Policy Assignments

The following is a listing of the five available policy assignments. Please note that you may only choose one assignment.

# Title Host policy organization Location Duration Supervisor
1 Identification of policy levers and best practices for public health education to reduce maternal-child exposures to harmful chemicals: Advancing intergenerational prevention of chronic disease and population health promotion BC Ministry of Health Victoria, BC 12 months Dr. Tamil Kendall, Director, Women’s and Maternal Health
2 Policy research, analysis and development to enhance access to primary health care for First Nations in BC through primary care home models First Nations Health Authority First Nations Health Authority, Coast Salish Territory, West Vancouver, BC 12 months Kevin Lowe, Team Lead (Primary Health Care and Health Benefits)
3 Interface of population and public health with primary care homes: Best practices model for alignment and support Population and Public Health Program, Fraser Health

 
Fraser Health Corporate Office, Surrey, BC 7.5 months Dr. Arlene King, Interim Executive Medical Director and Medical Health Officer
4 Cultural safety policy development Island Health (Aboriginal Health and The Office of Policy and Policy Integration and Implementation) Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, BC 12 months Penny Cooper, South Island Manager, Aboriginal Health
5 Analyzing Northern Health policies through a framework of Person and Family-Centred Care Northern Health (Professional Practice and Planning, Quality & Information Management departments) Prince Rupert or Prince George, BC 12 months Sheila Gordon-Payne, Chief Nursing Officer and Lead, Professional Practice

Title: Identification of policy levers and best practices for public health education to reduce maternal-child exposures to harmful chemicals: Advancing intergenerational prevention of chronic disease and population health promotion

Host policy organization: BC Ministry of Health
Location: Victoria, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Dr. Tamil Kendall, Director, Women’s and Maternal Health, Victoria, BC

Suggested areas of expertise: Understanding of epidemiology, toxicology, health outcomes, health information, risk communication, health communication and research methods, with a focus on maternal-child, rural and remote and First Nations and Aboriginal health.

Summary: Mounting evidence indicates that environmental exposures to harmful chemicals (specifically endocrine disruptors) have significant health implications. This policy assignment will advance policy in this area by conducting an analysis to identify provincial policy levers and an evidence-review to assess effective public education approaches. Focused on rural and remote, and maternal-child health in the provincial context, the work will also inform health promotion and risk reduction strategies for other populations and identify whole-system and whole-government approaches, as well as opportunities for collaboration with other levels of government.

The 2011 provincial health officer’s report — The Health and Well-being of Women in British Columbia — identified chemical exposures as critical for women’s health and brought attention to the disproportionate harms experienced by infants and young children. Since that time, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has urged their members to take action to prevent preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic chemicals. Reduction of environmental contaminants is a specific action identified in the BC First Nations and Aboriginal, Child and Family Strategic Approach (2013).

Environmental exposures during pregnancy (in utero) may be particularly dangerous for long-term outcomes. Associations with exposure to harmful chemicals include increased chronic disease (particularly obesity and cancers), altered reproductive function and compromised neurodevelopment. The risks of environmental exposures are not equitably distributed, and in some cases, disproportionately affect rural, remote and First Nations and Aboriginal communities.

As outlined in Setting Priorities for the BC Health System (2014) and the Healthy Families BC Policy Framework (2014), preventing chronic disease is essential for improving overall population health and reducing the growth of health care costs. This assignment supports the BC Ministry of Health’s strategic priorities by informing upstream prevention that will reduce chronic illness and improve the health of rural and remote populations. 

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Title: Policy research, analysis and development to enhance access to primary health care for First Nations in BC through primary care home models

Host policy organization: First Nations Health Authority
Location: First Nations Health Authority, Coast Salish Territory, West Vancouver, BC
Supervisor: Kevin Lowe, Team Lead (Primary Health Care and Health Benefits)
Duration: 12 months

Suggested areas of expertise: Health services research. Preference will be given to those applicants with lived Aboriginal experience.

Summary: The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) views primary health care (PHC) as a systems-based approach to health policy and service provision, including services delivered to individuals, as well as population-level “public health-type” functions. Thus, PHC encompasses a spectrum of health care models that range from first contact health care delivery that is comprehensive, patient-centred, and sustainable, to models that incorporate health promotion and disease prevention. PHC requires a multi-disciplinary approach and depends on inter-sectoral collaborations of the health sector with other levels of government and non-governmental organizations.

PHC has been identified as a priority by First Nations across all five regions in BC. Using the FNHA’s guiding principles and the Truth and Reconciliations Commission’s final report as foundational lenses, the policy assignment will be to research, analyze and develop policies to enhance access to PHC for First Nations Peoples in BC.

The legacy of colonialism has resulted in poorer health outcomes for First Nations in BC, including poorer access to health services. The proposed policy assignment will advance PHC by ensuring that the holistic First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness is at the core of a person and relationship-based model of care that is inclusive of areas such as mental wellness, traditional wellness, and oral health.

The fellow will bring health services research expertise to help develop innovative PHC service delivery models for urban, rural and remote settings as well as measuring outcomes from either a systems, or a person-patient perspective. Working with the Strategic Policy team in the Policy, Planning and Transformation department, the fellow will engage in policy work aimed at increasing primary care capacity to improve access through primary care home models. Recognizing that there can be no one-size-fits-all PHC approach, FNHA’s PHC approach is one that is scalable and reflects different community needs and contexts, while accounting for various geographies and settings (e.g. urban, rural). 

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Title: Interface of population and public health with primary care homes: Best practices model for alignment and support

Host policy organization: Population and Public Health Program, Fraser Health
Location: Fraser Health Corporate Office, Surrey, BC
Duration: 7.5 months
Supervisor: Dr. Arlene King, Interim Executive Medical Director and Medical Health Officer

Suggested areas of expertise: Knowledge of population health and public health, social determinants of health, and upstream prevention would be helpful.

Summary: Effectively addressing population-wide health issues in order to achieve the greatest impact requires that preventive interventions be targeted at the population as a whole, or at vulnerable groups, rather than individuals (i.e. upstream prevention). Examples of upstream prevention include advocating for healthy public policies (e.g. smoke free policies; affordable housing for vulnerable groups) and influencing the social, economic and physical environments in which people live, learn, work and play.

A key governmental priority with significant potential impact on Population and Public Health’s (PPH) vision to move towards upstream prevention is the development of Primary Care Homes (PCH), patient-centred medical settings where inter-professional team-based care is expanded around a physician practice to meet all primary care needs of a population in a community. Currently, Fraser Health is exploring ways in which primary care services can be supported to improve the access and continuity of care for our populations.

The purpose of this policy assignment is to inform how PPH can support PCHs to improve access to primary care services while ensuring that it achieves our vision of moving upstream and the goals set by the BC Guiding Framework for Public Health/Healthy Families BC. This assignment will inform policy decision-making on the complex PPH-PCH interface, especially where there is overlap in services between PPH and PCHs. The fellow will use a systematic approach and scientific research methodologies to: 1) develop an evidence-based strategic policy framework on the PPH-PCH interface; and 2) conduct an evaluation of the pilot implementation of this framework. The assignment requires expertise in literature reviews, qualitative research, policy analysis (including costing) and evaluation, as well as an understanding of population and public health and health systems change.

While it is critical to ensure the success of PCHs, it is also critical that PPH effectively prevent disease and injuries, to reduce the burden on the health system and ensure its sustainability.

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Title: Cultural safety policy development

Host policy organization: Island Health (Aboriginal Health and The Office of Policy and Policy Integration and Implementation)
Location: Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Penny Cooper, South Island Manager, Aboriginal Health

Suggested areas of expertise: Knowledge of cultural safety, history of Aboriginal people in Canada, evaluation.

Summary: Aboriginal people experience disparities in health outcomes and often avoid or delay accessing care due to historical experiences and poor treatment in health care systems. These are recognized as major concerns in health care systems worldwide. Cultural safety is an important principle that addresses these concerns and supports improved health care for indigenous populations. Cultural safety is a new and evolving area, and this assignment will advance understanding of the ways in which culturally safe policy, practice, and services can improve access and outcomes for indigenous peoples.

Cultural safety has been endorsed as best practice by multiple health associations and regulatory colleges. Island Health has been leading the way in BC, embracing cultural competency through the creation of a cultural safety program with facilitators and a curriculum that offers training for Island Health staff and physicians. Aboriginal Health, a department within Island Health, recently completed engagement with Aboriginal partners to update Island Health’s Aboriginal Health Plan. Feedback from these sessions indicates a need for more work to create culturally safe spaces and services. The MSFHR fellow will work toward the further development and implementation of a cultural safety policy that intersects all five of the BC Ministry of Health’s health sector strategies.

The fellow will gather, reflect on, analyze, and interpret feedback about the experiences of indigenous peoples who access Island Health services, collaborating with Island Health, First Nations Health Authority, First Nation Communities, Métis Chartered Communities, Friendship Centres, and others to develop a cultural safety policy and strategies for its implementation and evaluation. This assignment will advance Island Health’s current approach to setting appropriate policy agendas, and will be enhanced by the fellow’s expertise in Aboriginal health and cultural safety, in qualitative methodologies, and in implementation and evaluation (including strength-based wellness indicators). 

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Title: Analyzing Northern Health policies through a framework of Person and Family-Centred Care

Host policy organization: Northern Health (Professional Practice and Planning, Quality & Information Management departments)
Location: Prince Rupert or Prince George, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Sheila Gordon-Payne, Chief Nursing Officer and Lead, Professional Practice

Suggested areas of expertise: Interest in Person and Family-Centred Care, policy development, and rural/Northern health care.

Summary: Northern Health (NH) is providing an opportunity for a qualified applicant to explore the relationship between a Person and Family-Centred framework for health policy development and implementation in the predominantly northern rural context. Person and Family-Centred Care is an approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health services grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among health providers, patients/clients and families. The principles of Person and Family-Centred Care are: dignity and respect, information sharing, participation, and collaboration. This is a priority for the BC health system articulated in the BC Ministry of Health’s strategic plan.

In April 2015, NH embarked upon a deliberate path to Person and Family-Centred Care to expand and strengthen pockets of success and achieve an evidence-based and consistent approach to health care in northern BC. The 2016-2021 NH Strategic Plan outlines how NH will “embed a person- and family-centred approach in everything we do.”

This policy assignment will support strategic embedding of Person and Family-Centred Care in regional policies and clinical practice standards through the development of an evidence-based assessment tool that will be integrated into the policy development process. Specific project work will include knowledge synthesis, development and study of an evidence-based policy assessment tool; and critical appraisal of NH policy development process and/or published policies using the assessment tool. The scientific expertise of the fellow will ensure academic rigour in the literature review, analysis and synthesis, the application of the evidence in the development of the policy assessment tool, and the design of a study to test the assessment tool.

NH delivers health care across northern BC serving about 300,000 people, many of whom are Aboriginal. More than 7,000 NH employees work in over two dozen hospitals, 14 complex care facilities, public health units and specialized service offices. Improving the delivery of rural health services is a key priority for the BC government.

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