CE Handbook - Chapter 8: Citizen Engagement Planning Resources

[ Table of Contents ]

The Partnerships and Citizen Engagement (PCE) Branch is developing a growing list of resource materials and information from relevant external organizations, as well as from the activities of CIHR's Institutes and Branches. Internal capacity for leading and designing citizen engagement (CE) processes is limited at CIHR; however, there is advisory support available for getting started.

This chapter provides the following resource information:

  • Section 8.1 contains a checklist of sample questions to consider if you plan on hiring a CE process consultant;
  • Section 8.2 provides resources for evaluating CE activities, including an Evaluation Menu;
  • Section 8.3 lists training opportunities and resources for building internal CE capacity; and
  • Section 8.4 lists highly recommended CE websites and online resource material.

The information in this chapter may be updated as new resources are discovered and as CIHR's experience with CE grows.

8.1 Hiring a Consultant or Facilitator to Plan your Citizen Engagement Activity

The PCE Branch is compiling a list of contractors previously employed by CIHR Institutes and Branches. The list will also note a CIHR contact person (who dealt directly with the contractor) as a reference for additional information about CIHR's experience with a given citizen engagement (CE) expert. In addition, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have developed a request for proposals with rated requirements for a list of contractors with standing offers. The Senior Advisor, Citizen Engagement, will continue to collaborate with these organizations to share resources and highly recommended contractors.

Even with recommendations, choosing the right facilitator or process consultant can be difficult. The following sample questions for interviewing potential facilitators or process consultants are drawn from the School of the Public Service Course on Public Consultations and Citizen Engagement (2006). They are meant to help you identify whether a potential contractor has an approach, expertise, and vision that is compatible with your CE objectives.

  • What do you know about the requirement we have for a facilitator?
  • What do you perceive the objectives to be?
  • What role do you see yourself assuming?
  • What role do you see me/my team assuming?
  • What process will you use?
  • What methods/approaches of involvement will you use?
  • What difficulties do you anticipate?
  • What similar CE activities have you conducted?
  • What were the results?
  • What information will you need to plan your agenda?
  • When will we see your proposed agenda?
  • How will information be captured?
  • Have you worked with simultaneous translation before?
  • How will you handle disruption?
  • How will you summarize your contribution?

For more information, please contact the PCE Branch at pce.pec@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

8.2 Evaluating Your Citizen Engagement Activity

After conducting environmental scans, leading multiple planning sessions, and navigating logistical hurdles, your CE initiative is ready to begin. Congratulations! But, as noted in Chapter 3, evaluation of your CE initiative or activity shouldn't be an afterthought. Developing an evaluation plan is an excellent way to ensure that your overall CE plan stays on track. If your initiative is working perfectly in every way, then you deserve the satisfaction of knowing that (and if it's not, then having evaluation components in your overall CE plan will help you make the necessary adjustments to bring everything back together).Footnote 40 Evaluation enables you to:

  • measure your success in meeting your CE objectives;
  • identify what worked (or is working), what didn't, and why;
  • refine the process (even while it's in progress);
  • ensure consistent and effective practices;
  • ensure efficient use of resources;
  • anchor CE as legitimate to decision-making and 'public input' as valid evidence; and
  • gauge citizens' awareness and understanding of CIHR.

This section provides an overview of some important considerations to help you evaluate your CE activity.

Evaluation Menu

The evaluation menu below has been adapted from Health Canada's Public Involvement Plan Template (2007), a resource guide developed by Health Canada's Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch. This resource material complements Health Canada's training workshop, entitled "Public Involvement Planning for Policy, Regulatory and Program Activities." The menu provides an overview of evaluation issues to consider, such as how a CE activity was implemented (also known as a "process evaluation"), analyzing the results of the activity (also known as an "outcome evaluation"), and identifying the success indicators and data sources (evidence) for your evaluation itself.

The menu is divided into two tables, one for a Process Evaluation (Table 4), and the other for an Outcome Evaluation (Table 5). Each of the charts is further divided into four components: Topic, What Success Looks Like, Indicators, and Evidence. The "Topic" component corresponds to the evaluation questions that are specific to a given CE situation (which is why the questions are not included in the chart). For example, if, as part of your evaluation, you want to ask yourself if the participants felt that the venue or CE approach was an appropriate means to gather their input, then that question would lead you to the "Participant Satisfaction" topic in the Process Evaluation chart (hint: this question has to do with how the activity was implemented, so it falls into the process evaluation category). The "What Success Looks Like" component of the chart gives you an idea of what the best case scenario could be, and the "Indicators" component outlines ways to know if you've been successful in creating that best case scenario (for example, under the "Participant Satisfaction" topic, one of the Indicators is "expectations were met."). Finally, the "Evidence" component of the chart provides a list of data sources that should help you determine whether you've met the Indicators (how would you know if "expectations were met"? Through participant questionnaires, interviews, etc.). Pulling all of these elements together will provide you with an excellent starting point for evaluating your CE activity or initiative.

Table 4: Process evaluation topics and related indicators

Process Evaluation
Topic What Success Looks Like Indicators Evidence
Clear task definition and accountability

- A clear and common understanding of the aims, processes, and outputs is evident.

- It is clear who is accountable for what.

- The public involvement approach is relevant and realistic for the stage of decision-making.

- The level of public involvement corresponds to the kind of output the organization expects to receive and act upon.

- Clear statement of purpose, including expectations of convenors, participants, and outcomes.

- Activity is appropriate to meet the intended objectives

- Clear roles

- Clear responsibilities

- Documented decisions and rationale

- Commitments/actions completed on schedule

- Public involvement plan

- Terms of reference

- Pre-activity info package

- Action plan for CE activities

- Interim activity/status report

- Planning meeting minutes

- Final report from CE activity


- Timing of new initiatives was planned to avoid stakeholder fatigue.

- Advantage of other activities was taken (build from each other or coordinate/combine efforts).

- CE methods, relative costs, and plans for evaluation were considered from the beginning.

- How and what information is being shared with the public is identified (and planned) early in the process.

- Internal and external scans to identify other relevant activities

- External scan to understand public context of issue and those wanting to have influence

- Action plan (include scans)

- Scanning results

- Report of stakeholders analysis

Equal Opportunity to Participate

- Participants were provided adequate information (taking literacy levels into consideration) in order to contribute fully

- Participants are able to articulate values

- Educational materials were supplied to participants

- Information was provided in an accessible format

- Special needs were met

- A variety of mechanisms was used for participants to comfortably share their views

- Interviews with planners

- Interviews with observers of activities

- Review of information materials provided

- Documentation on the development of materials

- Agenda for activities (small group work, Q&A time)

- Special needs were identified (along with a means to address them)

- Timeframe for reading materials provided (adequate/not)

- Summary of complaints

Participant Satisfaction

- Participants felt adequately prepared to contribute fully

- Participants understood their own roles and the role of their input

(Note: Participants can evaluate an activity according to any result of the CE activity that can be measured
- usually derived from the guiding principles and objectives for the activity. They are the best judges as to whether their expectations were achieved.)

- Roles were clear

- Expectations were met

- Information provided was accessible

- Participants understood the decision-making process

- Participants had adequate time to share views

- Participants understood complex issues

- New capacity was developed

- Participant questionnaire

- Interviews

- Reports from formal observers


- Participants represent a cross-section of interested and affected members of the public.

- The input received is balanced in terms of geography, sector, gender, culture, language, and relevant experience or expertise.

- Participants are representative of the interested and affected members of the public

- Balance of demographics

- Those with a stake in the issue are involved

- Those with an interest in the issue are involved

- Demographic data (polls, surveys)

- Info obtained from participants (questionnaire)

- Stakeholder analysis (CE plan)

- Participant list, associations represented

- Outreach activities

- Meeting minutes

- Methodology for identifying participants

- Interviews with planners

Adequate Resources

- An appropriate number of staff were involved in the activity

- Internal capacity was developed as necessary (training, etc.)

- Indirect time and support from colleagues/management is evident.

- Participants were given enough time to prepare for the activity, and had enough time and resources during the activity to absorb information and to speak so that their ideas, perspectives, and conclusions could be as informed as possible.

- Allocated funds are adequate to meet objectives

- Allocated time is adequate to undertake key steps

- Appropriate people have been involved in the planning process

- Participants were given adequate time to share their views

- Participants had access to information

- Comparison of budget and expenditures

- Interviews with planners

- Documentation and distribution of information

- Documentation of meeting special needs

- Cost comparison of similar activities


- Activities coincide with public interest in the issue and reflect the degree to which the public wants to play an active role.

- Public input is timely, within the organization's decision-making process, to influence decisions.

- Background education, information, and learning opportunities are available to participants in a timely manner

- Timing of activity corresponds with the stage of decision-making so that input has the potential for maximum influence.

- Timing of activity corresponds with interest in the issue.

- Participants received information in advance

- Results of public opinion research

- CE plan has been integrated into the action plan for decision making

- Final report

- Interview with


- The public understands how decisions are made and how public input is integrated into the decision-making process.

- Awareness and acknowledgement of those who want to influence decision-making (and how they do so) is evident.

- Stages of the CE process are documented

- The decision-making process is openly communicated

- The decision-making process is understood.

- CE plan, objectives, and evaluation results

- Review of information and documents provided

- Communications plan for activities and final report

Table 5: Outcome evaluation topics and related indicators

Outcome Evaluation
Topic What Success Looks Like Indicators Evidence
Capacity Building

- Participants acquire new skills.

- Community or citizen relationships with the organization (or each other) are strengthened.

- Enhanced relationship between the organization and the public

- The public benefits as a result of the activity

- Documentation of relationships developed or strengthened

- Media reports on impacts of participants

Influence on Decision Making

- Decision making is influenced by the public's involvement (in accordance with the activity objectives).

Note: unexpected outcomes should also be noted

- Input is evident in summaries and documents produced after activities

- Feedback provided to participants on the outcomes of input received

- Participants understood subsequent actions/activities, who had the most influence, and why.

- Final report of proceedings and consequences of input received

- Interviews with staff

- Minutes or videos of activities

- Wording used in documents created after CE activities


- Participants and the organization were exposed to new facts, new evidence, or a new understanding.

- Organization learned something new

- Participants learned something new

- Participants understood trade-offs involved in the issue

- Lessons learned were prepared with input from participants and planners

- Participant questionnaire

- Correspondence between organization and participants

- Lessons-learned document.

8.3 Training Opportunities and Resources

A wide variety of training opportunities and resources exist for CE. The list below provides a brief overview of some of the programs that may be of interest to CIHR staff. Please follow the web links or contact the PCE Branch (pce.pec@cihr-irsc.gc.ca) for more information.

Canada School of Public Service

The Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) offers professional development and training opportunities for members of the public service. For a complete listing of their current course offerings, such as the one below, visit the CSPS - Courses web page.

Fielding Graduate Institute's Dialogue, Deliberation, and Public Engagement Certificate Program

This certificate program will help you to develop mastery by working with a scholar-practitioner model of collaborative learning and reflective practice.

International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)

As noted in Chapter 1, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is a highly regarded international association of members who seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation in relation to individuals, governments, institutions, and other entities that affect the public interest. It also organizes and conducts activities that include the promotion of a results- oriented research agenda and the use of research to support educational and advocacy goals.

IAP2 offers training courses that lead to certification in public participation (citizen engagement). The details of the certification program are described below.

IAP2 Certificate Program Courses

The International Association of Public Participation's Certificate Program in Public Participation is intended to provide a broad-based learning experience covering all of the foundations of public participation (citizen engagement). The courses included in the Certificate Program are the following:

  1. Planning for Effective Public Participation (two-day course)
  2. Effective Communications for Public Participation (one-day course)
  3. Techniques for Effective Public Participation (two-day course)

Upon completion of each module, students will receive credit from IAP2 recognizing their successful completion of that module. Upon completion of all three modules, students will be awarded a Certificate in Public Participation from IAP2. Also available online is the IAP2's Training Calendar.

The Canadian Trainers Collective in collaboration with Dialogue Partners

The Canadian Trainers Collective and Dialogue Partners offer Dialogue Partners training courses and the IAP2 Certificate Program courses (provided in various locations across Canada). One of the values of Dialogue Partners is to build capacity (in citizen engagement) through "hands on knowledge transfer and mentoring." Their goal is to empower trainees to create the space for meaningful and productive engagement themselves.

For more information about the workshops and seminars offered by Dialogue Partners, please visit their training page or contact the Canadian Trainers Collective at cdntrainerscollective@shaw.ca.

Masterful Facilitation Institute: Becoming an Inspired Facilitator

Masterful Facilitation is a learning institute to build your confidence and skill in designing and facilitating highly successful meetings. Their training courses are designed to enhance your facilitation competencies and mastery to enable groups of any size in any setting to tap their creativity and wisdom, and produce extraordinary results. The following course is highly recommended:

The Inspired Facilitator: Achieving Mastery in Engaging Organizations and Communities

This course is a "is a deep dive into the principles, theories, practices, and processes for understanding, designing, and facilitating complex group dynamics and multi-stakeholder situations."

To learn more about the Institute, visit the Masterful Facilitation Institute blog, or contact Myriam Laberge: Telephone: 604-943-9133, Email: info@breakthroughsunlimited.com; or Brenda Chaddock: Telephone: 604-929-4290, Email: brenda@followtheleader.ca.

Centre for Sustainable Community Development, Simon Fraser University

The Centre for Sustainable Community Development at Simon Fraser University offers a two-day workshop in stakeholder engagement and dialogue, entitled "How to Communicate, Consult, Collaborate and Co-Create in a Networked World." This two day workshop is for senior decision-makers and experienced practitioners who want to enhance their strategic abilities and skills in co-creative stakeholder engagement. During the course, participants will acquire the skills, models and tools to effectively identify, segment, and engage stakeholders to generate mutual value, avert risk, and co-create novel solutions with increased impact. To find a course overview and information about upcoming schedules, please visit the Community Economic Development Certificate web site.

Please note that this list of training resources is by no means exhaustive. The PCE Branch will continue to compile resources, and CIHR staff members are encouraged to share their experiences with the Senior Advisor, Citizen Engagement at pce.pec@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

8.4 Highly Recommended Websites and Resource Guides

The following list of websites and resource guides has been compiled by the PCE Branch. CIHR staff members are encouraged to explore these resources and to add to the list by contacting the Senior Advisor, Citizen Engagement at pce.pec@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

Additional resources are also available on the shared drive of CE materials.

8.5 Conclusion

This chapter was designed to provide CIHR staff with additional information about CE resources and professional development opportunities. This information may be updated and expanded in the future, as CIHR's experience with and capacity for CE grows.

Overall, this Handbook has been designed to provide CIHR staff with a thorough introduction to the field of CE. The PCE Branch is available for advice, information, and recommendations. CIHR staff members are encouraged to discuss CE activities with the Senior Advisor, Citizen Engagement, during the early planning phase of the project, but may contact the PCE Branch at anytime throughout the CE process at pce.pec@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

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