CanGovBetter - A Governance Agenda for Canada's Public Sector - Institute on Governance


A timely and important initiative to determine how the public institutions of the federation can adapt to a post-COVID environment, bringing the Canadian values of openness, inclusion, diversity and working together to solve the challenges of today and the future.

A strong, responsive and relevant public sector that reflects Canada’s reality today is critical to ensuring citizen trust in government and democracy today and in the future.

CanGovBetter is a multi-year initiative that will:

  • Ensure post COVID-19, public sector institutional capacity to meet post-pandemic policy and social challenges
  • Build trust in our public institutions
  • Strengthen our democracy and its institutions

Why CanGovBetter? Democracy is under threat.

Public institutions are at risk from the extreme right and from foreign interference. The erosion is accelerated by baseless critiques of electoral legitimacy; wedge politics; the weaponization of the internet through cancel culture; a growing dysfunction in policy-making; economic disparity and a sense of disenfranchisement; and a mainstream press that has no idea how to adjust its ethical commitment to neutrality in the face of toxic, anti-democratic office-holders or their enablers. These multiple threats are real to Canada; they are not merely theoretical.

Furthermore, as Canada continues to control the pandemic and prepare for an uncertain future, governments face a changed environment that includes major shifts in citizen expectations, increased flexibility of the workforce, reconciliation, the role of government, the use of technology, the delivery of health care, the inequality and marginalization of segments of the population, and the need to reach net zero. How will our federated system of government sort out both longstanding and emerging societal and policy shifts facing Canada today and in the future? Do our public institutions have the capacity and the tools to tackle these known and future challenges effectively?

What are we doing?

The IOG has launched a number of projects under this initiative, including:

  • 2021 Election Governance Barometer.  Using Artificial Intelligence from Advanced Symbolics Inc., we will observe Canadians’ engagement and sentiments related to the components of good governance to understand their views on the role of government in addressing the challenges facing the country.
  • Top of Mind: A consultation with Canadian public sector leaders from the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal orders of government. The initiative will provide frank and candid analysis of the challenges, concerns and anticipated future trends facing Canada and its public institutions as seen through the eyes of senior government leaders.  Supported by the Brian Mulroney Institute on Government.
  • Trust in Government: An analysis on how social media disinformation impacts Canadians’ views on the federal government’s ability to make decisions on, and successfully implement, specific complex policy issues. Supported from a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
  • Government Science in the New Normal (GSINN): An in-depth examination of the evolving relationship among science, innovation and society. Supported by eight federal government science organizations and an Advisory Council of academics and public sector experts
  • Digital Directions: An ongoing initiative bringing together experts, practitioners and leaders to design and build a blueprint for action and set the directions for an inclusive and democratic digital future.
  • Public governance certificate. The IOG is developing a Public Governance Certification Program that will allow governments and their institutions to rate themselves against recognized public governance principles and, through this, build a robust public sector.

We are passionate about the big issues of our time. Join us today.

Support for CanGovBetter

“Congratulations to the IOG for launching this important and timely initiative. A strong and responsive public service that reflects Canada’s reality is critical to ensuring citizen trust in government and democracy today and in the future.”

Lord Nick Herbert

The Commission for Smart Government UK

“The IOG has launched an important initiative worthy of support.  Countries like Canada that successfully blended democratic principles, market dynamism and human rights outperformed others during most of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st.  There is an urgent need for a public conversation to ensure it will continue to be the case in the future.”

The Hon. Jocelyne Bourgon, President

Public Governance International

“We must ensure that Canada’s democratic institutions are able to appropriately respond to the rapidly changing social and economic environment they serve. Initiatives like this are critical to a prosperous Canada.”

George L. Cooke, Chair of the Board of Directors

OMERS Administration Corporation

Don’t miss Digital Directions

A CanGovBetter Event

Digital Directions

A free virtual symposium to design and build a blueprint

Learn More

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