News Release

Canadian policy leaders meet to discuss lessons learned from COVID-19

June 8, 2023 Print

Dr. Theresa Tam to open Resilient Institutions conference in Ottawa

A high-level roster of federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous policy leaders will come together at the first pan-Canadian conference to examine what happened in our public institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-hosted by the IRPP’s Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation and the Institute on Governance, Resilient Institutions: Learning from Canada’s COVID-19 Pandemic will take place from June 12-14, 2023 at the Chateau Laurier hotel.

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, will open the conference with a keynote address to registered participants on Tuesday, June 13.

Other key speakers will include Canada’s chief statistician Anil Arora; Joanne Castonguay, Quebec’s health and welfare commissioner; former Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil; Shannon McDonald, former chief medical officer, First Nations Health Authority; former Leader of the Official Opposition and Member of Parliament Erin O’Toole; Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute; Carole Saab, CEO of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; and Dan Kelly, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Federal deputy ministers participating will include Stephen Lucas (Health), Michael Vandergrift (Intergovernmental Affairs, Privy Council Office), Christiane Fox (Citizenship and Immigration), Isabelle Mondou (Canadian Heritage), Graham Flack (Treasury Board Secretariat), and Taki Sarantakis (Canada School of Public Service). Former provincial deputy ministers attending are Helen Angus (Ontario), Lori Wanamaker (B.C.), and Coleen Volk (Alberta).

A series of candid roundtable discussions will focus on public health, intergovernmental relations, the public service and public servants, trust and democracy, and the public’s experience during the pandemic. Speakers will reveal how decisions were made, investigate what lessons can be drawn and explore the relationships critical to rebuilding trust and improving services for Canadians.

“Of course, everyone wants to put the pandemic behind them, but as policy leaders and researchers we should seize the opportunity to study what happened and see what we can learn from it,” said Jennifer Ditchburn, president and CEO of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).

“There were many gaps exposed in our public institutions during the pandemic, but also many advances that we should build on so that we’re better equipped to face future challenges,” said David McLaughlin, president and CEO of the Institute on Governance.

A highlight of the event will be the keynote address on the evening of June 13 by Alasdair Roberts, an internationally renowned professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Jocelyne Bourgon Visiting Scholar at the Canada School of Public Service.

The keynote speech, to take place at the National Arts Centre, will be open for media coverage. In order to foster frank conversations, the rest of the conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule: participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

Later this fall, the IOG and the IRPP’s Centre of Excellence will produce a report to Canadians and their governments on the results of the conference, with practical proposals for strengthening public institutions across Canada. And a companion series of articles in the IRPP’s Policy Options magazine, featuring writing by some of the leading policy thinkers and practitioners taking part in the conference, is out now.

A full conference schedule can be found here.

For media requests, please contact IRPP communications director Cléa Desjardins: / 514-245-2139.

Media Contact

Cléa Desjardins
Communications Director
514-245-2139 •