(SAINT JOHN, N.B.) – A Saint John research team has received grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and ResearchNB to study how government policy impacts maternal and child wellness over generations.
Pediatrician and researcher Dr. Sarah Gander and the team at the New Brunswick Social Pediatrics Research Program will examine four years of data collected through the program’s Parent-Child Assistance Program that has been linked to 30 years of government administrative data. They will be looking for the protective and risk factors that impact health and social outcomes for birthing people and their children. The results of the study will be used to inform key areas for policy analysis.
Gander says she hopes the project will result in real policy change to help families.
“The Parent-Child Assistance Program provides support to birthing people who use drugs or alcohol in pregnancy. This is a very specific population who needs a lot of care and support as their lives are often filled with adversity and trauma that is individual and specific,” Gander said. “Our team has witnessed the real-life consequences of policies that can be inequitable, punitive, and stigmatizing and reverberate over generations. We will be quantifying this in a way that we hope informs evidence-based policy decisions and promotes a healthier future for families.”
ResearchNB chief executive officer Damon Goodwin said that ResearchNB was pleased to support Gander’s project. He hailed the award as growing evidence of the reputation that New Brunswick health researchers are building at the national level.
“Every success we have at the national level re-enforces that New Brunswick has high-calibre researchers whose work is second to none in Canada. We are a microcosm of Canada and the learnings from work done here can easily be scaled across the country,” Goodwin said. “ResearchNB was thrilled to support Dr. Gander’s application and believes the results could mean real change for families in our province and across the country.”
Gander’s project was one of 60 included in a $9-million announcement by federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos earlier this summer. The Policy Research for Health System Transformation Catalyst Grants are funded by CIHR and support innovative ways of doing research and integrating evidence into policy decisions that can help ensure better outcomes for Canadians.