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Focus Area Information

Focus Area Information

The Ontario Internship Program places interns across the Ontario Public Service in 7 focus areas. Each focus area represents a line of work that is essential to serving the people of Ontario. You are encouraged to select the focus area that matches your skills and interests when you apply to the program. Check out the various focus areas to learn which stream will provide you with the best opportunity to reach your career goals:

Policy Development

Policy Development in the Ontario Public Service

What does it mean to develop public policy in the Ontario Public Service (OPS)?

In the OPS, a public policy professional is accountable for providing impartial advice to the government regarding the development, implementation and evaluation of public policy. In order to fulfil this function, policy professionals engage in a range of activities, including research and analysis, policy development, stakeholder engagement, legislative and regulatory drafting, program design, and program evaluation.

Policy interns may participate in and support projects that contribute to a number of government priorities, such as:

  • Ensuring sustainable and quality standards of education/health/social service delivery
  • Protecting Ontario’s natural resources and the environment
  • Promoting provincial and international economic growth
  • Supporting strong public infrastructure development in partnership with Ontario’s communities
  • Developing positive and alternative approaches to our criminal justice system for a safe and secure Ontario.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

We are seeking candidates who possess certain knowledge and can demonstrate a variety of skills and abilities including:


  • Knowledge of policy and delivery: refers to knowledge of the formulation of public policy and the process of making important organizational decisions that could have future impacts or consequences throughout the implementation or operationalization stages

Skills and Abilities

  • Analytical skills: the ability to identify, retrieve, evaluate and use data to both ask and answer questions so as to support the development of evidence-based policy
  • Collaboration: working with others to solve a problem or achieve a common goal that is mutually beneficial
  • Communication skills: presenting information using traditional and/or digital media in a clear, concise and accurate manner through effective written, oral and visual communication
  • Customer service: involves anticipating and identifying client needs to respond and provide better services with a goal of maximizing client satisfaction. Customers and clients may include the public, colleagues, partners, and peers
  • Influencing: refers to the ability to bring about change by compelling others to action
  • Problem solving skills: refers to the ability to recognize, understand and resolve a problem by breaking it apart into smaller pieces, and evaluating options and identifying alternative solutions
  • Relationship management: involves building and maintaining strong working relationships with clients, stakeholders, partners and colleagues and demonstrating respect, ethics and extending trust in order to achieve organizational goals
  • Research skills: the ability to use appropriate research tools and analytical methodologies to identify and analyze credible sources of information for the purposes of making evidence-based policy recommendations
  • Work management: involves prioritizing tasks, managing competing priorities as to effectively manage time in order to meet deadlines.

What to Expect

As a policy intern, your work may include activities that enable you to:

  • Gain knowledge of the government decision-making process and understand the role of policy development processes towards achieving government’s key priorities
  • Understand and participate in policy and planning development projects by researching, analysing and assisting with the preparation of options and proposals, consulting on approaches, assessing the impact on stakeholders and assisting with communication and implementation plans
  • Conduct research and environmental scans to remain apprised of issues/developments in other ministries and jurisdictions with potential impact on the work of the section/branch/division/ministry, and preparing briefs/briefings for senior advisor/manager.

Looking Ahead

This is just the beginning of your career in the Ontario Public Service (OPS). An internship is an opportunity to learn and develop your policy development skills in the public service. It is intended to prepare and develop you for various roles in the OPS. An internship in this area can prepare you for a career as a:

  • Policy/Program/Project Advisor
  • Policy/Program/Project Analyst
  • Policy/Program/Project Consultant.