Our Facilitators

The JSGS Executive Education Policy Workshops Series is facilitated by JSGS Executives-in-Residence who are accomplished and experienced former senior public servants. Having them deliver training to current public servants allows for institutional knowledge transfer—creating efficiencies and improving productivity. It’s more than just theory—our facilitators use actual examples that public servants can relate to and learn from.

L-R (top-bottom): Ken Acton, Keith Comstock, Rob Currie, Jim Engel, Merelda Fiddler-Potter, Dan Florizone, Lin Gallagher, Clare Isman, Neal Kewistep, Alastair MacFadden, Doug Moen, and Ron Styles.

Ken Acton Keith Comstock rob-currie.jpg Jim Engel merelda-fiddler-potter.jpg
Dan Florizone lin-gallagher.jpg Clare Isman Neal Kewistep alastair-macfadden.jpg
Doug Moen Ron Styles

Policy Workshop Topics

Our curriculum has been developed, reviewed and tested by leading scholars and experienced practitioners and delivered to classes of up to 35 participants to allow interaction and discussion-based learning. We apply a combination of lecture-style delivery with an applied learning component, usually taking the form of a case study, simulation or exercise.

Workshop topics include:

There are many aspects of accountability in the public sector which are similar to those in the private sector. But, there are some that are unique to the public sector that have a profound effect on the way public servants and politicians carry out their business. This workshop will explore what makes the public sector unique and what it has in common with the private sector to help managers better understand the expectations of accountability in the public sector.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • understand who is accountable to whom for what;
  • understand those aspects of accountability that are unique to the public sector and those that are not;
  • know the mechanisms and processes of accountability and the importance of their role in public sector accountability; and,
  • know how they can improve accountability within the system.

Depending on how they are defined, there are several hundred administrative tribunals in Saskatchewan. The average citizen is much more likely to appear before an administrative tribunal than a court. They are a crucial part of the government. This full-day workshop includes the history of administrative tribunals and an examination of whether they are fulfilling their original purpose of being a quicker and less expensive alternative to the courts. If not, why not? The day includes an experiential session on good decision-writing designed for the authors of decisions and for others involved in the decision-making process.

By the end of this workshop you will: 

  • review best practices for conducting hearings including pre-meeting considerations, the hearing process, the roles of participants, and post-meeting issues;
  • be introduced to the “satisfaction triangle”; and,
  • understand the role of staff and how to deal with difficult participants.

Do you want to know how to use policy tools to nudge citizens towards positive outcomes? This workshop will introduce a number of policy tools and give you insight into the exact mechanisms that allow each policy tool to work, the advantages and disadvantages of each tool, and how to select effective policy tools to respond to public policy needs. We also explore how to identify and recommend appropriate policy response options for governments.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • identify the objectives of policies;
  • recognize a number of alternative mechanisms to achieve policy objectives; and,
  • evaluate policy alternatives and make recommendations on those most likely to be effective.

Data has become a huge commodity across the world, and it can be used as fuel for change based on the analytics that are used. We have access to so much data in government - how and where do we start to use it to make better policy and informed decisions, especially as we face financial and social challenges in government? What problems are we trying to solve in analyzing the data? How can we make better policy and informed decisions? Analyzing data for the sake of analyzing is not the solution. This introductory workshop will examine these questions as well as ethical issues that need to be considered in gathering and analyzing data, such as privacy, manipulating data, and open data.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • describe the basics of big data and analytics;
  • identify opportunities and challenges in your own work for using data analytics; and,
  • apply strategies to innovate and shift our thinking to create better policy and informed decisions.

Budget is the universal language between all areas of government. The Budget Process and Financial Literacy workshop will increase your fluency in public sector budgeting and financial management in the Government of Saskatchewan. This workshop will provide you with an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of various players in the budget process and how budget decisions are made in the public sector. We will examine the phases of the budget process, including strategic planning and decision-making; budget implementation; financial management; and, budget reporting, accountability and evaluation.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • recognize the vital role that financial considerations play in formulating policy and in program management;
  • examine the financial planning cycles of government and the elements of sound financial planning and management in public sector entities; and,
  • describe financial decision-making processes and elements of financial policy and program accountability.

Please note that while the majority of our policy workshops are aimed at a broad public sector audience, this workshop focuses primarily on the Government of Saskatchewan's budgeting process.

This workshop was formerly a half-day session but has recently been expanded to a full day.

Do you think business case analysis is only useful in private industry? Think again! In Business Case Analysis, you will be introduced to the idea of business case analysis in the public sector, including problem definition, development of alternatives, cost-effectiveness analysis, risk assessment and the development of recommendations. We will discuss the theory underpinning business case analysis and review public sector examples to demonstrate how this approach can be useful in the public sector.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • understand how to approach a public sector business case analysis;
  • gain experience by participating in hands-on examples of case analysis; and,
  • appreciate the value of business case analysis as a method of program and initiative development.

On October 17, 2018, the production, distribution and sale of cannabis became legal in Canada. The Government of Canada’s decision to legalize and regulate was driven by three core objectives: dismantle the illicit market, restrict youth access, and minimize harm. The complexity legalization of cannabis presents is that it cuts across a number of different policy domains, including public safety, public health, economic development, taxation, and innovation.

In this workshop, we will help participants understand what cannabis is, what are its components and actions, and what is the difference between recreational marijuana, hemp, and medical marijuana. We will also discuss the regulatory and supply chain issues as well as review the health and safety concerns to the public.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • have a better understanding of how complex policy issues must be approached in order to create a comprehensive and effective strategy;
  • review the challenges in evaluating the effectiveness of the cannabis policy framework and what evidence is required; and, 
  • recognize the public policy lessons from the legalization of cannabis that can be applied to other policy areas.

Serving citizens is at the core of the public service and the principles of citizen-centred service are contained in the core values of the Saskatchewan Public Service Commitment to Excellence. But what is citizen-centred service really about? It is more than paying lip service to citizen engagement. It requires going beyond public consultation that can be more about selling a product than designing it. True citizen-centred service is about engaging the public early and often as programs are designed and policies are implemented. But how do we do that in meaningful ways?

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • identify the essential elements of citizen-centred service;
  • differentiate between various models of engaging citizens in program and policy design;
  • evaluate when to use citizen engagement and when to avoid it;
  • determine when and how to introduce your agency’s interests into the process and how to balance them with citizen’s needs; and,
  • select strategies for communicating the results of citizen-centred processes.

Coaching has become a bit of a buzzword these days, and it seems like everyone is expected to be a coach, with confusing definitions of what being a coach really is. The power of coaching, like anything else, takes time upfront so you can have big payoffs in the future. The benefits of coaching include improved communication skills, increased confidence, increased productivity, and a better work-life balance. Good coaches let go of control and rather than providing answers - they move to curiosity. Coaching is all about going from the “fixer” to the “empowerer” and helping individuals navigate problem solving on their own. This workshop will provide you with an introduction into coaching and will help you adjust your approach to interactions in your office and with your staff.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • distinguish between coaching and other workplace interactions, such as mentoring, counseling, and consulting;
  • identify when it is appropriate to use coaching and when it is not;
  • apply strategies to create a safe space for coaching; and,
  • develop your skill of curiosity and ask powerful questions.

Wicked problems are complex issues, such as climate change, mental health and addictions, and poverty, which impact a diverse group of stakeholders and lack easily implementable solutions. This full day workshop provides public servants with tools and strategies they need to effectively address wicked problems in a rapidly-changing environment. You will examine various components of collaborative policy making, including skills, knowledge and strategies to develop collaborative solutions to complex public policy issues. This workshop provides public servants with an introduction to developing policy through consensus-driven dialogue and participatory practices. You will also collaborate with other public servants to have meaningful discussions on how to approach wicked problems in Saskatchewan and beyond.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • describe the complexity of wicked problems and identify the factors that make them complex;
  • recognize how and why to engage others in collaborative processes;
  • differentiate multiple approaches to collaborative policy making;
  • examine case studies and examples of collaborative approaches to wicked problems; and,
  • design and apply collaborative strategies to wicked problems you face in your daily work.

This full-day workshop includes content from two previously offered half-day sessions: Collaborative Policy Management and Innovative Approaches to Wicked Problems.

The Collaborative Policy Management workshop examines various components of collaborative policymaking, including skills, knowledge and strategies to develop collaborative solutions to complex public policy issues and to manage collaborative partnerships. This workshop provides public servants with an introduction to developing policy through consensus-driven dialogue and participatory practices. It explores various strategies that may be used to craft solutions in both planning and implementation.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • be familiar with different approaches to collaborative policy-making;
  • understand how and why to get the public to participate in a collaborative process; and,
  • manage in a collaborative, networked environment.

In our increasingly globalized world, advances in technology allow us to better track policy impact and share information amongst jurisdictions. It is no longer acceptable for policy makers to claim they didn't know. Rather, the public expects that government be proactive in using the successes and failures of our global counterparts to make policy decisions. This workshop provides the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to create a shift in perspective through comparative analysis. You will gain an understanding of why it is useful to compare cross-national and cross-provincial public policies and how to do so.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • describe how comparing policies will aid in the understanding of your own policies;
  • determine where to start and what questions to ask to extract lessons from studying other policies and programs;
  • identify the main challenges and appropriate methods for choosing better jurisdictions within Canada and abroad to study;
  • assess the reliability and usefulness of evidence from varying jurisdictions; and,
  • apply strategies for comparative analysis so you can find, fine-tune, and present resourceful policy options to decision makers.

In times of major crisis public servants and elected officials must pull together to coordinate an extensive management effort with little or no notice. Often this means working across large geographical areas and coordinating with multiple government ministries and agencies as well as stakeholders, citizens and private organizations. This workshop explores the unique challenges and exceptional skill sets that come to bear at times of crisis. You will explore what it takes to respond to a disaster and other large scale crisis, as well as how these strategies and skills are relevant to the varied challenges faced by public servants on a regular basis.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • describe the unique factors that are in play at a time of crisis;
  • identify strategies for responding to crisis in a timely and effective manner; and,
  • apply the skills necessary for large scale crisis response in other challenging circumstances.

The Effective Communications in Government workshop starts with a discussion on why we communicate and ultimately familiarizes participants with different types of government documents. The discussion will lead to an understanding of key components, structure, and communication styles. You will discuss the general rules of writing for government documents, learn the uses AND differences between Government documents including briefing notes, information items, and decision items, and review the importance of stating the ‘why’ in enabling decisions to be made.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • understand your role in communicating effectively;
  • be clear when one-way vs two-way communication is appropriate;
  • have the know the functions of different written communication instruments and how to use them effectively; and,
  • have improved communication skills that can be used in any format including both written and verbal communication.

It goes without saying that new policies and decisions should be informed by evidence, but how do you know if the information you are looking at is accurate or based on emotion? Evidence-based decision making requires verifiable information, often from published research and other sources. This workshop will focus on how to determine if the information you are analyzing is appropriate to use in your work. You will delve into where to look for good sources of information, evidence and policy in the real world, using the data appropriately, and how to present your information to the decision makers.

Information can be gathered from existing sources or collected for specific purposes to inform policy analysis. In some cases public servants are faced with not having enough information while at other times there is a wealth of information to choose from and choosing the appropriate data is critical.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • describe the differences between evidence-based and evidence-informed policy development;
  • determine where to look for verifiable and reliable information;
  • assess the reliability and validity of sources of information; and,
  • identify challenges in the real world of policy development and how to overcome them.

Indigenous Governments across Saskatchewan are exploring creative and unique ways to undertake economic development and build strategic partnerships to create opportunities and employment for their people. “Indigenous economic development is an integral component of reconciliation, holding huge potential to fuel Canadian economic growth” (The National Indigenous Economic Development Board 2019). What factors make some of these initiatives more likely to succeed? What role can the provincial and federal governments play to support these initiatives and where are the potential points of contention?

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • understand how Indigenous Governments are finding a balance between traditional and contemporary approaches to economic development;
  • become familiar with success stories of Indigenous economic development;
  • discuss the role of partnerships in economic development, including those with provincial and federal governments; and,
  • explore the ways that economic development plays in improving the lives of Indigenous peoples.

The Innovation workshop begins by defining innovation and examining types of innovation. The workshop examines the different types of innovation as well as the compelling reasons for governments to emphasize and encourage innovation in services and programs. You will explore the unique challenges that government innovators are faced with and consider different approaches to address these challenges. We will focus on execution to increase the odds of success in a field that experiences a high failure rate; learning from failures and managing change are important components to consider for public servants striving for innovation.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • understand the compelling forces that are driving the public sector to an innovation agenda;
  • identify the key predictors of an implementing a successful innovation strategy; and,
  • be able to apply a planning process that is appropriate for your context and resources.

Wicked problems are complex issues which impact a diverse group of stakeholders and lack easily implementable solutions, such as climate change, crystal meth, and poverty. Innovative Approaches to Wicked Problems provides public servants with the tools and strategies they need to effectively address wicked problems in a rapidly changing environment. Participants will engage in holistic and critical thinking, discuss collaborative and adaptable methods, and hone their skills in problem solving and effective communication. This innovative workshop offers a valuable opportunity to collaborate with other public servants and have meaningful discussions on how to approach wicked problems in Saskatchewan and beyond.

By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • understand and appreciate the complexity of wicked problems,
  • learn how to maximize stakeholder engagement through collaboration, and,
  • Develop innovative and flexible strategies required to effectively approach wicked problems.

Aimed at emerging, new, or mid-level leaders, the Leadership Foundations workshop will equip you with practical tips, tools, and techniques to be an effective leader. In this workshop you will review research-based leadership best practices and different leadership styles. Included in the cost of this workshop is a personalized leadership self-assessment, which you will complete to discover your strengths and areas for improvement. In this session you will also learn how to lead yourself, team members, and projects effectively and how to find the right balance between delegation and micro-managing. You will also learn how to action-plan and keep growing to reach your full leadership potential.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • identify the characteristics of high performing leaders;
  • recognize the role of a leader in creating high performing cultures and organizations;
  • analyze the various pressures and pitfalls leaders experience;
  • recognize your leadership strengths and the areas in which you can grow; and,
  • design and implement a leadership action plan.

Please note that this workshop includes an additional $150 fee for a personalized leadership competency profile (LCP) self-assessment, which must be completed several weeks prior to the live workshop. Please note that this $150 is non-refundable and will be charged even if you cancel by the cancellation deadline.

Public engagement is the cornerstone of good public policy development. Interacting with citizens to help define problems and co‐design solutions is another aspect of an engaged democracy. Public policy processes are increasingly characterized by complexity with the methods used to facilitate participation shifting dramatically. As our system of democracy evolves, public sector leaders will be responsible for developing alternative participation methods to encourage people to be more involved.

The Leading Engagement workshop provides an in‐depth look at the concept of public engagement and the emerging smart practices of participation including how these initiatives need to go beyond information gathering. You will become familiar with the principles of public engagement and the impact of social media and other web‐based platforms. You will also be supplied with a toolbox of participation methods including the instruments’ strengths and weaknesses. Using a case study approach, this intensive session will challenge you to understand how to design effective engagement practices, and the consequences of ignoring public involvement in defining the problem and identifying solutions.

Change has been occurring faster and faster over the past decade. The impacts of COVID‐19 over the past two years have necessitated even more change, and we know that COVID-related shifts are far from over. On another front, climate change is just starting to have significant impacts on our economy and our country. Public servants are working during a time of intense uncertainty.

It is time to put all those tools you have learnt to work and help lead your organization through change and onto success. Leading in Ambiguous Times helps you understand the various impacts that these changes are having on your organization and how you can manage those impacts. By clarifying impacts, and the organization’s response through strategic planning, creative thinking, and risk management you can provide your team with confidence in the purpose of your organization, its strategic direction, and values.

This workshop builds on earlier JSGS workshops, including Risk Assessment & Mitigation, Strategic Thinking, and Innovative Approaches to Wicked Problems.

By the end of this workshop, you will:
  • identify the tools available to reduce ambiguity about change;
  • understand the mechanisms to assist in reducing ambiguity and developing responses to change; and,
  • be more effective in finding new policy and program ideas for charting your organization’s longer term direction.

As leaders and teams, it is not sufficient to just examine and reflect on what went well. Deeper learning and growth come from exploring what didn’t go well and why. Successful organizations acknowledge and learn from their failures in a proactive and purposeful way. While big failures tend to surface naturally, many small failures remain hidden. Surfacing failure is key to creating a learning organization. The path to creating a safe environment for sharing our failings is fragile and must be built on a strong foundation of trust and openness – free from a culture of blame and shame.

High performing organizations also build in course correction, by ‘failing forward fast.’ They not only view failure as an opportunity for learning but are emboldened by moving past what isn’t working to reflect further on the nature of the problem they are trying to solve and introduce alternate countermeasures and experimentation. These efforts are key to creating a nimble organization and a culture of innovation, problem seeking, and problem solving.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • recognize failure as a natural human and organizational condition;
  • acknowledge that failure is sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always an opportunity to learn;
  • describe the meaning of ‘fail forward fast’; and,
  • identify and create the necessary conditions in an organization for surfacing and exploiting failure in order to learn and grow.

The legislative process provides the framework for many public service activities at a variety of levels. This workshop will provide you with a foundational understanding of how policy becomes legislation and what choices are available prior to introducing draft legislation in the Assembly. It will also discuss the legislative process, the scope of amendments and the regulative process. You will gain a deeper understanding of the various approaches to legislation and how these should be considered when working on policy development. Ultimately, this workshop will better prepare those who influence or are impacted by changes in legislation.

 By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • better understand how laws are made in the Legislative Assembly;
  • appreciate the process and consideration for translating public policy into law;
  • better understand what material is required by ministers and members when they prepare and present legislation for consideration; and,
  • appreciate the nuances of the legislative processes.

Workplace teams often include employees from multiple generations. Will Baby Boomers and Millennials view investments in social media campaigns the same way? Do Generation X and Generation Y employees work well together? This workshop will examine different styles and beliefs about personalities and values often associated with age. Are there real differences, and if so, what are they? How do you measure up against the assumptions based on age? Most importantly, what strategies can you use to respond to these personality and value differences? The session will be interactive with a combination of small and large group work, some lecture pieces, and self-analysis.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • recognize and understand different styles, approaches and belief systems you might encounter in a multigenerational workplace;
  • be aware of your own characteristics and how they fit in multigenerational models; and,
  • have new and/or better tools for responding to differences in values and styles in your workplace.

Governments’ primary role is to undertake actions to improve the quality of life of their citizens. These desired outcomes are planned and pursued through investments in public programs and policies but can be very complex in nature, such as addressing poverty. Just doing more things and spending more money without a plan to “move the needle” is not an acceptable approach.

The Performance Outcomes workshop provides public servants with an opportunity to focus on outcomes, as they pertain to the policy cycles and program and policy development. The workshop will teach you a logic model approach to understand outcomes, as they cannot be a standalone goal and must be an integrated part of the problem definition and design process. You will also discuss how outcomes and accountability are connected.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • differentiate between outputs and outcomes and how they are linked;
  • recognize the different types of outcomes (direct, indirect and final);
  • formulate the types of questions to ask to understand outcomes that are relevant; and,
  • describe how an outcomes-focus can clarify expectations and problem definitions.

You have already defined and researched the problem, analyzed the potential solutions, chosen criteria to evaluate the options, and recommended a course of action. Now comes the easy part, right? Wrong! The number one reason that policy fails is that not enough time and focus is given to implementation. The best policy on paper will not deliver outcomes if it is poorly implemented. On the flip side, even poorly developed policy can succeed if implemented well. The key to achieving outcomes is being able to implement the approved decision successfully. This workshop focuses on the key areas to successful policy implementation.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • recognize the importance of planning ahead for implementation (it doesn’t just happen);
  • review the steps within a proper implementation strategy;
  • identify strategies for integrating stakeholders and staff during the planning phase;
  • plan to allocate appropriate resources to achieve the desired result; and,
  • develop a communications strategy for each group involved.

The role of government during the COVID-19 pandemic has been stretched and moved to action unlike anything this generation has seen. Once the immediate crisis abates, we are going to have to adjust the Canadian public policy framework to reflect a new social, economic, and financial environment – one that re-prioritizes our public policy objectives to address the gaps that have been identified.

As stated by António Gutteres, United Nations Secretary-General, “When we get past this crisis, which we will, we will face a choice. We can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises.” What should public servants consider as they address the short, medium, and long-term challenges that were exposed by COVID-19, in light of an environment that has been changed forever?

By the end of this workshop you will: 

  • understand some of the key changes Canadians and their governments are facing as a result of COVID-19;
  • consider how policy development and implementation mid- and post-pandemic will need to be more innovative, flexible, and broad based;
  • identify strategies and skills that should be on hand for addressing policy challenges in this new context; and, 
  • understand how important it will be to take a long term view of public policy given the lasting implications of the pandemic.

This workshop provides public servants with an introduction to the principles and purposes of program evaluation. We will teach you how to use logic models and how to identify the goals of programs, focusing on outcomes. We will discuss the merit and worth of programs and how to distinguish between program efficiency and program effectiveness, performance management, benchmarking, program review, and evaluation design. We will show you how program measurement and evaluation are used to improve program outcomes and enable programs to meet targets and achieve their purposes.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • recognize the basic elements of evaluation;
  • distinguish between various evaluation types and their benefits;
  • identify measures to assess the effectiveness of programs and policies;
  • identify the pitfalls common to evaluation and measurement and how to avoid them; and,
  • apply these principles to design and implement an evaluation strategy in your own work.

Building upon learning from The Role of the Public Servant, this workshop provides a deeper dive into the unique role of the public servant and the processes of decision making and accountability in the public sector. You will explore your role in reconciliation and promoting diversity within the public service. You will also examine your role within the government budget process and look at the division of powers and funding between different levels of government. We will also discuss the unique relationship between public servants and elected officials, as well as ethical challenges like speaking truth to power, loyal implementation, and the concept of "capture."

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • apply strategies to promote diversity in the public service;
  • consider an authentic reconciliation focus within your work;
  • more effectively collaborate with other levels of government to align with your strategic directions;
  • provide the best policy advice to decision makers by speaking truth to power; and,
  • examine your stakeholder relationships so you can identify and avoid capture.

We strongly recommend participants complete The Role of the Public Servant prior to completing this workshop.

The service of the public requires a commitment to adhere to general values to work in good faith and carry oneself in a professional manner. This requires diligence to many policies such as privacy, anti-harassment, conflict of interest, protocols and fraud. However, the concept of ethics goes deeper than this. The Public Service Ethics workshop examines the concept of “the public trust” and the role that individual public servants and the leaders have as caretakers of the public trust. The workshop explores the role that organizational culture plays in maintaining a positive environment and the impact of culture on individual choices and behaviour. You will take part in a series of interactive discussions and exercises.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • be familiar with ways to establish and sustain interpersonal and public trust;
  • understand how to play a leadership role in shaping ethics, serving as a role model, and demonstrating integrity; and,
  • understand the role of trust, competence and courage in ethical leadership in public service.

The release of the Final Report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada came with a simple request – every Canadian needed to engage in this process. This resulted in a flurry of reconciliation mandates within public and private sectors. However, if your organization does not neatly fall under one of the 94 Calls to Action, it can be difficult to create a strategy. In this workshop, you will discuss what it means to create a meaningful reconciliation strategy and how to effectively implement a strategy that will engage your colleagues.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to: 

  • examine the meaning of reconciliation in a contemporary work context;
  • discuss the role reconciliation can play in a work environment;
  • compare previous efforts to engage in the process; and,
  • identify and apply strategies that can support team efforts in the reconciliation process.

There are increasing expectations that decisions, policies, and practices be informed by evidence. While there is a lot of research and evidence available, it can be challenging to distinguish relevant, trustworthy information from irrelevant or untrustworthy information. How can you use research and evidence in your work, and do so responsibly?

This workshop introduces public servants to the fundamentals of research. You will learn foundational knowledge for engaging with research responsibly. You will also develop strategies to effectively navigate the world of research, evidence, and information in ways that help you do your work better.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • explain the evidence continuum and why it matters;
  • locate trustworthy research studies and existing data sources relevant to your work;
  • develop and apply strategies to assess the trustworthiness of research; and,
  • create opportunities to bridge the researcher-practitioner gap.

Program managers are called upon to play a critical role in identifying risks, assessing the level and consequences of risk, and advising when risk should be accepted, avoided, or mitigated. You will learn the difference between different types of risk and how risk can impact strategic goals if left unaddressed. This workshop will teach you the stages of risk assessment and the mechanisms available to mitigate risk in program operations.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • examine who in the organization decides what risk to accept, what to avoid, and what to mitigate;
  • recognize the advantages and disadvantages of different risk assessment and mitigation strategies;
  • assess the probability and consequences of risk; and,
  • develop and implement strategies for risk assessment and mitigation within your organization.
The rise of social platforms means everyone, including public servants and the ministries they work within, are much more accessible to the media than ever before. Inconsistencies between platforms and contradictory information shared in different spheres confuses these narratives and raises media and subsequently public concern. In this workshop you will learn how to clearly identify and effectively communicate your own stories, how to prepare to interact with media in a variety of settings, both online and in-person, and ensure you and your colleagues know your story and how to tell it.

By the end of this workshop, you will:
  • learn the difference between a message and a larger narrative;
  • social proof your communications - online and in person;
  • learn how to prepare for interviews and presentations so you share a clear, consistent story;
  • determine when, how and why to share more, not less, information; and,
  • understand the impact of mis/disinformation on public information.

Daniel Goleman said, “leadership is the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal” (Emotional Intelligence). To do this, leaders today must act not only as decision makers but also as mediators, subject matter experts, and role models.

This workshop assists leaders in sorting out competing expectations in order to work corroboratively to meet organizational objectives. You will explore the key principals of collaborative problem solving, including establishing and maintaining a positive culture, managing personality types, and guiding discussions to reach decisions.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • identify the key competencies for collaborative leadership;
  • recognize the impact of personality types and bias on leadership outcomes;
  • examine how aspects of organizational culture relate to the success or failure of collaborative efforts; and,
  • apply strategies for building collaborative relationships in the workplace.

To make progress in economic and social policy, it is important to define a preferred future. A preferred future gives context to immediate decisions, it sets a general direction, and it allows you to monitor progress. Knowing where you’re headed also supports resilience and invites innovative and creative solutions. This workshop will get at the heart of strategic thinking so that public policy leaders can spend valuable energy on shaping their direction as they prepare strategies to get there.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • utilize tools to assess where you want to go before you embark;
  • examine the importance of framing policy options and recommendations against a preferred future; and,
  • consider what good looks like so you can assess progress and evaluate impact.

Cabinet Decision Items (CDIs) are one of a number of important decision-making tools used by cabinet. This workshop is designed to provide Saskatchewan public servants with the knowledge and skills to better prepare cabinet documents. You will review the different types of cabinet documents, their functions and purposes, their organization and formats, and the importance of properly framing options and recommendations. You will learn practical tips and guidelines that will help you prepare and write better quality cabinet documents in the future.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • assess your audience and their needs;
  • distinguish between well-written and poorly-written cabinet documents; and,
  • apply tips and techniques to write better cabinet documents.

Please note The ABCs of CDIs was previously offered as a half-day workshop but has been extended to a full day to better meet the learning objectives. And, while the majority of our policy workshops are aimed at a broad public sector audience, this workshop focuses on how to write cabinet documents within the Government of Saskatchewan.

Writing a briefing note can be considered an art - it is not just a cut and dry writing exercise. This workshop provides public servants with practical and tested advice on how to write better briefing notes. You will learn about your audience and what their needs are, the why, how and when of using briefing notes, and writing tips that will help you communicate more effectively. You will also get a chance to gain experience and apply this knowledge through a practical exercise.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • recognize the purpose of briefing notes as distinct from other forms of communication;
  • identify the attributes of good briefing notes;
  • consider your audiences’ needs and adapt your briefing notes to that audience; and,
  • apply tips and techniques to write betterbriefing notes.

Governments were created to ensure that resources could be made available to pursue activities that were good for society as a whole, not just those things in our life that are desirable to individuals. Many important aspects of our lives are improved through joint action, and governments fulfill that role in our society. Understanding why governments exist can help public servants understand the purpose of their particular activity in society.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • understand how private decision-making works and why it is effective in generating most of the things we
    use in our day-to-day lives; 
  • understand what qualities set “public goods” apart from those things and why they need a unique decision-making process; and,
  • know how to support that unique decision-making process through advice and implementation.

This full-day workshop provides an overview of the historical events and policies that have shaped the current relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. The workshop highlights how this historical context plays a role in the Calls to Action highlighted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). We are also honoured to have Elder Kewistep share his story of survival from his experiences with residential school in Saskatchewan. The workshop also examines current Indigenous policy and reviews engagement strategies and relationship-building tools that public servants can use with Indigenous communities.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • recognize how historical events, policies and current legislation have shaped the current social, health, and education inequalities for many Indigenous people;
  • apply relationship-building tools and engagement strategies; and,
  • implement TRC Calls to Action in your work.

Though the earth may seem limitless, we’re reminded nearly every day that it is fragile and finite. Evidence of climate change, resource shortages, eroding ecosystem integrity and biodiversity loss is growing in significance year by year. Answers to environmental issues are not black and white. Debates around environmental policy are often among those with fundamentally different values, and the way that problems and solutions are defined can play a central role in shaping how those values are translated into policy. Can environmental policy steer human systems to function within environmental constraints? How are effective environmental policies designed, implemented and evaluated? In this workshop you’ll be introduced to several environmental policy instruments and emerging environmental trends and issues and discuss their importance in public sector decision-making.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • understand what environmental policy is, its history, guiding concepts and examples of environmental policy in practice;
  • have knowledge of the inter-relationships between economic, social and ecological systems and how strategic decision making can be enhanced using systems and sustainability perspectives;
  • appreciate the need for public engagement and working with all levels of government, proponents,
    stakeholders and communities; and, 
  • examine reconciliation, the need for consultation with Indigenous communities and examples from Nations that are creating their own environmental policies.

This workshop is designed to provide public servants with an understanding of the crucial role played by the courts in a democratic society. With the participation of The Honourable Robert Richards, Chief Justice of Saskatchewan, workshop attendees will have an opportunity to “look behind the bench” at the inner workings of the courts and the relationship between the courts and the legislative and executive branches of government.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • understand the judicial Branch, including its critical role in ensuring the other two branches of government properly fulfil their responsibilities; and
  • participate in a discussion on the court’s responsibility to ensure the rule of law in a democratic society.

The unique role of government has a significant impact on the structure and function of government ministries and crowns. This workshop provides an interactive introduction to that unique role and its influence on the processes of decision making and accountability in the public sector. It also presents practical tools to use when engaging in policy design and implementation. You will also explore and address challenges to creating good policy in today’s complex context.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • identify the unique role and function of government;
  • distinguish between the policy cycle and other related cycles within government;
  • identify policy tools and when to use them;
  • recognize how the role of government affects the policy process, the role of the elected, and the role of public servants; and,
  • apply these principles to provide policy advice to decision makers.

Please note that this workshop is required for a Policy Workshop Series Certificate of Completion. 

Advancing economic and social policy requires effort to mobilize other people, organizations, and partners with different perspectives and needs. Leaders must secure a commitment to a mutual purpose and establish a strategy for achieving it. The most innovative public servants will tap into diverse perspectives to find new solutions. This workshop will offer an overview of the challenges leaders face in influencing change and mobilizing others to act. You will learn tactics, tools, and strategies for enhancing communication and problem solving to reach agreements. The session will be interactive and will include a number of exercises and role-play scenarios.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to: 

  • analyze a policy problem and set goals;
  • identify the competencies that will enable you to build alliances with a mutual purpose;
  • utilize tools and tactics to shape mutually-satisfactory strategies;
  • recognize opportunities in your daily work to further develop and enhance your communication skills; and,
  • design and implement strategies so you can build alliances in your everyday work.

Please note this workshop was formerly named Negotiating a Working Alliance

Do you possess the traits that make an innovator? Can you build those traits or gain tools to support innovation? Find out how! While our Innovation workshop focuses on how to conduct organizational assessments and identify systems and cultures conducive to innovation, the Traits & Tools for Innovation workshop identifies four categories of skills, attitudes, and behaviours required by individuals so they may contribute to an organization’s capacity to innovate. You will explore specific strategies and tools for innovation.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • identify principles that will help you develop strategies, capabilities, products and processes that support innovation;
  • facilitate creative problem solving and continuous improvement;
  • summarize the fundamentals of risk assessment and mitigation; and,
  • examine how to build relationships and networks to enable successful innovation.

Please note participants who have already completed our Innovation workshop are still encouraged to attend, as this workshop is meant to complement the Innovation workshop. 

For most public servants, the process leading to budget decisions is a mysterious black box into which much material is sent and out of which seemingly incongruous decisions appear, usually with little or no explanation. Simple logistics limit the number of people that can actually witness the budget decision-making process, as well as the number of people who can benefit from the experience of “being in the room.” In this applied skills workshop participants will take part in a simulated Treasury Board as ministers completing a budget finalization exercise. You will also learn the chronology of the budget process, culminating in the final budget approval meeting.

By the end of this workshop you will be able to:

  • outline the chronology of the budget process in the Government of Saskatchewan;
  • distinguish between the various players and their roles in the budget process;
  • identify the prioritization challenges that decision makers typically face; and,
  • recognize how you can better support decision makers when participating in the budget process in your daily work.

Please note while the majority of our policy workshops are aimed at a broad public sector audience, this workshop focuses primarily on the treasury board finalization process for the Government of Saskatchewan.

Crown corporations are an important organizational form for governments across Canada. In Saskatchewan, they have been used as a mechanism for policy responses as diverse as taxation, social expenditures, ownership of resources, and delivery of regulatory initiatives and commercial services. The diversity of crown corporation purposes has led to two systems of crowns in Saskatchewan, which is unique in Canada. Crowns providing subsidized government services such as public housing report directly to Treasury Board and Cabinet, while those crowns that are self sufficient and sell products or services in the commercial marketplace have active boards and are managed through a separate crown corporation know as the Crown Investments Corporation.

The budget, organizational operating, and governance frameworks for these two systems of crowns are similar, but unique in many aspects, especially when compared to line departments. In addition, there is often a political purpose to using the Crown organizational form that relates to the communication and promotion of a government’s policy intentions that needs to be considered in examining both Treasury Board and CIC Crown Corporations. This workshop will review and compare both systems to teach you how the crowns integrate and work within government and the Saskatchewan Legislature.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • have a historical perspective on the use of crown corporations in Saskatchewan;
  • understand the place of crowns as an organizational form and policy tool for fulfilling government objectives;
  • be familiar with the two different categories of crowns in Saskatchewan, their governance, budget, and organizational similarities and differences;
  • be able to access crown sector information from the various documents that the government/crown sector prepares and are available to the public to ensure accountability; and,
  • understand the legislative underpinnings and options for creating a crown corporation.

Trust is an essential ingredient for high performing teams and organizations. Because it is also highly predictive of economic growth, trust is also a critical element of good public policy. This workshop examines the dimensions of trust at three different levels. The first level is trust in self, which describes a sense of confidence to listen to your gut feelings and intuition, and act with courage. Secondly, at the level of teams and organizations, trust in others is necessary for accountability, learning and sharing ideas to drive innovation and manage risks. Finally, at a community level, social trust is a measure of the moral quality of a society. It reflects a sense of confidence in neighbors and strangers, institutions, processes and leaders. This workshop will use examples, exercises and a case study to provide public servants with an exploration of the factors that define and build trust at these three levels.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • be familiar with different dimensions of trust;
  • understand how and why trust matters in public policy and how it impacts public policy outcomes; and,
  • have strategies to build trust in self, teams and communities in order to propel growth and innovation.

The Working with Public Sector Boards workshop examines the unique circumstances that exist for public servants who regularly interact with agencies governed by their own boards. We will focus on understanding the governance structure of agencies, the relationship between agencies and executive government, and how public servants can best support these agencies.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • understand why governments establish boards and the roles and responsibilities of public servants and ministries;
  • understand the need to align government objectives with agency goals;
  • understand how public policy is motivated and designed within government and the impact on board oversight; and,
  • understand the accountability mechanisms governments use to guide the work of agencies and measure agencies’ performance.

Public servants in the public sector play a critical role in ensuring the resources, processes and services of government are efficiently managed. Beyond their knowledge and technical skill, successful public service employees demonstrate leadership, accountability, innovation, and risk management with a focus on the citizen. For some, this requires working with the Minister’s office or directly with the Minister. For others, it means helping the senior officials in your Ministry prepare for those meetings and presentations. This workshop will discuss how public servants can best serve the people of the province by supporting their Minister’s accountability to the Legislature and will include a panel discussion with a former Minister.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • be familiar with how the senior officials in your Ministry engage with the Minister and their staff;
  • better understand the intricacies of the relationship between Ministers and the public service; and,
  • understand the opportunities and challenges with working with the elected.

When you work in the public service, especially if you are developing policy, there is a saying that “all roads lead through Justice.” Indeed – the Ministry of Justice has many foundational roles within the government: it “provides a fair justice system that upholds the law and protects the rights of all individuals in Saskatchewan; promotes safe and secure communities; and provides legal and justice policy advice to government.” It is important for public servants in every ministry to have knowledge about, and a good working relationship with, the Ministry of Justice. This workshop will be delivered by two former Deputy Ministers of Justice and will include presentations and open discussions with the current Assistant Deputy Ministers of the Legal Services Division and Public Prosecutions.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • understand how the Ministry of Justice provides legal advice on civil and constitutional issues;
  • discuss the process of drafting laws and regulations;
  • be more aware of the direction of prosecutions; and,
  • understand how to better work with lawyers and others at the Ministry of Justice to meet your legal needs.

To advance economic and social policy, it is important to establish allies and open problems to more problem solvers. This workshop examines the role and relationship between government and the non-profit sector. It will offer an overview of the evolving role of non-profits, and define the characteristics that create opportunities and constraints in a working relationship between government and non-profit organizations. The session will be interactive and will include group discussion and lecture pieces.

By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • be prepared to consider where and when to build a working alliance with non-profit entities;
  • understand the context and major constraints for nonprofit partners;
  • recognize advantages and risks associated with third party delivery; and,
  • have tools to shape your strategy to improve relationships and results from third party agreements.

There are a number of considerations when crafting government documents. Writing for different audiences requires you to think about style, format, technical information, decisions required, and key messages. This introductory workshop will examine these considerations as well as tips and tricks that can improve your writing. You will submit a briefing note assignment in advance of the in-person workshop. Details on the assignment will be provided several weeks in advance of the workshop, and facilitators will provide you with customized feedback on your writing. During the live workshop we will spend time on key sections required in briefing notes and discuss material from the assignment to illustrate how to improve your writing skills.

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • identify tips and techniques to write better government documents;
  • consider your audiences’ needs and adapt your writing to those needs;
  • apply strategies for effectively communicating information to your audience, especially technical or challenging subject matter; and,
  • implement facilitator feedback and suggestions in future written documents.

Please Note:

  • This workshop was formerly named Applied Government Writing.
  • As this workshop builds upon concepts introduced in The Art of the Briefing Note and The ABCs of CDIs, we recommend that participants complete one of those workshops prior to attending this session.
  • Due to the pre-workshop assignment that will be critiqued by facilitators, this is considered a full-day workshop, even though the in-class portion of the session is a half day.

Program and Certificates

The Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy has been offering high-quality training initiatives since 2008, and over the years we have been very pleased to work with a number of clients, including the Government of Saskatchewan (GoS).

Each policy workshop includes a live workshop (online or in person) and an online curriculum that participants must complete the week prior to the live session. The online curriculum may include videos, discussion questions, applied exercises, assignments, pre-reading, and recorded presentations.

Each half-day policy workshop includes:

  • 1-2 hour pre-workshop online curriculum
  • 3 hour live workshop
  • Cost is $250 per person (plus GST, if applicable)

Each full-day policy workshop includes: 

  • 2 hour pre-workshop online curriculum
  • 6 hour live workshop
  • Cost is $350 per person (plus GST, if applicable)

Certificates of Completion

JSGS offers a Certificate of Completion for the Policy Workshop Series to participants who complete 6 full days of training, including the introductory workshop, The Role of the Public Servant. One full-day workshop or two half-day workshops equal one full day of training. Online workshops are worth the same amount of time as in-person workshops.

Each summer we distribute certificates to qualifying participants, and there is no need to apply. The cut-off date for certificates each year is March 31. Participants are responsible for managing and tracking their completed workshops.

Core Competencies

JSGS has a competency framework for the skills and knowledge we want to instill in our students and participants of our executive education programs. This framework is a living document and evolves as the public sector and its' needs evolve. As you will see, our workshops address multiple competencies and reflect the complexity and interconnectedness of public policy and administration issues. We share this framework to assist you in preparing your own learning and development plans. If you have any questions about this information, please feel free to contact us.

Fall 2022 Registration

Any public servant can attend the Policy Workshop Series, and the series is aimed at employees who are involved in the development and implementation of public policy or who manage and provide oversight of the policy process.

Public sector organizations include provincial, federal, and municipal governments, Indigenous organizations and governments, universities and other educational institutions, and non-profits. 

Depending on where you are employed, you will register using the PSC Client system or the JSGS registration system. The criteria for each registration process are outlined below. For additional guidance on which registration option is best suited for you, please contact Sharri Dewey at sharri.dewey@uregina.ca.


PSC Client Registration

A number of ministries and groups will use the internal Government of Saskatchewan (GoS) system, PSC Client, to register for policy workshops, including:

  • GoS ministries
  • Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC)
  • Provincial Capital Commission (PCC)
  • Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA)
  • Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA)

PSC Client registration is now open here: 

JSGS Registration

Public servants whose organizations do not have access to the PSC Client system will register using the JSGS registration system, including:

  • select Treasury Board Crowns, including Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC), Tourism Saskatchewan, and Water Security Agency (WSA)
  • boards, crowns, and agencies within the GoS who do not have access to the PSC Client system
  • public servants outside of the GoS, such as federal or municipal government
  • Indigenous organizations and governments
  • universities and other education institutions
  • non-profit organizations

JSGS registration is now open here: 

Custom Workshops

We frequently offer customized workshops for ministries, crowns, and other public sector organizations. You can choose from the Policy Workshop Topics listed above, or we could customize course content to meet your specific learning needs. Contact us for information on availability and workshop pricing.

Contact Us

For more information on the above executive education options, please contact: