Introductory Panel: Symposium on the Impact of COVID-19 on Women in CanadaMonday, November 15 09:00 - 10:00
The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound and pronounced impacts on women in Canada, and the opening day of COEE 2021 will focus on these impacts in order to emphasize the critical importance of a diversity of research perspectives and a diversity of policy responses.
Women in Canada have, compared to men, experienced significantly worse impacts in loss of paid employment. As demands on caregivers – both unpaid and paid – surged, it is women who have borne the greatest burdens. Repeated stay-at-home orders have increased risks of gender-based violence for girls, women and gender-diverse people living in violent situations. School closures have impacted learning for girls in primary and secondary school. Young women in postsecondary face a more challenging transition to the workforce because of the pandemic-related recession. The tax system, used to deliver much of the emergency income support during COVID, continues to have gendered effects even as it strives for neutrality. Women have reported more mental distress during the pandemic, and we see gendered impacts in the health system including unmet health needs and hospital admissions for anxiety and eating disorders.
Yet, Canadian women have not experienced this pandemic equally. Those in the 2SLGBTQI have experienced even higher rates of job loss and risks to their mental and physical health. Women in Black and other racialized communities have experienced greater risks of economic losses, more challenges in accessing the social safety net and essentials such as adequate and stable housing, all while also facing disproportionate risks of COVID exposure. Indigenous women and girls have found the health crisis in their communities weaponized as a means to fast-track other policy changes that run counter to the obligations of reconciliation. Women, and particularly BIPOC women, are more likely to live with a disability. Women with disabilities have experienced some of the worst situations during this pandemic – in economic impacts, risks to safety, risks to health and more.
Co-chaired by Dr. Jennifer Robson and Dr. Lindsay Tedds, The Working Group on COVID-19 and Women in Canada is preparing a collection of briefings from a diverse group of experts in the academic, healthcare, and voluntary sectors. Each brief presents the state of the knowledge and advances options for change – in policy and practice – for the post-COVID period. The diversity of voices and perspectives in this collection serves as a reminder that, while compared to men, Canadian women have had distinct experiences of the pandemic, there has been at least as much difference of experience among women and gender-diverse persons.
This collection of briefs will be of interest to policymakers at all orders of government, analysts in the private and public sectors, as well as to practitioners, including service-providers and community organizations.
Perhaps the most resounding lesson from the pandemic and our effort to understand and respond to it, is the need to mainstream analysis and advice that takes account of differences by gender, race, income, disability status and more. Attention to gender differences, and differences of experience within a gender, has proven critical to understanding risk and capabilities. In the post-COVID phase, that GBA+ perspective can and must be embedded in how Canada, across the public, private and voluntary sectors, plans for and implements the recovery from the COVID pandemic and recession.
The Policy Briefing is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2021.
Women as LearnersMonday, November 15 10:30 - 11:30
This panel will discuss the impact on learning for girls during primary and secondary school closures and how young women in postsecondary face a more challenging transition to the workforce because of the pandemic-related recession.
LGBTQI2S CommunitiesMonday, November 15 13:00 - 14:00
This panel will discuss how those in the 2SLGBTQI have experienced even higher rates of job loss and risks to their mental and physical health.
Women and the Tax SystemMonday, November 15 13:00 - 14:00
This panel will discuss how the tax system, used to deliver much of the emergency income support during COVID, continues to have gendered effects even as it strives for neutrality.
Indigenous WomenMonday, November 15 14:30 - 15:30
This panel will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous women and girls and how they have found the health crisis in their communities weaponized as a means to fast-track other policy changes that run counter to the obligations of reconciliation.
Women’s Physical HealthMonday, November 15 16:00 - 17:00
This panel will discuss how women with disabilities have experienced some of the worst situations during this pandemic – in economic impacts, risks to safety, risks to health and more.
Women’s Psychological Well-BeingMonday, November 15 16:00 - 17:00
This panel will discuss how women have reported more mental distress during the pandemic, and we see gendered impacts in the health system including unmet health needs and hospital admissions for anxiety and eating disorders.
Gender-Based Violence during COVID-19Monday, November 15 18:00 - 19:00
This panel will discuss how repeated stay-at-home orders have increased risks of gender-based violence for girls, women and gender-diverse people living in violent situations.
Women in Racialized CommunitiesMonday, November 15 18:00 - 19:00
This panel will discuss how women in black and other racialized communities have experienced greater risks of economic losses, more challenges in accessing the social safety net and essentials such as adequate and stable housing, all while also facing disproportionate risks of COVID exposure
Protecting Public AdviceTuesday, November 16 09:00 - 10:00
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for public advice and debate that includes experts with knowledge relevant to the pandemic, unfettered by bullying, harassment, threats, and other forms of pressure to be silent or compliant. Canadians need public health advocates and scholars who can participate in the frank and open exchange of information and advice as well as contribute robust responses to misinformation and disinformation.
Of particular concern is evidence that women and people of colour are disproportionately targeted for harassment, undermining mental health and impeding career progress as well as disrupting open and rigorous public debate. The pressure is exerted in various ways. Most notorious are coordinated attacks by social media trolls and bots. Most concerning are threats of violence from individuals. Nuisance lawsuits, complaints to employers, repeated unwanted contacts, and smear campaigns are also part of the larger picture. Such inappropriate pressure to withdraw from public discussion, or change statements, can come not only from individuals and “twitter mobs” but also institutions, governments, donors, and colleagues.
In the context of evolving knowledge and complex problems, experts can differ. In the context of competing public needs, policy recommendations can vary. Reasonable, evidence-informed public debate and education cannot thrive if experts are chased out of the public square, and the loudest voices, rather than the best evidence and well-tested arguments, dominate discussion. Policies are needed to recognize and respond to such abuse in order to protect, and proactively nurture, the flow of accurate information.
Chaired by Dr. Julia Wright, the Working Group on Protecting Public Advice is preparing a Policy Briefing that will analyze key policy gaps and develop recommendations on:
a) communications education (including media training, science communication, etc.) and best-practices information for experts to mitigate personal risks and increase the effectiveness of research communications. This should include education on actions that can support targeted experts or counter disinformation campaigns, for instance by amplifying supportive hashtags or reporting bots and trolls.
b) policies and practices at public institutions on advising and supporting experts who experience bullying and other inappropriate forms of pressure, in consultation with research agencies and professional bodies (including unions), such as public statements of support, legal support, insurance, and/or security.
c) coordination among professional and academic associations to provide solutions specific to particular disciplines and fields, including healthcare professions.
d) government policy and legislative changes that not only defend the key principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression but also provide tools to address coordinated attacks, particularly those which draw on hate speech and/or seek to undermine our democracy and public health. These may include funding to support public education initiatives that can identify and respond quickly to misinformation campaigns.
The Policy Briefing is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2021.
Academic Freedom and ResponsibilityTuesday, November 16 10:30 - 11:30
Fundamental questions regarding the role of the university in contemporary society crystallize around what constitutes academic freedom. While this notion is arguably meant to protect a safe space of critique of or dissent from state or corporate control, the university is increasingly dependent on both sectors for the resources it needs to function, expected to produce economically productive citizens, and offer the central avenue for social mobility in a stratified society – all of which imbricate it in the very interests it is meant to be free to critique.
The notion of academic freedom is also meant to protect a safe space of knowledge production, understood as a process separable from immediate social, economic or political interests or conditions. This understanding has been destabilized as we increasingly see knowledge production as a situated, political, social construction – with the inevitable result of requiring debate over what should count as legitimate knowledge and why. To the extent to which the university did indeed democratize in the period following WWII, it has increased the diversity of stakeholders, and therefore of voices and positions and interests in defining legitimate knowledge.
The university is a participant in contemporary reckonings with the violences of colonialism and capitalism, past and present, especially as linked to a wide variety of patterns of domination, including systemic racism and patriarchy. This leads to questions about the university as a legitimate and privileged space of knowledge production, as a source indeed of authorization, or what we might call “expertise”.
Somewhere, then, the notion of a space safe for dissent encounters the notion of a space capable of exerting a violence of its own, as we try to hold in one frame the ideas of academic freedom, human dignity and equity of access to resources.
The RSC has constituted a Working Group on Academic Freedom and Responsibility to: 1) to articulate the core elements of what these debates have in common: what the core issues are; 2) to summarize key elements of major perspectives on these issues; 3) to provide a set of principles and goals which might be useful as a guide to thinking through specific cases.
Outcomes of the Working Group’s efforts will form the basis of discussion at the 2021 COEE.
Supporting Displaced ScholarsTuesday, November 16 10:30 - 11:30
In early 2021, the RSC College began a process toward establishing an initiative to advance inclusive excellence by acknowledging exceptional and high-achieving At-Risk and Displaced Academics and Artists (ARDAA) in Canada. Our ARDAA initiative aligns with a Universities Canada priority of reducing some of the ‘barriers to equity, diversity and inclusivity on campus and in society’, and establishes a link with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (2015), which challenges people to work together to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’.
Aware of international precedents, the RSC initiative led by the College is developing a “Made-In-Canada” approach. This event provides an opportunity to discuss the possibilities of the programme and next steps.
Building a Healthier Canada: Strengthening the Workforce and Canadian Health Care InstitutionsTuesday, November 16 13:00 - 15:30
Since its establishment in April 2020, the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 has commissioned a series of studies related to health and health care in Canada, including Policy Briefings on Long-Term Care, Homelessness, Epidemiology, and Excess Deaths due to COVID-19.
In the fall of 2021, the RSC will publish a series of Policy Briefings that will animate discussion on how to build a healthier Canada coming out of COVID-19. Themes of upcoming Policy Briefings that will animate the symposium include:
Strengthening Health Care in Canada Post-COVID-19, chaired by Dr. Linda Rabeneck
The Future of the Health Care Workers in Canada, chaired by Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy
Building Better Hospitals, chaired by Dr. Noel Gibney
RSC and Let's Talk Science: One HealthTuesday, November 16 13:00 - 15:30
In April 2021, the RSC and Let’s Talk Science announced a multi-year partnership in which the RSC will provide information on cutting edge climate research and the latest insights from across disciplines and across generations to be integrated into the award-winning programming of Let’s Talk Science.
The objective of the partnership is to provide up to 600,000 Canadian youth from early years to Grade 12 with meaningful opportunities at no cost to make informed decisions and develop the skills they need to succeed in the future.
On November 16, the RSC and Let’s Talk Science are co-organizing a symposium focusing on biodiversity and its relationship with climate change. The symposium will be open to all Canadians.
Reducing Harm Through DecriminalizationTuesday, November 16 16:00 - 17:00
COVID-19 has shone a light on the adverse impact of Canada’s legislative approach to people who use drugs and the significant harms they suffer as a result. The pandemic has worsened an already devastating opioid epidemic. There has been an increased number of overdose deaths since March 2020. It is therefore imperative to ensure that, as Canadian society recovers from COVID-19, we make it a priority to address the human rights of people who use drugs.
It is well-documented that a number of significant harms result from the criminalization of drugs for personal use. Criminalization results in adverse health impacts because it increases harms associated with drug use such as increased risk of infectious disease and an increased risk of violence. Criminalization also interferes with the delivery of essential public health measures to people who use drugs. Importantly, criminalization has a disproportionate impact on racialized groups in Canada, leading to intergenerational incarceration cycles and trauma.
The RSC Working Group on Harm Reduction will include experts from multiple disciplines as well as input and narratives from people with lived experience. The Working Group will contextualize the criminal law regime for the control of drugs in Canada including the constitutional considerations relevant to the ongoing criminalization of personal possession and the likely impacts of Bill C-22, which proposes a series of reforms to Canada’s current criminal law framework.
Through an analysis of the adverse impacts associated with the Canadian legislative regime on people who use drugs, the Working Group will recommend elements of a Canadian framework for drug decriminalization in Canada.
The Policy Briefing is scheduled for publication in the late summer of 2021.
Royally Wronged: The RSC and Indigenous PeoplesTuesday, November 16 16:00 - 17:00
The Royal Society of Canada elects to its membership leading scholars in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences, providing its “seal of excellence” to those who advance artistic and intellectual knowledge in Canada. The RSC’s membership has historically been overwhelmingly white and male. Duncan Campbell Scott, one of the architects of the notorious Indian residential school system, served as its President and dominated its activities for many years. Many other members played a significant role in shaping knowledge systems rooted in colonialism, that built and implemented policies that have proven catastrophic for Indigenous communities. This volume of essays begins to explore how Royal Society scholars helped to construct the intellectual foundations that shored up white-settler privilege and erased the knowledge contributions of Indigenous peoples.
The impetus for this book began when Cindy Blackstock, a well-known Indigenous member of the RSC, brought the Society’s linkages with Duncan Campbell Scott to our attention, and urged us to make further inquiries into our Society’s history and on-going responsibility for Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The RSC created a Task Force on Truth and Reconciliation. Its members conceived the idea of a volume of interdisciplinary essays on this topic and discussed how a collaborative process might produce this. A call for papers brought the RSC authors together, and they produced the chapters that constitute this book.
These interdisciplinary essays, authored primarily by current RSC members, explore the historical contribution of the RSC and of Canadian scholars to the production of ideas and policies that underpin the disastrous interaction of settlers with Indigenous peoples. The historical essays focus upon the RSC’s founding in 1882 to the mid-twentieth century. The later chapters bring the discussion forward to the present, documenting some of the first steps taken to change these damaging patterns, and challenging the Society and Canadian scholars more generally to make substantial changes for the future.
COVID-19, Children and SchoolsTuesday, November 16 18:00 - 19:00
The RSC Working Group on Children and Schools is developing a Policy Briefing on how to approach the engagement of children in schools during the pandemic.
Deepening and Broadening Political Institutions in CanadaTuesday, November 16 18:00 - 19:00
Pandemic-related challenges of political representation have been visible throughout the Canadian political system. Some elected legislatures, including our federal Parliament, quickly adopted digital technologies to enable members to meet from across the country. Others simply stopped meeting; in Nova Scotia, for instance, the legislative assembly met for just a single day in the year that followed the pandemic.
While these responses have raised concerns about the health and resilience of our democratic institutions, they have also created new opportunities for legislators – digital voting, reduced travel, more time in constituencies – that have the potential to increase equity for elected representatives and improve responsiveness for citizens.
At the same time, major challenges related to the role of expertise in our political system have been equally apparent throughout the pandemic. In a democratic society, the necessary expertise involved in an optimal response to a societal threat involves much more than public health – it also implicates economics, behavioural science, public administration, sociology, and more. While our elected leaders’ willingness to defer to expert advice has been impressive, it has also raised important questions. For example, how much should decision-making authority rest with experts versus those with democratic mandates? What forms of expertise should we empower? How can universities and professional organizations be engaged? And what about the persistent challenge of data – by many accounts, we have too little data in this country, and use the data we do have is mobilized much too slowly.
Chaired by Dr. Peter Loewen, the RSC Working Group on Political Representation and Expertise will focus on establishing an evidence base from which recommendations can be developed to improve our existing systems of expertise, particularly in provincial and federal public services, while also incorporating new and diverse forms of expertise into our policy making processes.Key questions include:
1.How can we improve existing institutions and practices in Canadian politics and policy? That is, how can we deepen and strengthen them?
2. How can we construct new institutions and practices to increase inclusion in Canadian politics and policy? That is, how can we broaden them?
The Policy Briefing is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2021.
G7: Health Data in CanadaWednesday, November 17 16:00 - 17:00
In 2020, the RSC G7 Research Summit focused on the Future of Digital Health. In the spring of 2021, the Science Academies of the G7 published a statement on Data for International Health Emergencies. The RSC then struck a Working Group to take stock of emerging opportunities in light of lessons learned from the pandemic. This panel will review findings and outline next steps.
G7: One HealthWednesday, November 17 16:00 - 17:00
In lieu of a static definition, One Health is best described as incorporating concepts of interconnectedness of systems across human, animal and ecological determinants of health. The interdependence across systems ensures wellness when health is supported, and risks nefarious knock-on effects when it is not. The COVID-19 pandemic has vividly illustrated these interconnections.
Key principles and concepts that underscore One Health include equity, reciprocal care (within and between species and habitats), resilience, global engagement, security (health, food, water) and multidisciplinary collaboration. Many of these and additional principles are already integral to Indigenous knowledge, creating common pathways to One Health.
Chaired by Dr. Samira Mubareka, The RSC Working Group on One Health is focusing on establishing the evidence base from which recommendations will be developed that optimize feasibility and the potential for significant impact for One Health in an imminent post-pandemic future. These will include health promotion and equity, research and education for evidence-based One Health, pathogen surveillance and risk determination, land use and protection (biodiversity, landscape immunity) and vulnerable regions, species and populations.
The global nature of One Health requires not only inclusivity and bidirectional knowledge transfer and engagement, but also transboundary and multi-agency understanding and action, relying on multilateral, whole of government(s) approaches to complex challenges. The Working Group anticipates an emphasis on inter-governmental collaboration.
In order to achieve fulfill its mandate, the Working Group encompasses expertise in wildlife, companion and agricultural animal and human health clinical practice, epidemiology, research and education; infectious diseases; viral zoonoses and special pathogens; global biosecurity; indigenous knowledge; environmental sustainability, justice and governance; biocultural diversity and policy development from both national and global perspectives.
Membership of the Working Group draws on numerous Canadian academic centres, Global Affairs Canada, the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (CFIA) and the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, and aims to include expertise in climate and circumpolar health.
The Policy Briefing is scheduled for publication in September 2021.
McGill Symposium |Lessons Learned From COVID-19: Impacts, Consequences, Learnings and Looking ForwardThursday, November 18 08:45 - 17:00
The subject of the symposium is the biological, medical and other knowledge that has been obtained through the unprecedented response from the scientific community to COVID-19, and the lessons for future science policy. COVID-19 has led to an unparalleled engagement from the scientific, medical, public health and pharmaceutical industries to combat the pandemic. The many successes include the development of new therapies and vaccines in record time, but the complicated and severe sequelae of the disease are likely to remain as significant health problems for many years to come. Important scientific questions, such as the degree and duration of protection after vaccination in the face of new virus mutation, remain to be addressed. The pandemic has also revealed important issues about public policy, scientific preparedness and need for on-going investment in science to meet future needs. These and other issues will be examined during the symposium.
Presentation of New Members of the RSC CollegeFriday, November 19 13:00 - 14:30
This ceremony welcomes new Members of the College in a format that showcases the interdisciplinary character of the College.
Celebrating the Class of 2014 of the RSC CollegeFriday, November 19 19:00 - 21:00
At the 2021 Celebration of Excellence and Engagement, the inaugural cohort of the RSC College – elected in 2014 – will complete their term as members. In honor of their ongoing achievements, and to celebrate this momentous occasion in the history of the RSC and of Canada, members of The Class of 2014 will convene to update Canadians on their continued journey in research, performance and scholarship.
RSC Annual Meeting of the MembersSaturday, November 20 10:00 - 11:30
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM), the membership formally reviews the RSC’s finances, considers proposed changes to bylaws, and elects RSC Board of Directors
RSC Café: Members Lightning TalksSaturday, November 20 13:00 - 15:30
From start to finish, ‘Lightning Talks’ are no more than six minutes, and the slides rotate automatically. Button your seatbelt for highspeed scholarship! Presentations will include new Fellows from all Academies and new Members of the RSC College.
The 2021 Romanowski LectureSaturday, November 20 16:30 - 17:30
This lecture provides a forum to explore some of the most urgent challenges facing the environment, and the research that is contributing to addressing these challenges.