PPF Insider: The opportunities and risks of AI
PPF ACADEMY: A NEW LEARNING PROGRAM
Inside the opportunities, and risks, of AI
PPF Academy and Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute are launching a new learning program called AI Policy Compass: Navigating the Opportunities and Risks of AI. Designed to provide decision-makers and policymakers with a foundational understanding of AI technology, the program includes an audit of current and emerging applications, as well as risks and transformative opportunities across a range of fields. This introduction to the latest legal and regulatory approaches to AI governance around the world teaches an essential understanding needed to shape the future of AI governance. We’ll be offering one version of this program for high-level decision-makers, and another for public policymakers; registration is open now, and courses include various sessions from August to December.
Public Policy Leadership Program: The seventh edition
Registration has opened for our incredibly successful Public Policy Leadership Program, now in its seventh edition. Offered with Telfer School of Management, this program develops innovative policy leaders able to navigate an increasingly complex government system. The program enhances participants’ understanding of policy challenges, going in-depth on one current policy issue and tracking how a multi-layered policy issue evolves while also developing key leadership skills. The hybrid learning program will take place from October to December, with some in-person sessions in Ottawa, and some online. Visit ppforum.ca for the full course outline, and to register.
ICYMI: Atlantic Dinner Transcripts
Missed the compelling Fredericton fireside chat between former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and PPF CEO Edward Greenspon last month? We got you. We’ve posted a full transcript and captured it on video, together with a gripping award speech by Anastasia Qupee, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation and one of three commissioners on the Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System. As well, here is the Telegraph-Journal’s report on the evening (for subscribers) and the live event painting by Laura Forrester.
Takeaways from a sparkling night with Mr. McKenna include his thoughts on:
Interprovincial trade barriers – “There is no reason why we could not take down all the trade barriers between the provinces. We should. In Canada, if we took down all the trade barriers between provinces, it would increase the productivity of the nation by as much as $80 billion a year. It’s a staggering commentary on our country that we can have free trade with Europe, with Asia, with the United States, but we don’t have free trade within Canada. So yes, we could do it within our region.”
Productivity and innovation in Atlantic Canada – “It’s not an easy problem to solve because you have to go right back into the school system, you have to make sure that those who were left behind are brought up, we need to reskill people, unemployment insurance has not been our friend over the years in that it’s left a lot of people clinging to marginal jobs with substandard skills and we need to make sure they’re not left behind, we need to bring people up.”
Micro-credentialing immigrants – “We need to micro-credential immigrants coming in. There is nothing that is more repugnant to me than some highly trained doctor who is working in a retail store because they can’t practice their trade.”
Problems inherent in growth – “With growth comes the problems of growth, and they’re well-known – housing, even though we’ve spent $900 million on housing in the last two years, we’re still short tens of thousands of units of housing. That could be dealt with, I think we have a willing federal partner in that. Health care, it’s … an expensive challenge as well, but in my submission health care needs to be more efficient anyway and needs to respond to this.”
Atlantic Canada’s secret sauce – “We’re neighbours. If you shaft somebody, it’s likely somebody that you know or is one of your neighbours or part of your family. And if you’re in trouble, you can almost count on people piling in to help you out. I grew up in a little farming community where if somebody’s barn blew down, within three or four days, all of the local people would come together and put it back up again. I come from communities where if there’s a death in the family, everybody rallies around that family. You can’t put a price on that, on love and respect and social cohesion. And we have that in spades here in Atlanta Canada.”
How AI and tech could change Canadian health care
The explosion in technology and artificial intelligence is opening the door to big changes and improvements in health care. But Canada is a decade behind some of the best practices in the world, says Dr. Victoria Lee, the president and CEO of the Fraser Health Authority.
At a recent PPF members’ event, Dr. Lee was joined by Dr. Steve Tierney, a medical director at Alaska’s Southcentral Foundation, to discuss how health care is being transformed by data and digital technology, and what a new system of care might look like.
Data and digitization are “not the solution but part of the enabler of system transformation that we need to undergo,” said Dr. Lee, who is part of PPF’s Taking Back Health Care project. So far, the project’s advisory panel has produced two reports: Taking Back Health Care: How to accelerate people-centred reform now, and Primary Care for Everyone: An urgent to-do list for reform.
The Southcentral Foundation is at the forefront of using technology in health care; Dr. Tierney told members how his group radically re-thought their approach to care, with some dramatic results.
Dr. Tierney said they made a strategic decision early on that in their system, everything from labs to radiology results to clinical notes to ultrasound reports would all be instantaneously available to the doctor and the patient, “so every note that I write is immediately viewable by the person I wrote it about, and there is communication function in between so we can talk about that.”
Another important shift was noting that everyone is walking around with cellphones and smartwatches, said Dr. Tierney. “We said, ‘why don’t we build (an app) off of our customer portal and merge that with the wearables you have.” The system draws in what Dr. Tierney calls self-generated data: “your home weight, your home blood pressure, your home resting heart rate, hours of sleep.”
“So you can actually begin to look at your own physiological response as we do something like a heart catheterization or add a new drug because it should affect the quality of your sleep, your respiratory rate, your resting heart rate, your heart rate variability.”
Both Dr. Lee and Dr. Tierney noted that a user-centered approach like this, with more patient involvement and data, is critical.
Read up on key takeaways from the session, and watch for Taking Back Health Care’s next report on data and digitization in the fall.
Marian Campbell Jarvis arrives at PPF
Marian Campbell Jarvis, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic & Program Policy at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, will join our team through an Interchange this month as the first PPF-Public Service Senior Fellow.
In her current role, Ms. Campbell Jarvis provides strategic policy advice and program management, including international and intergovernmental affairs, on all immigration matters to the Minister and Deputy Minister. In previous roles in the federal government, she has worked as the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Social Development Policy in the Privy Council Office; Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Minerals Sector, at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan); Director General, Strategic Policy and Operations in the Earth Sciences Sector at NRCan; and the Director then Executive Director of Strategic Policy Initiatives at Health Canada.
This fellowship represents the first iteration of a new partnership between PPF and the public service’s ADM talent management program. It is a one-year pilot project for what we hope will be a continuing Fellowship bringing public servants of Jarvis’ calibre to PPF every year to deepen knowledge of particular issues within PPF’s areas of concentration, and gain a better understanding of the country through participation in this work.
Jarvis’ assignment with PPF begins on July 17, 2023.
PPF IN THE NEWS
• Christopher Ragan, director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University, writing in the Globe and Mail on PPF’s recent report, called The $100 Billion Difference: “Since climate change is real and needs to be addressed, Canada should be committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. But we have options about how to get there. Policies that apply more-or-less equally to all sectors and regions can get us there, and they do so by spreading the economic costs across the country. With this approach, all Canadians are involved in the national project; there is no ‘us’ or ‘them.’
• PPF Fellows Victoria Kuketz and Anjum Sultana, together with Ramina Ghassemi, on immigrant women leaders in the Toronto Star: “Research shows when a society’s leaders represent the diversity of its constituents, the electorate perceives governments as more caring and trustworthy and this can also materialize into benefits such as population health and well-being.”
• PPF Fellow Shingai Manjengwa in the Toronto Star on AI and bias: The possibility of harm is why we need to be addressing bias.”
• PPF Fellow Peter Loewen writing in the Globe and Mail on why “a world of digital agents who can replace public servants is closer than we think.”
• PPF Fellow Lori Turnbull on ‘winner-take-all politics’ in Policy Options; “Three things could help reverse that trend: changes to how political parties elect their leaders; electoral reform to replace the first-past-the-post system; and lowering the voting age to 16. All of these measures would help to energize an apathetic, orphaned, and suppressed electorate.”
• PPF Fellow Sunil Johal on Toronto’s mayoral race via Smart Speakers, Newstalk 1010: “We want people more engaged with the issues, we want people thinking about the future of the city. There are really substantive issues the city is facing.”
• PPF Fellow Sean Speer on rural areas falling behind, as well as the diminishing of political debate in the Hub.
• More on our Atlantic Momentum report in New Brunswick’s Telegraph-Journal and via Saltwire.
• PPF Fellows Taylor Owen and Sean Speer on the Hub podcast, discussing Bill C-18 and the future of journalism. An excerpt:
• SEAN SPEER: What do you think the future of journalism might look like? How can the legislation serve as a bridge to a different business model or some other regime that better supports the market?
• TAYLOR OWEN: I think that’s the conversation we need to be having somewhat urgently in this country as other countries are having as well. The reasons I don’t like this as a sustainable model is that we are heading to a situation where potentially 50 percent of the costs of journalism by many organizations are covered by either a labour tax credit from the government or a content deal by the platforms. In no universe is a journalism sector funded by two of the main actors in society it should be holding accountable a desirable long-term outcome.
• Now, it may be necessary in order to keep the model alive for a certain degree of time, but I do think we have to be having much more foundational conversations about how we imagine journalism being produced and funded going forward. That will include, and I think will rapidly include, conversations about what are the current distribution model platforms in the world, and what will they be. How is something like generative AI going to displace even further the business model of news? It could. We can talk about that, but there’s many ways in which it could almost overnight do so should some of the platforms deploy it in the way they could already, let alone how it will be possible in five years.
• Perhaps even at a more base level, what kind of collective information do we think we need as a society to be a responsible democracy and be responsible democratic citizens? Are we getting that right now?
• We run a big project, the Media Ecosystem Observatory, where we study the media ecosystem in Canada, and who consumes what, and how that affects how they behave, and what they believe, and who they support politically, and so on and so forth. I tell you every trend line is bad. We are heading to a place where we do not agree increasingly on the same things. We are increasingly not just polarized, but we increasingly dislike people who believe other things. There are some really worrying trends. That is not unrelated from the question of reliable information in a democratic society, and who provides it, and how economically we build a system that can sustain it. I don’t have an easy solution. I think it’s one of the core challenges we face as a democratic society. We’re not alone. Other countries are going through this, too. I worry greatly about what happens if we don’t figure it out.
HAT TIPS TO PPF MEMBERS
PPF Member Universities Rank Among Best in World
A new report ranking 1,500 universities from around the world identified three Canadian universities in the top 100. The University of Toronto is the top Canadian institution in the QS World University Rankings at number 21, receiving high scores for sustainability and its excellent reputation. McGill University and the University of British Columbia came 30th and 34th, respectively, improving their rankings from the previous year. Congratulations to all 31 Canadian post-secondaries for making the list, 20 of whom – including those mentioned above – are PPF members!
New EDI Standards for the Canadian Mining Industry
PPF Member the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) recently published new protocols focused on improving the industry’s performance on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and to help address workforce challenges. Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) focuses on environmental practices, Indigenous participation and labour issues, among other improvement areas. The Honourable Marci Ien, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, stated, “MAC has taken a great step forward by introducing mandatory protocols on EDI in their TSM program, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this change. In an industry that is predominantly male, and white – policies like these, and the people that are ready to champion them, are a key part of making equity-seeking communities feel safe at work, while also preparing for the workforce of the future.” Learn more about how MAC is creating meaningful progress in the mining industry.
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