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Openness and transparency: Cornerstones of good governance

Two tenets of good governance are leadership and effectiveness. I wrote about these themes in my last two articles, talking about the need for collaboration in evidence-based policy making and a better understanding of the changing world of work. Another vital principle is accountability, and the openness and transparency that entails.

Public accountability 

The Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement 2016 acknowledged that “Open and transparent government is good government. It strengthens our trust in democracy and ensures the integrity of our public institutions.”

Indeed, good governance relies on openness and transparency by the governors with the governed. This social contract is the cornerstone of good governance, but what happens when accountability fails?

Accountability and trust were in question during the financial crisis

The financial and economic crisis that shook the global economy a decade ago led to record levels of debt across much of the developed world. The ratio of external debt to GDP was above 150% in some countries. This was due to a combination of slow growth — the worst since the Great Depression — and fiscal stimulus measures introduced to kick-start growth and save the economy from the brink of a depression. For instance, in the United States, some $700 million was earmarked for stabilizing the financial sector, which many blamed for causing the crisis in the first place due to its lack of transparency in terms of their products.

Many asked if saving the banks was the right thing to do, raising questions about how so-called bailout money was being spent as similar efforts were undertaken across much of the developed world. Interestingly, in Canada, our financial system fared much better due to accountability measures already in place through regulations and government oversight.

From the embers of crisis emerged renewed calls for transparency 

When the global economy began to recover, and governments curtailed expenditures, a growing backlash led to the Occupy movement, among others, which championed the need to address inequality but also demanded more from governments in terms of openness and transparency. And while the Occupy movement has all but fizzled out, the demands for openness and transparency endure.

LMIC’s commitment to accountability and transparency

When the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) was endorsed by the Forum of Labour Market Ministers in 2016, it was to ensure that all Canadians have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their careers, training, education, and workplaces.

One of our core values in approaching our work is respect and understanding for the importance of openness and transparency in what we do and how we do it. We strive to ensure our efforts and outputs are fair, balanced, unbiased, and objective.

And while our Strategic Plan sets out our visionary goals, we will also share our annual public operations plan to provide clarity and transparency into the activities, projects, and initiatives we undertake.

We are also committed to producing an annual report to update Canadians on the accomplishments of the Labour Market Information Council in our first year. And we will provide financial transparency through annual public financial statements to ensure accountability to our Board of Directors, stakeholders, and all Canadians.

As a brand new, publicly funded organization, the Labour Market Information Council is working hard to exercise the habits of good governance and build trust with our partners and stakeholders. In that spirit, it’s essential that we keep you informed every step of the way. Follow us as we share updates on TwitterLinkedIn, and in our new newsletter, launching soon. Sign up here to stay up-to-date with our efforts to help Canadians navigate the changing world of work.

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