In a message to the PPF community, our President & CEO Edward Greenspon addresses how PPF is re-calibrating and conceiving of new forms of digital engagement.

Dear PPF friends,

Like many organizations, the Public Policy Forum has been forced by circumstances to take some tough decisions over the past couple of weeks.

Canada and the world are going through a crisis with little modern precedent. I read an article over the weekend about the Spanish Influenza that swept the world a century ago.

It served as a yet another reminder of the differences good public policy decisions and bad public policy decisions make on the real lives of Canadians. PPF’s motto is ‘Good Policy. Better Canada,’ which, in the case of the coronavirus, means lives saved or lives lost. Policy consequences don’t get more meaningful than that.

Nor does the reliance we place in our public institutions to inspire confidence and trust. On behalf of PPF and I believe on behalf of all our members, allow me to express our gratitude to the public health professionals, government officials and others working to keep Canadians informed and protected in this trying time.

The Public Policy Forum was created in the mid-1980s to help a range of stakeholders – from governments to the private sector and academia, trade unions and others – map out policy pathways to help craft a better future. We are a different kind of think tank, one devoted to practical, applied policy solutions. Almost all our work involves some degree of convening alongside our research. In a period when bringing people together has become problematic, our team is conceiving of new forms of engagement that leverage the tools of a digital world.

Interestingly, the need to recalibrate has unleashed a whirlwind of creativity from our team. The period of ‘business as unusual’ that is upon us promises to deliver – alongside the disruption and anxiety – a jolt of innovation and, hopefully, a renewed sense of social solidarity.

For us, it isn’t just a matter of gathering people online rather than off-line. That’s the easy part. It is also that we can reach further afield in showcasing the leading thinkers, doers and deciders on a given subject and we can be more inclusive of those for whom geographical separation puts up a barrier to participation. We can use time – your time – in different ways and we can experiment with different story-telling methods.

Some of our events are moving to virtual channels. Some may become hybrids. All will have something special to them. We will also strive to remain relevant to the issues of the day, including the health and economic consequences of the current crisis. Please stay tuned for more information.

In the case of our annual Canada Growth Summit and Testimonial Dinner & Awards, the team decided last Tuesday morning to reschedule this major undertaking to Oct. 15 from April 2. We chose to act quickly, decisively and put down a marker on the future. By mid-October, we hope the country and world will have come through the current predicament and that the economy will also be on the mend. The Growth Summit will provide an opportunity to explore long-term initiatives to restore growth. The Testimonial Dinner will afford us an opportunity to double down on our regular celebrations of public service values, at a time when they are top of mind for Canadians.

We are gratified by the response we’ve received from our ticket holders and event sponsors following our recent decisions. They’ve told us they appreciate PPF acting swiftly and with clarity – and that they will be standing with us in the fall. For non-profits, at a time like this, such support is especially important and especially appreciated. In turn, we promise to think through how we can use this challenging moment to up our game.We all like to think of ourselves as learning organizations. If we truly are, the country will come out of this latest challenge with improved ways of going about its business. We will be more efficient and more effective. And, I trust, we will also emerge with a sharper appreciation for the critical role good policy plays in building a better Canada and world.

Stay safe,
Edward Greenspon
President & CEO, Public Policy Forum