CIHR’s Framework for Citizen Engagement – Section Four: Conclusion

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The successful implementation of the CIHR Citizen Engagement Framework will position CIHR to take a leadership role within Canada in engaging and partnering with a diverse group of citizens. By moving beyond traditional stakeholders in health research to include the broader public in opportunities to dialogue, deliberate and collaborate, CIHR will ensure that its strategic priorities and organizational policies are responsive to the needs of Canadians.

Tools to track, synthesize and report the results of all Institute- and Branch-led activities will contribute to the ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of CIHR's efforts and will help to refine the Framework and accompanying resources. An evaluation framework will be an important resource to measure these efforts to engage citizens and to demonstrate the value to both CIHR and to citizens for participating in the activities.

Citizens want to be engaged in CIHR's work through processes that involve dialogue and collaborative decision-making practices. Citizens are responding to a "shift that has been occurring over the last 10 to 15 years from top-down models of government to horizontal governance, which is the process of governing by public policy networks including public, private and voluntary sectors. The rationale for the shift lies in the understanding from governments that better decisions are made when the affected stakeholder groups are involved."Footnote 25 Including these voices will be challenging, requiring the commitment and involvement of all areas of CIHR, including the endorsement of senior leadership, in developing the programs and initiatives that will transform this framework from a vision to reality. The rewards of success are great, however, as there is significant potential for citizens, experts and leaders to learn from each other through legitimate and accountable participation.

CIHR already has a solid foundation in CE that has developed naturally. This framework builds on the considerable and varied CE activities already underway at CIHR. By building on its existing strengths and taking realistic steps for the organization, CIHR will seize an opportunity to move forward with CE to fulfill its place in the global arena and to ensure that funded research connects with Canadians to improve their health and strengthen the Canadian health system. The vehicles already exist within CIHR, but a new way of thinking is needed to ensure inclusiveness and fair representation of citizens in CIHR's decision-making structures and in its research programs.

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