MASS LBP is a for-profit organisation that helps its clients engage the public in democratic consultative processes, using innovative methods such as the civic lottery or citizens' reference panel.
Mission and Purpose
1. Reinventing Public Consultation
MASS is best known for its innovative approach to public engagement and consultation. First, they believe that public consultation is a form of cultural production. As such, success depends on the design choices their clients make when they create opportunities for members of the public to interact with and advise government. Since 2007, they have conducted twenty-five major reference panels, citizens’ assemblies and commissions for government, tackling some of the toughest and most divisive issues in public policy today. They also routinely host national, provincial and regional conversations, inviting Canadians to think about their country's future and their priorities for investment and reform.
Creating Publics: Introducing the Civic Lottery
Working with Canada Post, MASS mails tens of thousands of Canadian households each year inviting residents to volunteer to serve on one of several reference panels or commissions. Civic Lotteries produce random-representative cohorts that contain a wide range of perspectives and can speak for their communities. MASS is a global leader in the use of sortition to engage citizens in democratic processes.
Convening Publics: Introducing the Reference Panel
Reference Panels are typically comprised of thirty-six randomly-selected residents who meet over several days to advise government on a specific policy issue. With an explicit mandate, these panels provide a deliberative forum in each to learn about a complex issue from leading experts and with the assistance of trained facilitators, find common ground. MASS has pioneered the design and use of Reference Panels to inform public policy choices in Canada.
2. Developing Ambitious Strategies That Enjoy Public Support
Strategy isn't only about getting from A to B. When it comes to aligning divergent priorities, or getting clear about an organization's core values, there are no straight lines. This is especially true for public sector organizations which work to juggle changing political contexts, fiscal constraints, and the competing interests of stakeholders and communities. MASS LBP works with clients to develop strategies for organizations that they perceive to be serious about change. They approach strategy as a collaborative process that helps to establish priorities and new goals, with the aim of helping clients to raise their sights, strengthen their relationships, and reach agreement from first principles. Currently, their Strategy Practice works in two fields: first, to develop multi-year strategic plans and secondly, to develop engagement strategies that assist organizations to better integrate effective engagement techniques within existing governance and communications frameworks.
3. Delivering Solid Research That Shapes Good Choices
MASS provides policy-related research services to clients across many sectors. They routinely conduct wide-ranging environmental scans, prepare case studies and provocation papers, interview experts and stakeholders, commission essays from thought-leaders and host workshops to review findings or carry a discussion forward. MASS claims to provide insight, creativity and breadth, and to provide clear evidence and strong examples they can use to make their case. Using their knowledge of different policy areas and the state-of-play in different jurisdictions, they help clients to map out what's possible.
Origins and Development
Inspired by Canada's first Citizens' Assemblies, MASS LBP was founded in 2007 by Peter MacLeod and George Gosbee to extend this model and reinvent public consultation.
To date, MASS has conducted twenty-five major reference panels, citizens assemblies and commissions for government involving more than 1000 Canadians, and reaching 250,000 households. Cumulatively, this represents some 30,000 hours of deliberation on significant public issues, making MASS an internationally-recognized leader in the design and delivery of deliberative processes for government. In addition, they provide a range of services to public sector organizations including strategic planning and communications, custom research, facilitation and hosting, as well as event coordination and logistics.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
MASS LBP is a highly collaborative organization that they believe works better and smarter when they are transparent and honest about funding; they value the conducting of business in full public view. There are only two salary levels at MASS. They often work on projects often funded with public monies and so, they believe clients and citizen-participants deserve to know what they earn. Currently, senior staff with one year of service earn $80,000 per year. Junior staff earn $60,000. Part-time staff earn either of the two rates on a pro-rata basis. MASS is also proud to be a Wagemark-Certified company.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
Their services include:
- Comprehensive process design and delivery – from 20 to 200+ participants
- Strategic advice concerning effective engagement
- Corporate and public needs assessment
- Program evaluation and analysis
- Custom research and dissemination
- Facilitation teams
- Public communications and curriculum development
- Event coordination and logistics
MASS LBP's principal methods are:
Major Projects and Events
- BC Services Card User Panel on Digital Services
- Calgary Commission on Municipal Infrastructure
- Citizens' Reference Panel on Health Technologies (Ontario)
- Halton Region Citizens’ Reference Panel on Strategic Priorities (2011)
- Halton Region Citizens’ Reference Panel on Strategic Priorities (2015)
- Metrolinx Regional Residents’ Reference Panel on Transportation Investment
- Metrolinx Residents’ Reference Panel on the Davenport Community Rail Overpass
- Mississauga-Halton Citizens' Reference Panel Integrated Health Services Plan
- Northumberland Hills Hospital’s Collaborative Budget Strategy (Cobourg, Ontario, Canada)
- Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services Reference Panel on the Condominium Act
- Ottawa Hospital Patients' Reference Panel on Clinical Services Transformation
- Residents’ Reference Panel on Supervised Injection Services
- South East Ontario Citizens' Reference Panel Integrated Health Services Plan
- The Citizens’ Reference Panel on the Mental Health Action Plan for Canada
- Toronto Planning Review Panel
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!
Mass LBP Journal , http://masslbp.com/journal/
 Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network. (2009). Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network: Citizens’ Reference Panel on Local Health Priorities: May 30th and June 13th, 2009. Toronto, ON: MASS LBP. http://www.masslbp.com/download/MHCRPFINAL.pdf
MASS LBP, http://www.masslbp.com/
MASS LBP Project History: http://masslbp.com/s/workhistory.pdf