Comparing employment policy governance regimes in Canada and the European Union


  • She thanks the Canadian research advisory committee, which provided guidance to the research, and acknowledges the financial support of the Research Support Program of the Québec Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat.
  • The author thanks Dr. Amy Verdun for her unflagging commitment to this project, as well as the more than 20 EU and 50 Canadian officials and non-government stakeholders who agreed to be interviewed for this research. A shorter version of this article appeared as a policy paper on the website of the Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue in August 2011 at A more detailed analysis is available from the EURAC Institute for Studies on Federalism and Regionalism (European Autonomy and Diversity Papers–EDAP 2013) at


This article assesses the performance of Canada's employment policy governance regime post-1996 by explicitly comparing Canadian approaches to those used in the European Union (EU) through the open method of coordination (OMC). It concludes that Canada has moved so far along the decentralization continuum — with 13 provincial systems as well as a federal-only system in place — that coordination, coherence, mutual learning and information sharing on a pan-Canadian basis have been lost. While EU OMC approaches hold promise, to be realized stakeholders would need to become more engaged in the policy domain and provinces, rather than the federal government, must take the initiative for enhanced coordination.


Cet article évalue la performance du régime de gouvernance de la politique de l'emploi au Canada après 1996 en comparant explicitement les approches canadiennes à celles utilisées dans l'Union européenne (UE) par le biais de la Méthode ouverte de coordination (MOC). Il conclut que le Canada a tellement progressé dans la continuité de la décentralisation — ayant en place 13 systèmes provinciaux ainsi qu'un système purement fédéral — que la coordination, la cohérence, l'apprentissage mutuel et le partage d'informations sur une base pancanadienne ont été perdus. Alors que les approches de la MOC dans l'UE sont prometteuses, pour qu'elles se réalisent il faudrait que les parties prenantes s'engagent davantage dans le domaine des politiques, et que ce soit les provinces, plutôt que le gouvernement fédéral, qui prennent l'initiative d'une meilleure coordination.