A New Reality

CBC’s The Play Exchange may have just revolutionized reality TV (so long, clan Kardashian) by allocating airspace to a meaningful game show. The twist? It’s an attempt to engage Canadians with, of all things, government policy. LIFT Philanthropy Partners’ CEO Bruce Dewar explains.


How did the idea for The Play Exchange came about?

It was originally based on a B.C. initiative that paired the provincial government with local partners to find stronger solutions to community issues. The federal government was looking at ways it could encourage Canadians to deal with health issues, and we suggested an online platform.

How does the show work?

Over 400 ideas were entered online, and we chose five judges who eventually picked six finalists. LIFT worked with the teams for about two months to flesh out business plans. The show lasts about an hour, and then Canadians across the country will get to vote for the winning plan, which will receive $1 million.

Were a lot of the entries similar?

No. We saw large companies, small organizations, individuals, and not-for-profits from coast to coast coming together to address health issues. They were really different across the country.

Entertainment-wise, who are the characters to watch out for?

Well, the judges picked solely on the plans, so the personalities of the team weren’t really taken into account. But then CBC assigned celebrities to back each group; for example, Patrick Chan, the figure skater, is championing the Sharing Dance team because he saw value in that movement.

What has happened to the teams that didn’t make the final?

Because it’s an online platform, we’ve experienced people looking through the entries for investment opportunities. The public health agency is also looking at those other entries that didn’t make the cut for tonight’s final.


The Play Exchange airs tonight on CBC at 7 pm Pacific Time.