Intended for healthcare professionals

Accountability for Canada’s covid-19 response

The Royal Society of Canada hosted a webinar to launch this new series in The BMJ on accountabilities for the covid-19 response in Canada.

More information on the event:

Covid-19 led directly to 52750 deaths in Canada with more than 4.6 million reported cases as of mid-2023. This cumulative covid-19 death rate of 1372 per million exceeds the global average of 855 per million. Despite a universal healthcare system, communities experiencing social and economic marginalisation in Canada were hardest hit in each wave of the pandemic. Those living and working in long term care homes were particularly affected, which was a cause of national shame. Canada achieved high vaccination coverage domestically, but its hoarding of vaccination doses and failure to fully support multilateral efforts to share vaccination doses globally led to global vaccine inequity. Lessons from a previous outbreak of, SARS-CoV-1 — which in 2003 impacted more Canadians than anywhere else outside of Asia— went unheeded and left the country’s governments and health authorities ill prepared for covid-19. An independent, national inquiry is needed to review Canada’s covid-19 response, draw lessons, and ensure accountability for the past and future pandemic preparedness.

Modelled after the UK Covid Inquiry Series, The BMJ's Canada Covid Series comprises articles by Canadian experts that critically review topics such as: data sharing and access; research use and misuse; jurisdictional coordination; fitness of healthcare and public health systems; and surveillance; and the ways in which Canada’s enormous geographic, linguistic, social, ethnic and other diversities were supported by an ostensibly universal but fragmented system. This series offers a reflection and analysis of what worked and didn’t in Canada’s covid-19 response, what a national inquiry should address, and pathways for the future.


How Canada’s decentralised covid-19 response affected public health data and decision making
Tania Bubela and colleagues introduce the analyses of Canada’s covid-19 response, which failed to learn from the 2003 SARS epidemic, leading to unclear and fragmented responsibilities and accountability for data access and decision making

Use and misuse of research: Canada’s response to covid-19 and its health inequalities
Sharmistha Mishra and colleagues examine how pandemic research could have been used to avoid a homogenised public health and clinical response to covid-19 in Canada

The predictable crisis: covid-19 in Canada's long-term care homes
Sharon Straus and colleagues argue that governments in Canada failed residents, families and staff in long-term care homes during covid-19 and coordinated efforts are needed across federal, and provincial and territorial governments to safeguard these populations

Canada’s role in covid-19 global vaccine equity failures
Adam Houston and colleagues argue that Canada needs to reverse its track record from covid-19 and prioritise public need over profits in its domestic investments and global leadership for health


The world expected more of Canada
Jocalyn Clark and Kamran Abbasi introduce a BMJ series examining Canada’s covid-19 response and call for an independent national inquiry

Canada’s pandemic response and future preparedness
Kelley Lee argues that domestic health security depends on action to redress global inequity, and that Canada’s talk is not enough


We can learn from the covid-19 pandemic management strategy of First Nations communities in Canada
Marcia Anderson and Melanie MacKinnon share the covid-19 response undertaken in Manitoba to ensure access and equity for Indigenous peoples

This Series was commissioned, peer reviewed and edited by The BMJ. Jocalyn Clark was the lead editor for The BMJ.

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