There is a need to come together as a policy community to outline economic and social policy responses in real time

Like many Canadians, over the past week we have been finding ways to help family, friends, neighbours and our community. And we have benefited from the kindness of others. Like most Canadians, we want to do more.

We aren’t doctors or nurses, grocery store clerks or delivery people, counsellors or artists, personal support workers or cleaners. We can’t manufacture personal protective equipment. And we aren’t experts on public health or the epidemiology of pandemics. We will leave those discussions to others.

What we do have is decades of experience designing and implementing economic and social policy and programs for governments.

In the coming days we will launch a dedicated website, which will summarize and amplify policy and program ideas being discussed by policy professionals nationally, internationally and at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels to respond to the covid-19 economic calamity.

Our goal is to bring the Canadian policy community together to highlight the best economic and social policy ideas to keep us afloat and together. Our focus will be on those ideas that can get Canadians through the immediate crisis and prepare us to come out of it.

Everyone with expertise, regardless of their political orientation or partisanship, needs to mobilize and engage now to help governments think through the unprecedented design of programs in real time in response to the greatest economic calamity in our life times.

Businesses are closing and people are losing jobs in unprecedented numbers, at unprecedented speed, on an unprecedented global scale.

Now is a time to be creative and ambitious. “Too slow, too small, too traditional” is a much greater risk than “too fast, too much, too weird.”

We hope the policy community — including frontline leaders and policymakers, and those in the private sector, labour, academia, and the not-for-profit sector — engages with us. We are especially keen to add voices and organizations that bring further diversity to our group and this work. We will do our best to amplify your work. We hope to help bring together the community of public policy first responders.

Join our community by following us on Twitter handle (@PolicyResponse), and by signing up to our mailing list here. We will send out a notification when the website formally launches later this week.

If you would like to join the project, contribute a post, or have us link to work that exists elsewhere, please e-mail

Policy Response is currently a project of the Ryerson Leadership Lab, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, and Matthew Mendelsohn. This is a work in progress and we welcome other institutions to join and shape this project.

As Karim argues here, all of us now need to mobilize whatever resources we have to contribute to the well-being of our communities and our fellow citizens. This is what we can do.

Stay healthy and safe,

Matthew Mendelsohn, Sean Mullin, Karim Bardeesy