Reliable, authoritative, and frequently communicated information by the Government of Canada has been a flagship success of the COVID-19 response; however, science and health disinformation persist. Indeed, a global pandemic may demonstrate both why it is so critical to find a path forward on addressing health and science disinformation, and the role that the federal government may play moving forward. Science and health disinformation is not new, but the ever-deepening of the challenge has been amplified by COVID-19.

In June 2020, PPF produced Science Disinformation in a Time of Pandemic. This project leveraged interviews with key stakeholders and an expert roundtable focused on responding and mobilizing future action on the issue of science and health disinformation. The paper argued that science has long been poorly understood by the greater public, but while a fascination with pseudoscience predates the rise of social media, the algorithms of the new media environment reward ever more outrageous content.

The report’s concluding thought was “from now on, if we value reason and scientific understanding, we must recognize that we are in a propaganda war, and it is permanent.” Further, our roundtable demonstrated a desire for practical and tactical recommendations to the federal government on the role that it can play to address health and science disinformation. The implications are very real for issues that are top of mind for Canadians including health and the environment.

This project will produce a recommendations document that may seek to answer the following questions:

  • What role should the Government of Canada and relevant departments, including Health Canada and ISED, take on in addressing health and science disinformation?
  • What instruments and mechanisms are relevant and available to Government in responding to health and science disinformation?
  • What outcomes should Government be responsible for when addressing health and science disinformation?
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