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  • 28 Jul 2022 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    By the IAP2 Canada Research Committee

    This third installment of key findings from IAP2’s bi-annual State of the Practice survey shines a spotlight on barriers to inclusion in P2 practice in Canada. Lisez la version française

    The survey puts particular emphasis on challenges to providing equitable and inclusive engagement for participants whose first language may not be English. While survey respondents indicated it is common (73%) to translate written material into other languages, the ability to provide real-time in-session translation with an interpreter remains rare (common for only 14% of respondents). These results show no reported progress in ability to include real-time in-session translation services since the 2017 survey and no reported change in translation of written materials.

    P2 practitioners responding to the survey are commonly making use of partnerships to meaningfully engage with non-English-speaking participants (62.5%), however this is also lower than reports from 2017, when 72% were commonly consulting community associations for the best approach. Respondents identified online materials and web tools (78%) and printed materials (74%) as the most popular tools for engaging with non-English-speaking participants. Tools reported as least commonly used include hands-on activities (24%), virtual site tours (26%), facilitation or consensus building tools (31%), images/videos of sites (32%), paper-based or in-person surveys/questionnaires/polls (33%), and interactive maps or other tools (39%).

    Forty-two percent (42%) of respondents indicated it is common to have no support or procedures in place to work with non-English-speaking participants. With the 2016 Census reporting that a slim majority (58.1%) of all Canadians have English as at least one of their mother tongues, this reality does not match linguistic trends in Canada. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia: (https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/languages-in-use)

    Although French and English are Canada’s only two official languages, the country’s linguistic diversity is very rich. According to the 2016 census, an increased number of Canadians are reporting a mother tongue or language spoken at home other than English or French compared to in previous years. This is in addition to a large diversity of Indigenous languages.

    Survey respondents indicate language diversity in social media and online engagement has improved, rising from 30% in 2017 to 43% in 2020. Interviews, surveys, questionnaires and polls in other languages are also more common (now common for 50% of respondents).

    Beyond language-related barriers to inclusion affecting P2 participants, respondents noted the following issues:

    67% reported issues related to equity in community representation;
    • 64% reported barriers to engaging citizens beyond planning;
    • 60% indicated lack of public education about the process of P2 creates barriers;
    • 57% commonly find communicating technical, financial and other information creates barriers;
    • 54% reported barriers to consensus building; and
    • 50% identified managing conflict creates barriers.

    IAP2 Canada’s Research Committee noted several barriers to participation in the design of the State of Practice survey. Several comments by respondents supported our observations. We also note that while insights about barriers to inclusion related to language can be gathered from the survey, other aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are not. The Committee looks forward to making improvements to future surveys to improve both the experience of participants and the value of the results to practitioners.

    IAP2 Canada is here to help you reduce barriers to inclusion in your on P2 practice. Of particular note, the following learning opportunities are available:

  • 01 Jul 2022 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    We live in interesting times, and this is especially true for elected officials and/or policy makers. The public expects them to step in to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events on infrastructure, and address the ever-increasing number of people struggling with mental health issues, poverty, homelessness, traffic congestion and other complex issues that keep growing.

    In the context of a local government or public agency, decision-makers provide direction to staff by putting in place strategic plans and defining goals and values ​​to inform policy development and of projects. It is a complex process that often requires the search for compromises. This is where things get interesting, as residents realize how certain issues are affecting their lives and what they might have to give up to fix them. Members of the public have different opinions about development, zoning changes, official community plans – especially if they affect marginalized communities – or intensification.

    Diverse interests are often accentuated by coordinated digital campaigns that have the potential to refocus the conversation, shifting a dialogue about choices and trade-offs into a polarizing campaign intended to promote different perspectives and even attack decision-makers at individual title. This means that decision-makers may feel increasingly isolated and challenged to oppose a plan they originally supported; in some cases, they may even be bullied. Not all dissenting opinions manifest as a coordinated digital disinformation campaign designed to amplify and propagate hate speech, systematically manipulate political discourse, or disrupt decision-making,

    As practitioners of public participation, we are frequently asked for advice. What strategies do you find most effective? What techniques have you learned, during AIP2 Canada training or through the organization's networks, and which have proven to be effective? How can we convince decision-makers to involve the public and residents early in the process – before a plan is developed – so that these people realize the value they bring to the process and the compromises they are willing to make? Are we able to organize community conversations to explore the impact of choices on other people and on the system as a whole? Can we help participants see beyond their own interests and become aware of certain things (for example, “Ohhh…Icontributes to traffic jams" rather than "Traffic jams make me late", or "It is advantageous for me to buy a house in an area where prices are lower, but the price of housing increases, which which means that people who occupied accommodation in a basement or a less expensive rental house will have to find accommodation elsewhere”).

    As practitioners of public participation, we can design processes that raise these kinds of questions, explore trade-offs, and help people see beyond their own interests. Also, when people see their views taken into account, they tend to be more accepting of policies and decisions that they may not fully support. We are all part of the problems we face, which means we all have a role to play in finding a solution.

  • 24 Oct 2021 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    The IAP2 Canada Research Committee presents bite-sized information and graphics from the 2020 State of Practice Survey results.

    This summer we shared some key findings from IAP2’s semi-annual State of the Practice survey noting that P2 practice in Canada appears to be ‘pandemic proof’. Respondents identified virtual and digital engagement tools as key to pandemic-resilience.

    When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their P2 practice, not surprisingly, almost all respondents reported an increase in virtual engagement and a decrease in in-person engagement. Based on responses, it appears the virtual environment prevented some groups from participating as much as before the pandemic, while other groups found participation more feasible (e.g. young parents).

    Less than 12% of respondents indicated they did not use web-based or mobile tools in their engagement practice. Online surveys, questionnaires or polls are most commonly used, however the predominance of these in proportion to other digital tools has dropped since the last survey. Social media tools such as Facebook and Instagram, and to a lesser extent, Blogs and Twitter, have risen in importance as a ‘go to’ for P2 practitioners. The survey results demonstrate that P2 practitioners have seized the challenge of pivoting to online tools and learning new skills and platforms.

    However, the complexity of the virtual and digital realm is adding challenge to P2 practice. Respondents identified concern about barriers to virtual engagement for people who lacked access to the online environment or lacked skill or comfort with online tools. Greater effort by practitioners seems necessary to ensure underrepresented groups are included in engagement activities. Losing in-person engagement during the peaks of the pandemic had a noted negative impact, particularly for hard-to-reach groups such as the Indigenous community and rural farmers. Some practitioners identified that meaningful conversations were harder to have online and harder to facilitate. Some also identified that participants overall do not prefer these tools and/or have difficulty using them.

    Of particular concern, survey respondents identified a lack of engagement tools and technologies as a significant barrier; in fact this gap had the highest weighted average among noted barriers, surpassing language, policies and meaningful metrics (i.e. those that make the case for future engagement effort). Technical information was also identified as harder to present electronically.

    IAP2 Canada is here to help you reduce barriers to practice in the virtual and digital space. Of particular note, the following learning opportunities are available:

    To continue your innovation journey in the virtual and digital space, visit the IAP2  Event Calendar to register for the many opportunities available for strengthening your digital engagement skills.

  • 01 Jun 2021 10:04 AM | Anonymous

    The IAP2 Canada Research Committee presents bite-sized information and graphics from the 2020 State of Practice Survey results.

    As world leaders begin to talk about a future transition to normalcy, we reflect on the impact COVID-19 has had on P2 practice in Canada. Last fall, while still in the thick of lockdowns, waves, ‘pivots’, and other things pandemic, IAP2 Canada reached out to P2 practitioners with the bi-annual State of the Practice survey. We asked you how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work – and you spoke up with courageous optimism. What you said is not surprising: P2 research and practice has been pandemic-resilient!

    First and foremost, the majority of survey respondents are optimistic about the future of P2 despite the ongoing pandemic. Practitioners believe that COVID-19 has had a significant and lasting impact on their P2 work, including driving them towards using more virtual and digital engagement tools. They agree that this shift is here to stay.

    On the flip-side, one in ten survey respondents agree that COVID-19 has financially impacted their P2 work and one-fifth believe that there has been a decline in the quality of P2 work as a result of the pandemic

    IAP2 Canada continues to examine the trends affecting P2 practice across the nation. IAP2 sponsored research by authors Stephanie Yates and Hugo Mimee into COVID-19 and Its Impact on the Field and Practice of Public Participation. This paper builds understanding of remote participatory approaches in our new virtual and digital practice. Watch for the release in September.

    IAP2 Canada also continues to actively tailor learning and networking opportunities to support members in ‘pandemic-proofing’ their P2 work, including digital transformation and building capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion.

    To continue your own learning journey to ‘pandemic-proof’ your practice, register for the many opportunities available through IAP2 Canada. Learn more


    • 64% of respondents are optimistic about the future or P2.
    • 78% of respondents are using and expect to continue to use more digital or virtual tools than before the pandemic.
    • 75% of the respondents agree or strongly agree that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and lasting impact on their P2 work

    Areas to Monitor

    • 10% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their financial income as a P2 practitioner.
    • 13% of respondents believe that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a decline in the quality of P2 work undertaken.

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