Transparency is a fundamental element of a robust democratic process. A healthy democracy must function in such a way that citizens are able to hold elected officials accountable for the decisions that impact their lives. Elected representatives are tasked with distilling information and considerations from countless sources, measuring risk, gauging impact, weighing conflicting demands, and so forth. Ultimately, they must make decisions and implement policies that best serve the needs of the people.
Given the complexity and volume of considerations that influence this process, accountability is mission critical. In order for the public to hold a government to account, it must be able to discern if and how evidence is contributing to decisions. This demands that transparency is prioritised throughout the policy-making process.
While transparency in government decision-making takes many forms, when it comes to the transparent use of evidence in policy, there currently exists a knowledge gap. To strengthen overall public knowledge of policy-making, we need accessible mechanisms to address evidence-use in policy. To address this, a framework for assessing how evidence informs policy, originally developed in the United Kingdom, was adapted and tested in the Canadian context. This framework assesses whether the public can find the evidence used to inform a policy, as well as how that evidence was used in the process. The framework was tested on a sample set of policies and was informed by supplemental research into the policymaking process in Canada, including how and where policies were announced, the types of policies created by the government, and the types of evidence cited in these policies.