UBC researchers are putting together a COVID-19 public policy and they are asking for the community’s input. (Pixabay)

UBC researchers are putting together a COVID-19 public policy and they are asking for the community’s input. (Pixabay)

UBC researchers seeking public input on pandemic policies

People can have their voice heard in an online deliberation series

Let your voice be heard when it comes to COVID-19 public policies.

UBC researchers are putting together a pandemic public policy, and they want to hear the public’s thoughts on those plans.

The multi-disciplinary deliberation team is led by professor of population and public health and director of research at UBC Health Kim McGrail, in collaboration with UBCO’s associate provost Michael Burgess, Stuart Peacock from Simon Fraser University and Kieran O’Doherty from the University of Guelph.

McGrail said it’s important that decision-makers understand how people perceive COVID-19 policies.

“As governments begin easing restrictions on social distancing and business closures imposed as a result of the global pandemic, it’s critical that decision-makers understand public perception of COVID-19 policies. That’s why we launched our online deliberation ‘Public Input into Pandemic Planning,” she said.

She added the research results will be available to decision-makers and the public in the province and across Canada.

The first topic of discussion is the potential benefits and drawbacks of contact tracing apps.

“Deliberation is foundational to our democratic process and public input into B.C.’s evolving COVID-19 response is essential,” McGrail said.

“If governments are to make sound policy decisions that garner broad public support, they need public input. In this unprecedented era of global pandemic, public engagement in policymaking is more important than ever.”

In response to the current pandemic, the team has shifted their model of deliberative engagement online.

“We knew it was important to get public input on the next phase of the pandemic response in B.C. because it will have a profound impact on people’s lives, and we knew we needed to do it quickly,” Burgess said.

He added incorporating technology into the process can bring accessibility and diversity challenges. But the team has addressed the issues by reaching out to community groups and encouraging them to host their own deliberations, or assist community members to participate.

“We carefully designed this deliberation so we can use it over and over again in different places and with different questions. We hope this will be the first of many deliberative public engagements that provide input to pandemic policy,” McGrail said.

People can volunteer to participate in the online deliberation from May 22 to 30. To participate, click here.

You can host your own community conversation. For a kit which includes the materials needed to run a deliberation, visit this link.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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