Advocacy in action:
A focus on community health

Talk Tuesday - November 3, 2020


Dr. Catherine Baxter RN PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Brandon University

Catherine has worked in nursing education for over twenty years in teaching and administrative positions. She is currently an assistant professor at Brandon University and a member of the steering committee for the Community Health Nurses of Manitoba. Her current research interests include rural nursing and workforce migration.

Dr. Claire Betker RN PhD
Scientific Director, National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health

Claire’s career began in southwestern Manitoba at a rural single-nurse public health office. She has worked in public health, home care and primary health care in a variety of positions at local, regional, provincial and national levels.

Claire believes all nurses are leaders. It is through our collective voice and action that we effectively advocate for our profession, support the sustainability of the health system and create communities where all people have a fair opportunity to be healthy. Claire is scientific director for the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), hosted by St Francis Xavier University. Her focus there is on public health leadership to advance health equity across Canada.

Pamela Scheveck RN MEd
Nursing Instructor, School of Nursing, University College of the North & Chair, Community Health Nurses of Manitoba

Pamela is an experienced instructor with a demonstrated history of working in higher education. She is chair of the Community Health Nurses of Manitoba and a nursing instructor at the School of Nursing, University College of the North. 

Her previous experience includes working as a clinic IV and wound care nurse with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. 


Together with the Community Health Nurses of Manitoba, the Association has been advocating for more resources to enhance the public health system during this pandemic and into the future. These efforts are guided by the input from members - our experts working in the community. Tonight, our panelists share the work we're doing and the input we've received. 

Question and answer 

1. Can you talk about community health nursing and the impact of COVID-19 in the north/remote areas?

  • We didn't separate regions in the survey but there were a couple of comments, this is one of them, “the northern communities are treated like second class citizens and aren’t receiving the same support and services as the south. Specialty services are nonexistent - clients are not receiving proper care”.
  • There were a number of remarks made in relation to inequities in resources available in rural and remote areas compared to urban centres and certainly indications that nurses didn’t always feel they had the supports and resources around them but we didn’t tease out regional differences specifically. There are many rural and remote nurses indicating their resources were even more stretched.


2. I’m very concerned about the current criticism of the public health response to COVID-19 but no recognition of the chronic underfunding and under resourcing of the public health system. In some jurisdictions public health funding has fallen below 2% of the healthcare budget. Instead of addressing long term problems the government is asking the public to volunteer and contracting out services. The Public Health Association produced a Mission Statement in May of 2019 on the Future of Public Health that contains a number of recommendations for strengthening the capacity of the health system. This can be used for advocacy purposes.

Certainly this comment is well supported by comments of nurses in the survey who felt public health was under-resourced before the pandemic and this has only stretched resources further. That concern was shared by many many individuals who responded to the survey.

3. Do you know anything about technology to improve / simplify vaccine management?

  • Not sure if this is referring to a mass immunization campaign or protecting the cold chain for the vaccine, or distribution management.
  • In Manitoba we have a system called PHIM - Public Health Information Management system it provides real time data on COVID but also supports vaccine management.
  • We expect a mass immunization campaign coming up sometime in the future. How we manage the operation while considering equity in distribution and access and managing the whole massive operation. Nurses historically have been central in the planning and implementation but their knowledge of communities, how information moves and where people go for service - that voice is another area to be mindful of.


4. On remote, fly in, federal reserves there are very few public health nurses. As one of them I felt isolated on many levels prior to the pandemic and more so now. I would like to know how to connect with provincial resources and how to manage vaccines in a remote area.

Please reach out directly to Community Health Nurses of Manitoba or the Association to discuss details, we’d love to hear from you.