Public Input into Pandemic Planning

Let’s Talk About Pandemic Policy

COVID-19 policy in British Columbia is evolving as government, policy makers, and public health leaders begin easing restrictions on physical distancing and business closures—and public input is critical. What are the trade-offs and how should we manage them? What are we willing to live with and what are non-starters? We will be hosting a series of online public deliberations to find out what residents of British Columbia value, what you want and what you need, so that decision-makers can consider your recommendations as we take the next steps in our pandemic response.

There are two ways to participate:

  1. Volunteer to join a panel that will be the basis for invitations to participate over the next 12-18 months.
  2. Host your own online deliberation—or Community Conversation—with friends and family.

1. Join a Facilitated Public Deliberation

We have finished recruiting for the first deliberation in our series. Please sign up for our panel if you want to volunteer to be in future events.

What exactly will participants be discussing and deliberating? Read the deliberation questions.

NOTE: If you are selected to participate you will be asked to read our Background Information Booklet in preparation, which will take approximately 20-30 minutes. Please factor this time commitment into your decision to participate.


2. Deliberate at Home—Host a Community Conversation!

Do you live in British Columbia? You can host your own online deliberation with family, friends and neighbours and tell decision-makers what you think should come next in British Columbia’s evolving pandemic policy! What are the benefits and trade-offs associated with using contact tracing apps as we shift from crisis to management of COVID-19? Check out our Community Conversation Kit and get deliberating. You might just want to have a conversation about one or more of the deliberation questions—and that’s fine! But you can contribute to the policy discussion too. See the Community Conversation Kit for more information.


Your Voice, Your Contribution

Pandemic policy affects us all and the public’s voice is essential. Your contributions from the Community Conversations and small group deliberations will be included in a report of recommendations to decision-makers as they consider changes in British Columbia’s evolving COVID-19 response. Summaries and updates will be posted here starting in June..


About our Team

Our deliberation team is a multi-disciplinary, internationally renowned collective of researchers from British Columbia and Ontario. We have gained a breadth and depth of experience over the past 15 years through conducting public deliberations on important policy issues like cancer drug funding, biobanks, and data use and protection. Our work is widely published and has informed policies and laws, changed professional practices, and transformed how research and clinical activities are governed.

The approach to our COVID-19 deliberations series is an innovation based on methods developed by our team in 2006 and used in 25 different events in Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK. Our hybrid model incorporates a range of deliberative models to co-create recommendations on timely policy matters. Due to the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic, however, we have adapted our face-to-face approach and moved our deliberations online for the first time. As British Columbia considers a shift in its pandemic response, including easing some of the social and economic restrictions, public input is critical. As we move our deliberations online, we have tried to think about how to preserve as much of the in-person aspects as possible. Nevertheless there are risks of using video conferencing platforms, such as excluding people who don't have access to technology or are less comfortable with the technology.

It is always a challenge to bring people from diverse backgrounds into deliberations, so we made an extra effort to reach out to a range of community groups and invite them to participate. We have also encouraged people to organize their own deliberation and provide resources to help them do this.

We have not taken these decisions lightly. In various ways, the extended team has been meeting daily, and we have been taking advice from our colleagues across the globe. We are carefully designing this deliberation so that others can use and modify our approach as appropriate for their own context. Our goal is for this deliberative engagement to provide a voice for British Columbians and help inform emergent government policies and practices related to COVID-19. We anticipate this will not be the only time that a fast and focused deliberative public engagement will be important for pandemic policy, but this is the first time.

None of this is possible without your conscientious participation. We deeply appreciate the time you commit to reading the materials, articulating your own views and listening to others. It is important, and the basis for the legitimacy of your advice, that you work with other participants to advise policy makers what you collectively consider to be the best way forward. Your reasons and explicit acknowledgement of the risks and trade-offs in COVID-19 planning strengthen the advice you provide about how we must act together in the management of this pandemic.

Team Members

  • Colene Bentley, PhD, Health Services Research, Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control
  • Michael Burgess, PhD, Professor and Chair in Biomedical Ethics, University of BC; Associate Provost, Strategy, UBC Okanagan
  • Kim McGrail, PhD, Director of Research, UBC Health, Professor, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of BC; Scientific Director, Population Data BC; Scientific Director, Health Data Research Network Canada
  • Kieran O’Doherty, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph
  • Stuart Peacock, DPhil, Professor & Leslie Diamond Chair in Cancer Survivorship, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University; Co-Director, Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control; Head, Department of Cancer Control Research, BC Cancer

Contact Us

Get in touch! Email us at covid.deliberation@ubc.ca.

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