2011 Tansley Lecture - Analysis and Evidence for Good Public Policy: The Demand and Supply Equation

Tansley Lecture













Presented by Mel Cappe, Professor, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto; Former President, Institute for Research on Public Policy; Former Clerk of the Privy Council, Government of Canada 

April 19, 2011

A prerequisite for effective public policy is good analysis and evidence. This year’s Tansley Lecture examined how both the demand and the supply of policy analysis and evidence has shifted over recent decades. In some governments, the demand for analysis and evidence by Ministers and decision-makers appears to have declined. On the supply side, NGOs, think tanks, academia, and interest groups increasingly fill a space once provided by the public service. In addition, the increasingly rapid news cycle emphasizes short-term crisis management, often crowding out longer-term problem solving and policy formulation. Yet, the increasing complexity of public policy challenges suggests that analysis and evidence should play a larger, not a smaller, role in forging better public policy. The question is how best to work with such realities while providing more evidence-based and thoughtful policy options for decision-makers in the future.

Mel Cappe has been a professor with the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto since 2009. From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Cappe was President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Prior to that he spent more than 30 years in the Canadian public service. He ended his public service career as High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Before that he was Canada’s top public servant as Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service. He assumed those responsibilities in January 1999, relinquishing the position in May of 2002 to become Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada before leaving for the United Kingdom later that year.

Post-event publication
Photo Gallery

Poster Presentation

The Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy was also pleased to feature the first annual first JSGS Policy Research Poster Presentation. During cocktail hour, students were asked to present posters summarizing their research activities, with opportunity for extended discussion and engagement with those attending the lecture. The poster presentations were evaluated by a panel of representatives including:

  • Rhonda Laing, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Federal Council, Western Economic Diversification Canada;
  • Nancy Croll, Executive Director, Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan;
  • Jim Engel, Vice President, Policy and Planning Division, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority;
  • Byron Werry, City Solicitor, City of Regina; and
  • Jennifer Wallner, Assistant Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

This year's award recipients were Jenn Bergen, Stephanie Barr, Mary Chan and Elijah Ahlquiest for their poster entitled, Case Study: National Food Labelling in Canada.  As part of the award, the students will select one representative to travel to Victoria in August for IPAC’s 63rd Annual Conference,

Sharing Knowledge to Shape Our Future: The Power of Stories.

Award recipients

Case Study: National Food Labelling in Canada, by: Jenn Bergen, Stephanie Barr, Mary Chan and Elijah Ahlquist, MPA students, U of R campus - First Place Recipients
Abstract - The potential health risks associated with a lack of nutritional information on pre-packaged foods is a market failure, due to the asymmetry of information between the consumer and producer, and the negative externalities this asymmetry creates. Since market forces have been unable to correct this problem, in 2003 the Canadian government intervened by regulating producers, requiring them to include nutrition labels on all pre-packaged foods. Though the resulting labeling purports to inform healthier decisions, consumers vary in their ability to interpret and effectively use the information. Here, improvements including increased information, graphic codes, and third-party endorsements are recommended in order to further remedy the failure.

Policy Framing: The Case of Guyana’s LCDS Consultations, by: Wainewright Noble, MPP Student, U of S campus - Second Place Recipient
Abstract - Guyana, a small developing state, is one of the few countries that has preserved a large portion of its standing forests. It however faces a dichotomy of problems as it decides whether to engage in large scale logging or maintain the existing state of the standing forests, in return for positive incentives. In an attempt to resolve this dilemma, the Government of Guyana designed a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and engaged in a consultation process with the Indigenous population, the Amerindians, as a means of winning their support. This research, using prospect theory, evaluates the consultation process during the policy formulation stage. The findings indicated that the failure resulted from bad policy framing and a consultation process that failed to consider the cultural identity of the indigenous community.

Budget 2011-2012: Investing in Saskatchewan, by: Jeff Martin, Lu Liu, Lan Wang, Nan Zhang, Azhar Zhumatayeva and Yong Chan Ku, MPA students, U of S campus - Peer Reviewed Award Recipients
Abstract - This 2011-2012 Provincial budget, valued at $11.09 billion, focuses on investments that are important to the people of Saskatchewan. This amount is a $1.6 billion increase compared to the 2010-2011 Provincial budget. Key expenditures were made for individuals and families, education, the labour force, infrastructure, and the economy. The debt was also reduced by $690 million dollars. This budget and these expenses were made possible due to an increasing population, an increased tax base, favorable economic conditions, and cautiously optimistic economic forecasting.  

A Multi-Purpose Entertainment Facility for Regina, by: Gordon Dunlop and Dickson Abiye, MPA student, U of R campus
Abstract - This poster examines the proposed multi-purpose entertainment facility for the City of Regina. It reviews whether the proposed facility is a public good, whether there is market failure, and whether federal, provincial or municipal government intervention is necessary. While it can be argued that this is a case of market failure due to the positive externality being generated, it is difficult to determine what the socially optimal stadium is. Various government failures at different levels of government have resulted in the proposed stadium project not going ahead.

Budget 2011-2012 - Opportunity, Stability, Strength, by: Justin Redekop, MPA student, U of S campus
Abstract - The vision for Budget 11-12 is supported by three goals: providing opportunity for investment, fostering immigration and youth and strength for the future. By providing a balanced budget with limited new spending and maintaining our competitive tax and royalty regimes, the province of Saskatchewan will continue our success. Budget 11-12 shows increasing revenues of $359 million for total revenues of $10.31 billion. Revenues have increased due to the continuing strength of our economy, which increased both tax income and resource revenues. Expenditure has increased by $235 million for a total of $10.35 billion. Our focus is on immigration, retention and health. We increased funding for EAL education for both children and adults. We increased the capacity of the successful Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program to allow for up to 10,000 new immigrants. Mostly, we both increased funding for health care and addressed its future. We are launching two pilot programs for integrative health sites which pr vide preventative care. These sites mark a sustainable future for our health care system. The strength of this budget builds on the many balanced budgets of previous years. Saskatchewan is ready to take the next step in continued prosperity.

Beyond the Threshold, by: Michael Oram, MPA student, U of R campus
Abstract - The South Saskatchewan River Basin is in a stressed condition due to the over allocation of water rights caused by rapid growth within Alberta and Saskatchewan. This stress on the river basin can be attributed to the cumulative effects of development in the region. In order to mitigate the stresses on the South Saskatchewan River Basin a new cumulative effects model is needed, one that will cover the entire Basin and not be hindered by provincial boarders. This new cumulative effects model must be cognizant of economic, social and environmental objectives for the region and must follow the best practices associated with cumulative effects management.

Economic Impacts of Kenya's Coalition Government, by: Linda Chemmuttut, MPP student, U of S campus
Abstract - Kenya was left with deep scars by the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the disputed Presidential election of December 2007. In just a matter of weeks, Kenya was transformed from one of Africa’s most stable democracies into chaos. The post-election crisis brought the country close to collapse and the status of a failed state. While the power sharing deal brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a coalition government managed to bring peace to Kenya, and was widely welcomed, the initiative has not been without its problems, especially in terms of governance and its effects on the economy of the country.

Commentators had initially pointed to the optimism about the peace agreement between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki. However, recent happenings within government have led people to develop doubts as to whether the two executive office holders are fully committed towards working together for the development of the country. The coalition has been roundly criticized both at home and abroad for internal bickering, failing to tackle corruption, slow progress on political reform, and inability to stem economic decline. An analysis of the study reveals that the amount of money spent on sustaining the bloated cabinet as well as divisions currently witnessed with regard to appointments of individuals to positions that are key in facilitating the development of the country have had some negative impacts on the economy of the country as well as the country’s quality of governance. The analysis is carried out using the theories of bargaining and coordination games.

Gambling and the Non-Profit Sector in Canada: A Comparative Policy Analysis of Saskatchewan, by: Lynn Gidluck, PhD student, U of R campus
Abstract - Gambling is “big business” for provincial governments in Canada - gross gaming represented $14 billion in 2009 (Canadian Partnership for Responsible Gambling 2010). How governments utilize this revenue stream is a policy area generating significant debate across the country – especially in BC and Alberta. In BC charitable organizations have launched legal action against the government for changes made to granting programs. Charities in Alberta are nervously awaiting the outcomes of a policy review and are still reeling from the elimination of a major gambling granting program in 2009. Berdahl (1999) and Azmier (2001) suggest that Saskatchewan’s system for distributing provincial lottery revenues reflects best practices. Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction in Canada where the nonprofit sector controls the provincial lottery. Since 1974 Saskatchewan Lotteries has been official fundraiser for sport, culture and recreation. This poster presents preliminary findings of a comparative policy analysis of Saskatchewan’s gambling granting programs.

New Directions in Social Policy: Co-Construction and Institutional Change, by: Dustin Rogers, MPP student, U of S Campus
Abstract - In Quebec: social agencies can belong to large umbrella organizations that solve coordination problems; umbrella organizations identify policy directions and decisions and share ownership of these factors with the Government; high levels of collaboration are used between the Government and the umbrella organizations to determine ultimate policy outcomes. This research identifies several points that are relevant to institutional change in Quebec: established institutions leave gaps by not addressing a political or economic need; institutions can be modified by coalitions of actors; and critical episodes can alter institutions. Institutions not only move from being more CME to more LME, but LME to CME, and also from being more segmented to having more solidarity. Kathleen Thelen has identified that change can occur in several ways, two of which are: layering, where modifications are added to existing structures; and conversion, where actors not originally associated with institutions take them over to redirect their goals (Thelen, 2009). These points can be seen in Quebec through the creation and functioning of the Chantier de l’Économie Sociale.

Hogwatch: The Market Failures and Policy Prospects of Manitoba’s Hog Industry, by Juliet Nmezi, Joanna Popescu and Leon Walker, MPA students, U of R campus
Abstract - The objective of this poster is to examine the waste management practices of large-scale intensive hog production operations in the province of Manitoba which represents a market failure. This transformation of the hog industry has been led by hog farmers taking advantage of economies of scale, which tends to lower the cost of production through increased efficiency and thus profitability. The main focus of the study will be on manure storage facilities, more specifically, whether or not they are sufficient to protect the province’s supply of drinking water as well as the property values of those living near intensive piggeries.

System Overload: The impact of “tough on crime” policies on the Canadian correctional system, by: Carla Leuschen, MPA student, U of S campus
Abstract - Although Canadian crime rates and crime severity have been declining for over a decade, “tough on crime” political agendas remain popular. Recent legislation aims for longer prison sentences and less parole opportunities, both of which will likely lead to correctional overload and inefficiency. Further analysis revealed politically skewed agenda setting with a lack of evidence-based decision making in the design of these programs. Human service correctional interventions for crime prevention through offender rehabilitation are more cost-effective than punishment based strategies which work against rehabilitation and human equality. This analysis has important implications for the quality of future Canadian public policy.

Improving the Alignment of Employers' Incentives in Canadian Workers' Compensation Systems, by: Gordon Dunlop, MPA student, U of R campus
Abstract - The design of workers’ compensation systems influence and induce behaviours from both workers and employers. The alignment of incentive structures with desired behaviours can improve workplace safety. This paper examines how the alignment of employers’ incentives within Canada’s workers’ compensation systems can be improved. The incentives and impacts of employer experience ratings, regulation of workplace hazards, and internal responsibility systems will be examined. The results demonstrate that some of these policy instruments are effective in reducing workplace injuries while others are not. Three recommendations are made to improve the alignment of employers’ incentives within Canada’s workers’ compensation systems.

The First Nations Anti-Commons in Canada, by: Andrew Coffin, MPA student, U of S campus
Abstract - In Canada, government has simultaneously been making policy to develop natural resources and settle land claims with First Nations. The result has been the creation of a system of property rights that does not allow for the maximum benefit of land use to be realized. This poster explores how this policy dilemma was created, the theoretical basis for the issue, and the way forward.

Policy Options for Controlling Pharmaceutical Costs in Canada, by: Mathew Jurczak, MPP student, U of R campus
Abstract - Pharmaceuticals represent the second largest component of health care expenditure in Canada. In 2006, $17.8 was spent on pharmaceuticals of which 48% was public drug program spending (Competition Bureau, 2007). Innovation and the substitution of physician services with drug treatments will continue to be increasingly significant costs drivers of health services. Provincial government reports reveal that provinces have several policy tools at their disposal to control costs including substitution of patented drugs with generics, restricted formularies, competitive agreements with manufacturers and province-wide tenders agreements with a single manufacturer. Drug expenditure data obtained from provincial government reports and the Canadian Institute for Health Information was reviewed to provide an overview of provincial cost control policies. Case studies from the United States were compared to Canadian policies to show how interjurisdictional coordination through the pooling of public drug programs can reduce procurement costs.

The Ontario Electronic Health Record Initiative: A Policy Implementation Failure, by: Kwame Neba, MPA student, U of S campus
The policy making process is made up of interlinked stages. Problems in one stage can undermine an entire policy initiative. In an effort to highlight the consequences of neglecting these linkages in concrete policy making situations; the essay examines Ontario’s attempt at establishing Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. It concludes that the main problem, faced by the initiative was that of poor implementation. The supporting evidence for this conclusion comes from reviewing and analyzing the policy making literature, for best practice cues and comparing them to the situation of the Ontario EHR initiative.

The Rise of MS: An Epidemic of Diagnosis not of Occurrence, by: Michael Sherar, MPP student, U of R campus
Multiple Sclerosis is a degenerative neurological disease with a lot of publicity regarding potential cures. It is highly prevalent in Saskatchewan and, as such, draws a lot of attention here. The University of Saskatchewan’s Cameco MS Neuroscience Research Centre’s website says that MS is on the rise. It’s a commonly accepted fact. In 1950 Limburg assessed the mortality of Multiple Sclerosis and Saskatchewan ranked far below the rest of Canada. Whereas modernly the prevalence (and mortality) of Multiple Sclerosis is quite high. Case closed, it would seem. Unless the change in prevalence is not an actual change in the incidence of the disease, but a change in the ability to diagnose it. Due to shifting demographics and changes in technology, the research will use probabilistic techniques to evaluate the possibility of a rise in diagnosis explaining the rise in prevalence.

The Political Role of the Institution of Chieftancy and Corruption in Ghana, by: Obeyaa Ampofo-Addo, MPP student, U of S campus
Chieftaincy continues to be the oldest and respected institution in Ghana. The institution is just as powerful as any formal political institution in the nation. The chieftaincy institution represents the history, culture, tradition, identity and custom of Ghanaians. It physically consists of the chiefs of every represented ethnic group and their natural resources. The Chieftaincy institution which is the primary custodian of about 80% of territorial land till date remains the de facto local government. Presently about 96% of Ghanaians still depend on it. This institution touches the life of every citizen through festivals and many other socioeconomic development activities. This is enhanced by the annual royalties and state revenue the institution receives.

Recent debates have bordered on rent seeking behaviours and corrupt activities of some chiefs in carrying out their responsibilities. Corruption in many developing countries is believed to stem from the differences in traditional values and foreign norms imported as a result of colonisation and modernisation. It is thus imperative to understand the continuous existence of this institution, its role and interest as well as reasons for the perception of corruption.

Analysis of the study reveals that perception of corruption of the institution results from the fact that it has no legal obligation to be accountable. There are also discrepancies in the affairs of the institution which result from lack of transparency, lack of reporting, lack of auditing and culture of respect for traditional leaders. This analysis combined the theories of rent seeking and corruption, path dependence and principal- agent. The study concludes that the political role of chiefs impact greatly on socioeconomic outcomes. Thus the role of the institution should be restructured in line with modern democracy to make it more accountable and transparent, in order to reduce corruption.

The Saskatchewan Purple Zone, by: Scott Fullmer, MPA student, U of R campus
The public service in Saskatchewan has had difficulty defining the relationship with their political masters. Government transitions in Saskatchewan have been characterized by dramatic conflicts between public servants and incoming governments, despite the long held principles of a professional public service. The classical Woodrow Wilson model of public administration has been problematic due to a drift in the recognition between the roles of administrators and politicians, sometimes called the “grey” or “purple” zone in policy making. This paper argues that the politics-administration dichotomy evolved and eventually formed into a working professional relationship through the ability of governments to learn from less-effective management practices. Even with newfound civility, a more formal recognition of the “purple zone" in public policy would enable the province to better manage the policy-making relationship between the political decisionmakers (blue) and the administrators (red). 

Photo Gallery