Step 2 - Decide if public participation should be used.

This step is the deciding factor in determining if public participation is necessary. In some cases, public participation is mandated or court-ordered. While this framework is designed for situations when participation is voluntary, it can still be used as a guide alongside the required steps if you are dealing with mandated or court-ordered participation.

The following are four examples of situations where public participation is voluntary, but recommended:

1) There is potential for the public to be significantly affected.

Citizens and organizations should be consulted if a government decision will considerably affect them. Research shows Canadians increasingly expect to be consulted on decisions that impact them.

2) Government has made a previous commitment to openness and transparency on the issue.

When the government has made a public promise to use its decision-making powers openly, and to involve interested and affected parties before making its decision.

3) Unknown public perceptions and other information gaps exist.

When information about the perceptions and values of citizens and organizations is required prior to making a decision.

4) Controversy around the issue or decision exists.

For decisions involving controversy of sufficient magnitude, or where it is sufficiently valuable to engage in public participation.