Established by the President of the Royal Society of Canada in April 2020, the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 was mandated to provide evidence-informed perspectives on major societal challenges in response to and recovery from COVID-19. 

The Task Force established a series of Working Groups to rapidly develop Policy Briefings, with the objective of supporting policy makers with evidence to inform their decisions. 

Full Report

Executive Summary

Overview of Protecting Expert Advice for the Public: Promoting Safety and Improved Communications

The drivers of the harassment and intimidation of researchers are complex, widespread, and global in their reach. Nonetheless, we can do more to ensure that Canadians fully benefit from the work of Canada’s researchers while also preserving the security and safety of those researchers. This policy briefing focuses on policies and actions that can be implemented in the near term: to gather information on the problem, better frame public research communications, and ensure that mechanisms are readily available to support researchers who are threatened. The briefing focusses on researchers, but these behaviours are also harming journalists, politicians, public-health communicators, and many others more fully in the public eye than researchers. Some recommendations here may help to address this wider problem.

Authors of the Report

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Professor, Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University

Amanda Clarke, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy & Administration, Carleton University

Matthew Herder, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, and Director, Health Law Institute, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

Howard Ramos, Professor, Department of Sociology, Western University

Julia M. Wright (Chair), FRSC, George Munro Chair in Literature and Rhetoric, Department of English, Dalhousie University

For further information or for media requests, contact Erika Kujawski at 

This report has also been published in the FACETS collection of RSC Policy Briefings. The report is available here

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