by the IAP2 Canada Research Committee
This third installment of key findings from IAP2’s bi-annual State of the Practice survey shines a spotlight on barriers to inclusion in P2 practice in Canada.
The survey puts particular emphasis on challenges to providing equitable and inclusive engagement for participants whose first language may not be English. While survey respondents indicated it is common (73%) to translate written material into other languages, the ability to provide real-time in-session translation with an interpreter remains rare (common for only 14% of respondents). These results show no reported progress in ability to include real-time in-session translation services since the 2017 survey and no reported change in translation of written materials.
P2 practitioners responding to the survey are commonly making use of partnerships to meaningfully engage with non-English-speaking participants (62.5%), however this is also lower than reports from 2017, when 72% were commonly consulting community associations for the best approach. Respondents identified online materials and web tools (78%) and printed materials (74%) as the most popular tools for engaging with non-English-speaking participants. Tools reported as least commonly used include hands-on activities (24%), virtual site tours (26%), facilitation or consensus building tools (31%), images/videos of sites (32%), paper-based or in-person surveys/questionnaires/polls (33%), and interactive maps or other tools (39%).
Forty-two percent (42%) of respondents indicated it is common to have no support or procedures in place to work with non-English-speaking participants. With the 2016 Census reporting that a slim majority (58.1%) of all Canadians have English as at least one of their mother tongues, this reality does not match linguistic trends in Canada. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia: (https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/languages-in-use)
Although French and English are Canada’s only two official languages, the country’s linguistic diversity is very rich. According to the 2016 census, an increased number of Canadians are reporting a mother tongue or language spoken at home other than English or French compared to in previous years. This is in addition to a large diversity of Indigenous languages.
Survey respondents indicate language diversity in social media and online engagement has improved, rising from 30% in 2017 to 43% in 2020. Interviews, surveys, questionnaires and polls in other languages are also more common (now common for 50% of respondents).
Beyond language-related barriers to inclusion affecting P2 participants, respondents noted the following issues:
- 67% reported issues related to equity in community representation;
- 64% reported barriers to engaging citizens beyond planning;
- 60% indicated lack of public education about the process of P2 creates barriers;
- 57% commonly find communicating technical, financial and other information creates barriers;
- 54% reported barriers to consensus building; and
- 50% identified managing conflict creates barriers.
IAP2 Canada’s Research Committee noted several barriers to participation in the design of the State of Practice survey. Several comments by respondents supported our observations. We also note that while insights about barriers to inclusion related to language can be gathered from the survey, other aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are not. The Committee looks forward to making improvements to future surveys to improve both the experience of participants and the value of the results to practitioners.
IAP2 Canada is here to help you reduce barriers to inclusion in your on P2 practice. Of particular note, the following learning opportunities are available:
- See Beyond Inclusion: Equity in Public Engagement – A Guide for Practitioners produced in partnership with the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and associated Research Paper.
- The IAP2 training calendar regularly includes topics to help overcome barriers to inclusion and members can also access past Webinars, Tasters, and North American Conference Session Rewinds by viewing the links under the Networking & Events tab on our web-site.
- An Indigenous Engagement Community of Practice and Indigenous Awareness Learning Program have been developed to support the P2 Practitioners in their efforts to remove barriers with these rights-holders.