Data Privacy in Smart Cities: An Inside Look at Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside Project

Sidewalk Labs is owned by Alphabet Inc., a sister company of Google. Their goal is to improve urban infrastructure through technological innovation, to promote affordable living, efficient transportation, and environmental sustainability.

That being said, Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside Project at Waterfront Toronto, first announced in 2017, has been subject to a great deal of criticism regarding their data privacy policies. Many of the critics of  this Smart City project call for more public oversight; clear direction about data ownership and governance; and improved transparency and accountability Today, we unpack these issues with our expert guests, Ann Cavoukian and Nabeel Ahmed.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the world’s leading privacy experts.  She is presently the Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, leading the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence and is also a Senior Fellow of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre at Ryerson University. She was the former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario for 17 years and more recently she resigned from her position as a privacy consultant for SideWalk Lab’s Quayside Project in October.

Nabeel Ahmed is a researcher and consultant on smart cities and social enterprise, and is currently on the steering committee of the Toronto Open Smart Cities Forum. He previously worked in the nonprofit, social enterprise and international development sectors and has degrees in urban planning, public administration, and business administration.

Shalini Ramgoolam,
Host & Producer
Nimmi Augustine,
Host & Producer
Alex Gold-Ape
l,  Host, Producer & Technical Producer
Nuri Kim, Executive Producer

Music Credits:
Sisters by Tribe Called Red ft Northern Voice
Mia by Bad bunny ft. Drake

Image Credit:,

The Munk School Student Events: LGBTQ+ Activism & Indigenous Child Welfare


The Munk School of Public Policy is fortunate to be home to multiple student-led groups who pursue important work and invite interesting guests throughout the year. This episode is about two of those events.

We will first be hearing from Professor Bob Rae who, alongside Professor Verne Ross, was invited in November 2019 by the newly-founded Indigenous Affairs Student Initiative to speak about Indigenous child welfare policy in Ontario.

Most Indigenous communities, even where they have some control over the child welfare system on reserve, or even in cities, are really just enforcing the law; the Ontario law or the provincial law across the country.  That’s the first problem. You’re really just administering somebody else’s rules — Bob Rae

Indigenous children make up just over 4% of the provinces population aged 15 or less, but represent over 30% of those in the province’s foster care system. Furthermore, The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the Federal Government has underfunded on-reserve services for Indigenous children.  

One of the things we definitely know as a result of the Blackstock case is that the per-capita funding for child welfare is much higher in non-Indigenous communities than it is in Indigenous communities. So that’s a real problem because that means that the basis for funding has been discriminatory — Bob Rae

I think the Indigenous youth movement is one of the hopeful signs. It’s the sign that people are fighting back and looking at saying well, what can we do to improve the conditions? How do we improve the conditions? How do we make a difference? How do we get the investments that we need to deal with the inequality? — Bob Rae

We will then be hearing from Reverend Cheri DiNovo and Dr. Nick J. Mulé, who were invited by Spectrum a few days earlier to speak about the past and future of LGBTQ2s legislation and activism in Ontario. Recent legislation in Ontario has seen the Progressive Conservative government rollback the province’s sex-ed curriculum, thus omitting references to sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex relationships. Furthermore, a motion passed by delegates at the Progressive Conservative convention explicitly called for all references to transgender people to be removed from the province’s curriculum.

Whenever these things to do happen, it’s not only the education leading up to it, it’s the education that comes afterwards as well. I think the really positive thing about having these rights come into place is it opens up the dialogue, it opens up discussion, it forces people to look at things from a different angle they wouldn’t have previously. Getting it to transfer substantially on the ground with the regard to the reality of people’s lives is very much a different story — Nick Mulé

We have to keep talking. We have to keep educating. And that means educating people who walk into our classrooms with absolutely diametrical ideas. We have to educate the electorate who don’t want to elect us. We have to educate policymakers who don’t want to make policy around us, and once policy is made, don’t want to enforce it, and don’t want to implement it — Cheri Dinovo

Bob Rae was elected eleven times to the House of Commons and the Ontario legislature between 1978 and 2013. He was Ontario’s 21st Premier from 1990 to 1995 and Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011 to 2013. He is a senior partner at OKT Law and teaches at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, focusing primarily on First Nations, Aboriginal and governance issues. He has written 5 books and is a companion of the Order of Canada.

Cheri  DiNovo is a Minister of the United Church. She served as MPP for Parkdale High-Park for 11 years. She has passed more private member bills than anyone else in Ontario’s history and has more pro-LGBTQ bills than anyone else in Canadian history. She performed the first legal same-sex marriage in Canada, passed Toby’s Act, an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression, and Bill 77, banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth in Ontario.

Nick Mulé is a professor at the School of Social Work at York University. He is the founder of Queer Ontario, was a founding member of Amnesty International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Action Circle, a founding board member for the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition and has been appointed co-chairperson of the Ontario LGBT Research & Policy Think Tank by Rainbow Health Ontario.

Alex Gold-Apel, Host & Producer
Amanda Lane, Technical Producer
Dimitri Treheles, Technical Producer & Executive Producer
Nuri Kim, Executive Producer

Music Credits:
Electric Pow Wow Drum by A Tribe Called Red
Closer by Tegan and Sara

Gun Violence: Various Perspectives

Welcome to this another exciting episode of Beyond the Headlines! On this episode will be discussing the policy responses to address the increase in gun-related violence.

As strategies to combat gun violence have been a focal point within all levels of government, various stakeholders have proposed solutions that target the policing and sociological issues that contribute to gun crime.

At the municipal level, councilors and residents have been calling upon Mayor John Tory for renewed funding for after-school programming for youth in at-risk communities. The funding would be dedicated to providing public youth spaces where participants can access recreational activities, community services (e.g. resume and cover letter workshops, mock interviews), be exposed to and learn from positive role models and even assistance in preparing to write GED tests.

Others are have asked for additional funding for Toronto Police Services to cover the expense of deploying additional officers in high risk areas, purchasing gunshot noise detection technology (aka ShotSpotter), or expanding the community policing initiative.

At the provincial level, Ford’s government has invested an additional $25 million “to fight guns and gangs.” Part of this investment includes $7.6 million in assigning one legal SWAT team per courthouse in order to “ensure violence criminal are denied bail and remain behind bars.” Attorney General Caroline Mulroney  claims that “these new resources will keep the worst offenders off the streets and keep our neighbourhoods safe” and former Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Michael Tibollo was proud to partner with police officers to crack down on crime in order to restore public safety.

Most recently, the federal government announced a $51.5 million investment into CBSA for an all-weather dog detector training facility, an expansion of  X-ray technology in postal and air cargo centers and additional training for the detection of concealed goods in vehicles crossing the border. In short, funding dedicated to front-line law enforcement personnel to help prevent illegal firearms from entering the country.  

With the assistance of our guests, we are going to dive head first into this issue and the examine whether the proposed policy responses will address the nuances and intricacies of gun violence.

Joe Couto is the Director of Government Relations and Communications at the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP). He has previously worked as a Senior Consultant with Enterprise Canada Consultants Inc., where he developed a thorough expertise in a number of public policy areas including municipal affairs, housing, energy, and taxation and fiscal policies. He is the author of Lobbying vs. Advocacy: Police Leaders as Advocates for Their Police Services and Their Communities (2012), Covered in Blue: Police Culture and LGBT Police Officers in the Province of Ontario (2014), and Gay. Female. Cop. The Intersectionality of Gender and Sexual Orientation in Police Culture (2018).

Doug Thomson is a professor at Humber College and has over 25 years of lecturing experience in four different countries and many academic institutions, including the University of Toronto.  With a doctorate in philosophy from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in homicide, his academic work also includes research on interpersonal violence,  genocide, community policing, and improving student’s learning and their social capital.

Robert Giannetta,
Host, Junior Producer
Aryeh Ansel,
Technical Producer
Nuri Kim,
Executive Producer

Music Credits
Not Dead by Fine Times
Maybe I’m Afraid by Lovelytheband
Pressure by Muse

E-Health Ontario


The definition of E-Health has many variations, but what it generally refers to is electronic communications and processes supporting health practices. Since 2008, the Ontario government has been focused on implementing a province-wide medical records database. This would create a single forum for physicians, pharmacies, testing centres, and patients to access. Theoretically this would electronically keep a patient’s entire medical history in the province.

The standardization of the data for sure in another barrier we’ve sort of encountered as we have started to put our data in. (29:35) – Gail Wilson

Ontario’s E-Health initiative was a big topic of discussion in 2009 when the Auditor General reported that the successive government had wasted 1 billion in taxpayer dollars. Contract awarding was said to have shown favouritism, and money was recklessly spend on this limousines and coffee runs. But since this story broke, discussions about E-health have quieted on the public front. That is why we are speaking today. In the policy field, you hear that one of the biggest areas of interest right now is in healthcare. Focusing on a health records database, we will be looking at some of the existing policy and discussing some of the areas of interest going into the future.

With all this rich data there, can we expose this data to the individual patient. There’s a lot of opportunity there for patients to be able to see their data across their continuum of care. But, there’d have to be a lot of policy work with how you grant access, what you can see, how you interpret that information.” (30:45) – Giuseppe Cammisa


According to Statistics Canada, the baby boom generation is defined as Canadians born between 1946 and 1965. In 2011, this demographic accounted for roughly 29% of the Canadian population, or roughly 3 in every 10 persons. Within Ontario, seniors aged 65 and older are the fastest-growing age group. In 2016, there were 2.3 million seniors living in Ontario, this accounts for 16.4% of total provincial population. By 2041, that number is projected to increase to 25%, amounting for a total of 4.6 million seniors. There are a number of other age-related considerations to take into account when examining Ontario’s healthcare system. First, Ontario’s senior population is becoming increasingly diverse. The number of visible minority seniors in Ontario increased by 44% between 2011 and 2016, compared to only a 16% increase among non-visible minority seniors. Second, aging in place has become more common as 93% of seniors live in private households, among which 63% live with a partner or spouse, and 23.5% live alone. Third, seniors in Ontario face an increased prevalence of numerous chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure (48.7%), arthritis (46.8%), diabetes (18.4%), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (7.3%). It is estimated that between 17 to 30 percent of Ontario seniors are impacted by aging-related mental health conditions, including depression and dementia. Collectively, these factors signal the importance and unique nature of addressing the healthcare needs of Ontario’s baby boomers.


These demographic considerations are projected to put fiscal pressure on Ontario’s healthcare system. With the cost for hospital care being three times higher than the average person ($842 per day for one senior, compared to $280 per day for one adult aged 18-64), the Government of Ontario faces increasing hospital expenses as baby boomers age. If these age-specific costs today are left as is and applied to the 2030 population, Ontario’s health costs could increase by $24 billion – this is equal to an increase of 50% more on healthcare spending today solely from the aging of the baby boomers. The healthcare sector also represents the largest sectoral expenditure in the OPS with health spending amounting to 42% of total government operating expenditure. The cost of hospital care, compared to long-term care and home care, is also fiscally burdensome on Ontario’s health care system. For example, the cost per day for one hospital bed for one senior is $842/day in comparison to one long-term bed equaling $126/day and home care equating to $42/day.


Structurally, Ontario’s healthcare system operates within the domains of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), with care being provided primarily through hospitals. Ontario’s health system is the outcome of a hospital-based insurance system, which has yet to be fully integrated and coordinated with primary care and Community Care Access Centres. The set-up of Ontario’s healthcare system has been noted as not aptly meeting the needs of an aging population that is facing higher incidence of multiple chronic conditions and has an expressed desire to age in place.


In light of the diverse needs of the aging population and today’s fiscal reality. It is prudent for the government to consider reforming the current healthcare system to ensure that is addresses the multitude and diversity of care needs facing seniors. With health sectoral costs continually increasing due to related increases in hospital-based care, it is important for the Government of Ontario to explore more efficient and responsive approaches to delivering health care for Ontario’s seniors. One way to achieve this goal is through the ehealth system.


In 2008, eHealth Ontario was created out of a merger between the Ontario Ministry of Health’s electronic health program and the Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), with a mandate to create electronic health records for all patients in the province by 2015. However, eHealth Ontario has been plagued by delays and its CEO was fired over a multimillion-dollar contracts scandal in 2009. Particularly, in late 2009, the Auditor General of Ontario published a highly critical report that documented problems with procurement rules and hiring practices. Private sector leadership unfamiliar with government practices, coupled with a sense of urgency, had resulted in a culture that did not comply with the exacting standards of the Ontario Public Service (OPS). In the years that followed the 2009 Auditor General’s report, the agency received further criticism and negative headlines when work ceased on two of the projects that were part of its original mandate. The Diabetes Registry was not completed because of project delays and, as technology rapidly evolved, the information that was to be captured in the database could now be accessed through patients’ electronic medical records. Management made the decision not to sink further investments into the project. The Medication Management database was cancelled because after a lengthy procurement process, the first of its kind, no vendor would undertake the work within the funding envelope proposed by government.


The agency today bears little resemblance to the organization that existed six years ago. Under new leadership and management, eHealth continues to operate of creating a Electronic Health Record, EHR, system that includes four fundamental components of 1. a secure network on which patient data can travel; 2. applications that enable users to record, store, and retrieve that patient data; 3. patient data, such as treatment history, test results, diagnostic images, and prescribed medications, in digital form; and 4. terminals or access points from which users can input and retrieve patient data. Moving into the future, hopefully eHealth Ontario could continue improve its EHR system and deliver high quality healthcare services to Ontario’s continue aging population.


[Interview begins at 12:20]

Giuseppe Cammisa possesses a wide-range of healthcare experience in both the public and the private sector. He has previous hospital experience around the Toronto area, having previously held positions at St. Joseph’s Health Centre and the University Health Network. He currently works as the Director of the Project Management Office at St. Michael’s Hospital where he manages a team in the delivery of clinical and business IT implementations for the organization.

Gail Wilson is the Director of Nursing Practice and Clinical System Adoption in the Professional Practice department of St. Michael’s Hospital. Gail possesses a great deal of clinical experience and has practiced in a variety of clinical settings. Currently, Gail is accountable for the clinical workflows and clinical staff education as it applies to all IT clinical applications within the organization.

Dr. Alykhan Abdulla is the Medical Director at the Kingsway healthcare centre in the outskirts of Ottawa. There, he practices family medicine and teaches medical students, internationally trained doctors, residents, and nurses regarding the concepts of primary care. Dr. Abdulla is very involved with the implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) in Ontario. He is a peer leader for the OntarioMD, meaning he is an expert user of Ontario Certified EMR programs and can provide support to other physicians in regard to efficient uses of EMR in their clinics.


Show Credits:

Erin Anderson-Birmingham, Host and Producer
Ji Chen (Tony) Yin, Producer
Anna Millar, Producer
Dimitri Treheles & Nuri Kim, Executive Director and Technical Producer

Music Credits:
Last Two Standing by Dave Sampson
Comin’ Home by City and Colour

The Weekly: Carving Spaces for Diversity in Policy

This week, in collaboration with the Gender, Diversity and Public Policy Initiative, we discuss diversity in policy and what it entails. In particular, we talk about how spaces for diversity are carved at the Public Policy Program at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.


Hiba Siddiqui, Senior GDPP Analyst
Sarah Khan, GDPP Analyst
Habiba Khaled, GDPP Analyst
Faiza Mehboob, GDPP Director
Antona Christus-Ranjan, MPP Equity Advisor
Nuri Kim, BTH Executive Director

The 411 on USMCA: What You Didn’t Think About


Since 1994 Canada, U.S. and Mexico have been economically tied through the North American Free Trade Agreement, harmonizing and liberalizing cross-border trade flows in a variety of exports and labour movements. That was until the election of Donald Trump, who called NAFTA the “worst trade agreement in history” and resolved to renegotiate the terms to be more in favour of the United States.

The United States has always had a problematic attitude towards NAFTA. The most immediate origins of the agreements was in the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and it was a Canadian initiative that took a lot of lobbying in Washington and hard negotiations — Robert Wolfe

President Trump sent his detailed list of changes to Canada and Mexico in July of 2017. What followed were several rounds of talks in hope of finding a new agreement that all sides could agree on. On the deadline for Canada-US negotiations on September 30th of this year, a preliminary deal was finally reached, and the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been signed and awaiting ratification by each country’s parliament.

It’s about rules as opposed to power. In the power imbalance like the US-Canada, Canada needed assurance then and now that when there are disputes, they will be resolved on an equal basis and let the evidence talk as opposed to pure power politics — Drew Fagan

In this episode, we seek to learn the impact of this new agreement, the history that led to these massive negotiations, and how the everyday Canadian may or may be affected. Welcome to Beyond the Headlines.

Robert Wolfe is Professor Emeritius from the School of Policy Studies of Queen’s University, teaching in the faculty from 1995 to 2017. Before his work in academia Robert worked in the Canadian foreign service, serving placements in Bangladesh and in the Canadian delegation to the OECD. He is a fellow at Institute for Research on Public Policy, where he an author and co-editor of “Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities”, which was published last year. (@BobWolfeSPS

Drew Fagan is a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Mr. Fagan is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Forum, where he has overseen recent research reports, as well as the C.D. Howe Institute and a number of other university institutes. Mr. Fagan was previously a Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Infrastructure in Ontario Public Service and an Assistant Deputy Minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Mr. Fagan is a sought after speaker and writer.


  • Kevin Hempstead, Producer and Host
  • Nimmi Augustine, Host
  • Nuri Kim, Executive Director and Technical Producer

Music Credits: 

  • American Woman, by The Who


The Weekly: Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

On November 6, 2018, Families, Children, and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos released Canada’s Poverty Reduction Act. The federal legislation defines Canada’s official poverty line for the first time and sets targets to reduce poverty.

Our weekly team discusses the implications of Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy with Joe Gunn from Citizens for Public Justice and Laura Neidhart from Canada Without Poverty.


Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice

Laura Neidhart, Development and Communications Coordinator for Canada Without Poverty 

Alex Gold-Apel
Dimitri Trehels
Shalini Ramgoolam


The Weekly: Canada’s Carbon Tax


On October 23, 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s federal carbon tax.

Our weekly team breaks down how pollution pricing will affect Canadians with David McLaughlin from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

David McLaughlin, Director of Climate Change Canada, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

Alex Gold-Apel
Dimitri Trehels
Vienna Vendittelli

Music Credits:
Over Everything by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

The Weekly: Cannabis Legalization

Beyond the Headlines is debuting its very first The Weekly episode! Tune in to our discussions of the societal implications of Cannabis Legalization in Canada.

Aryeh Ansel
Jasper Paredes
Dimitri Trehels
Vienna Vendittelli

Music Credits:
Over Everything by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

What Brings Us Together: A Discussion with the Young Diplomats of Canada Delegation to the OECD Forum 2018




In May 2018, a group of six young Canadians came together from around the world to serve as Ambassadors of the Young Diplomats of Canada to the OECD Forum 2018 in Paris. The Youth Delegation met with high-level leaders and thinkers from around the globe, to discuss what the future will look like for youth and to reflect on what brings us together.

We are facing challenges that none of us can solve on their own. Our countries are connected, our destinies interwoven, our solutions entangled. In the words of Dostoyevsky – we are all responsible to all, for all. So welcome to the OECD 2018 Forum. Welcome to explore the DNA and the potential for collective action.” said José Ángel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD, during his opening remarks at the OECD Forum 2018.

But it is also time to ask ourselves, why these pushbacks? Why these antibodies to our common cause are emerging? It is time to recognize that something is not working when the world’s richest 1% accumulate half of the world’s wealth. When more than 60% of the world’s employed work informally. When the richest 10% of the OECD population now earn 10 times more than the poorest 10%. It’s going in the wrong direction, fast.” Mr. Gurría continued.

While reflecting on the complexity of shaping policy in a post-truth world and identifying opportunities for civic engagement and co-creation with citizens, the 2018 Forum focused on addressing three key issues: International Co-operation, Inclusive Growth, Digitalisation.

Today, the Young Diplomats of Canada Delegation explore the conference themes and their implications for youth in Canada. In particular, the Delegates unpack rich Forum discussions on topics including trade, democracy and voting, housing inequality, digitization, and skills for the future of work.

Two representatives from the New Zealand Youth Delegation to the OECD Forum joined the Canadian Delegation in studio to discuss bilateral meetings had throughout the week with various high-level leaders, such as Helen Clark – the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand, representatives from Etalab in the French Prime Minister’s Office, Rob Nail – CEO and Associate Founder of Singularity University, representatives from the Canadian Permanent Delegation to the OECD and more.

The Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) is a federally incorporated non-profit, non-partisan, and youth-led organization. YDC develops the diplomatic leadership and international advocacy experience of young Canadians, through hands-on training programs and key partnerships that give delegates exclusive access to high-level geopolitical events and summits. YDC’s main focus is to create inclusive decision-making at the highest levels through carving space for young leaders to engage directly with global decision makers. You can visit YDC’s website for the latest information on recruitment, articles as well as reports on their activities.

[Interview begins at 2.45]


The Young Diplomats of Canada Delegation to the OECD Forum 2018, Hosts, Producers and Technical Producers

  • Tatheer Ali – Head Delegate
  • Celine Caira – Producer and Head Communications
  • Matthias Leuprecht – Ambassador
  • Adèle Bélanger-McMurdo – Ambassador
  • Sarah Bérubé – Ambassador
  • Garima Karia – Ambassador

Guests (in order of appearance):

  • Chhavi Breja – New Zealand Youth Delegation to the OECD Forum 2018
  • Bhavya Dhar – New Zealand Youth Delegation to the OECD Forum 2018
  • Helen Clark – 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Rob Nail – CEO and Associate Founder of Singularity University
  • Niels Braley – Etalab, Office of the French Prime Minister
  • Amélie Banzet – Etalab, Office of the French Prime Minister
  • Nicolas Vogtenberger – Etalab, Office of the French Prime Minister
  • Dr. Clement Dherbecourt, France Stratégie
  • Darren Rogers – Counsellor, Canadian Permanent Delegation to the OECD

Music Credits:

  • Change The Sheets by Kathleen Edwards
  • Entrepreneurs by Scott Holmes
  • Carry Me Home by Hey Rosetta!
  • Carried Away by Passion Pit
  • Breathe In Breathe Out by The Long War
  • Juice by Chromeo

Special Thanks:

Dimitri Treheles and Nuri Kim, Executive Producers

Ian Thomson – Executive Producer Emeritus