Bright Future

Podcast series

In this series, The Conference Board of Canada brings you the connections that make us stronger as individuals, as organizations, and as a country. Hear from senior-level executives from our biggest institutions and leaders from Canada and around the world. For us, leader isn’t a title, it’s a way of acting in the world. You’ll hear leaders who are working to create a bright future.

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Episode 7

Volker Gerdts on the search for a vaccine

We need a vaccine for COVID-19. There have been many advancements in helping people recover, but the surest way to get back to a place where we can shake hands with strangers again is a vaccine.

And the race is on. Labs around the world have been working hard to understand this virus, develop a vaccine, and get it through the various stages of testing to be sure it is safe.

Our guest this episode is Dr. Volker Gerdts, Director and CEO of VIDO-InterVac. He and his team are on the front line of vaccine development. They’re not only working on a vaccine for this pandemic, but also trying to predict the next one.

We talk about the challenges in developing a vaccine, Canada’s place in solving a global problem, and how VIDO-InterVac is positioning itself to be Canada’s pandemic centre.

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Focus Area—Health

Episode 6

Jennifer Keesmaat on the future of cities

Are our cities a reflection of the people who live in them? Are they built for people? As our economy starts to recover, will our cities? Or are these sprawling urban jungles built for a different time, retrofitted as our needs have changed?

Is now a good time to rethink the city?

Our guest this episode, Jennifer Keesmaat, is passionate about creating places where people flourish. She was Toronto’s chief planner for five years and has been named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by MacLean’s and one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life. Currently, she’s the CEO of The Keesmaat Group, senior-level urbanists working to find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

She joins us to talk about how our cities will emerge from the pandemic, and how the changes we’re seeing can be important lessons in how we navigate our communities. We talk population density, resiliency, planning, and sudden changes we’ve had to make. What changes should we keep? We also talk about how the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in our cities, especially for racialized and vulnerable communities.

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Focus Area—Innovation & Technology

Jennifer Keesmaat

Jennifer Keesmaat

CEO, The Keesmaat Group;
former chief city planner of Toronto

Episode 5

Hugh Segal on guaranteed income

Millions have been relying on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) these past few months. This has been an extraordinary response to an extraordinary time. But people concerned about fighting poverty are looking to draw lessons from the pandemic for the future. Discussion is growing around the creation of a universal basic income for Canadians.

This episode, the Honourable Hugh Segal, Canadian political strategist, author, commentator, academic, and former senator, joins us to talk about a guaranteed basic income for Canadians. Hugh has touted guaranteed basic income as a way to break families out of poverty for decades.

We talk about experiments with basic income from the past and the lessons he hopes we learn from programs created during the pandemic. Can governments seize this opportunity for leadership and create a new approach to helping the poor in Canada?

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Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Hugh Sesal

Hugh Segal

Canadian political strategist,
author, commentator, academic,
and former senator

Episode 4

Shamira Madhany on immigration

Immigration is vital to Canada’s economic growth and competitiveness. The people we welcome fill the gaps in our labour market, bring valuable skills and experience, and have connections around the world. But they can face an uphill battle to have their credentials or experience recognized in Canada.

This episode, Shamira Madhany, Managing Director, Deputy Executive Director, World Education Services, talks to us about immigration during the pandemic, where new Canadians are working and where they want to be working, the role of immigrants in rebuilding our economy, and provides a path forward to recognizing skills the experiences of new Canadians.

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Focus Area—Immigration

Shamira Madhany

Shamira Madhany

Managing Director, and
Deputy Executive Director
World Education Services

Episode 3

Minister Ranj Pillai on Yukon’s response and recovery from COVID-19

The territories face special challenges when it comes to dealing with an outbreak. Many communities are remote or isolated, and emergency health care is often far away. On this episode of Bright Future, The Honourable Ranj Pillai, Deputy Premier of Yukon, shares his personal experience with COVID-19 and how it helped shape the territory’s response. He talks about the territory’s labour shortage before and during the pandemic, tourism, the economic outlook for the region, and Northern entrepreneurship.

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Focus Area—Indigenous & Northern Communities

Ranj Pillai

The Honourable Ranj Pillai

Deputy Premier of Yukon

Episode 2

André Picard on emerging from lockdown

Health columnist André Picard joins us to talk about what we can expect as we move to the next phase of the COVID-19 crisis: the slow reopening. What lessons have we learned so far? And will we remember them? How will we bring social distancing to the workplace? And what are the “bright spots” in this—the changes that are happening that have been a long time coming.

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Focus Area—Health

André Picard

André Picard

Health columnist
The Globe and Mail

Episode 1

Stéphane Hamel on contact tracing and data privacy

Stéphane Hamel is a leader in the digital marketing, analytics, and privacy world. He has been working in it and speaking about it for over 20 years. In this episode, he talks to us about privacy, consent, trust, and what it will take for Canada to get ahead of COVID-19.

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Focus Area—Innovation & Technology

Stéphane Hamel

Stéphane Hamel

CEO & Founder
Immeria Consulting Services Inc.


All episodes

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