2021 | Translating COVID-19 emergency plans into policy: A comparative analysis of three Canadian provinces, Policy Design and Practice, vol. 4, no 1, pp. 115-132.
Following recent health crises—mad cow, SARS, H1N1—, countries and subnational entities refined their policy infrastructure to better respond to outbreaks, leading to pandemic emergency plans. These plans, which are the result of complex public policy-making processes, were translated into public policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to important policy issues and changes. Were these plans applied as planned? How did they evolve, as a policy object, during the pandemic? How do they compare among national/subnational entities? This paper proposes a comparative analysis of the existing plans, their temporal mobilization during the first 3 weeks of the pandemic, the policies they led to, and their successive revisions within a short period of time. Our analysis problematizes the translation process between policy and practice, bringing new light to the policy-making process under emergency and crisis. Informed by policy learning research and using a qualitative content analysis of existing COVID-19 pandemic plans in the three largest and most affected Canadian provinces (Québec, Ontario, and British Columbia), this article provides not only a better understanding of real-time policy making but also crisis-induced policy learning at the organizational level.