This course is a comprehensive analysis of the processes whereby public policies arise and are enacted in Canada. Compares theories and models of policy-making and decision-making to illustrate the special requirements of the Canadian environment; examines the roles of various participants in the policy process: legislators, political parties, interest groups, administrators and administrative structures, citizens and the judiciary.
COURSE CONTENT AND APPROACH
Public policy is "an intentional course of action undertaken by a government official or institution for resolving an issue of public concern." Policy analysis examines how policies are proposed, adopted, implemented, and evaluated. This course also describes central features of the policy-making process and overviews several major Canadian domestic public policies.
This course seeks to balance the theoretical (so your knowledge can grow and prepare you for future discussions) and the immediately practical (so you can better understand the difficulties in making sound public policy). As a core course in the MPA program of the JSGS this course will provide an overview of the general field of public policy analysis and policy management. The general objective of the course is to increase your capacity to undertake some of the key functions of a policy analyst or manager. These functions were conveniently listed by a Deputy Minister Task Force in Ottawa, (George Anderson, 1995: 473-74) in a mid-1990s analysis that remains valid:
- Theoretical research
- Applied research and statistics
- Quantitative modeling
- Environmental scanning, trend analysis, and forecasting
- Policy analysis and advice
- Managing consultations and relationships
- Program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
Of course, no one course can hope to introduce all of these topics, much less to cover them in depth. Thus, all professional policy or public administration programs offer specialized, detailed courses on many of these functions.
Perhaps the best way to think of the course objectives here is to consider the role of policy analysts and the competencies that they are expected to have. According to the Generic Policy Analyst Draft Competency Profile issued by the Learning Resource Network of the Government of Canada, policy analysts are public servants who:
help Ministers to align policy change with the evolving roles of government at all levels, and to use governance tools to achieve policy goals....operate with enormous sensitivity to the political process....serve the government objectively, professionally, and neutrally....create intellectual frameworks that enable discussion of issues by a wide range of constituencies, and…advise and often assist Ministers in interacting with these constituencies. They draw together knowledge from within and outside of government in a sensitive, collaborative fashion, and are acutely aware of the broadest context within which policy develops.