The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.
In January 2020, we kicked off CCA’s 15th year of operations as we begin every year: bringing expert panels together to tackle tough questions put to us by government agencies and others who rely on our reports to inform their decision-making process.
We were also planning to reflect on more than 50 reports we have completed since 2005, including the state of science and technology in Canada, the socio-economic impact of antimicrobial resistance, climate risk, medical assistance in dying, and Indigenous policing, among others.
Of course, the world has changed a lot in the past nine months, so our celebration has been more muted. COVID-19 has had a wrenching impact on every corner of our society, raising questions that don’t have complete answers but will require prompt policy action to help lead a successful recovery.
We stand ready to help by providing access to objective evidence to inform policy that enables Canada to “build back better.” At the CCA, we’re focused on answering complex questions. It’s the essence of what we do, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that a well-framed question is essential to narrowing the gap between what is known and what isn’t ― a key to problem solving in policy.
We’ve also learned that our expertise lies in answering questions in the wider public interest, relevant to public policy, and that benefit from the multidisciplinary approach embedded in our expert panel process.
So to celebrate our twin milestones of 15 years and 50 reports, we reached out to several prominent Canadians and thought leaders and invited them to identify some of the big questions facing Canada. Our aim was to find out what’s on the minds of the people who think about big questions for a living, and to share them with the wider world.
The responses we received make for an impressive catalogue of topics worth addressing. It is noteworthy that when we began the project in early 2020, COVID-19 had barely registered on the public agenda, and yet by the time the questions trickled in, it was obvious that Canada’s health, resilience, and socio-economic challenges figured prominently in the list.
We hope that you’ll read and share the questions that resonate with you.
Eric M. Meslin, PhD, FCAHS
President and CEO, Council of Canadian Academies