Surveillance and Management of Climate Change Impacts in the North: Implications for Northern Public Health Policy: The Inuvialuit Case Study

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: health, climate change, health care development

Principal Investigator: Furgal, Christopher (1)
Licence Number: 14193
Organization: Trent University
Licensed Year(s): 2007 2005
Issued: Jun 26, 2007
Project Team: Aliya Pardhan (Student Investigator , University of Guelph), Dr Victoria Edge ( Co-Investigator , Public Health Agency of Canada), Dr Jeff Wilson (Faculty Co-Investigator, University of Guelph), Dr Richard Reid Smith (Co-Investigator, Public Health Agency of Canada), Dr Scott McEwen (Faculty Co-investigator, University of Guelph), Kaitlin Breton-Honeyman (Research Assistant, Trent University), Pierre Goselin (Co-investigator, Public Health Research Unit , CHUQ-CHUL)

Objective(s): The objective of this work is to identify existing strengths and areas needing attention for surveillance and monitoring of climate change impacts across the North. It will review and make recommendations for the adaptation of an understandable and functional risk management framework for managers in the North and its ability to consider climate change impacts in the northern regions.

Project Description: The objectives of this project are:
1. Assess the present and future adequacy of surveillance tools to support northern managers’ ability to identify and monitor acute and chronic diseases, exposures, and other health determinants related to climate change and economic development impacts.
2. Assess the applicability and use among northern managers of current risk management frameworks (RMF), what barriers exist to their application, as well as their treatment of potential impacts of climate change in the North and make recommendations to improve relevance and efficiency in the northern context.
3. Identify policy implications for surveillance infrastructure, risk management framework and tools for sound interdepartmental and intergovernmental cooperation, at the regional, national and international levels.
4. Propose, through regular interaction with stakeholders, options and recommendations on the abovementioned topics to develop capacity-building initiatives;
5. Prepare pilot projects for upgrading the health surveillance programs in the areas of (i) chronic diseases, (ii) infectious diseases, (iii) environmental and occupational health, (iv) injuries and disaster preparedness.

The proposed work will identify existing strengths and areas needing attention for surveillance and monitoring of climate change impacts across the North. It will review and make recommendations for the adaptation of an understandable and functional risk management framework for managers in the North and its ability to consider climate change impacts in the northern regions. It specifically addresses some of the priority questions identified in other health, economic and ecological research in the circumpolar North over the last 20 years and it has high potential for transferability in other similar remote areas of the world.

A research method of comparative case studies (Creswell 1998) will be adopted for building a knowledge base for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The initial work will focus on describing current health surveillance programs and their links to public health action (risk management) with respect to climate related impacts. A comprehensive list of specific parameters and information to be sought for each case will be drafted based on the indicators list for climate and health in northern communities proposed by Furgal (2003). A matrix of information across the four regions (Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and Inuvialuit) will allow for comparison between regions and with other surveillance systems in other northern regions and other analogue situations.
Several sources of data will be drawn on to fill this matrix starting with documents, databases and Key informants such as northern managers. Specifically, a data collection process will follow an iterative sequence designed to seek the approval and direction of Key Informants, such as Medical Officers of Health and senior public health administrators, while minimizing requests made of their time:
1) Seek initial conceptual buy-in and approval by Key Informants, receive direction
2) Collect bulk of data available through docs, databases, on-line
3) Begin data analysis with a focus on gap identification
4) Return to Key Informants providing them initial feedback and seeking to fill gaps (interviews)
5) Plan and hold workshops or meetings (regional or national)
The researchers will only be interviewing one or two representatives from each of the following organizations and departments:

- GNWT Health and Social Services
- GNWT Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)- Wildlife Division
- Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority
- Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC)
- Fisheries Joint Management Committee (Inuvik)

Their data collection will be based on the GNWT Health and Social Services and
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation archives.

Case study results and recommendations will be shared with all informants as well as other whom informants recommended to be invited to share in this information. A two day workshop will be planned in the region to discuss results, and to begin a strategic planning process to move forward. The case study report will be mailed to informants prior to the workshop and a decision will be made at the workshop as to subsequent distribution of the report.


Fieldwork will be conducted from June 26 to December 31, 2007 in Yellowknife and Inuvik.

N.B. Pending approval from the following organizations an amendment to this licence will be drawn up to allow data collection with the:
- Government of Canada - Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Inuvik)
- Inuvialuit Game Council