The prospect of wise governments: The Canadian experience of policy learning in and after COVID‑19 pandemic
The COVID‑19 pandemic underlines the importance of global health issues and the important role that public authorities at all levels of government must play to detect and contain the outbreak. Despite numerous efforts to improve health systems in Canada, these systems are ill or insufficiently prepared to face challenges such as COVID-19. Our research project looks at short and mid-term strategies used by provincial and federal governments in Canada to deal with the pandemic and how they adapt to this challenging situation. Attention will be paid to how governments can be better equipped for policy learning, a crucial ingredient for adaptive policy work during crises and for effective policy-making more generally. Policy learning can be defined as a process where policy actors accumulate data and evidence, develop and draw on expertise, and adjust policy beliefs in order to deal with collective problems like a pandemic. It is expected that demands for policy learning increase when governments face catastrophic events or massive emergencies like the COVID‑19 pandemic. The objective of our research is to identify and understand conditions and processes associated with policy learning among governments in Canada during and in the aftermath of the COVID‑19 pandemic. More specifically, our research focuses on 1) the identification of government needs for policy learning associated with the COVID‑19 pandemic, 2) on the challenges faced by governments in policy learning during and after the pandemic, 3) on understanding policy work performed by policy-makers within governments and policy leaders outside governments 4) on the identification of innovations put in place by governments to increase learning and improve policy outcomes. This research will provide key information on strategies that governments can mobilize to increase their ability to learn and deal more effectively with major policy problems in time of crisis as well as in less disruptive times.