Canadian Northern and Remote Health Network

The Canadian Northern and Remote Health Network provides an opportunity for decision makers, leaders, policy makers and practitioners to build leadership and improvement capacity by networking, comparing innovative solutions and sharing success stories. Healthcare service providers working in northern and remote areas of Canada face unique challenges with developing, implementing and evaluating effective and sustainable solutions in these regions. The network aims to improve the health status of people living in northern and remote regions of Canada.

2017 Roundtable

CFHI held its annual northern and remote roundtable from May 24 to 26, 2017, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

52 participants attended the event, representing 22 organizations,6 provinces and 2 territories. The goal of the roundtable was to further the Canadian Northern and Remote Health Network’s sharing of wise practices to support healthcare delivery improvements in northern and remote regions of Canada.

The format of the three days was a mix of presentations by specialists in four topic areas: stakeholder engagement in health policy and planning; healthcare improvement in a time of fiscal constraint; crisis response; and technology and access, and group discussions of the challenges and opportunities in these matters.

Objectives of the roundtable

Working together to:

  • Share tools, techniques and models for improved engagement in health planning and policy development
  • Discuss strategies for health delivery and improvement in a time of fiscal constraint
  • Provide opportunities for discussion and sharing of innovations in technology that increase and improve access to care in northern and remote regions
  • Highlight community crisis response approaches and actions
  • Provide networking opportunities to share wise practices in mental health and suicide prevention
  • Discuss past CFHI collaboratives and how an adapted model could potentially support learning related to suicide prevention
  • Determine an appropriate approach for a suicide prevention collaborative, and seek input and direction from participants to inform its development

The roundtable concluded with a site visit to Behchoko, the largest First Nation in the NWT. Participants visited the community health centre and the Jimmy Erasmus Seniors Home, experiencing healthcare delivery from the perspective of a self-governing Indigenous government.

Roundtable: Day 1

The roundtable began with an exploration of the term “meaningful engagement” and what it means in a healthcare delivery and policy context. Two presentations were made to provide additional context and experiences of stakeholder engagement. Several best practices were outlined, with specific time allocated to speak to youth engagement in health planning and program development – notably lessons learned related to  the importance of youth involvement in the development of  a  mental health strategy in the NWT and in the development and design of key initiatives at the Kids Help Phone, a national helpline for youth. 

In the afternoon, there was a facilitated discussion on how to take an environment of fiscal constraint and turn it into an opportunity. Key points shared at table groups were recorded on a flip chart and then shared with the larger group. Efficiency and effectiveness and evidence-informed decision-making were two common themes.

Roundtable: Day 2

Day 2 focused on responding to crisis in northern and remote regions and technology and access. A series of presentations was given to provide input into the conversation about disaster responses in northern and remote regions and the various aspects of technology as it relates to healthcare delivery.

Participants were asked to identify inspirations from the disaster response presentations that they would like to implement in their own practices, as well to share any of their own lessons learned. One group designed a framework of principals for developing community partnerships for crisis response, with an overarching principal of ensuring the cultural competence of services providers.

To conclude the day, a plenary discussion identified how the network together, and with their partners, could influence change in technology and access to the north and remote areas.

Roundtable: Day 3

Day 3 of the Roundtable consisted of a half-day session to discuss mental health and the opportunity to work together to design a suicide prevention collaborative. Following a presentation from CFHI staff on the collaborative model, members of the Network was asked to share their current experiences with suicide and suicide prevention in their jurisdictions.

Three presentations were made by healthcare organizations outside the Network – the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Centre for Suicide Prevention and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention – on the topic of mental health and suicide prevention.

Network members then travelled to Behchoko, where staff from the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency shared best practices and innovations in healthcare following the settlement of the Tłı̨chǫ land claim and self-government deal. Following a tour of the health centre, Network members were hosted by staff at the Jimmy Erasmus Seniors Home sharing a meal, while learning about the resources, services and programs offered as the Tłı̨chǫ community has assumed self-government. The establishment of the long term care facility is an important milestone for residents of the Tłı̨chǫ region.