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Seminar Series

2015 seminars

Evidence to Policy | Practice to Policy

You and the Census in the Age of Information

Munir Sheikh - Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, Former Chief Statistician of Canada, Deputy Minister of Labour and Co-Commissioner of Ontario’s Social Assistance Review

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: Monday May 11th, 2015 15:30-18:00

jennifer [dot] proudfoot [at] mcgill [dot] ca (subject: Munir%20Sheikh%20Seminar%20RSVP) (RSVP)

Munir Sheikh is an Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. He recently served as a co-Commissioner of Ontario’s Social Assistance Review, which submitted its Report to the Government of Ontario on transforming the program in October 2012.
He served the Government of Canada in many senior level positions including the Chief Statistician of Canada, Deputy Minister of Labour, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Expenditure Review at the Privy Council Office, Associate Deputy Minister, first at Health Canada and then at Finance Canada, and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Tax Policy at Finance Canada.
Mr. Sheikh holds a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters in Economics from McMaster University. He has published extensively in academic journals in the areas of international economics, macroeconomics and public finance. His work has been widely quoted and reproduced in textbooks and included in books of collected readings.  He also taught at Queens University, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa for many years.


Between Samaritans and States: The Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs

Jennifer C. Rubenstein - Assistant Professor, Department of Politics University of Virginia


Large-scale, Western-based humanitarian INGOs, such as Oxfam, CARE, and Doctors Without Borders, are often either celebrated as heroes or maligned as incompetents 'on the road to hell'. These characterizations are often inaccurate; they also fail to offer a vocabulary for recognizing and grappling with the ethical predicaments that humanitarian INGOs regularly face.  A better approach is to conceptualize these organizations as somewhat governmental, highly political, and often 'second-best' actors. Doing so enables us to recognize the ethical predicaments they regularly face, and consider what it would look like for them to navigate these predicaments in ways that are as consistent as possible with democratic, egalitarian, humanitarian and justice-based norms.

America’s Indigenous Health Status Today and Associated Historical Federal Policies

Margaret Moss - Associate Professor and Coordinator - Nursing Management, Policy and Leadership Masters Specialty, Yale School of Nursing

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: March 19th, 12:30-14:00

This talk delves beyond the current health status and health outcomes for American Indians such as lowest life expectancies, highest homicide and suicide rates and, earlier and more severe onset of chronic diseases.  Concepts reach back beyond even social determinants of health such as poverty, low education, no phone, poor housing, lack of transportation and food insecurity.  The ideas presented are structural determinants of health which largely put the social determinants of health into place and subsequent health outcomes.  Laws and policy are the main examples of structural determinants in this presentation.

Run, hide or fight? What should nurses do in the midst of a major health care reform?

Damien Contandriopoulos - Associate Professor in Nursing, Researcher at the Public Health Research Institute at University of Montreal (IRSPUM), Co-director, knowledge translation platform in Quebec's provincial Nursing intervention network

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: March 13th, 11:30-13:00

After years of half-hearted reforms and immobilism, Quebec's health care system will likely experience deep transformations in the next years. This presentation will discuss the potential effects of current legislative transformations (Bills 10, 20, 28 ... and more to come) and the challenges that lie ahead. The discussion will focus on the place and role of nurses and nursing in those processes.

When good intentions go wrong: Smoking policies and the creation of the socially marginalized smoker

Katherine Frohlich - Associate Professor, Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Université de Montréal

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: March 12th, 12:30 -14:00

Despite a declining trend in population-based smoking levels across industrialized nations, one area of concern to tobacco control and public health policy is the following: smoking prevalence and incidence is displaying an increasingly steep social class gradient with people of lower educational attainment, in working class occupations and lower income levels experiencing lower rates of decline in smoking than other social categories.  This presentation explores the role that public health policy plays in the creation of the “marginalised” smoker, discusses the shortcomings of population-based policies to reduce smoking in certain population groups, and offers some policy options.

Far From the Madding Crowd: How Urban Life Affects Psychosis Risk

James Kirkbride - Sir Henry Dale Fellow, Division of Psychiatry, University College London

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: March 5th 12:30-14:00

In this talk Dr. Kirkbride will outline how numerous studies show elevated rates of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in urban populations. He will review the evidence for this, the limits to knowledge and the strength of support for a casual association. He will go on to show that being far from the madding crowd is no guaranty against schizophrenia, presenting recent epidemiological data gathered from a rural, U.K. population.


A Child-Rights Based Approach to Anti-Violence Efforts in Schools

Tara Collins - Assistant Professor, School of Child & Youth Care, Ryerson University


Growing concern about violence in schools has led to greater research on the causes and consequences of bullying, as well as approaches to violence in school. This research and various tragic events have inspired numerous governmental and community responses ranging from anti-bullying legislation to social programs. However, very little attention has been given to human or child rights in research, policies and social programs. This presentation introduces findings of a project that attempts to bridge the gap in the literature and public discourse between research on bullying and child rights. Based on research on policies and programs targeting violence in school, as well as participatory research unveiling the viewpoints and experiences of young people and key community and government stakeholders, my colleague Prof. Mona Paré (University of Ottawa) and I propose a theoretical child rights-based framework applied to situations of violence in schools. We anticipate that this research will support the development of evidence-based initiatives, and lead to the development of evaluation tools for anti-violence initiatives. The presentation addresses the following questions: What is the role of child rights in analyzing situations of violence in schools? How does a holistic approach to children based on child rights inform analysis of public responses to violence in schools? How do child rights support the development of a framework and evaluation tools that can be used in situations of violence in schools?  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the main reference point to discuss child rights as a specific body of human rights, and to assess existing approaches to anti-violence efforts.

Patient-centered service design and policy: hopeful evidence-based strategies

Susan Law - McGill Department of Family Medicine and Director of St. Mary's Research Centre


‘Patient-centered’ rhetoric is everywhere, but what strategies might really make a difference in health and healthcare? Examples of research and health system initiatives to design and implement evidence and experience-based quality improvement will be presented, as well as emerging evidence of clinical and cost-effectiveness.

Organisational interventions improving access to community-based primary health care for vulnerable populations

Jeannie Haggerty  - Chair of Family and Community Medicine, McGill Department of Family Medicine

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: February 3rd 12:30-14:00

This presents some initial results from a Canada-Australia research program, with a goal to implement organizational innovations that improve access to services for vulnerable populations.  We are working with partners to identify local access needs in three Canadian provinces and three Australian states. They then select, co-design and implement interventions.  To inform the menus of options available to partners, we have done a scoping review and environmental scan to identify organizational innovations directed towards vulnerable populations.  This seminar will present the methods and results of the scan, and their organization into a typology of intervention components that can be combined into an intervention to be administered.  Examples of various interventions will be presented as well as how the typology of interventions is being applied by our local Quebec partnership.

2014 seminars

Maternal health literacy and child vaccination in India 

Mira Johri - Département d'administration de la santé, Université de Montréal

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: December 11th 12:30-14:00

There is a strong, positive link between parental—particularly maternal—education and child health and survival. In this talk, Mira Johri will examine the role of maternal health literacy, a rapidly modifiable factor closely related to mother’s education, as a potential determinant of child health in developing countries. Mira Johri and colleagues designed a cross-sectional survey in two sites in India to study whether the well-documented impact of maternal education on child health operates partly through mother’s knowledge and understanding, taking child vaccination as an endpoint. After rigorous statistical controls, they found that maternal health literacy was positively associated with children’s receipt of vaccines in disadvantaged rural and urban populations in India. Initiatives targeting health literacy could potentially circumvent barriers due to low education and improve vaccination coverage and child health outcomes in developing countries.

What Kinds of Evidence do we Really Need for Policy?: Reflections on Multiple Methods for Answering Policy Relevant Health and Environmental Research Questions

Hisham Zerriffi, Ivan Head South/North Research Chair; Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES:November 13th 12:30-14:00

As the title of this series implies, good policy should be based on good evidence.  However, this begs the question of what types of evidence and levels of evidence are necessary to suggest policy?   Are randomized control trials truly the “gold standard” for evidence in establishing environmental and health policy as some would claim?  What role should more qualitative research play in addressing policy relevant research?   Examples, based on my own work as an inter-disciplinary scholar using methods as diverse as computer models of power systems through to qualitative interviews, will be used to illustrate the diversity of approaches to policy relevant research and serve as a starting point for discussion of how, when and what types of evidence are used for policy formulation.

Fighting back when society makes you sick: Connecting activism to global health

Robert Huish, Dalhousie University

EVIDENCE TO POLICY SERIES: November 6, 12:30-14:00

Global health calamities derive less from specific diseases and more from deadly and misinformed biases that lead to inadequate responses to suffering.  There is sufficient scientific knowledge to overcome, if not relieve the suffering of, most of our global health calamities. But ensuring access to primary care health resources for marginalized and under-resourced areas of this world continues to baffle health policy experts.  In this talk Robert Huish argues that social activism is needed to build better understanding of the global health landscape.  Only by breaking out of current global health frameworks grounded in "altruism" and "charity" can work be done to strengthen health care systems for better health promotion and disease prevention.  Dr. Huish proposes a solidarity approach to global health where activists and scholars have a greater voice for global health action.  He highlights how the current approach to global health overlooks numerous calamities, including the urgency for cancer care in Africa; a crisis that he suggests will be our greatest global health challenge in the 21st century.

The season kicked off with an event on October 14 to launch the Evidence to Policy theme.

Practice to Policy Talks


RSVP/Queries to jennifer [dot] proudfoot [at] mcgill [dot] ca (subject: IHSP%20Seminar%20Series)