Policy vs Practice: Perceptions and Implications off COVID 19 Responses in the Northwest Territories

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, policy, public health, COVID-19, pandemic

Principal Investigator: Fleury, Katherine (1)
Licence Number: 16769
Organization: University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2021
Issued: Jan 22, 2021

Objective(s): To highlight the understanding of COVID-19 responses in the Tli?cho region and provide knowledge that will impact Indigenous and public legislation, policy creation and program and service delivery.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4869.

This study aims to support evidence-informed policy changes in the future by identifying best practice responses to COVID-19 and the processes through which they were created in Canada’s Northwest Territories, understood in a matter that is reflective of the values held by community stakeholders. This project will seek to highlight the understanding of COVID-19 responses in the Tli?cho region and provide knowledge that will impact Indigenous and public legislation, policy creation and program and service delivery.

This study will utilize a case study design to examine more closely the effects and perceptions of health policy and programming changes, both NWT-wide and at the community level that resulted due to COVID-19. The focus area for this work is within the Northwest Territories, primarily Yellowknife and the community of Behchoko`. The NWT was selected for the case study due to their low number of COVID-19 cases to date with only 5 positive COVID-19 cases having occurred since the onset of the pandemic.

Government documents and news reports will be gathered and analyzed in comparison with those of Canada’s 17 other distinct northern regions to build a knowledge base of COVID-19 policy responses. As 51% of the NWT population self-identifies as Indigenous, it is pertinent that Indigenous methodologies be used. Therefore, following the document analysis, a sharing circle will be conducted with community members, Tli?cho? Government and Tli?cho? Community Services Agency stakeholders, and Elders to determine the scope of public and patient engagement and the difference in perception of health policy and how it is being implemented. Community members will be consulted regarding Tli?cho? approaches to talking circles. Moreover, the values held within each stakeholder category will be analyzed. Finally, the importance of Elder and Indigenous knowledge of past pandemics and how it has been utilized will be discussed.

Sharing circles will consists of 4-5 homogenous stakeholder members and are expected to last ~1.5hrs. Sharing circles will be completed until saturation is reached, anticipated after ~five circles. All sharing circles will be recorded and transcribed with participant consent. The Framework for Self-Wellness developed by the Women’s College Hospital will be used for initial thematic question development. Interactions between participants, storytelling, and fluidity of responses will be highlighted and encouraged as perceptions on health are not made in a vacuum; providing insight into how and why changes to health services are affecting people at all levels will give a deeper understanding of the issues at hand to both the participants and researchers.

In the case of an outbreak of COVID-19, interviews may move to the online platform Zoom (Zoom Video Communications Inc. (2016)). Virtual interviews may also be utilized if participants have any underlying health condition that would necessitate further social distancing measures. All interviews will take place complying with public health measures outlined the territories Emerging Wisely plan.

Prior to study start date the Sr. Policy Advisor, Priorities & Planning executive from the Tli?cho? governance body and the Tli?cho? Community Services Agency were contacted to collaborate on developing the goals and objectives of the inquiry focusing on Indigenous health policy. The current research has arisen as a priority due to COVID 19 impacts in the Tli?cho? region. Post investigation, a knowledge translation will occur in two segments: First, a virtual town council will be held with members of the sharing circles which will allow the participants of the study to validate the results before they are passed along to decision and policy makers within their health system. This will also ensure that partnered communities can utilize the data gathered themselves.

The second phase of the knowledge translation plan will include a workshop with key participants, policy makers, and researchers from various health care centres and the government of NWT, as well as individuals in similar roles from other northern jurisdictions. This will be completed as part of a larger discussion within the Seminar on Health Policy in Indigenous Nations that is scheduled for the end of January, organized in consultation with the Tli?cho Research and Training Institute. The Tli?cho? government is committed to supporting this workshop to share findings after the date is collected. The workshop will allow for the dissemination of knowledge to occur across territorial, provincial, and international borders. A review of the findings will be discussed with input from participants; the identification of positive and negative policy responses will be discussed along with personal and political values.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from January 23, 2021 to December 31, 2021.