Policy Forum

Stay tuned for more information on our 2022 Policy Forum

LSO’s Annual Policy Forum, now entering its 12th year, will bring together key stakeholders from across the industry to strategize and collaborate on how we can empower the life sciences sector. In the fight against COVID-19, Canada has done well in navigating through challenging times and the life sciences sector has been a key partner in achieving this success. The goal of this policy forum is to collaborate with decision makers and industry leaders to develop key outputs that will enable our sector to be an integral
focus in future policy development; while strengthening public/private partnerships. The 2021 Policy Forum will be held virtually over the course of one week starting November 1st and concluding on November 5th. The major theme of this year’s forum will be “Empowering the Life Sciences in Ontario’s Resilient Future”. See the full agenda here.


EVENT PASSED: November 1st – 5th, 2021
Time: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Virtual

Day 1 – Monday, November 1st 

Life Sciences as a Common Goal

The COVID19 pandemic has thrust the life sciences sector into the public spotlight. Everyday conversations now include topics like mRNA vaccines and rapid antigen testing for example. But how long will this profile last? How do we maintain this momentum to enhance preparedness for future pandemics and to ensure the life sciences sector is central to future public policy development? Beating COVID19 has been a common goal for all stakeholders; how do we craft a mission-driven approach for life sciences post pandemic?

  • Samira Mubareka, Department of Microbiology and Division of Infectious Diseases, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Research Institute; Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Public-Private Partnership: Has Crisis Forged Lasting Trust?

Public/Private partnerships have always played an important role in life sciences. From research to healthcare, manufacturing to food security; these partnerships are critical to Canada’s social and economic wellbeing. The pandemic took these partnerships to new levels of collaboration: regulators accelerating reviews, companies working directly with governments worldwide to ensure supply of PPE and vaccines. Private/private collaborations that overcame competitive barriers were also key to responding to the crisis. Have these partnerships forged greater trust between private and public sectors? Will these collaborations continue? What does each side want or need in order to continue this level of partnership?


Moderator: Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics

  • Fabien Marino, Site Head, Toronto, Sanofi Pasteur Limited
  • Keith Warriner, Professor, Department of Food Science, University of Guelph
  • Lindsay Williams, Vice President, Managing Director & Government Affairs, Canada , Stryker Canada
  • Clean Works


 Political Party Life Sciences Platform – Liberals

  • John Fraser, MPP – Ottawa South, Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills,Ontario Liberal Party


Day 2 – Tuesday, November 2nd  

Public trust / Science communication Understanding Science

Science communicators and public health officials have gained celebrity status during the past 18 months. But some have also attracted criticism for unclear or changing guidance. Uncertainty is part of science but how do we balance transparency with clear messaging for public consumption on key issues like public health, climate change and GMOs for example? What have we learned about science communication during the pandemic? How do we apply these learnings to help retain public trust in science and to engage the public in life sciences policy discourse?

Speakers: Jack Bobo, Food Futurist,  Futurity Food – Confirmed


Building an inclusive next generation

As we emerge from the pandemic, jurisdictions around the world recognize the importance of having a robust domestic life sciences sector. The Canadian government has invested heavily in biomanufacturing for example. But as we aim to grow our global footprint in life sciences, we need to ensure we have the talent to sustain this growth. Moreover, we need to ensure this next generation life sciences workforce is inclusive and diverse to bring new perspectives to address systemic challenges within the life sciences ecosystem.


Moderator – Nadia Theodore, SVP, Global Government & Industry Relations, Maple Leaf Foods

  • Eugenia Duodu Addy, Chief Executive Officer, Vision of Science
  • Rob Henderson, President & CEO, BioTalent Canada
  • Lisa Richardson, Associate Dean, Inclusion & Diversity, University of Toronto


Political Party Life Sciences Platform – Greens

  • Mike Schreiner, MPP – Guelph, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario


Day 3 – Wednesday, November 3rd   

Global Partnerships: Are we in it Together?

The global pandemic has illustrated inequities in access to vaccines while at the same time highlighting the fact that our borders do not protect us against worldwide challenges like COVID19 or climate change. With growing sentiment around domestic biomanufacturing capacity and sentiments of protectionism and nationalism; how do we ensure that we can respond as global partners to both current and future global crisis?

Speaker: Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO of Amref Health Africa


ONE Health: An All-of-Life-Sciences Challenge

ONE health recognizes the linkages between human, animal and environmental health. From zoonotic diseases, to climate change and the social determinants of health; the ONE health approach is a more cohesive view of how we are part of a worldwide ecosystem. How will ONE health impact public policy, research and the life sciences sector as we emerge from the COVID19 pandemic?


Moderator – Jeff Wichtel, Dean, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), University of Guelph

  • Krista Howden, Senior Scientific Advisor, One Health Scientific Solutions Inc
  • Tim Nelson, President & CEO, Farm Health Guardian
  • Thomas Koch, Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Scientific Officer, eQcell Inc.


Political Party Life Sciences Platform – NDP

  • Chris Glover, MPP – Spadina-Fort York, Critic, Technology Development and Innovation, New Democratic Party of Ontario



Day 4 – Thursday, November 4th  

Unlocking Life Sciences Innovation

As Canada looks to post-pandemic economic recovery, the life sciences sector is poised for growth. But we have historically struggled to translate our world-class science into globally competitive companies. The federal government has announced a life sciences strategy that promises an all-of-government approach to developing the sector, including enabling innovation by ensuring world class regulation. How can this strategy translate into practical policy to support our growing life sciences sector?

  • Michelle McLean, Senior Vice-President, Acting General Manager, Ottawa and National Sector Lead, Health + Wellness, Hill+Knowlton Strategies


Accessing Capital in a Post-pandemic World

Access to capital has been a perennial challenge for growing Canadian SMEs. The pandemic has raised awareness around many areas of life sciences and its importance to our economic and societal prosperity. Has this new profile translated into increased investment opportunities for life sciences companies? Will cash strapped governments retreat from supports for research and early stage companies? What was the impact to SMEs during the pandemic and what is the outlook for recovery?


Moderator – Anne Woods, Managing Director, Life Science & Healthcare, Silicon Valley Bank

  • Peter van der Velden, Managing General Partner, Lumira Ventures
  • Genevieve Guertin, Vice-President, Investments – Life Sciences Fonds de solidarité FT
  • Matt Plummer, Senior Associate, Lewis & Clark Partners – AgriFood



Day 5 – Friday, November 5th

An Integrated Digital Ecosystem

The digitization of life sciences, from health to agriculture, is continuing to evolve. Access to health data has been identified as a huge opportunity for both economic and research benefits. But many challenges remain around privacy, interoperability, access and intellectual property. Then there’s big data and how we manage and extract useful information across multiple platforms. Layered onto these challenges are emerging solutions in AI and machine learning. How do policymakers tie these pieces together and develop digital frameworks that enable collection, sharing and access to data?


Moderator – Dvorah Richler, Head, Breakthroughs with Roche, Innovation Hive, and Strategic Healthcare Partner, Medical Division Roche Canada

  • Carole Piovesan, Managing Partner, INQ Data Law
  • Roxana Sultan, Vice President, Health, Vector Institute

To read the full Report & Recommendations from our Annual Policy Forum, visit: http://bit.ly/2FKaDS0