The Canada Science & Policy Committee to Exit the Pandemic

21CQ Topic President's Blog


Irvin Studin


2 years ago

Canada will exit the Covid-19 pandemic this year – and soon. However, the exit can only be effectuated by uniting and combining the scientific-medical and policy communities that, to date, have been operating in intellectual, disciplinary and geographic silos, without a common picture of our country’s multiple crises caused by the pandemic, and of what is required to exit these crises.

Canada presently has not one, but indeed 6-7 national crises of system:

  • 1. The public health crisis, including but not limited to the pandemic
  • 2. The education crisis
  • 3. The economic crisis
  • 4. The national unity crisis
  • 5. An institutional crisis
  • 6. An international crisis
  • 7. A growing social crisis caused by the breakdown in longstanding behavioural norms and expectations

What will the exit from the pandemic look like in the context of these 6-7 crises of system? It has three (3) parts:

  • 1. The pandemic itself soon becomes endemic – in Canada and many parts of the world
  • 2. Treatment of the aged, vulnerable or those with co-morbidities becomes the near-exclusive Covid-19 focus, and through a wide variety of existing and emerging interventions (both in timing and manifestation)
  • 3. Public health and the pandemic are properly and logically viewed as but one of 6-7 systems to be managed at the same time (concurrently!), in the context of keeping the society and state functioning on all cylinders – with the pandemic becoming an ever-less important concern in the ranking of Canadian policy problems across the systems.

The national exit strategy will require thinking, work (energy!) and choreography across the systems of Canadian state and society and into time – well beyond daily Covid case counts and a reduction to the entire calculus (and imagination) of decision-making to hospital ICU admissions. Such thinking is not only far too simplistic and episodic, but indeed prolongs and amplifies the crises in the other systems of state and society.

The Institute for 21st Century Questions launches, at the start of 2022, the Canada Science and Policy Committee to Exit the Pandemic with a firm view to guiding the national exit strategy over the coming few months – not for fun, and strictly for keeps.

Objectives of the Committee (4):

  • 1. To bring together Canada’s medical-scientific and policy communities – otherwise acting in solitudes – to exit the pandemic with speed
  • 2. To change the psychology of the national discussion of the Covid-19 pandemic from the descriptive to the practical, and from the chaotic to the hopeful
  • 3. To give practical policy advice and briefings to exit the pandemic across all of the systems of state & society

    a. Covid-related public health
    b. non-Covid health care
    c. education (and related challenges for Canada’s kids and young people)
    d. economics & business
    e. social fabric of country
    f. institutional structure of country
    g. national unity
    h. international dynamics

  • 4. To effectuate the following “postural shifts” in Canadian thinking about the pandemic and the exit strategy:
    • from the episodic to systems thinking
    • from “follow the science” (which could last 100 years!) to “having science be a key input in policy decision-making informed from across the disciplines”
    • from hysterical and defeatist to practical and purposeful
    • from abstract to human (realities on the ground, at the coalface)
    • from low energy to high energy
    • from caprice to stability

Members of the Canada Science & Policy Committee to Exit the Pandemic:

Irvin Studin, PhD (co-chair) – President, The Institute for 21st Century Questions; Chair, Worldwide Commission to Educate All Kids (Post-Pandemic); Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, Global Brief Magazine (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, MD (co-chair) – Critical Care & Palliative Care Physician, The Ottawa Hospital & Montfort Hospital; Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario)

Dr. Martha Fulford, MD – Associate Professor of Medicine, Michael G. De Groote School of Medicine, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario)

Dr. Olga Kovalchuk, MD – Professor & Board of Governors Chair in Cancer and Canadian Institute of Health Research Chair in Gender and Health, University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge, Alberta)

Thomas Michalak, MD – Professor of Molecular Virology and Medicine (Hepatology)
Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Molecular Virology, Molecular Virology and Hepatology Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University (St. John’s, Newfoundland)

Dr. Paul Perlon, MD – Head of Emergency Physician Group, Mackenzie Health Hospital (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

Edward Mirasty – Head of Education, Prince Albert Grand Council (Prince Albert, Saskatchewan)

Pierre Pettigrew – Former Minister of Health of Canada (Montréal, Québec)

Mike Aumond – Former Secretary to the Cabinet, Government of the Northwest Territories (Yellowknife, NWT)

Michael Schouldice – Past President, Arctic College (Rankin Inlet, Nunavut)

Fred Lazar – Professor of Economics, Schulich School of Business, York University (Toronto, Ontario)

Benjamin Ryan – Chief Commercial Officer, Air North (Whitehorse, Yukon)

Rosemarie Kuptana – Arctic Rose Foundation (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Michael Barutciski – Professor of Political Science, Glendon College, York University (based in Montréal, Québec)

Alexandra Lysova – Associate Professor of Criminology, Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, British Columbia)


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