Ontario labour market information now available digitally

As per this post, labour market information in Ontario is now more accessible.

The post talks about how they went through a redesign process, followed the new digital ontario.ca standards, and incorporated user feedback.

And then you have individuals who are employed in areas in which they have no formal education and end up in a job by chance and then go very far in that job. Just sayin’ And I am not sure how many people actually switch or change what they want to study due to labour market data – doesn’t it contradict the idea of following your passion?

Evolution of digital in Ontario and federally

This Google Doc provides a quick overview of things going on at the digital level in the Ontario and federal governments.

The document provides a link to a progress report on Ontario’s involvement in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Ontario is the only sub-national jurisdiction from Canada to join. As an aside: Saskatchewan can think about joining when they stop hosting their government job application system on US servers and instead set them up on Canadian soil.

Students from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario – the national capital of Canada – are involved with the OGP. I have not found any other university to be involved with the initiative – which in my opinion is a major problem as this issue will now be defined by those who make it to Carleton, and even there, are enrolled in the classes that are participating in this initiative. The fact that Carleton is in the nation’s capital does not make it uniquely suited to give input. In fact, it would be worthwhile to engage a small post-secondary educational institution to test the power of communication and get inputs from outside the national capital. The fact that the students are mostly from a communications program is another major concern, in my opinion.

By seeing Open Data/ Digital through the eyes of communication, we risk turning it into a PR exercise. Data becomes about whoever speaks the language and what is being measured. So, rather than digital becoming the enabler of (increasing) participation by those who are on the outside, it becomes a propaganda exercise. A bit like how the Ontario government is running the Ontario Digital team.

Irritatingly, the link to the “People” section is now a pop-up – you can access it here.

The Ontario government is also seeking input on, and working on, digital service standards.

Participatory Budgeting in Ontario

This blog post by Grahame Rivers details the various steps the Ontario government has taken over the past four years in the realm of participatory budgeting. From hesitant first steps to a pretty detailed method, they have come a long way and learnt from their experiences.

Participatory budgeting is a process where citizens/ residents are involved/ asked for inputs in the budgeting process. Where this is a typically opaque process that is mostly limited to bureaucrats and elected representatives, participatory budgeting allows for new/ different initiatives to be funded. Also, the bureaucrats and politicians get a clear sense of what is popular and what is not and can help guide budgetary allocations.

The participation in Participatory budgeting can of course vary significantly. A jurisdiction simply asking citizens/ residents/ voters whether more money should be spent on buying new buses for the public transit system allows for limited participation. A jurisdiction where citizens/ residents/ voters are asked how they would like to spend a particular amount of budgetary allocation can be said to participate much more freely and thoroughly. Of course, this also varies depending on when the consultations are held (day-time or after 6pm when most people return from work), where they are held (close to low-income areas and easily accessible, or in difficult to reach places), among other considerations.

I can’t help but make the observation that this gives a twist to the idea of ‘out of touch’ politicians. After all, if politicians are in touch with what citizens/ residents/ voters want, then they should be able to include their demands in the budget already. If not, then politicians are out of touch. One must also note that at the provincial level, undertaking this exercise takes away from the legitimacy of the legislature. After all, the 100+ elected Ontario MPPs are sent to deliberate and decide. For a government to ignore the inputs of the opposition MPPs and listening to citizens/ residents/ voters makes for a strange situation. If participatory budgeting is how budgets are to be deliberated upon, why even let the politicians have a hand in it? The citizens/ residents/ voters can decide among themselves!

There was this effort in Toronto, but I am not sure what they are up to now.

This piece provides details on participatory budgeting and the author’s take on how the process unfolds in the City of Mississauga.

Alexandra Flynn provides a good write-up on participatory budgeting here.