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

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Module 2 – Navigating the System and the Rules
  • understand the federal government structure
  • examine the federal policy development process
  • identify the levels of involvement on the policy development continuum
  • understand the contributions of the voluntary sector
  • understand federal regulations governing voluntary sector organizations
  • differentiate between non-profit organizations, charities, and voluntary organizations

Policy-making in Canadian governments – whether it occurs at the municipal, provincial or federal level – generally follows an established process. Each has a system involving elected officials, committees, staff research and preparation and public input that varies with the level of government and the particular jurisdiction. For the most part, the bigger the government, the more complex the process becomes.

Although only the federal system is described below, it will give you an understanding of the complexity of government decision-making and the numerous opportunities to gain access to the process. While it is not important to understand every detail of government structure, having an understanding of the way government works, who makes decisions and where the access points are, will help your organization determine where to put the most energy.

The organization of provincial governments is very similar to the federal model and, as a result, policy-making for provincial governments is also similar to the federal model. You can use the information below as a general model for other levels of government and find more detailed information on structures of other levels of government via the Web sites of provincial and municipal governments.

The voluntary sector is different from government in many areas including organizational culture, composition, authority and affiliation. Within the voluntary sector, organizations fall into one of three categories: non-profit organizations, charities and voluntary organizations. Depending on the category, organizations need to abide by federal regulations enforced by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

This module will help you understand the intricacies of the systems involved in public policy dialogue and the federal rules affecting your organization.

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Last Updated: 2019-11-15