Canada Beyond 150: Policy for a diverse and inclusive future

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This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

Canada Beyond 150 was an experiment in leadership development for a diverse cohort of new public servants, with the goal of encouraging a culture shift to a more open and innovative public service. Working in groups part-time over a year, participants learned foresight, design thinking and external engagement methods and applied them to complex policy issues, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. It demonstrated the power of experiential learning, especially from engagement with stakeholders.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The Opportunity and the Innovation

Canada’s 150th anniversary was in 2017, and presented an opportunity for the public service to look forward — to boldly take stock of the challenges facing us today and envision Canada as the even greater society that it can become. It was also a time to expand the policy development toolkit, grow the public service’s knowledge base and analytical insight, and foster a culture of innovation capable of delivering a visionary future. Canada Beyond 150 was an innovation championed by the Privy Council Office in partnership with Policy Horizons Canada to achieve these goals.

Design and Objectives

The innovation had many elements. First, it was designed on the principle that diversity and inclusion could enable better and more innovative methods, generate stronger analyses, and yield better outcomes and greater prosperity. Second, it used innovative screening techniques to recruit a diverse and inclusive cohort of more than 80 new public servants from across Canada. It selected an engaged and ambitious participant pool and honed their abilities to become change agents within the public service.

Finally, Canada Beyond 150 was an immersive professional development curriculum that emphasized open policy development and innovative methods. Participants learned methods and techniques in foresight analysis under the tutelage of Policy Horizons Canada, a knowledge organization within the Government of Canada focused on medium-term policy development. They experimented with design thinking and other tools, and engaged and co-developed policy analysis and proposals with partners both within and outside the federal public service. Most of the project’s work was conducted virtually and accessed by participants across the country, with training workshops in innovative methods and tools posted publicly for all to use. As a result, participants engaged a wide and diverse spectrum of partners in the development of longer-term analyses and innovative ideas to influence and inform future policy-making. They strove to work in the open and, in adopting new methods and tools, to up the game on transparency and accessibility to the public and partners.


The project delivered a suite of analyses and policy proposals in five timely and important thematic areas: reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; open and transparent government; socio-economic inclusion; the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals; and feminist government. The work will benefit Canada’s policy agenda in the short, medium, and long terms. It has had a particularly beneficial impact on Canada’s approach to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and open and transparent government.

The innovation had a number of benefits beyond these tangible deliverables. It tested and modelled digital-enabled ways to engage citizens, businesses, and other institutions in the policy and program development processes. It developed analyses that look beyond the horizon of short-term priorities and products to think big about how macro-level challenges and trends could have cascading impacts on the Canadian policy landscape. It designed diverse and inclusive solutions that have been disseminated across the Government of Canada’s policy, programs and service portfolios, and which will have positive ripple effects for years to come. And it has trained a new cohort of public service leaders, positioning them to channel their drive and ambition to make a positive difference in concrete areas of policy development.

Building to Scale

The Canada Beyond 150 experience is now an open-source, shared resource for all corners of the Canadian public policy community. The participants themselves have become new leaders and change-makers in policy development, and the resources of the curriculum have been disseminated across the public service and are available for use.

More formally, the Canada School of the Public Service has committed to explore the use of immersive policy development exercises like Canada Beyond 150 to develop a broader suite of training tools and approaches for the public service. The federal public service is launching its Medium Term Policy planning cycle, and the learnings and methods from Canada Beyond 150 will directly inform the trajectory of its analysis. Finally, Policy Horizons Canada is exploring ways to take up the Canada Beyond 150 toolkit and learning model in its future foresight studies and learning modules.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2018
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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