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May 20

Keeping Food on the Table: COVID-19 and the Canadian Food Supply Chain

Webinar with Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Keith Currie and Barry Sawyer

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended Canada’s food supply chain, from dairy farms to meat packaging plants to grocery stores and restaurants. The C.D. Howe Institute invites you to join us on May 20 to hear an expert panel discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s food supply chain and our country’s food security in the wake of a pandemic.


C.D. Howe Institute events and webinars are open to members and their guests.

Please follow this link or contact events@cdhowe.org to register.


Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Professor, Food Distribution and Policy, Faculty of Management and Professor, Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University; Director, Agri-food Analytics Lab

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is a Professor in food distribution and policy in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is also the Scientific Director of the Agri-food Analytics Lab, also located at Dalhousie University. He is as well the former Dean of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University. Before joining Dalhousie, he was affiliated with the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute, which he co-founded. While at the University of Guelph, he was also the Associate Dean of Research for the College of Business and Economics.

Known as “The Food Professor”, his current research interest lies in the broad area of food distribution, security and safety. He is one of the world's most cited scholars in food supply chain management, food value chains and traceability.

He has authored five books on global food systems, his most recent one published in 2017 by Wiley-Blackwell entitled “Food Safety, Risk Intelligence and Benchmarking”. He has also published over 500 peer-reviewed journal articles in several academic publications. Furthermore, his research has been featured in several newspapers and media groups, including The Economist, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Foreign Affairs, the Globe & Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star.

Dr. Charlebois sits on a few company boards, and supports many organizations as a special advisor, including some publicly traded companies. He also has done some work on social licensing, which include public trust assessments and risk communication evaluations. Charlebois is also a member of the Scientific Council of the Business Scientific Institute, based in Luxemburg. He conducts policy analysis, evaluation, and demonstration projects for government agencies and major foundations focusing on agricultural policies and community development both in Canada and in development settings. Dr. Charlebois is a member of the Global Food Traceability Centre’s Advisory Board based in Washington DC, and a member of the National Scientific Committee of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Ottawa. He has testified on several occasions before parliamentary committees on food policy-related issues as an expert witness. He has been asked to act as an advisor on food and agricultural policies in many Canadian provinces, in the United States, Brazil, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, China, Great Britain, Finland and the Netherlands.   


Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Keith Currie, a Collingwood Ontario-area farmer, was re-elected as President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) at the 2019 Annual General Meeting for his fourth one-year term leading OFA’s 38,000 farm family members. He is the organization’s 31st President. Currie has more than 25 years of experience with OFA and agricultural advocacy, which began with an appointment to the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture, where he held numerous positions including President from 2004-2006. He has served on and chaired many local and provincial agriculture organizations as well as many conservation initiatives during his career.

Currie’s career in advocacy has led to numerous appointments to provincial government advisory panels such as 2019, Ontario Advisory Panel on Climate Change, 2015, 4-Plan Review Panel: a review of significant land use plans in Ontario, and to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Minister’s Advisory Panel.

In February of 2019, Currie was elected as the First Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) at the CFA annual meeting in Ottawa.

With a diploma in Agriculture Production Management from Ridgetown College, Currie returned home to the Collingwood Ontario family operation, to manage an eighth-generation dairy and cash crop farm in Simcoe County with his wife Janice and four children. The dairy herd was dispersed in 2003 and the operation now focuses on production of grains and oilseed, forages for dry hay, along with a sweet corn and gladiolus flower production.


Barry Sawyer, National Council Vice-President and Executive Assistant to the National President, United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada

Barry Sawyer is an Executive Assistant to the National President of UFCW Canada – the nation's most progressive private sector union with over 250,000 members from coast-to-coast. 

Barry Sawyer's union career began in his teens, when he was a shop steward at his workplace – a UFCW-represented grocery store. A passionate advocate for workers rights advocacy, Barry’s transition to working as a staff member at various UFCW Canada Local Unions was a natural fit. 

Since then, in his many roles within the UFCW family, Barry has been involved in countless rounds of bargaining and arbitration across the country, where he has demonstrated his tireless resolve and commitment to workers’ rights and fairness in the workplace.

In addition to his position as Executive Assistant, Barry is also an enthusiastic organizer of community events and sports tournaments to raise money for various charities, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. 


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