Mamidosewin (meeting place, walking together)

Open Caucus

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals (now the Progressives) began our Open Caucus initiative. The goal of these meetings was to foster nonpartisan discussion on issues facing our country. We invited all parliamentarians as well as the public to take part in the discussions with a panel of experts on any given topic, and focused on informing ourselves and others on matters that are important to Canadians.


Open Caucus Themes

  • April 10, 2019 – Vaccination: We know what the problem is; what are the solutions?

    The Open Caucus, a forum for discussion on issues of national importance, was first established in 2014 when Senate Liberals opened their Caucus doors to the public on Wednesday mornings. The Open Caucus is now co-sponsored by the Independent Senate Liberals, the Independent Senators Group, and the Office of the Government Representative in the Senate. This non-partisan collaboration now brings together three groups representing the majority of the Senate’s current membership.

    The discussion is open to all Members of Parliament, Senators, parliamentary staff, media, and the public.

    Canada has one of the lowest child vaccination rates in the developed world. Nearly one-tenth of children are not vaccinated and remain vulnerable to a host of potentially fatal, vaccine-preventable diseases. According to a recent study, one-third of Canadians expressed vaccine hesitation, which is a reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines. Research suggests that the spread of disinformation on social media may be contributing to this resistance.

    As highlighted by the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases across Canada and the proliferation of online anti-vaccine sentiment, there is reason to explore this phenomenon. In light of National Immunization Awareness Week, we ask experts: How does media inform Canadians’ vaccine acceptance? What measures can be taken to ensure the creation and distribution of vaccine-related information is ethical, transparent and scientifically-based?

    The panelists were:

    • Timothy Caulfield: Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta
    • Dr. Theresa Tam: Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and Interim President
    • André Picard: Health Columnist with the Globe and Mail
    • Dr. Noni MacDonald: former Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University, Professor of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University
    • Dr. Anna Banerji: Faculty Lead, Indigenous and Refugee Health, Post MD Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

    The meeting took place:

    Wednesday, April 10, 2019
    8:00am – 10:00am
    1 Wellington Street, Room W110

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    The Progressives