Government can send immigrants to rural areas. But can it make them stay?

In the three years to 2020, Canada will welcome almost a million new immigrants. Hundreds of thousands will settle in cosmopolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where nearly half the population is foreign-born. But other parts of the country want a slice of the action — and federal immigration policy is trying to help them get...

How can government make the most of AI without threatening rights?

Governments everywhere are announcing new strategies for artificial intelligence. From France, which has pledged $1.85billion in funding for research in the field, to Canada, which plans to cultivate a batch of AI specialists in its universities, it’s clear political leaders see AI as an area they need to get good at fast. As well as being an economic...

Mapped: the childcare deserts where nearly half of Canada’s young kids live

Almost one in two preschool children in Canada live in a “childcare desert,” where they have to compete with at least two others for childcare, a new report has said. This amounts to 776,000 kids without sufficient support. The findings come from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), a think tank, which mapped out every licensed childcare centre in Canada for the...

For government innovation to take off, it needs to break out of the lab

A single team or lab could never create the volume of ideas needed to make hundreds of small improvements in all aspects of a complex organisation. That became obvious to me while working for the New Zealand Post. I was in the Total Quality Service team, which had a year to develop comprehensive strategies to...

Finland is building a robot that will help you get a job

Talk of robots in the labour market usually focuses on their job-destroying capabilities (or lack of them ). But in Finland, the government is building a bot that could not only help you get a new job, but also warn you if your current role is destined for oblivion. Olli-Pekka Heinonen, director general of Finland’s National Agency for...

Public sector innovation buzzwords: translating jargon into plain English

Innovation labs and units have become so fashionable in the public sector that the question “Have we reached peak lab?” has become a cliché. From MindLab’s ideation pod to Louisville’s digital badges , the culture of innovation is spreading. But despite their popularity, innovators have to admit one failing: they are simply not good at defining what it is...

Is government doomed to repeat mistakes, or can it stop losing its mind?

Can government remember? Is it condemned to repeat mistakes? Or does it remember too much and so sees too many reasons why anything new is bound to fail? The case for a permanent civil service is that it organises its memory well, and it is certainly better than governing systems which periodically purge their top...

How to scale up social impact — the challenge of the 21st century

“Nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere. The challenge of the 21st century is to find out what works and scale it up.” Boiled down, Bill Clinton’s famous dictum has three parts: innovate, learn and scale. He was half right about the innovation, and only half, because that problem solving hasn’t stopped. Every...

Once ranked worst in the OECD for preschool, Canada has a radical plan

For policymakers around the world, Canada frequently leads the way on issues such as gender equality, migration or labour laws. In early childhood education though the country has less cause for celebration. An OECD study published in 2006 exposed Canada’s status as a “ policy laggard ”, ranked last of 14 countries in terms of expenditure on early childhood education and care...

Sweden and Canada fly the flag for feminist foreign policy

Since launching in 2014, Sweden’s radically ‘feminist’ foreign policy has gained international notoriety. While critics have lambasted the Nordic nation – for brazenly funding abortion, inciting a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia over human rights, and provoking Israel by recognising Palestine – the strategy has proved successful by many measures. Sweden, through its new policy, has helped more...