center. The minister is subsequently evaluated on his or her success in achieving the objectives set out in the mandate letter. This procedure results in the PCO continually monitoring line-department activities to ensure they are in line with the mandate letter.

The current Liberal government has, for the first time, made public the mandate letters. The media and the general public are now in a position to better monitor the activities of ministers to assess the degree to which they achieve the tasks set out in the mandate letters.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies and executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies, Bureaucracies
8
Ministry procedures for monitoring operating agencies is less formal than the parallel monitoring of line departments by the PCO, in part because operating agencies are generally not responsible for policy formulation. In addition, these agencies may have a degree of autonomy. Nevertheless, ministries do monitor the activities of most operating agencies. Recently, the federal government has attempted to play a greater role in the administration of certain agencies such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), especially in the area of labor relations.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
9
Canada’s central government typically ensures that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded. Education and health care are largely the responsibility of provincial governments, and the federal government transfers funds earmarked for these functions through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST). In addition, Canada has a system of Equalization and Territorial Formula Finance (ETFF) payments in place, which are unconditional transfers to the provinces and territories designed to equalize the level of public service provision across provinces and territories. The block-funding structure is intended to give provinces and territories greater flexibility in designing and administering programs.

Last year, the Liberal government indicated that CHT spending will be capped at 3.5%, down from 6% in previous years. Though several provinces negotiated their own deals with the federal government to secure appropriate CHT increases. The federal government is calling for more transparency from provincial and territorial governments on CHT spending, suggesting that subnational governments are not spending health care dollars adequately. Both the CHT and the CST will be reviewed in 2024.

Citations:
Department of Finance, Canada, Federal Support to Provinces and Territories. Retrieved 2016 from http://www.fin.gc.ca/fedprov/mtp-eng.asp

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
9
Canada’s central government takes substantial steps to ensure subnational self-governments are able to use their constitutional scope of discretion. Canadian provinces, especially large ones such as Quebec and Alberta, guard their constitutional powers closely and allow the federal government little scope to increase its power. Indeed, certain responsibilities that have traditionally been under joint federal-provincial jurisdiction, such as labor market training, have in recent years been decentralized and delegated completely to the provinces. This devolution of powers is not always permanent, however, as has been illustrated by the Canada Job Grant Program. The program, which came into effect in 2014, exists under federal authority but is administered by the provinces and covers a significant amount of the training costs associated with each eligible worker.

Even when the federal government has tried to assert its authority in economic areas it believes to be under exclusive federal jurisdiction, such as the regulation of securities markets, certain provinces have vociferously objected and taken the federal government to the Supreme Court, and won.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
6
In many areas of provincial jurisdiction, perhaps most notably in education, the federal government does not in principle have the authority to ensure that provinces meet national standards. Contrary to most other advanced countries, Canada has no minimum funding levels, national educational goals or overarching curriculum. Yet despite the complete control exercised by the provinces, Canada’s educational system is arguably quite successful, and remains similar across the various provinces, which invest in mandatory education at comparable levels and achieve comparable results for their students. Graduation rates are similar, as are the results on pan-Canadian and international tests, such as the Program for International Student Achievement (PISA), operated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In other areas where the federal government transfers funds to the provinces, it has the leverage to insist on certain standards. Health care is the main area in which this occurs. The Canada Health Act of 1986 requires provinces to meet five principles for health care: care must be available to all eligible residents of Canada, comprehensive in coverage, accessible without financial or other barriers, portable within the country and during travel abroad, and publicly administered. All five principles must be met by the provinces if they are to receive full federal funding. The federal government has challenged certain provinces for failure to meet these standards. However, no funds have been withheld since 1993. Some feel that the federal government should be more aggressive in ensuring that national standards are met in the health area.

In environmental policy, the federal government introduced a national carbon tax for provinces that do not adopt their own carbon reduction strategy by 2018. The policy is meant to encourage provinces and territories to implement their own cap-and-trade or carbon tax policies to ensure Canada reaches the 2030 Paris target.

Adaptability

#16

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures no matter how useful adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
8
Organizational change is constantly taking place within the federal government and some of this change reflects international developments. However, unlike countries in the European Union, Canada is not a member of a supranational organization that may directly require periodic adjustments in the organizational structure and reporting relationships of the government and its public services. One notable exception has been the many changes over time in agencies relating to international matters, which include the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). In the March 2013 federal budget, CIDA was merged with DFAIT to create what is now known as Global Affairs Canada. The rationale provided for this reorganization was that an enhanced alignment of foreign, development, trade and commercial policies and programs will allow the government to achieve greater policy coherence on top-priority issues, and will result in greater overall impact. Development advocates have expressed concern that the reorganization would lead to a less focused and effective foreign-assistance program.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively in international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
6
Canada’s government definitely has the institutional capacity to contribute actively to international efforts to foster the provision of global public goods. Indeed, it has made many contributions in this area throughout its history. The Liberal government has stated that it seeks to return Canada to active participation in international bodies like the United Nations. In September 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau spoke to the U.N. General Assembly and outlined Canada’s commitment to global affairs in an effort to win Canada a seat on the U.N. Security Council, a seat not held since 2000. Climate change is among Prime Minister Trudeau’s declared priorities, as demonstrated in the formation of recent climate policies needed to meet the Paris target. In addition, to help ease the Syrian refugee crisis, Canada has welcomed over 40,000 refugees as of January 2017.

Organizational Reform

#10

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
8
Government structures are constantly changing in Canada, for better and for worse. It is not a static system, but there are few procedural structures in place to (self-) monitor whether current arrangements are appropriate or whether changes have resulted in the intended improvements. Instead, changes are initiated by the government in power whenever it deems appropriate, with little or no ex post evaluation. In the case of the recent merger of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for example, the government offered no details about the exact nature of the amalgamation as conceived, nor about the cost savings it was intended to realize. Other examples in which comprehensive evaluation following an organizational reform has been lacking include the establishment of Service Canada as a delivery platform for government services in 2000, and the split of Human Resources Development Canada into two departments in 2004 (only to be merged again in 2008).

The current government, which won the election in part based on the promise of transparency and fairness, has set up a number of independent committees that will monitor certain government processes. One example is the creation of an independent advisory board that will aid in the selection of senators in an effort to reduce partisanship in lawmaking. The political will seems to be there, but it is too early to gauge their potential impact as few of these committees have been fully formed.

Citations:
David Zussmann (2013), Mergers and successful transitions, Canadian Government Executive, Volume 19 Issue 5

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
6
There is little public evidence that changes in institutional arrangements have significantly improved the strategic-governance capacity of Canada’s federal government. These may have produced marginal improvements. For example, the establishment of Service Canada as a delivery platform for government services was a major organizational change in the 2000s. There has been no comprehensive evaluation of this reform.

In certain cases, there may actually be too much organizational change, given that such change can be very disruptive and costly. For example, in 2004, Human Resources Development Canada was split into two departments. In 2008, the two departments were merged again. In 2013, HRSDC again changed its name, this time to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), with little if any rationale provided for this change. It is unclear what benefits, if any, arose from this departmental reshuffling. The frequency of departmental reorganizations has diminished in recent years, which is probably a positive development. However, in 2017, the Liberal government announced that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada would be split into two departments, the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and the Department of Indigenous Services. The two departments will focus on renewing a nation-to-nation relationship and improving the quality of services available, respectively. Although this is a significant change that was called for in 1996 by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, it is too early to tell how effective this change will be.

The Phoenix pay system, which centralized the payroll function of the federal government, was introduced by the Conservatives and continued by the Liberals. It has been an unmitigated disaster with many public servants experiencing long delays in receiving their salaries.

Citations:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, posted at http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100014597/1100100014637
https://ipolitics.ca/2017/08/28/indigenous-and-northern-affairs-splitting-into-two-departments/
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