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Annual Report

Building new public policy options for Atlantic Canada

Sociologist Alison Luke is intrigued by questions around access to healthcare, and on how people relate to one another.

Today, she is firmly focused on a project that will help children with chronic and complex health issues in New Brunswick receive better care.

“Children with complex health needs and their families face seemingly unending stresses and challenges on a daily basis,” says Dr. Luke. “My hope is that we can make things easier for them while, at the same time, improving the care they receive.”

Dr. Luke is part of a team developing the New Brunswick Navigation Centre for Children with Complex Health Conditions, helping to guide young patients and their loved ones through what can be a medical maze.

She is working with Shelley Doucet, the Jarislowsky Chair in Interprofessional Patient-Centred Care at the University of New Brunswick Saint John, and Rima Azar, associate professor at Mount Allison University. They are aiming to launch the centre this fall.

“This is an exciting project that we expect will make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their families,” Dr. Doucet says. “But it wouldn’t be possible without the generous support we’ve received.”

The project, backed by a large donation from the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation, is also supported by a Purdy Crawford Postdoctoral Fellowship at UNB. The fellowship was awarded to Dr. Luke, allowing for her recruitment to the project.

A Canadian business icon, the late Purdy Crawford believed that a variety of programs should be available for individuals to develop and implement public policy. Research findings will be shared widely with both decision-makers and the public with the goal of influencing policy in this province and beyond.

Increasingly, governments don’t have the expertise, time or resources to do in-depth analysis of policy options. The opportunity – and the responsibility – is falling to qualified academics. Moreover, governments recognize that unbiased, evidence-based research is a winning strategy for building the trust of the public, and further engaging citizens in solving issues society faces.

The Purdy Crawford fellowships are awarded competitively, attracting some of the best minds to public policy research. Each fellow works alongside one or more of UNB’s various experts. Their fresh ideas and new research possibilities will produce evidence and evaluation for government and other sectors. The focus will be on implementation to improve the quality of life for every citizen, and build the prosperity of the region and the nation.