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The Globe and Mail’s work investigating why Ottawa and the Public Health Agency of Canada were caught flat-footed by the COVID-19 crisis has been honoured for excellence in journalism by the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

The work examined how Canada’s early warning pandemic system left Canada under-informed and ill-prepared for the pandemic. Canada’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network, a branch of PHAC, was undone through a series of critical government missteps, including the removal of the country’s once lightning-fast alert system.

“The CJF award means the world to all of us at The Globe and Mail,” said the Globe’s editor-in-chief David Walmsley. “The investigative work carried out by Grant Robertson showed what Canada lost when it dismantled the early warning pandemic system. His work was a vital wake-up call.”

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Christopher Waddell, chair of the award jury and professor emeritus of Carleton’s School of Journalism, called the series “excellently researched.”

“It clearly explains why Canada was not prepared for the pandemic after a decade of cutbacks to public-health spending.”

The series has also been nominated as one of six finalists for the 2020 Michener Award for distinguished public-service journalism.

The foundation also honoured Globe health columnist André Picard, who, along with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, was given a CJF Tribute award in recognition of “exceptional” work providing accurate and vital information during the pandemic.

This spring, Mr. Picard won a National Newspaper Award for his columns after the awards noted that his work on long-term care and Canada’s pandemic response had become required reading for Canadians trying to understand unprecedented times.

The foundation awarded Globe health reporter Wency Leung a William Southam Journalism Fellowship, which will allow her to spend an academic year auditing courses at Massey College at the University of Toronto.

Other winners of CJF awards included The Narwhal, an online non-profit magazine based in Victoria that won for an award for excellence in the small-media category for its reporting using freedom-of-information requests that revealed new information about the Site C dam, the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history.

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Toronto Star reporters Alyshah Hasham and Wendy Gillis, court and crime reporters, were recognized for their stories addressing women’s experiences of male violence.

The CBC Radio series What on Earth was given the Climate Solutions Reporting award, a $10,000 award celebrating work about innovative solutions to climate change.

The CJF Black Journalism Program, newly launched to amplify Black voices and improve coverage of Black issues while cultivating Black journalists, will send three journalists for six-month fellowships at CBC/Radio Canada and CTV News.

Inaugural recipients were Tiffany Mboyo Mongu, a freelance associate producer with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo; Dannielle Piper, a Vancouver-based freelance journalist; and Josie Fomé, a Montreal-based freelance journalist and podcaster.

The CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship aimed at promoting better understanding of Indigenous issues, went to Riley Yesno, researcher, writer and PhD student at the University of Toronto, and Shayla Sayer-Brabant, a graduate of the First Nations University of Canada in Regina. CBC News will host them for one month at its Indigenous Centre in Winnipeg.

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