Governments’ accountability for Canada’s pandemic response
The COVID-19 pandemic—with its wide-reaching social, political, and economic implications—showcases the importance of public health governance. Governmental accountability is at the forefront of societal preoccupations, as state actors attempt to manage the pandemic by using sweeping emergency powers which grant them significant discretion. Though emergency measures have tremendous impacts on citizens’ lives, elected officials and civil society have little input in how governments wield these powers. We reviewed available mechanisms in Canadian private, constitutional, and criminal law and found them to be unlikely sources of much-needed accountability. Therefore, we propose that provincial and territorial legislatures modify public health legislation to expand mechanisms to foster public confidence in decision-makers, and bolster accountability to parliaments and citizens.