In this month’s guide to all things PPF: Freeing health care and managing unrest on campus

Unlocking Health Care: How to free the flow of life-saving health data in Canada

What if every patient in Canada had a single electronic medical record accessible at all health institutions, facilitating the diagnostic use of artificial intelligence? What if all Canadians had subsidized personal wearables that were deeply integrated into day-to-day health care system use? PPF’s latest report, Unlocking Health Care: How to Free the Flow of Life-Saving Health Data in Canada, asks why information that increasingly determines the health and wellness of Canadians isn’t as readily available to them as banking or census data. The report sounds the alarm about Canada’s chronic, subpar performance on data, the vital currency of a digital-age system. Among its recommendations: get rid of faxes for the transmission of medical data by the end of 2024; go paperless by 2028; and incentivize wearable technology for medical use, either through tax measures or consumer rebates. The report was written by award-winning journalist Christina Frangou and informed by a panel of experts.

An illustration of a specialized LNG tanker in the ocean

How to Have it All: LNG, a green economy and reconciliation

Depending on your perspective, natural gas is either a fading industry, a vital transition fuel, or a long-term energy solution. PPF’s report on LNG, How to Have it All, examines the issue through the lens of the four main stakeholders: the federal government, the provincial governments, First Nations and industry. And it asks a key question: Can this become a win-win-win-win?

Also: Don’t miss our episode of the WONK podcast featuring Chief Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation Council, discussing the Indigenous-led and -owned Cedar LNG project.

Illustration of a bridge and trucks moving on it. Cargo ships are on the water.

Open Atlantic: How breaking down trade barriers could supercharge Atlantic Canada’s economy

Interprovincial trade barriers exist largely as an archaic attempt by provinces to protect jobs, yet they’re a significant drag on economic growth and productivity. While they’re a big problem across the country, they have become an especially big frustration in Atlantic Canada, stifling competition and discouraging investment. A new PPF report, Open Atlantic: How breaking down trade barriers could supercharge Atlantic Canada’s economy, drills down on the impact of these non-tariff barriers (NTBs), and how getting rid of them could have huge benefits for the region. The report is the second in a series examining key forces affecting Atlantic momentum.

Our newest directors

This week PPF’s Board of Directors welcomed three new members. Gitane De Silva, Alicia Dubois and Greg Orencsak will sit alongside Chair Ilse Treurnicht and PPF’s other 14 directors, whose deep expertise in public policy, business, economics, politics and government help guide the organization. A little background on our newest directors:

Gitane De Silva, Former CEO of the Canada Energy Regulator

Before Ms. De Silva’s time at the CEG she was Alberta’s Senior Representative to the United States, where she worked to enhance bilateral trade and cooperation. She also served as Alberta’s Deputy Minister for International and Intergovernmental Relations, joining Alberta’s public service after a career in Canada’s Foreign Service.

Alicia Dubois, Former CEO of the Royal BC Museum

Ms. Dubois served as the inaugural CEO of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation and just before that, as a member of the executive team at CIBC where she created, launched and established the bank’s Indigenous Markets strategy. She lends her expertise as a board member, co-founder and strategic advisor to various groups committed to advancing Indigenous self-determination and wellbeing.

Greg Orencsak, Ontario Deputy Finance Minister

Appointed as Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Finance in 2018, Mr. Orencsak also chairs the Ontario Financing Authority. His career in the Ontario Public Service has included working as Associate Deputy Minister of the Office of the Budget and Treasury Board in the Ministry of Finance, Deputy Minister of Government Services, Deputy Minister of Treasury Board Secretariat, Chair of the Public Service Commission and Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development.


Stylised image of Edward Greenspon, PPF's President and CEO and WONK podcast host

On the latest episodes of PPF’s new podcast WONK, with host Edward Greenspon:

  • Chief Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation Council is the guiding force behind a multi-billion-dollar LNG project on Haisla territory that is fast becoming a model for Indigenous-led and owned development. She talks about the dramatic changes in her hometown of Kitamaat Village, overcoming environmental opposition to LNG and her hopes for the future.

  • Anne McLellan was called ‘Landslide Annie’ for her nail-biting wins as a Liberal MP in Alberta. She talks about working for Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, why Alberta is misunderstood and Canada’s lack of focus on long-term growth.

  • Dr. Vivek Goel is one of the top public health researchers and an ace up Canada’s sleeve when the pandemic hit. He’s also the president of the University of Waterloo. He joined WONK to explain the unrest in higher education institutions, and what a better pandemic response could have looked like. (Thank you to Johnson & Johnson for sponsoring this episode.)

The high price of health misinformation: Canadians encounter large amounts of misinformation about health and health systems, and it’s taking a toll on their well-being, writes Christina Frangou. Her report looked at research released Jan. 30 from the Canadian Medical Association and Abacus Data. Dr. Kathleen Ross, who is president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and a family physician in Coquitlam and New Westminster, B.C., said the findings highlight the need for Canadians to have access to family physicians. “Physicians are trusted sources of health information for our patients and their families due to our expertise, experience and commitment to providing accurate and reliable data-driven answers to complex questions (that are) essential to combat misinformation,” she said.

New research from PPF member organization FRIENDS similarly shows rising concern around harmful online content. FRIENDS Executive Director Marla Boltman writes: “More than half of Canadians, 56 percent, report struggling with false or misleading information online.”

PPF Explains Alberta electrical grid troubles: A record January cold snap in Alberta brought emergency warnings asking people to curb their electricity consumption or face blackouts. It sparked a heated debate about the use of renewables and the challenges of a net-zero future. Why has Alberta’s grid seemed so fragile, and how did the power troubles devolve into a political fight? We break down the big questions.

PPF Explains green hydrogen: Discussion about wind power in Canada often cites the potential for green hydrogen exports. The abundant element holds a key to a net-zero future. But its economic viability depends critically on abundant, clean, cheap electricity. Here’s everything you need to know.

A weekly dose of health security: PPF’s latest newsletter focuses on health security in the post-pandemic world. Issue #1 looks at the alarming rise of measles in Europe, new findings on HPV vaccines, and the worries of family doctors in Alberta. Subscribe now.

Also subscribe to our Atlantic Momentum newsletter: a key source of important economic and policy news for thousands of devoted followers.

Pharma fixes: What will it take to ensure Canadians have reliable access to new life-saving drugs in the future? A PPF member roundtable gathered participants from private industry, government, the health research ecosystem and Canadian biotech. Read our report from that discussion.


Our Testimonial Dinner Award honourees

The honourees at this year’s Testimonial Dinner Awards include: Janice Charette, Marc Garneau, Jayna Hefford, Murad Al-Katib, JP Gladu and Paul Wells.

All the honourees will be celebrated at PPF’s next Testimonial Dinner Honour Roll on April 11, 2024 in Toronto. More than 1,200 leaders and policy wonks from all sectors of society will gather to pay tribute to distinguished Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to public policy and good governance. Take a look at the 2023 edition, and register now.

Book Your Spot

Canada Growth Summit 2024: Fixing productivity, once and for all

Our annual summit kicks off with a breakfast to discuss the latest developments in Indigenous ownership, followed by an all-day, solutions-based look at Canada’s failing productivity as seen through the lens of immigration, housing and the role of AI. Set within a global and domestic context, this can’t-miss event includes a roster of leading thinkers focused on solving one of Canada’s most pressing problems, including: Murad Al-Katib, Ramtin Attar, Edoardo De Martin, Chief Sharleen Gale, John Hannaford, Simon Kennedy, Laura Lee Langley, Shingai Manjengwa, Alvaro Santos Pereira, Mikal Skuterud and Trevor Tombe.

The summit will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Register here.


Navigating AI Governance

Join us in navigating the ever-evolving AI policy landscape with the AI Policy Compass program. Whether you’re a policymaker in government or engaged in AI governance across various sectors, this program is tailored for you. Proudly partnered with Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, registration is open for programs offered from March to June 2024 in Ottawa, Montreal, and Edmonton. Our last session was sold out, so don’t miss your chance to sign up for this one! Visit our website for program details and registration: AI Policy Compass program.

Policy Leadership Program

Introducing the spring 2024 edition of the Policy Leadership Program, in collaboration with the Telfer School of Management (University of Ottawa). This edition includes an overhauled curriculum, crafted by our new program director, Rachel Wernick, a former assistant deputy minister. The Policy Leadership Program (PLP) empowers federal government policy specialists with cutting-edge strategies, insights and practical tools to elevate their policymaking leadership. Don’t miss the chance to benefit from early bird pricing — register by March 31, and seize this tailored opportunity for professional growth.

Action Canada Fellowship

Applications for the 2024/25 Action Canada Fellowship are now open! Emerging leaders from across the country, from all sectors and backgrounds are encouraged to apply to Canada’s top accelerator for policy leaders, by March 11.

Action Canada’s prestigious program enhances emerging leaders’ understanding of the country and public policy options through four key elements: facilitating connections between Fellows and Canadian leaders, facilitating policy discussions, assigning challenging projects, and coordinating ambitious travel experiences.

To learn more about the fellowship, register for an information session: Click here for the session in English on Feb. 13 from 12-1 p.m. ET or here for the session in French on Feb. 15 from 12-1 p.m. ET.

Emerging Indigenous Leaders

Indspire and Action Canada have embarked on a partnership to support the development of the next generation of Indigenous leaders. A cohort of Indigenous Fellows will be selected and be part of the greater cohort. Sign up here to join the information session on Feb. 20 from 12-1 p.m. ET.


PPF’s Unlocking Health Care report was widely covered across the country. An initial report from The Canadian Press was carried on CTV, CBC, CP24, Global, the Toronto Star, the National Post, National Newswatch and radio stations across the country, and then followed up with a flurry of interviews.

Globe and Mail reporter Jason Kirby produced his much-anticipated year in charts roundup. The 2024 edition featured PPF Fellow Brett House on the likelihood of interest rate cuts and PPF board member Jim Stanford on labour strife and work stoppages.

Coverage of PPF’s Catching the Wind report continues, this time with an in-depth report on offshore wind from Saltwire.

PPF Fellow Janet Annesley appeared on CTV national news to discuss Alberta blackout warnings.

PPF’s own explainer on Alberta’s grid trouble, part of a series called PPF Explains, was noted in POLITICO’s widely read Ottawa Playbook newsletter.

PPF President and CEO Edward Greenspon’s “Six pragmatic solutions to get the energy transition back on track” was republished on The Hub. Number one on the list: “Embrace a binary energy transition: We need to pursue two simultaneous tracks—decarbonizing incumbent energy systems while developing a new, more technological system. There is no on-off switch. One without the other risks having supply fall out of sync with demand, exposing people to confidence-sapping price spikes and supply disruptions.”

PPF Fellow (and much sought-after economist) Brett House talked about economic trends with CBS Insights, the labour market and layoffs with the Washington Post, the municipal bond market with the Boston Globe, public debt, deficits and inflation with USA Today, and economic projections with POLITICO. Also check out his regular radio spot, Dollars and Sense.

PPF Fellow Glen Hodgson, along with Diana Smallridge, put out a briefing about Indigenous loan guarantees. Their report is here.

Fellow Sunil Johal was on BNN Bloomberg to discuss modular construction and a new report from the CSA Public Policy Centre. “Modular really represents an opportunity to give the construction sector different options to help meet that significant demand by fabricating different building components or modules in an off-site controlled factory environment,” he tells BNNBloomberg.


Last month’s ‘Know your wonk’ quiz yielded no perfect scores. We got a little sneaky with this: the answer to every question was “Both.” If you missed it — and want to learn about the uncanny similarities between the CVs of Edward Greenspon and Paul Wells — you can find it here (scroll to the bottom).

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