A Model Consultation

Jane Boyd who has recently set up a new Montessori in Summerside writes this about what a “Real Consultation” would be like:

Over my many years of being involved in child care I have seen many different variations of consultation processes in communities across the country. Certainly, there can be ranges in the level of quality in these processes, that is to be expected. Sometimes consultations are hurried along faster than what any of us might like. Sometimes they are slow and methodical and seem to take forever to complete. Sometimes they are just right. Unfortunately, what has happened on PEI in recent days seems to be fairly hurried and almost predecided. This is certainly concerning. How can a consultation truly be a consultation if it appears that the answers are already in place? How can a consultation be open and accountable if it is over before anyone even knows that it is happening?

I Googled the definition of the word consultation. Here are a few of the definitions that came up:

A technique of social interaction where opinions of all stakeholders are sought before a decision is made.

Seeking information or advice from another person taking into account their feelings, interests and expertise.

Communication between persons/groups. May have a range of purposes including the collection or dissemination of information, or identification or resolution of issues. There must be a willingness to listen and change, adequate information and sufficient time.

Here is an example of a Press Release for a child care regulation consultation process that took place in British Columbia a few years ago. The date of the Press Release was September 10, 2004. See below for key timelines related to when and how people could make submissions. My point in listing this is simply to demonstrate that successful consultation processes should allow for ample time, stakeholder notification and dialogue. This is especially essential if major changes are anticipated as an outcome of the consultation process.

The consultations will take place through to Oct. 28, 2004 and will enable people in care, their families and care providers, advocates and the public to review and discuss the proposed changes. Members of the public are encouraged to submit written presentations at the consultation meetings or via the ministry’s website at…until the end of December. The consultation documents will be posted to the website following the public meetings. The updated regulations are expected to take effect in spring 2005.

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