DEMOCRACY

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Why It Matters: 

Services that we depend upon every day are shaped by the city’s decisions. For example, how funds will be allocated and what services will be provided. The wellbeing of everyone depends upon it.

Voices of the most marginalized residents help decision makers to make informed decisions.

We Believe That: 

Making Voices Count supports residents to become informed and get engaged at all political levels.

We believe that people from all backgrounds and incomes have an important voice and perspective on City issues. When their needs and lived experiences are understood, valued and included, we made better decisions.

Chances to give input must be offered when change is still possible, and must result in visible change.

We recognize the pressures faced by the City. We know that City Council and staff are working within time and money limits. We want to work with the City to make sure residents’ input is welcomed and incorporated.

We are asking Ottawa City Council to make sure that its 2013 Public Engagement Strategy is applied to its work.

But the Reality Is Troubling: 

The 2016 draft budget did not give details of the efficiencies (cost reductions or savings). The public only learned about the efficiencies when managers presented at a committee, board or commission. This was the same day that public delegations presented their views.

Over the past six years many services have been changed through “efficiencies”. There is no policy or political commitment to review the impact of these changes on residents.

Many residents and organizations raised concerns about services being affected in the 2016 draft city budget. However, the concerns resulted in essentially no changes. This pattern that has taken place for several years. This pattern discourages residents from expressing their views.

City staff is required to apply the Public Engagement Strategy to ensure that the voices of all interested residents are heard. But, there is no specified strategy for City Council.

Questions to Ask: 
  • Some residents do not find current consultation processes truly meaningful. How do you envision meaningful consultation to ensure voices of the most marginalized residents are heard in budget process?

  • The 2016 budget called for a series of “service reviews” to be undertaken. What is your commitment to make public the terms of reference for all reviews and their outcomes?