Public Engagement: Want to learn more?

We’re pleased to share some tools and templates to help our public service colleagues plan for and undertake their public engagement work. They are designed to help you consider who to engage with, determine your objectives, and to then use the answers to develop an approach. We’ll share the Government of Canada’s Principles of Public Engagement, a toolkit to help you clarify your thinking, and an engagement planning checklist. We’ll also share a series of videos that discuss current issues in public engagement, such as nation-to-nation relationships, feminist perspectives, data and cross-jurisdictional issues, as well as engaging from a holistic perspective.

Why we do this work

The Government of Canada is committed to enhancing open and transparent government, and to sharing best practices domestically and internationally. As part of these commitments, Canada published Principles of Public Engagement  in 2017. The Privy Council Office (PCO), our central agency responsible for overseeing and reporting on consultations, developed a series of tools and templates to help build public servant’s engagement capacity for engagement planning and design, in partnership with a government-wide Public Engagement Community of Practice. Why do these skills matter?  According to Kent Aitken:

Governments are learning the value of sensing and responding rather than planning and controlling, and we see that thread in every major initiative designed to move the public sector forward: digital government with an emphasis on user-centred design and Agile, design thinking for innovation, experimentation, public engagement that creates feedback and dialogue loops.

NESTA also talks about the value of working together as a foundational skill for public sector innovation, and defines it as “engaging with citizens and stakeholders to create shared ownership of new solutions”.

These tools and templates are designed to help public servants consider who they want to engage with, and what their objectives are, and to use the answers to these to then help decide how to proceed.

Some of these resources were developed as part of #Learn4PE, a prototype collaborative learning experience about public engagement

As a first step to share these resources, PCO and the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) partnered to design and deliver a proof-of-concept collaborative learning experience -- Learning Together for Better Public Engagement (Learn4PE).  Our initial objectives included:

  • Learning through collaboration: enabling participants to build their own capacity by working through activities and participating in dialogues with a network of peers;

  • Building a shared understanding of meaningful public engagement, based on Canada’s Public Engagement Principles (transparency, relevance, inclusiveness, accountability, adaptability);

  • Sharing resources: Material from the Public Engagement team at PCO and others, allowing teams to engage more efficiently;

  • Enabling change agents: Connecting across diverse parts of the government ecosystem (including citizens, partners, stakeholders, etc.) and giving them tools.

As part of it, we invited participants to join in several activities:

  1. Attend interactive, live sessions with guest speakers, including public servants from various Canadian jurisdictions, academics, civil society representatives, etc. Facilitators recorded, transcribed, and posted these sessions;
  2. Explore curated resources and tools, and exchange views, using a cloud-based learning platform;
  3. Participate in weekly group activities relating to various elements of the public engagement process.

We’re grateful to each of the 848 participants who joined us for this first iteration, the diverse range of perspectives they shared, and the resources they exchanged and which we have made available to federal public servants through the Public Engagement Community of Practice on GCCollab.

Want to know more, or to help us iterate?

We’d love to hear from you; here are links to our email addresses: PCO Public Engagement team; CSPS Transferable Skills team.


Public engagement resources in this series: 

Public Engagement series: Learning Together for Better Public Engagement: Intro video (Laura Wesley) (Disponible en anglais seulement)
Public Engagement series: Government of Canada Public Engagement Principles
Public Engagement series: Designing Public Engagement Experiences Toolkit 
Public Engagement series: Public Engagement Strategy Template
Public Engagement series: Podcast: Designing Public Engagement Experiences (Jonathan Rose and Daniel Buckles) (Disponible en anglais seulement)
Public Engagement series: Podcast: Building Nation-to-Nation Relationships (Georgina Lloyd) (Disponible en anglais seulement)
Public Engagement series: Video: Digital, Data & Open Policy Making (Panel) (Disponible en anglais seulement)
Public Engagement series: Video: Leading from the Heart (Tim O'Loan) (Disponible en anglais seulement)