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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $35.00

240 pp.
1 map; 5 charts; 8 tables, 6" x 9"


Publication date:
December 2013

Imprint: OUP Canada

Evidence-Based Policy-Making in Canada

Shaun P. Young

Making policy is what governments do, but there are some fascinating and hotly debated issues associated with how government decisions get made in the interests of the people. The concept and practice of evidence-based policy-making insists that properly developed public policy draws on the best available evidence. This book considers how governments in Canada have historically interacted with research and what directions these interactions may take in the future.

The goal of government making decisions based on information collected in a scientific (or at least methodical and unbiased) manner goes back to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Given recent advances in the accumulation of such evidence, however, creating evidence-based policy has become an increasingly complex process. The ongoing generation of new knowledge continues to increase both the number and variety of potential policy issues and challenges. This process is often juxtaposed with "opinion-based" policy-making - a selective use of evidence or a reflection of the untested views of individuals or groups. In fact, the role of evidence in policy-making takes us to the very heart of the democratic process. Many victims of crime want longer prison sentences for criminals, but research shows that this is expensive and largely ineffective. To what extent should opinion be allowed to undermine the primacy of evidence? And other issues, such as the existing cultural and institutional challenges to evidence-based policy-making, are also considered across a range of disciplines.

This collection considers these issues in the Canadian context, from the path knowledge travels via policy advisory systems and research-brokering organizations like the Fraser Institute, the CD Howe Institute, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, to specific areas of policy including education, crime, tax, poverty, and environment. Contributors, leading scholars in their fields (a number of whom are also former senior civil servants), explore the evolution and practice of evidence-based policy-making in Canada and look forward to ways in which government decision-making could be improved.

Readership : Upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in policy studies will find this history of public policy in Canada essential reading, as will those involved in decision-making and research across areas of social policy.

Shaun P. Young: Introduction: Evidence-Based Policymaking: The Canadian Experience
1. Michael Howlett and Jonathan Craft: Policy Advisory Systems and Evidence-Based Policy: The Location and Content of Evidentiary Policy Advice
2. Ben Levin: The Relationship between Knowledge Mobilization and Research Use
3. Amanda Cooper: Research Brokering Organizations in Education across Canada: A Response to Evidence-Based Policy-Making and Practice Initiatives
4. Susan Prentice and Linda White: When the Evidence Doesn't Matter: Evidence-Based Policymaking and Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada
5. Irvin Waller: Implementing Evidence-Based Policy to Deal with Crime in Canada
6. Rachel Laforest: Fighting Poverty Provincial Style
7. Lisa Philipps: Bringing Evidence to Tax Expenditure Design: Lessons from Canada's Innovation Policy Review 2006-12
8. Mark Winfield: The Environment, "Responsible Resource Development," and Evidence-Based Policymaking in Canada

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Shaun P. Young is the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Manager for the Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto. He is also a Senior Fellow of the York Centre for Public Policy and Law, and an External Associate of the York Centre for Practical Ethics, both at York University. He previously worked as a senior policy adviser and senior research planning adviser in a number of different ministries in the Ontario Public Service, and, more recently, as Senior Policy Associate at the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on issues of justice in contemporary multicultural liberal democracies. He is the author or editor of five books and numerous journal articles and book chapters and has taught political science, public policy, and philosophy at a number of universities in Ontario.

Public Policy in Canada - Lydia Miljan
Social Policy in Canada - Ernie Lightman
Evidence-Based Policy - Nancy Cartwright and Jeremy Hardie

Special Features

  • New ways of thinking about how policy is created. Research is generated from a variety of sources, but it is not always used in government planning and policy development. This title considers the reason for that in the Canadian context.
  • Crime, tax, environment, and education. All of these are important components of government decision-making. This book discusses how each of these fields is informed (or fails to be informed) by research and how this in turn influences policy.
  • Top scholars from a range of disciplines. Academics across a range of fields consider how the research generated in their area has traditionally been used by governments in Canada.
  • Scholars with experience in the civil service. Many of the collection's contributors have worked as senior members of the civil service in Canada.
  • Strategic understanding. Topics such as policy advisory systems, research brokering organizations, and knowledge mobilization are part of the exploration of how research makes its way into the hands of decision-makers.Ca
  • Ground-breaking and without competition. This is the first book of its kind to address in a single collection the "state of the art" in evidence-based policy-making in a range of policy areas in Canada.