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Participating in Federal Public Policy: A Guide for the Voluntary Sector

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The Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI)
Building on a long history of working together, the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI) is a joint undertaking between the voluntary sector and the Government of Canada. The long-term objectives of the VSI are to strengthen the voluntary sector's capacity to meet the challenges of the future and to enhance the relationship between the sector and the federal government and their ability to serve Canadians. The VSI focuses on several key areas including the development of an Accord, information management/ information technology (IM/IT), public awareness, volunteerism, financing, capacity and regulatory issues affecting the voluntary sector.

Signed in December 2001, An Accord between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector describes the key elements of a strengthened relationship between the two sectors. Two Codes of Good Practice were then developed in the areas of Policy Dialogue and Funding. The Code of Good Practice on Policy Dialogue is a tool for deepening the dialogue between the government and the voluntary sector at the various stages of the public policy process in order to achieve better policies for Canadians.

As one of the seven voluntary sector-government tables established under the VSI, the Capacity Joint Table (CJT) is working in three areas to strengthen the capacity of voluntary organizations to operate effectively: skills development and human resources management; policy capacity; and research and information sharing. The CJT also supported a number of activities of the sector-only Working Group on Financing. You can find out more about these projects and other work of the CJT at

For information on other policy capacity projects supported by the VSI's Sectoral Involvement in Departmental Policy Development (SIDPD) visit:

As part of the CJT’s commitments in the area of building policy capacity, this guide was designed to help voluntary organizations participate in Canadian public policy dialogue as well as to give federal departments greater insight on how to involve their sector counterparts more effectively. It is primarily intended to assist organizations that do not have full-time staff devoted to policy; however, some of the tools and resources will be helpful to all organizations. Each section contains resources and links to other Web sites for additional information. The guide provides an overview of the public policy process. It is not intended to be self-contained in any way or provide full training on these topics.

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Last Updated: 2019-11-15