One Society Network Seminars
Seminar Series II
December 15, 2022:
Title: Preparing for Pandemics: Lessons from Financial Regulation and Elsewhere.
Presenter: Professor Frank Milne and Professor David Longworth, department of Economics, Queen’s University.
Abstract: Early in the COVID-19 pandemic it was becoming increasingly obvious that public health authorities, the broad health sector and governments were ill prepared to tackle the challenges presented. We were struck with how many of the weaknesses in preparation had broad similarities will those in the preparation of the financial sector and its regulators prior to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09. We therefore set out to describe (1) what one could learn from the changes made in financial regulation (and its governance) following postmortems that could be applied to pandemic planning and (2) two key techniques (stress tests and exercises) used in the financial sector and elsewhere that should be used regularly to test existing pandemic plans and improve upon them.
We set forth recommendations for carrying out postmortems on the experience from this pandemic, planning for future pandemics and establishing a transparent and accountable governance regime for ongoing implementation of all the elements of a pre-pandemic plan. Good governance, with an appropriate degree of independence for agencies and effective legislative committees, can increase the probability that pandemic preparation, including appropriate postmortems, plans, and implementation of plans, can be well done.
Good postmortems and plans are a prerequisite for running the types of appropriate stress tests and exercises (wargames) that aid in keeping plans up to date and reducing the likelihood and severity of the health and economic costs of a pandemic. These two risk management tools have been used in the past in both the health and financial fields, but they have not so far been considered as part of an overall system that we are proposing that would integrate health, social, economic, financial, and fiscal sectors to test systems and policy strategies.
December 1, 2022:
Title: The Impact of Supply Chain Capacity on Health system response to COVID19 in Canada.
Presenter: Dr. Anne Snowdon, RN, PhD, FAAN.
Abstract: This presentation will share the outcomes of a national research program of work conducted during the first 3 waves of the COVID19 pandemic. Features of Supply Chain Fragility and opportunities to advance supply chain resilience will be explored.
November 3, 2022:
Title: Assessing Trends and Patterns of the Effect of COVID-19 on Public Transit Revenues in the City of Calgary.
Presenter: Wenshuang Yu, PhD(c); Dr Lindsay Tedds.
Abstract: An essential municipal service that underpins local economies and which faced significant challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was public transit. Various public health measures combined with work-from-home mandates and the closures of K-12 and post-secondary education to face-to-face learning meant that public transit ridership plummeted yet essential workers, which included not just health care workers, but also grocery, warehouse, first responders, childcare, and critical infrastructure workers, were still reliant on public transit, meaning that some base level of public transit service had to be maintained regardless of usage. What did this mean for transit revenue collected from fares which are meant to finance a large share of transit operating expenses? Using monthly public transit revenue data for the City of Calgary from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2021 we take an in-depth look at the effect COVID-19 has had on the public transit revenues in this large, urban municipality in Canada. The City of Calgary provides a poignant environment in which to conduct a case study to consider the impact of COVID-19 on a public transit. Like many of Canada’s large cities, the City of Calgary was hit very hard very early on by COVID-19 caseloads and spread. The City of Calgary was the first municipality in Canada to declare a state of local emergency, which it did on 15 March 2020, and it did so two days before the province of Alberta declared a provincial state of emergency. Overall, the results indicate that revenues collected from transit dropped immediately and significantly after the declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020 for all types of passes, including adult, child, and low-income passes. For adult, child and low-income passes, the revenue in April 2020 was 6%, 5% and 6% of the sales in April 2019. On the other hand, we also show that revenue started to pick up slowly in May 2020. By September 2020, revenues generated from the public transit had stabilized. For adult tickets, the sales were about 50% of the 2019 sales. For child and low-income passes, the revenue was about 70% and 60% of the revenue in 2019. These facts show that children and low-income populations are more dependent on public transit than regular adult public transit users. We then discuss policy options for increasing public transit revenues in the context of the existing academic evidence.
October 24, 2022:
Title: Wise Practices for Reconciliation.
Presenter: Dr Lisa Richardson, Associate Dean, Inclusion & Diversity; Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.
Seminar Series I
June 16, 2022:
Title:Indigenous-Engaged Research and Scholarship: Lessons Learned and Methodological Approaches.
Presenter: Laurel Wheeler, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Alberta.
Abstract: COVID-19 has affected population groups heterogeneously, with marginalized populations bearing a larger share of the health and economic burden. To quantify the burden in a comprehensive way, it is necessary to elevate the voices of people belonging to these marginalized groups. This seminar provides suggestions about how to do that in the context of Indigenous communities. I will begin by sharing stories about my research beginnings and challenges, and about the lessons I have learned along the way. I will conclude by proposing methodological approaches for conducting Indigenous-engaged research.
May 26, 2022:
Title: Spatial Allocation of Scarce COVID-19 Vaccines: When Does an Allocation Rule Based on Relative Population Size Perform Well?
Presenter: François Castonguay, PhD. Formerly: PhD student at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Currently: Public Health Analytics and Modeling Fellow in the Health Economics and Modeling Unit (HEMU), Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections (DPEI), National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
DISCLAIMER: This presentation represents work done while I was a graduate student at UC Davis and represents my work and opinions while I was a graduate student. The findings and conclusions in the presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Abstract: The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) is a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative that aims for an equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Despite potential heterogeneous infection levels across a country, countries receiving allotments of vaccines may follow WHO’s allocation guidelines and distribute vaccines based on a jurisdiction’s relative population size. Utilizing economic–epidemiological modelling, we benchmark the performance of a population size-based allocation rule by comparing it to an optimal one that minimizes the economic damages and expenditures over time, including a penalty representing the social costs of deviating from the relative population strategy. The relative population rule performs better when the duration of naturally- and vaccine-acquired immunity is short, when there is population mixing, when the supply of vaccine is high, and when there is minimal heterogeneity in demographics. Despite behavioural and epidemiological uncertainty diminishing the performance of the optimal allocation, it generally outperforms the relative population rule.
May 19, 2022:
Title: The Impact of Threshold Decision Mechanisms of Collective Behaviour on Disease Spread.
Presenter: Bryce Morsky PhD, Queen’s University, Postdoctoral Fellow.
Abstract: Humans are a hyper social species, and transmission of infectious diseases crucially depends on social dynamics such as impacting non-pharmaceutical interventions. Further, the infectious pathogen in turn can be affected via the environment fostered by these socio-biological forces. How do social dynamics impact epidemiology? How does public health policy best take into account these impacts? Here we develop a model of disease transmission that incorporates human behaviour and social dynamics. We use a “tipping-point” dynamic, previously used in the sociological literature, where individuals adopt behaviours given a sufficient frequency of the behaviours in the population.
Further, this model incorporates behavioural heterogeneity where individuals have varying perceived risks of the disease and preferences for social conformity, and thus varying thresholds at which behaviours are adopted. The thresholds at which individuals adopt behaviours is impacted by the perceived risks of infection: prevalence and death rate. We show how such social dynamics can drive an epidemic, such as by generating waves, and where they can frustrate public policy. In particular, (mis)information is highly important as it shifts the population’s sensitivity to adopting disease mitigating behaviours. This can blunt the spread of disease initially, but cause it to spread quickly once relaxed. Additionally, end epidemic results are sensitive to timing of the behavioural response. Near the optimal response, small errors can result in large increases in the total number infected during the epidemic.
May 12, 2022:
Title: COVID-19 and the Canadian cattle/beef production system: Developing a Causal Loop Diagram for modelling the unstructured problem of the pandemic
Presenters: Cheryl Waldner PhD, DVM, FCAHS, Professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Saskatchewan & NSERC/Beef Cattle Research Council Industrial Research Chair in One Health & Production Limiting Diseases; Jo-Anne Relf-Eckstein, BSA, MPP, PAg, Research Associate, Qualitative Research Support, University of Saskatchewan.
Abstract: This seminar explores a systems-thinking approach to describe the complexity of COVID-19’s effect on the people, processes and places constituting the cattle/beef supply chain during the early part of the pandemic. We begin by mapping out the relationships of variables identified in the literature. In the next phase of this project, we will work to develop a Canadian beef supply chain causal loop diagram (CLD) as a step towards integrating different types of data and information from a variety of sources, to better understand and communicate how infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, expose systems-level vulnerabilities and can inform lessons for future pandemics.
Apr 21st, 2022:
Title: The Interaction Between COVID-19 and Educational Outcomes: What Have We Learned 2.5 Years Into the Pandemic?
Presenter: Maggie Jones, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
Abstract: Ever since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, educators, economists, and other social scientists have been particularly concerned with the interactions between COVID-19 and educational outcomes. In this seminar, we summarize related research that has been conducted globally, and we discuss how Canadian data may be well-positioned to address remaining questions. Existing research is summarized in two broad areas: (i) the impact of COVID-19 and related policies on education outcomes; (ii) the relationship between COVID-19 policies and spillovers from the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Research on all levels of educational attainment is considered.
Mar 24th, 2022:
Title: Not a Monolith: Transportation & the Pandemic.
Presenter: Kate Harback, PhD, Associate Director of Economics, Institute of Health Economics, Alberta.
Abstract: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation cannot be understood without breaking down the sector into its elements and allowing for diversity of transportation activities across distinct modes. This seminar explores that impact through the datasets available to characterize the modes and activities across the pandemic. Additionally, we will look at different frames of reference for transportation modelling in considering how to pursue connections between infectious disease and public health modelling.
Mar 10th, 2022:
Title: Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Economic Outcomes within the Health Care Sector
Presenters: Ellen Rafferty, PhD, Health Economist, Institute of Health Economics & Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta; Danica Wolitski, MA, Health Economist, Institute of Health Economics, Alberta.
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant shifts within health care systems worldwide. The consequences of these shifts in Canada will be felt both within the health sector and in the broader economy for years to come. A few common examples include health care worker labor shortages, delayed procedures, reallocation of health care funds (e.g., increase in ICU beds) and the switch to virtual care. In this seminar we will present the early results of a scoping review that seeks to map the links between the COVID-19 pandemic, economic outcomes within the health care sector, and the impact of those changes on the broader economy in Canada. We will outline how gaps in the literature, identified by the scoping review, are informing the design of the One Society Network Health Care team’s research linking epidemiologic and economic models from a health care perspective, to capture the wider impacts of pandemic control strategies.
Feb 24th, 2022:
Title: Economics, the Environment, and the Covid-19 Pandemic: An Overview and Research Agenda
Presenters: Vic Adamowicz, PhD, FRSC, Professor and Vice Dean, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Science – Deans Office, University of Alberta; Patrick Lloyd-Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Saskatchewan; Tsegaye Gatiso, PhD, NSERC and One Society Network Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta
Abstract: This presentation will provide an overview of the connections and pathways between the economy, the environment, Covid-19, and the policies used to address Covid-19. The approaches used by environmental economists, and their relevance to the evaluation of Covid-19 policies, will be outlined. The presentation will describe some of our ongoing and planned research about the valuation of mortality risk reductions, air quality, and values of environmental amenities and recreation during the pandemic. It will also highlight potential connections between economists and epidemiologists for an improved understanding of pandemics and policy responses.
Patrick Lloyd Smith
Feb 10, 2022:
Title: On Modelling the Economic Impacts of Policy Responses to Pandemics
Presenters: Huw Lloyd-Ellis, PhD. Professor in the Department of Economics at Queen’s University; Frédéric Tremblay, PhD. NSERC and One Society Network Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Economics at Queen’s University.
Abstract: This seminar discusses the ongoing need for estimates of the economic costs of pandemics to inform real-time policy choices for Canadian provinces. The complex impacts of COVID-19, and the policy responses to it, present significant challenges to economic modelling. The practical applicability of existing approaches in this context are often limited due to their inflexibility, long-term perspective, lack of regional focus and/or lags in data availability. We provide an overview of a prototype framework, the STUDIO model, designed to address these challenges. We highlight the framework’s key inputs and outputs, as well as its limitations. STUDIO has been applied throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to track its ongoing economic costs and assess the impacts of alternative provincial policy responses to a variety of epidemiological scenarios. We summarize some of the broad implications so far and the potential costs of alternative scenarios going forward. We also identify areas in which the framework could be improved and extended to expand its applicability to future pandemic modelling.