Working Together in Times of Crisis: Business-Government Cooperation on Managing COVID-19 in Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has been without a doubt the most important crisis the world has experienced in the 21st century so far. The resulting Great Lockdown in the spring of 2020 has caused economic disruptions to a degree not seen since the Great Depression. Governments require the close support and involvement of the business community, among others, in order to effectively manage this crisis. Conversely, the businesses require support and guidance from governments in order to get through the pandemic.

For instance, even if people and the economy are forced into lockdown by governments in order to “flatten the curve”, essential economic activities have to continue taking place. And businesses are ultimately responsible for producing, transporting and distributing essential goods and services such as food, medical materials and devices, loans and payments as well as media and telecommunications. Another example of business-government cooperation is the Canadian federal government’s efforts to bring back home Canadians who were stranded abroad; it could not have been down without working with airlines.

Forcing the Canadian economy into full or partial lockdown also requires federal and provincial governments supporting businesses and workers who are negatively affected by closures and restrictions. Otherwise, the economy’s productive capacity risks being decimated, not to mention possible depression on the demand side.

Finally, reopening the economy (i.e., deconfinement) also requires the business community’s involvement and coordination, in terms of which sectors (and regions) to open first, which people to allow back to work in person, testing and tracing for the virus, etc.

Given that economic, environmental and sanitary crises are likely to occur again in the future, we need to ask ourselves, as Canadians, the following questions:

  • What was the nature and extent of the cooperation between governments (federal and provincial) and the business community in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada?
  • What could the public and private sectors have done differently to make their cooperation more effective and/or efficient in managing the COVID-19 crisis?
  • What can governments and businesses in Canada do to ensure that they are best prepared for future crises? What governance mechanisms to manage business- government relations should be put in place to do so?


  1. Analyse how the governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec worked with the business community to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Make recommendations to improve business-government collaboration in preparation for future sanitary and environmental crises
Members of The Advisory Committee

Françoise Bertrand, o.c., c.q.

After a 40-year career as a business executive, Françoise Bertrand now dedicates her time to acting as a corporate director.

Since spring 2017, Ms. Bertrand has served as chairperson of VIA Rail Canada’s Board of Directors. She is also President of the Proaction International Board of Directors, serves on the Board of Osisko Gold Royalties and acts as the Vice-Chair of the Concordia University Board of Governors.

She has served as President and Chief Executive Officer for several organizations, including the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Télé-Québec broadcasting corporation. She is a former dean of Université du Québec à Montréal. She also spent a few years working for consulting firms, notably for KPMG and as a partner with Groupe Secor.

Françoise Bertrand holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Université de Montréal and a master’s degree in environmental studies from York University. She capped off her academic career at the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Throughout her career, Ms. Bertrand has been recognized with several significant honours, most notably, Officer of the Order of Canada, Knight of the National Order of Québec and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour of France. She also received an honorary doctorate from Concordia University and was awarded the title of Fellow by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). In 2020, Françoise Bertrand received the title of Commander of the Ordre de Montréal.

Margaret Bloodworth

Margaret Bloodworth is a former senior federal public servant, most recently Associate Secretary to the Cabinet and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister (2006-2008). Prior to that, she was the first Deputy Minister of Public Safety (2003-2006), Deputy Minister of Defence (2002-2003), and Deputy Minister of Transport (1997-2002).

Currently she is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a member of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission, Chair of the External Review Panel of the Global Public Health Intelligence Network and Chair of the Advisory Committee to the School of the Public Service.

Formerly she was Chair of the Boards of the Council of Canadian Academies and Cornerstone Housing for Women and a member of the Board of the Ottawa Community Foundation where she chaired the Grants Committee.

She is a member of the Order of Canada. She has received the Upper Canada Law Society Medal, the Public Service of Canada Outstanding Achievement Award, the Vanier Medal of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, honorary degrees from the University of Winnipeg and Carleton University, an honorary diploma from the Canadian Coast Guard College and charter membership in the Common Law Honour Society of the University of Ottawa

She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg and the University of Ottawa and was called to the Ontario bar in 1979.

Sylvain Charlebois

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is a Professor in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is also the Senior Director of the Agri-food Analytics Lab, also located at Dalhousie University. He is as well the former Dean of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University. Before joining Dalhousie, he was affiliated with the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute, which he co-founded. Known as “The Food Professor”, his current research interest lies in the broad area of food distribution, security and safety. He is one of the world’s most cited scholars in food supply chain management, food value chains and traceability.




Déborah Cherenfant

Déborah Cherenfant is a specialist in women's entrepreneurship and joined TD Bank Group in 2020 as the Quebec Director of the Women Entrepreneurs segment. Since her arrival in Quebec in 2005, Déborah has multiplied her commitments in economic development and women's leadership, and is mainly involved today as a director of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Bonjour Startup Montreal, the KANPE Foundation, Humanov-is. In 2018, she was appointed by the Council of Ministers to the Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec.

With degrees in international economics and then entrepreneurship, Déborah has used her strategic skills over the past decade in business startup and financing consulting, as well as in entrepreneurship program development. She has also created initiatives such as the web media Mots d'Elles; the fashion and decor studio Atelier Coloré, and the ephemeral concept store Marché Coloré. In 2017, she co-founded BiAS, a cultural think tank promoting diversity.

Today, Déborah is president and spokesperson of the Jeune chambre de commerce de Montréal, the largest in the world. She is a radio columnist on Tout Un Matin on ICI Première & TV on Le Fil on Noovo, and also hosts a blog on Les Affaires.



Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin, PhD

President and Chief Executive officer, CIRANO and Full Professor, Polytechnique Montréal

Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin is President and CEO of the Interuniversity Research Center for Organization Analysis (CIRANO). She is a full professor in the Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal and a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health. In addition, she is a member of the Commission de l'éthique en science et en technologie (CEST) du Québec.

Holder of a PhD in Management Science (in risks and insurance management) from École Normale Supérieure de Cachan (France), her research interests are risk management and decision making theory in different contexts of risk and uncertainty as well as public policies implementation. She collaborates on major research projects with public and private organizations on the issues of emerging technology adoption and societal impacts. In April 2020, she has set up a special COVID-19 committee of CIRANO experts to assist its partners and governments in their decision-making in the context of emerging from the crisis and the relaunch of economic activities.




Patrick Fafard

Patrick Fafard is Full Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He has enjoyed a lengthy career that spans both government and academe. While with the Government of Canada he served as a Director General in the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat of the Privy Council Office. Earlier, he served in multiple capacities with three provincial governments, including as Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Commission on Medicare (2000-2001), and Executive Director, Policy and Planning, Saskatchewan Department of Health. 

Patrick’s academic interests are wide-ranging, and he is the author, co-author or editor of numerous publications on health, trade, and environmental policies, and federalism and intergovernmental relations in Canada. Patrick’s most recent work has appeared in the Evidence and Policy, Global Challenges, Public Health, Canadian Public Administration, and the Canadian Journal of Public Health. He is the co-editor of the monograph series, Palgrave Studies in Public Health Policy Research. Patrick’s current teaching and research includes and health and human rights, the role of senior public health leaders in Commonwealth countries, global health governance to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, and developing public health political science. He is the Associate Director of the Global Strategy Lab (York University and University of Ottawa) and serves in leadership roles for the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics and the Ottawa Hub for Harm Reduction at the University of Ottawa.

Monica Gattinger

Dr. Monica Gattinger – Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa

Monica Gattinger is Director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Full Professor at the School of Political Studies and Founder/Chair of Positive Energy at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Gattinger is an award-winning researcher and highly sought-after speaker, adviser and media commentator in the energy and arts/cultural policy sectors. Her innovative research programme convenes business, government, Indigenous, civil society and academic leaders to address complex policy, regulatory and governance challenges. She has published widely in the energy and arts/cultural policy fields, with a focus on strengthening decision-making in the context of fast-past technological change and markets, changing social values, and lower levels of trust in governments, industry, science and expertise. Gattinger is Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, board member of the Clean Resource Innovation Network, and serves on advisory boards for the Institute on Governance, the National Research Council Canada, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, Pollution Probe and the University of Calgary. She Chairs the Editorial Board of the University of Ottawa Press and is a columnist for JWN Energy’s Daily Oil Bulletin. Monica received the 2020 Clean50 Award for her thought leadership in the energy sector. She holds a Ph.D. in public policy from Carleton University.

Gilles Gravier

Gilles is Director in theOpen Source Consulting Practiceand a member of the internal blockchain council at Wipro. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, he provides open source and blockchain strategy consulting and advisory services toWipro's key customers worldwide.

He has a pragmatic approach to open source, and regularly advises global companies, start-up, and venture capitalists on open source strategy, licensing issues, business models... He also believes strongly that blockchain technologies will be a natural part of the IT landscape of the coming decades, enabling a collaborative and distributed services world. He is also a user of Bitcoin and is convinced that crypto currencies will be key to tomorrow's shared economy models.

Prior to that, Gilles was Director of Product Management for theQuantum-Safe Network Encryption Solutions(includingQuantum Key Distribution Servers) product lines, as well as for theQuantum Random Number Generators, atID Quantique, a company that is the leader in high-performance multi-protocol network encryption, based on conventional and quantum technologies, and aiming at providing future-proof encryption for data requiring long term protection.

During his career, Gilles has always been involved in both security and open source. In particular in roles such as Chief Technology Strategist for Security and Open source at Sun Microsystems, advising the largest accounts globally on their IT security strategy as well as their open source activities. He moved on to develop global market and business development strategies for open source and security in the public sector still at Sun and then Oracle. He has been active as atechnology evangelist, in particular for these companies, around cryptography, DRM, open source and open standards.

He has worked extensively with venture capitalists as a strategic adviser for their due diligence process on IT start-ups, and is member of the boards (advisory or directors) of several start-ups.
As a regular speaker at industry events as well as often being interviewed, there are multiple recordings where you can see Gilles in action. Acollection is available here.
In December 2012, he co-foundedWhy Open Computing!, a Swiss company focusing on selling sustainable laptops that can be user-serviced and community supported for years on.
He is CISSP #91529, member of theOpen Invention Network,April, andFSF EuropeFellowship.
He posts on his blog onMediumand has aLinkedIn profilewhere you can find more about his activities.
Gilles is a passionatephotographerand travels either with his CanonEOS 6DorPowerShot G7 X Mark III. He also shares his interest in astronomy with the neighboring elementary school children.

Leigh Harris

Partner, Management Consultant at KPMG in Ottawa Lead Partner, Federal Government

Leigh is a Management Consulting Strategy and Operations Transformation Partner and leads the firm’s federal government practice. She has more than 20 years of professional public sector work and management consulting experience combined. She has held senior executive positions within government and has held lead roles in the federal practices at other global consulting firms. In her role, Leigh works with hundreds of partners in Canada and across a global network of more than 5,000 government, health care and infrastructure consultants in more than 140 countries and territories, to help the Government of Canada address their challenges and issues with the purpose of producing better outcomes for Canadians and the communities where they reside. Leigh's passion is helping government clients solve their most complex challenges, in particular enterprise-wide and whole-of-government transformation programs in the areas of strategy, policy development, program design and reform, operations and service improvement, resource allocation and funding methodologies. Based in Ottawa, she is actively involved in her community and currently serves as the National Board Chair of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants, CMC-Canada.

Peter M. Liber

For the past 10 years, Peter has been a Senior Account Executive at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade working in Fintech and Information and Communications Technology.

His focus has been in the ICT sector as well as Financial Services, Fintech and Cybersecurity. Peter works to help bring foreign direct investment by promoting Ontario’s existing strengths and enhancing its reputation as a destination of choice for foreign and domestic private sector investments. He is also involved with foreign trade missions; Ontario based accelerators and incubators as well as technology start-ups and the Angel Investor community.

Peter has over 30 years of experience in Technology Sales and Marketing and has worked for companies from around the globe, with a focus on Silicon Valley, CA and Dallas, TX. He has worked as a Manufacturers Representative, Sales Manager, Consultant and Country Manager for technology companies of all sizes. Peter was born and raised in Toronto attended both Humber College and Ryerson University studying Sales, Marketing and Media.

Nicole Piggott

President and Chief Inclusion Officer
Women of Colour Thrive

Nicole Piggott has spent her career promoting inclusive workplaces. Before being appointed President and Chief Inclusion Officer at taking the helm of Women of Colour Thrive, Nicole held leadership positions in Women in Governance (WiG), Bombardier Aerospace, RioTinto, Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOCC) and FedEx Canada. Nicole has implemented and overseen all aspects of Human Resources, from policies, programs and practices aimed at fostering more inclusive and motivating work environments. She had the privilege of negotiating the first partnership agreements between IOC and various Indigenous communities in Labrador.

In 2017, Nicole co-led the development of the Gender Parity Certification at WiG; she has since led the expansion into the United States. This innovative certification assesses the parity at the decision-making level of organizations, as well as the organization's commitment to putting in place mechanisms that allow women at all levels of its hierarchy to obtain career progression, thus creating a pipeline of female talent.

Nicole is Vice-Chair of the Board of Impact (formerly Partnership Africa Canada) and the Black Academic Scholarship Fund. She is lead for the McGill University Goodman Cancer Research Center Public Lecture Series and Co-Chair of the WiG Parity Certification Committee. Nicole is also an advisor to Global Affairs Canada and the CN-Paul Tellier chair of the University of Ottawa on gender issues.

Hervé Pinton


Hervé Pinton 









Jacques Roy

Dr. Roy is a full professor at the Department of Logistics and Operations Management at HEC Montreal where he is also Director of the Carrefour logistique, a university-industry forum on Supply Chain Management and Director of the research group CHAÎNE that is conducting research activities in the field of Supply Chain Management. He also served as Director of the Operational Excellence module in the McGill-HEC Montreal EMBA program. He was also Director, Research and Publication and Director, Training, at the Montreal based International Aviation Management Training Institute. As such, Dr. Roy participated actively in the design and delivery of Airline, Airport and Civil Aviation Management Courses aimed at middle and senior managers from all over the world. He was also responsible for conducting several aviation management related projects.

Professor Roy graduated with a B.Sc. from the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean and completed his education with an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in Business Administration at École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal, (now HEC Montréal). Prior to his teaching career, Dr. Roy was employed as an aerospace engineering officer with the Canadian Armed Forces. He also possesses many years of experience as a management consultant with several large Canadian corporations and governmental organizations. His expertise lies in the areas of logistics and transportation management. Dr. Roy has authored several articles and publications in this subject area and has participated in many conferences at both national and international levels.

Paul M .Tellier

Corporate Director

Paul M. Tellier was President and Chief Executive Officer and Director of Bombardier Inc. in 2003 and 2004. Prior to this, Mr. Tellier was President and Chief Executive Officer and a Director of the Canadian National Railway Company (CN), a position he held for 10 years. From August 1985 until he took up his post at CN in 1992, Mr. Tellier was Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet of the Government of Canada, the top public servant in the country.

Mr. Tellier has received many honours and awards including Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year, 1998. Canada’s Most Respected CEO, KPMG/Ipsos-Reid Survey, 2003, was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 2010, and is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Corporate Directors.

Mr. Tellier was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 1993. Mr. Tellier received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Alberta, McGill, New-Brunswick, Ottawa and St. Mary’s (Halifax).

Mr. Tellier has served in many positions in the public sector, including Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1979 and Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources in 1982. He is a graduate of the universities of Ottawa and Oxford, England, and was admitted to the Québec Bar in1963.

Mr. Tellier was a former Director of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Limited, Alcan, Bell Canada, BCE, Manulife, McCain Foods, Petro Canada, SNC Lavalin. Mr. Tellier was Chairman of Global Container Terminals. He is currently Director of GM Advisory Board, Harnois Énergies.

Mr. Tellier was for 5 years Strategic Advisor for Canada to Société Générale, a global French bank. He served for six years as a Trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Board in London. He is a member of the Quebec Bar.

Mike Tremblay

President and CEO, Board Member, Invest Ottawa & Bayview Yards

Michael Tremblay joined Invest Ottawa & Bayview Yards as President and Chief Executive Officer in March of 2017. Prior to joining Invest Ottawa, he was the Vice President of Public Sector for Microsoft Canada from April 2007. In 2020, Mike was appointed to the Board of Directors for both organizations.

Mike has 36 years of sales, marketing, operations and general management experience, with considerable experience serving public sector clients. Mike has also held senior executive positions with SAP, Fujitsu Consulting, JDS Uniphase, EDS Systemhouse and Digital Equipment Corporation – principally across Canadian, American and Latin American markets.

He has an MBA from Concordia University in Montreal and is a graduate of Computer Technology from Algonquin College. Michael completed the Directors Education Program and is ICD.D certified with the Institute of Corporate Directors where he is a member of the Ottawa Chapter Executive. Mike has served as a director with the Institute on Governance (2017-2020) and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal business (2005-2007). From 2004-2017, Michael served as a member of Algonquin College’s Board of Governors and served as Chair of the College’s Foundation Board.

Roger Vandomme

Roger’s career has been built on the fundamentals of data analysis, predictive modeling and related decision-making. With 20 years in the credit bureau industry, creating credit scores all around the world, Roger has an outstanding unmatched skill-set in the field of predictive modeling. He has completed numerous studies and research on decision heuristics and biases, developing reasoning methods and processes around systemic design and game theory.

Roger created and manages a decision science boutique, SMC, that helps companies and institutions to optimize their strategic decision-making process through the application of mathematical models, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Roger teaches business analytics and Machine Learning at the University of Toronto and BrainStation, as well as operational planning at the Canadian Forces College.

Roger holds a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Paris University, an MBA from Queen’s University, and a Master in Defense Studies with the Royal Military College.



Riva Walia

Riva is the Managing Director for France Canada Chamber of Commerce(ON) and Country Partner for Alain Ducasse. She was one of the four Founding directors and created the French Chamber in Toronto along with the Ambassador of France.

Under her leadership, the Chamber was successfully incorporated and grew to 70 Members in an 18- month period. She established 4 Industry focused Center of Excellences and conceptualized a CEO Club called Les Lumieres with 20 of the top French-Canadian business houses like AECON, IBM, Schneider, BNP Paribas, BNN Bloomberg, TD Bank, Chanel and the likes. Riva also chairs FCCCO’s Chief Sustainability Officer’s Think Tank, and runs a strong advocacy group with entrenched relationships with all levels of the Government in Canada and Europe. 
Prior to her role at the French Chamber, Riva headed Strategy for a $2Bn transformational program at RBC. Before that, Riva had a strong 11 year career with Accenture Consulting where she worked with Fortune 500 clients on strategic business growth into new markets and service lines, green field projects and digital transformation.
Riva has an MBA from Cornell- ESSEC University, and an Honours Degree from Switzerland. She serves as board member with the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, and Les Dames Escoffier, as well as is an Executive Member of the Board of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Canada. Riva is a strong voice in the country for diversity and inclusion through her efforts with United Nations Women’s Empowerment team.
She is an avid traveller and practices Reiki- a form of spiritual healing.


Back to top