In the world of Canadian government affairs, Ryan Banfield is both a rising professional and an enthusiastic, passionate fan.
Ryan was born in Toronto and grew up in Orangeville, ON and Richmond Hill, ON. When Ryan was in high school, the popularization of politics in the mid-2010s introduced Ryan to the complex world of government affairs and developed within him a deep interest in public policy. Like many other young people, Ryan gravitated towards government affairs because of its potential to help improve the lives of large numbers of people.
Ryan’s growing passion for policy led him to dedicate his professional career to the Government of Canada. He decided to pursue a Joint Honours degree in Public Administration and Political Science at the University of Ottawa with the intention of turning that into a career as a policymaker for the federal government. His interest in public sector affairs has grown ever since.
In 2019, at the beginning of his first university term, Ryan joined the Fulcrum, which is the University of Ottawa English-language independent student newspaper. During the 2019 Canadian federal election campaign, Ryan led the Fulcrum’s efforts to interview as many local candidates as possible. The resulting series of six articles became the most popular articles on the Fulcrum’s website during the time leading up to the election.
In the summer after Ryan’s first year of university, he launched the CivNews podcast. The podcast was intended to help inform people’s understanding of the Canadian public service by providing news coverage focused on bureaucracy as a compliment to the news media’s more popular coverage of elected representatives. The COVID-19 pandemic created a changing context to federal bureaucracy that was not only worth covering but also provided copious important stories to cover. A few episodes in, the podcast evolved to include interviews, which gave Ryan and his guests the opportunity to explore complex political topics through conversation.
Ryan’s largest journalism project began in early 2020 as an idea to simply graph the University of Ottawa’s tuition over time. In the summer of 2020, however, the project grew and evolved into an ambitious synopsis of how undergraduate tuition works in Ontario. In the period from May to August of 2020, Ryan drew from seven high-profile interviews and dozens of news articles and documents to make sense of the trends of uOttawa’s undergraduate tuition and the factors which caused them including government and university policies. Ryan eventually posted the article to Medium in December of that year.
In 2021, Ryan got his first job in the federal government as a policy analyst for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). In this job, he mainly conducted research that informed the development of new proposals for funding programs that are meant to strengthen First Nations governments across Canada. Ryan was also invited to deliver an informal presentation on the current state of homelessness in Canada during a lunch-and-learn session.
In 2022, Ryan returned to the federal government as a policy analyst working for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). At that time, the agency’s governance committees had already restructured and expanded to deal with the worst periods of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing nature of the pandemic as well as the uncertainty regarding how the pandemic will trend in the future caused the agency’s committees to restructure themselves again. Ryan was involved in writing documents that helped the governance committees in this restructuring process by giving them resources to clarify their responsibilities and rules and to make running committee meetings easier. It was here that Ryan co-wrote his first briefing note, which is an important milestone for any policy analyst.
Finally, in the summer of 2022, Ryan accomplished his goal of joining his dream agency: the Privy Council Office (PCO). As a member of PCO’s Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) team, Ryan was responsible for handling records on a myriad of topics and clearances up to the Top Secret level and taking these records through the process that prepares them to be released to the public without compromising national security. Ryan’s work with the government’s internal records involved organizing, sorting, labeling and uploading them, sending them to experts for their advice on what to redact and redacting the text himself in accordance with the law. At the same time, the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics was studying the Access to Information Act with the intention of determining how the law should be amended. During this study, Ryan’s managers were invited to testify to the committee to give PCO’s perspective on the current state of ATIP in Canada. Ryan was a member of the team of staff responsible for getting the managers prepared so that they have enough knowledge to answer any question they are asked. Ryan helped to compile important documents and highlight the most important parts so that the managers can easily consume the background information that they need to know for their testimonies. The biggest lesson that Ryan learned from his time working for PCO is that, no matter how high-ranking and professional a part of government may be, it will always be defined and shaped by the imperfect humanity of its staff.
Throughout the past couple of years, Ryan has also participated in student politics, particularly as an advocate for students’ freedom of expression in the areas controlled by the University of Ottawa Students’ Union. Ryan has put forward motions at Students’ Union general assemblies and has worked on the social media campaign of a candidate running for a seat on the Students’ Union’s Senate.
Ryan’s perspective on government affairs has been shaped by his experiences, and he has seen a lot, sometimes from the inside. He was a journalist during the 2019 federal election campaign, he worked for CIRNAC during the discovery of unmarked graves near former residential schools, he worked for PHAC as the rise and fall of the Omicron variant changed the pandemic and prompted PHAC to change in turn, and finally he worked for the Privy Council Office’s ATIP team at the time when Parliament was studying the Access to Information Act and seeking insight from current and former Privy Council Office and ATIP officials. This has given Ryan an intimate knowledge and understanding of how government works not just through its formal processes but also through its informal norms, conventions and culture.
Ultimately, throughout his entire adult life, Ryan Banfield has sought to participate in government affairs and to invest his time in efforts that have the potential to help people in some way. Ryan continues to have passion for his work because he is doing what he wants to do in life. Ryan’s main career goal is to create policies and programs that address homelessness and poverty. Wherever the next few years take him, Ryan will be up to the challenge.
|Period Employed||Job Title||Employer||General Responsibilities|
|September, 2022 to December, 2022||ATIP Analyst||Privy Council Office||Prepare, organize, sort, label, upload, send and redact documents up to the Top Secret clearance level that are bound to be released to the public.|
|January, 2022 to April, 2022||Policy Analyst||Public Health Agency of Canada||Draft and edit documents that help the agency’s governance committees to restructure themselves and clarify their processes.|
|May, 2021 to August, 2021||Fiscal Policy Analyst||Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada||Conduct open source research to inform new funding program proposals.|
|May, 2020 to August, 2020||Host||CivNews (Self)||Research and read out news reports and talk to guests during interviews.|
|September, 2019 to August, 2020||Journalist||The Fulcrum||Scheduled and conducted interviews and wrote articles that present those interviews.|
|April, 2018 to August, 2018 and April, 2019 to August, 2019||Customer Service Representative||Terra Greenhouses||Transported items to customers’ cars, delivered items to customers’ houses and organized and maintained the store.|
If you want to connect with Ryan, you can email him at [email protected] or contact him via his LinkedIn profile.