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 0.2 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. Aside from environmental projects, laws are not subject to systematic assessment, but RIAs are mandatory for new regulations. Ex post assessment is subject to the same division.

Consultation with external stakeholders is generally robust and wide-ranging, though work with indigenous communities remains uneven. Communication policies, steered by the Prime Minister’s Office, are considerably more open than under the previous government. While many policies have been implemented effectively, auditors have raised serious project-management concerns.

The quality of regulatory enforcement is generally high. 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. 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).

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
8
Canadian government departments and agencies effectively tap into expertise of academics and other experts outside the government in multiple ways. Many government departments and agencies have 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

#9

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

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 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 highly prestigious and central-agency experience is extremely important for advancement to senior levels within the federal public service. Consequently, central-agency staff members are 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.

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 between 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 and 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, line departments are not always forthcoming with information that casts themselves in a bad light.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast 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
Some policy proposals are coordinated through informal mechanisms 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.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
6
The effective control exercised by cabinet over the ministries mostly obviates the need for elaborate technical means of coordination. That said, the government created Shared Services Canada (SSC) in 2011, which is mandated to provide a unified IT infrastructure for the federal government that is modern, secure and reliable. SSC delivers email, data center, network and workplace technology device services to all government departments and agencies in a consolidated and standardized manner. The common IT program and platform naturally enables improved and secure information, and data sharing across all government agencies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the consolidation of IT infrastructure through SSC has not gone smoothly, and the department has been criticized for slow service delivery and for putting some federal agencies at risk. Statistics Canada’s chief statistician resigned in 2016, stating that the decision to create SSC has compromised Statistics Canada’s ability to fulfil its mandate. In 2017, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson criticized SSC for outages, arguing that the one-size-fits-all government-wide service package does not recognize the unique needs of a national police force and has negatively impacted police operations.

The federal government has been unsuccessful in the implementation of two major digital technologies, the Phoenix pay system and the canada.ca government-wide email re-organization. These failures cast serious doubt on the ability of the federal government to make effective use of digital technologies.

Citations:
Shared Services Canada, Departmental Report 2017, available at https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/ssc-spc/documents/2016-17-Departmental-Results-Report-EN.pdf

Evidence-based Instruments

#12

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 regulatory impact assessment (RIA) regime differs greatly in its application to laws created by parliament and regulations developed by regulatory agencies. In the case of laws, RIAs are not performed systematically, except in areas such as environmental projects where they are required by statute or in cases when the Treasury Board’s approval is required. In contrast, RIAs are mandatory in the case of proposed regulations and are made public in a central registry.

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.

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 in Canada is 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. Since 2018, the RIA process for proposed regulations has included assessment of gendered and environmental impacts.

Citations:
https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/federal-regulatory-management/guidelines-tools/cabinet-directive-regulation.html

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
7
As with other aspects of Canada’s RIA regime, ex-post evaluation differs between laws and regulations. While laws are not subject to systematic ex-post evaluation, departments and agencies are expected to regularly review existing regulations to assess their impacts and develop refinements.

In 2016, the Treasury Board of Canada introduced a new “Policy on Results” with the objective to inform decision-making, improvements, innovation and accountability. Evaluations of programs, policies and priorities under the policy is to be a “systematic and neutral analysis of evidence related to relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of policies and programs,” and should “generally employ social science research methods.” Those evaluations can be done through the Treasury Boards’ resource alignment reviews and internally by departments themselves.

In practice, it is frequently the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) that evaluates government programs and initiatives ex post. The OAG 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 the 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.

Citations:
Treasury Board of Canada, Cabinet Directive on Regulation, available at https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/federal-regulatory-management/guidelines-tools/cabinet-directive-regulation.html

Treasury Board of Canada, Policy on Results, available at https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=31300

Societal Consultation

#4

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
8
The Canadian government holds consultations with economic and social actors on many issues. These consultations are motivated more by the desire to obtain meaningful input from Canadians than by a desire to sell a particular policy to the population, as this is typically done through other means. 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 meaningful 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 Kinder Morgan pipeline in British Columbia, where the Federal Court of Appeals decided that the government had failed in its constitutional duty to consult First Nations in relation to the proposal.

Citations:
Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada (Attorney General), 2018 FCA 153, available at http://www.fca-caf.gc.ca/fca-caf_eng.html

Policy Communication

#1

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
9
The Liberals have made good on their campaign pledge to adopt a more open communication policy compared to the previous Conservative government. Ministers are now responsible for coordinating communications between their departments, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office. While the Trudeau government’s media relations have arguably become more decentralized, the Prime Minister’s Office has not fully abandoned control over ministers and departments. The PMO’s objective is still to deliver coherent messages to the public. A recent paper on the communications strategy of both the current and previous governments concluded that considerable efforts are made to spin and frame government information. 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

#4

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 Effectiveness
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.

Three quarters of the way through its term, the Liberal government has already implemented many of the policies that the party campaigned on in the October 2015 election (e.g., a gender-balanced cabinet, reinstatement of the long-form census, a new child benefit system, progressive tax reform, pension reform, approving major infrastructure projects and increasing the independence of Statistics Canada). Most recently, the government has legalized cannabis consumption, made further changes to the tax code and made preparations to implement a carbon tax in provinces without an equivalent program.

Yet, many social problems targeted by public policy (e.g., 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.

Reports from the Office of the Auditor General provide numerous examples of the government’s failure to implement its own policy programs. The latest series of reports (spring 2018) were no exception, but were unusual in that the auditor general expressed serious concerns regarding “fundamental failures of project management and project oversight,” citing “incomprehensible failures” in the design and implementation of the Phoenix pay system (for government employees) and various Indigenous programs, both of which were passed from government to government. His conclusion was that Canada has a “broken government culture.”

Citations:
Office of the Auditor General of Canada, “Message from the Auditor General of Canada on the 2018 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada”, available at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201805_00_e_43032.html

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

10
 9

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


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


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

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms 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 perceived by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) 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/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 are 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, federal governments have 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
Canadian subnational governments deliver key public services, notably health care and education. Their share of government spending has risen dramatically over recent decades and now accounts for roughly 78%, compared to an OECD average of 32% (2016 data).

Canada’s federal government typically ensures that tasks delegated to subnational governments are adequately funded. The federal government transfers funds earmarked for both health care and education 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 nationally. The block-funding structure is intended to give provinces and territories greater flexibility in designing and administering programs.

In 2016, 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 higher CHT increases. Both the CHT and the CST will be reviewed in 2024, but this may be too late as a recent Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) projection forecasts that provincial debt will start to increase in the mid-2020s and then follow an explosive path. On the current trajectory, therefore, fiscal policy at the subnational level is unsustainable and federal transfer programs will prove to be insufficient to fund the large-scale increases in health care spending that will result from an aging population.

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

Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada, Fiscal Sustainability Report 2018, posted at https://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/web/default/files/Documents/Reports/2018/FSR%20Sept%202018/FSR_2018_25SEP2018_EN_2.pdf

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 federal government works to ensure subnational 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. However, this process can be ambiguous.

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, most notably education, the federal government does not have the formal 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 practical 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. The federal government has threatened to withhold funds from provinces that fail 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.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
7
The quality of regulatory enforcement in Canada is generally high. While regulatory agencies occasionally face resource constraints, these are not usually the result of interest group lobbying. Interest groups in Canada tend to focus on obtaining leniencies during the creation of regulations rather than after regulations are promulgated.

One notable exception is the regulatory oversight and environmental assessment review of major industrial projects, where final decisions are in the hands of the ministry or cabinet. In many instances, stakeholders have complained that government approval did not follow the rules and regulations set out by law. Two recent high-profile cases highlight the issue: both the Enbridge west coast oil-port proposal (under former prime minister Harper) and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (under current prime minister Trudeau) obtained positive recommendations from the National Energy Board, all required federal and provincial environmental assessment certificates, and final ministerial approval. Yet, federal courts ultimately struck down both approvals. In the most recent case, the Federal Court of Appeal determined that the National Energy Board’s assessment of the project was so flawed that it should not have been relied on by the federal cabinet when it gave final approval.

The government has recently introduced legislation to undo a series of controversial changes to the environmental assessment process adopted by the former Harper government in 2012. The bill includes the introduction of a brand new Impact Assessment Agency to centralize federal evaluations of major projects, as well as a new Canadian Energy Regulator to oversee Canada’s interprovincial and international pipelines and powerlines. These would replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the National Energy Board.

Adaptability

#10

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 developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial 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 might necessitate adjustments in organizational structures and reporting relationships. One area that has seen changes over time is international affairs, which includes the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with 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
7
Canada’s government has the capacity to provide global public goods in coordination with other actors. Indeed, it has done so 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. Canada has since deployed a 250-person Air Task Force as peacekeepers with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. Climate change is also 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 57,000 refugees as of July 2018.

Citations:
https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/operations/military-operations/current-operations/op-presence.html

Organizational Reform

#9

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, but there are few procedural structures in place to (self-) monitor whether current arrangements are appropriate or whether change has resulted in improvement. Instead, changes are initiated at the will of the government in power, with little ex post evaluation. In the case of the recent merger of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the Canadian International Development Agency, for example, the government offered no details about nature of the amalgamation, nor about the cost savings it was intended to realize.

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. It remains too early to gauge the long-term impact of these committees.

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. For example, there has been no comprehensive evaluation of Service Canada, a delivery platform for government services established in the 2000s.

In certain cases, there may actually be too much organizational change given the cost and disruption entailed. For example, in 2004 Human Resources Development Canada was split into two departments. In 2008, the two departments were merged again. In 2013, Human Resources Development Canada again changed its name, this time to the Employment and Social Development Canada, with little if any rationale provided for this change. It is unclear what benefits, if any, arose from this departmental reshuffling.

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.

The frequency of departmental reorganizations has diminished in recent years. 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.

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/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-phoenix-pay-system-problems-on-track-to-cost-government-22-billion/
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