Lessons from Canada's COVID-19 Response


Monday, February 8, 2021, 5:00pm to 6:00pm


Virtual event, registration required

Canada took early steps to manage the spread of COVID-19 by closing borders, limiting travel, and instituting lockdowns at the provincial level. Although these early efforts initially succeeded in managing the spread of COVID-19, they failed to prevent a second wave of cases from overwhelming the country’s public health system. The situation became so dire in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, that private long-term care facilities required military support to manage patient care. The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, will join Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security and Faculty Director of the Homeland Security Project at Harvard Kennedy School, to discuss these and other experiences in Canada’s response to COVID-19. 

This conversation is part of a year-long, virtual discussion series "Crisis Leadership in a Pandemic: Lessons Learned in the Fight Against COVID-19", sponsored by the Program on Crisis Leadership and the Ash Center.

About the Speaker  

Minister Sajjan is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the British Columbia Regiment, with which he participated in four operational deployments. He also spent 11 years as a detective addressing gang crime with the Vancouver Police Department. 


This event is cosponsored by the Canada Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

Canada Program at Weatherhead Center logo

About the Series 

Over the past year, leaders across the world have been combatting the effects of COVID-19, gaining extensive, in-the-moment crisis management experience as they seek to grapple with an incredibly difficult set of challenges. Through a year-long series of virtual conversations, the Ash Center’s Program on Crisis Leadership (PCL) at Harvard Kennedy School will engage with leaders of several different countries to learn how they and the communities they represent are responding to COVID-19, the challenges they have encountered, and the preliminary successes/failures they have experienced and observed.

The series will explore both the similarities and differences of the response across jurisdictions. For instance, although the primary containment strategies – masks, social distancing, testing, and quarantine and isolation– remain generally the same, different regions have applied them in different ways and to different degrees. And while most jurisdictions share a primary focus on protecting the public’s health and mitigating the economic fallout from the virus, some face unique additional pressures, such as ongoing crises due to food insecurity, natural disasters, non-COVID disease outbreaks, and civil unrest.

By featuring leaders from different countries PCL will provide students with a comparative perspective – and the opportunity to develop a nuanced understanding of the range of interventions and leadership approaches that have been employed to date in the battle against the pandemic.

Virtual Event Recording