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The Assistant Deputy Minister Working Group on Risk Management began its work in the Fall of 1998. The participants saw the meetings and the deliberations on risk management as a tremendous opportunity to share expertise and best practices. It was in this spirit of co-operation and openness that the Working Group debated the key concepts as presented in this report.

Early in the process it became evident that approaches to risk management used in Departments and Agencies have developed at different rates and in different directions. Thus, the Working Group’s primary objective was to identify common elements that are applicable across the Government of Canada. The report of the Working Group is clearly an important step in this direction.

However, for the members of the Working Group, the process of discussion and reflection were as significant as the report we have produced. In recognition of this, this report has been written with a view to stimulating further horizontal discussion. In particular, the framework described in this report reflects the fact that the ability to deal effectively with uncertainty occurs as part of the general process of making decisions. It is therefore applicable to all areas of government including operations, the application of science and policy-making. Because there is a public element to virtually all government decision-making, the public provides a central and legitimate input to this process.

The priority areas identified in the report reflect the horizontal nature of risk management and imply that, in addition to crucial work to be undertaken in line Departments and Agencies, there is an important and ongoing role for Central Agencies.

I would like to thank Working Group members who generously volunteered their valuable time and expertise throughout the process. Particular gratitude is also due to those from the academic and private sectors who contributed greatly to developing our understanding of risk management concepts at the formative stage of our work. A summary and membership of the Working Group is contained in Annex B.

Special thanks also go to Tony Campbell, whose tireless efforts greatly contributed to the quality of discussions and the organization of special events, and to Janine Sherman, for her invaluable efforts and creative energy in supporting me as Chair of the Working Group.


Ruth Dantzer
Assistant Secretary, Social Development Policy

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