COVID-19 Policy Response and the Rise of the Sub-National Governments
We examine the roles of sub-national and national governments in Canada and the United States vis-à-vis the protective public health response in the onset phase of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This period was characterized in both countries by incomplete information as well as by uncertainty regarding which level of government should be responsible for which policies. The crisis represents an opportunity to study how national and sub-national governments respond to such policy challenges. In this article, we present a unique dataset that catalogues the policy responses of US states and Canadian provinces as well as those of the respective federal governments: the Protective Policy Index (PPI). We then compare the United States and Canada along several dimensions, including the absolute values of sub-national levels of the index relative to the total protections enjoyed by citizens, the relationship between early threat (as measured by the mortality rate near the start of the public health crisis) and the evolution of the PPI, and finally the institutional and legislative origins of the protective health policies. We find that the sub-national contribution to policy is more important for both the United States and Canada than are their national-level policies, and it is unrelated in scope to our early threat measure. We also show that the institutional origin of the policies as evidenced by the COVID-19 response differs greatly between the two countries and has implications for the evolution of federalism in each.
Adeel, Abdul Basit; Catalano, Michael; Catalano, Olivia; Gibson, Grant; Muftuoglu, Ezgi; Riggs, Tara . . . and Zhirnov, Andrei. (2020). "COVID-19 Policy Response and the Rise of the Sub-National Governments". Canadian Public Policy, 46(4), 565-584. https://doi.org/10.3138/cpp.2020-101