Benchmarking and Canadian Federalism

Benchmarking Event in Toronto, Canada

As part of its comparative project on "Benchmarking in Federal Systems,” the Forum of Federations, in cooperation with the Mowat Centre, held a one-day workshop in Toronto to discuss the applicability of benchmarking in the Canadian federal context. The objective of the workshop was to discuss what broad lessons could be learned from international and Canadian experience of benchmarking and how federal-type benchmarking could be applied in Canada, to what subjects and with what organizational approaches.

The scene was set by Alan Fenna, a leading scholar of comparative federalism from Curtin University (Australia) who is providing academic leadership to the Forum’s comparative project. He presented his main findings on the challenges and opportunities related to benchmarking and performance assessment exercises in OECD-type federations, based on his study published in the Forum’s Occasional paper Series.

The following panels discussed the Canadian benchmarking experience in three sectors: health policy (presenters: Jeremy Veillard, Canadian Institute for Health Information and Patrick Fafard, University of Ottawa), labour market (presenter: Donna Wood, University of Victoria, with a comment by Peter Graefe, McMaster University) and education (presenters: Andrew Parkin, Council of Ministers of Education and Jennifer Wallner, University of Regina). The concluding panel with Josh Hjartason (Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation), Julie Simmons (University of Guelph) and Alan Fenna, (Curtin University) discussed the applicability of benchmarking in Canada View the (see program) .

Participants at the workshop academics from various fields and civil servants from a number of provincial governments as well as the federal government discussed a number of questions. How do benchmarking arrangements affect intergovernmental relations and the functioning of the federal system? To what extent might benchmarking practices enhance federalism and what form of benchmarking is most conducive to effective federal practice? What are the challenges in moving from performance monitoring to active policy learning? Does benchmarking actually lead to improved outcomes?

Julie Simmons prepared a report on the workshop for the Forum of Federations which you can accesshere.

Back to Events