The COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious weaknesses in our public institutions across the federation. As we emerge from the biggest health crisis in a century, it’s time to think critically about lessons learned and paths forward.
The Institute on Governance (IOG) and the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation at the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) partnered to convene Resilient Institutions: Learning from Canada’s COVID-19 Pandemic – a conference on making Canada’s public institutions and governance more agile and adaptable. (Jump to full agenda.)
Focusing on institutions of health, federalism, public service and democracy, the conference brought together up to 150 of Canada’s leading policy thinkers and practitioners to examine how decisions were made during the pandemic, investigate what lessons can be drawn, and explore the relationships critical to rebuilding trust and improving services for Canadians.
Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, opened the conference with a keynote address to registered participants on Tuesday, June 13. Other speakers included: Anil Arora – Chief Statistician of Canada; Joanne Castonguay – Health and Welfare Commissioner, Government of Quebec; Graham Flack – Secretary, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Christiane Fox – Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Shachi Kurl – President, Angus Reid Institute; Stephen Lucas – Deputy Minister of Health, Health Canada; Stephen McNeil – Former Premier of Nova Scotia; Isabelle Mondou – Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage; Erin O’Toole – MP – Former Leader of the Official Opposition; Lucie Opatrny – President and Executive Director, McGill University Health Centre; Fahad Razak – Internist, Unity Health Toronto, Epidemiologist, and Associate Professor, University of Toronto; Carole Saab – Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Michael Vandergrift – Deputy Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs.
The pandemic radically altered Canadians’ expectations of our public institutions. This national conference focused exclusively on drawing lessons from Canada’s COVID-19 experience will contribute to building resilient public institutions and governance structures to better serve Canada in the future.
In addition to the conference, the IOG and the IRPP’s Centre of Excellence will co-produce an in-depth report based on the conference discussions, featuring practical proposals for strengthening public institutions across Canada. And a series of related articles will receive special coverage in IRPP’s Policy Options magazine.
For more on the topic, check out Toward more resilient institutions, the related series of articles in Policy Options magazine.
COVID-19 provincial policies, fiscal relations, Indigenous governance, public opinion on federalism: the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation is the IRPP's new permanent research initiative providing key insights on the Canadian federation.Learn More