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New Issue of Journal of New Brunswick Studies Looks at Health Care in New Brunswick

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, December 11, 2017
Tony Tremblay is Professor of English at St. Thomas University and founding editor of the Journal of New Brunswick Studies/ Revue d’études sur le Nouveau-Brunswick.  The current issues focuses on the health of New Brunswickers and may be found at
In Canada, health care is the shared responsibility of federal and provincial/territorial governments. Canadians pay taxes, the federal government collects and redistributes those to provinces and territories, who in turn deliver health and other social services. This points to a paradox in our health system that is both a strength and weakness: the banker and lawmaker has a very limited role in service delivery.
Health care in Canada is mostly “public” in that it is accessed on the basis of need rather than locale, status, or ability to pay. Citizenship is the requisite for service, from which came the idea of “universality”: from coast to coast to coast, uniformity would be the core value that governed wait times, human resource expertise, infrastructure, and other aspects. The quality of one’s health care should not be dependent on where you lived, nor on your income or status, but because you were Canadian. All else being equal, universality of care was the goal.
“All else being equal,” however, exists only in theory.
Not only are there regional differences that affect the delivery of services, but there are differences of demography, population density, income distribution, and literacy within each province. In other words, Canada’s uneven social, economic, political, and cultural landscapes are determining factors in the provision of health services.
Canadians understand those factors and live accordingly. They choose, if they can, to reside in areas of better care, better hospitals, and more physicians. They make employment, higher education, and career decisions on the basis of public health livability indices such as recreational infrastructure, childcare, safe neighbourhoods, fiscal stability, good schools, and progressive health policy.
Politicians know this, too, which is why our health system is under almost-constant negotiation between federal and provincial/territorial governments and between users and service providers.
The New Brunswick Context
New Brunswick’s status as a “have-not” province means that its ability to meet the goal of universality as outlined in the Canada Health Act is especially challenging. While wealth transfers exist to level the playing field, so exists the expectation of uniformity of service regardless of fiscal inequality.
The implications of this fact in New Brunswick for physician and medical staffing, infrastructure and equipment costs, health education and research, and other aspects of health, are staggering. Provinces with the fewest resources are expected to deliver services that are the equivalent of provinces with the most. That is the Canadian contract.
The rhetoric that comes from some quarters of “have” provinces makes the challenges that “have-not” provinces face even more difficult, for that rhetoric employs either-or absolutes that limit the choices poorer provinces can make.
What is to be done, then, when uniformity remains both law and assumption, but transfer payments from rich to poor provinces are contested or reduced? The current government in New Brunswick has responded in the following ways.
First, and most controversially, it began in August 2017 to disassemble its office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, claiming in language that we are now (unfortunately) accustomed to, that such a move would “enhance” public health in New Brunswick by transferring functions of the office to departments of cognate function. Roughly a hundred personnel responsible for public health inspections, agri-food, population health, and other health enforcement functions now reside in the departments of Justice and Public Safety, Social Development, and Environment and Local Government.
What is the consequence of dismantling a team of public health professionals? The expertise, though scattered, remains, but without the same capacity to anticipate, plan a response, and work as a unit to manage the kind of major health crises we’ve seen in other parts of Canada and the world. As the deputy minister of health himself admitted, Ontario and British Columbia residents have a health service that New Brunswickers can no longer afford but must struggle with reduced capacity to provide.
Similar streamlining affected other health services in New Brunswick. In September 2017, the provincial government announced that Medavie Health Services New Brunswick, a private not-for-profit corporation, would be awarded a ten-year (untendered) contract to manage a new health entity that combined Ambulance New Brunswick, the Extra-Mural [Nursing] Program, and Tele-Care 811. The change effectively privatizes the management of those services in the province while taking authority away from New Brunswick’s two “public” health networks, Horizon and Vitalité.
It is too early to know if such consolidation of public health services under the management of a private company will deliver the outcomes promised; however, concerns about staffing and transparency are already mounting. Stories of chronically low numbers of paramedics, slow deployment of ambulances, and family members taking sick relatives to hospitals in the back of trucks and SUVs have been circulating, as have worries about the fact that, as a private company, Medavie does not have to provide an accounting of its operational outcomes.
These are troubling signs for New Brunswickers.
In an age of increasing costs and the growing appeal of austerity—not to mention the continued (and reasonable) expectation of uniformity in the delivery of health care to Canadians—how does a small, structurally poor province like New Brunswick provide health services? Short of becoming an open site for nuclear waste disposal, thus bowing to the pull-up-your-socks crowd who accuse us of living off the hard work and environmental risks of others, the choices we have are limited.
Two of those choices—accepting second-class health care or moving to richer parts of the country to receive it—contravene the spirit of both Canada and the Canada Health Act.
Whatever the outcomes are, this is the context within which we will have to make them.

Bringing New Brunswick Authors to High School Classrooms: Tony Tremblay Develops New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English

PUBLISHED DATE: Friday, November 17, 2017
By Monica Furness, BA’18

Dr. Tony Tremblay hopes that his newest project, the New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English, will promote greater awareness and appreciation of the province’s rich literary history.
The curriculum is a free web resource for teachers, students, and others interested in learning more about New Brunswick literature. Tremblay was inspired to create the resource while teaching courses about the subject.
“Every time I taught that course I would begin with a little survey. What I discovered was shocking – that the vast majority of students couldn’t name one New Brunswick writer,” he said.

“And the students were perturbed by that. They wanted more content. A majority of St. Thomas students come from New Brunswick, so they had been introduced to some of this content, but not in the depth that they wanted. They felt sort of short-changed as a result. That led me to the idea to put a resource together.”  
Tremblay, who recently completed his term as the Canada Research Chair in New Brunswick Studies, set about changing this by developing the curriculum.
Designed for use in New Brunswick high schools, the curriculum features 44 authors and poets who were from, lived in, or wrote about the province, such as modernist poet Elizabeth Brewster and Miramichi author Ray Fraser.
It includes selected readings, biographical information, and strategies for teachers who wish to use the material in their classrooms.
The resource has also been placed online for everyone – not just educators – to access in its entirety.
“My interpretation of my Canada Research Chair was to develop resources that people in the province could use,” he said.
Tremblay worked closely with several students to create the curriculum and ensure it met curriculum guidelines for use in the New Brunswick education system.
“All the projects that I’ve done have had a large student component,” he said.
He hopes that the curriculum, which he considers to be the capstone of his term as a Canada Research Chair, will be adopted by teachers, and that New Brunswickers will use the resource to learn more about their literature, their history, and themselves.
Visit the curriculum website here:

Preparing Students to Teach Internationally: Professor Marcea Ingersoll receives research funding that will help teacher candidates prepare for work at international schools

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Dr. Marcea Ingersoll, who teaches in STU’s School of Education, is conducting research to help better prepare students in Canadian teacher education programs for work at international schools.

Ingersoll, along with Dr. Mark Hirschkorn, Dr. Alan Sears, and Dr. Jeff Landine of the University of New Brunswick, earned a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant of $72,504 for their project titled “Canadian Teacher Preparation for International Contexts: Competencies and Catalysts.”

“In the past twenty years, the number of international teaching opportunities around the globe has grown at a tremendous rate. That phenomenon is expected to keep growing,” Ingersoll said.

“We saw an opportunity to investigate how teacher education programs can function as catalysts of support for the competencies teachers identify as important for their vocational transition.”

Receiving SSHRC funding will allow the group to conduct multi-site visits and hire students to assist in the research. The research training component is something Ingersoll calls a “pay-it-forward” opportunity.

“Now our team can provide financial support, mentorship, and research training for students who one day may join the academy as well. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

The initial research is expected to take two years, but the group hopes to extend the project beyond Canada and begin work internationally in the future.

The team’s ultimate goal is to provide a framework that will allow teacher candidates in education programs to be successful teaching internationally and support new Canadians in local school districts.

“We know Canadian administrators at schools abroad are looking for well-prepared teachers to come and stay, and we know local administrators are looking for great teachers who can support new Canadians here at home,” Ingersoll said.

“Our initial work already suggests some Canadian teacher education programs are finding innovative ways to build international capacity for their graduates, so connecting those catalysts with the competencies teachers report being of most benefit can only strengthen teacher education programs.”

Eyewitness Testimony and Criminal Investigations: Professor Louise Bond-Fraser and Dr. Ian Fraser present their research to criminal defence lawyers at provincial conference

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, November 6, 2017
Professor Louise Bond-Fraser, English, and Dr. Ian Fraser, Psychology, are hoping their research on the fallibility of eyewitness testimony will change the approach to criminal investigations.

The pair was recently invited to share their findings with 40 criminal defence lawyers at the New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Committee conference in Moncton, NB, after Chief Operating Officer, Pierre Castonguay, read an article they had written in Solicitor’s Journal.

“One article in a law journal picked up by one person allowed us to present to 40 criminal defence lawyers. I don’t think many people outside the legal field have had that opportunity,” Louise said.

The opportunity served as a substantial step forward in spreading their research directly to those in the legal field.

“We realized criminal defence lawyers are the ones who are going to make the changes. If they keep harping on this stuff in the defence of their clients and the juries and judges have to listen to it, it’s going to change verdicts,” Ian said.

“You don’t assume because someone has chosen a suspect from the lineup that it’s a done deal. You question the lineup. You have to attack it every time.”

An integral part of their research involves testing members of the criminal justice system—lawyers, judges, police officers, potential jurors—on their knowledge of the unreliability of eye witness testimony.  The results of these surveys have been consistently low, which could lead to wrongful convictions in the courtroom.

“People who have been exonerated based on DNA evidence are lucky because not every case is a DNA case,” Louise said. “There will be all sorts of people who were wrongfully convicted without DNA evidence who are never going to get out.”

With criminal defence lawyers across the province armed with this information, the two are hopeful change will come.

“It’s one of those things where you wear at the stone and hope sooner or later something happens,” Ian said. “You’re never going to get rid of faulty eye witnesses, but you can minimize the impact by doing the right type of investigation.”

Getting Students Involved

Bond-Fraser and Fraser have been working on this research since 2005.  In that time, they’ve written one book, 14 journal articles, and three magazine articles. They’ve also made a point of including St. Thomas students in their research.

Of their numerous publications, 14 have been co-authored by students.

“One thing about STU is it’s small and undergraduate only, so we can give advantages that aren’t found at post-graduate institutions,” Louise said.

“Getting students involved has helped them learn a lot more.”

Janelle Marchand and Kyle Ferris are two recent graduates who have been involved with the pair’s research.  Marchand intends to pursue post-graduate studies with the hope of working in public policy or for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Ferris is currently working toward his Master’s degree at Aberdeen University in Scotland.

Excellence in Research, Theory, and Practice: Dr. Michelle Lafrance Earns Citation for Excellence from the British Psychological Society

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Dr. Michelle Lafrance has been recognized by the British Psychological Society with the Qualitative Methods in Psychology Citation for Excellence award.
The award, which is rarely given, recognizes excellence in qualitative research, theory, and practice.
According to the society, Lafrance has developed an international reputation for excellence in research in the areas of women’s mental health, and feminist and critical psychology. As a recipient of the award, the QMiP section of the British Psychological Society wanted to highlight Lafrance’s feminist stance and use of discourse and narrative approaches to examine and challenge the way women’s bodies are appropriated, particularly by medicine.
“I was absolutely thrilled to hear I had been given this award by the British Psychological Society. I understand it’s the first time this award has been given to a scholar outside of the United Kingdom, so it was very unexpected,” Lafrance said.
“British psychologists are at the forefront of critical and political scholarship in psychology, so to be recognized by the society is a tremendous honour.”
The QMiP aims to raise the profile of teaching and research of qualitative methods in Psychology, to champion and develop these methods, and to act as a network of psychologists in extending collaborative possibilities, sharing expertise, and offering training opportunities.
Over her career, Dr. Lafrance has published two books, twelve articles in peer-reviewed journals, five book chapters, and three invited encyclopedia entries. She has been invited to present her research in several countries and is part of the Psychology’s Feminist Voices Project, an initiative that highlights the scholarship of feminist psychologists from around the world. 

In recognition of her research, the Canadian Psychological Association awarded her the Certificate of Academic Excellence in 2004.  In 2016, she and co-editor Dr. Sue McKenzie-Mohr were honoured with the Association for Women in Psychology’s Distinguished Publication Award for their book Women voicing resistance: Discursive and narrative explorations.

New Issue of Journal Narrative Works Features Articles on Narrating Climate Change, Narrative Gerontology, and Cotton Mather and Narrative Possession

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, September 18, 2017
The latest issue of Narrative Works: Issues, Investigations, & Interventions, an e-journal publication of St. Thomas University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative, is now available.
The articles in the issue were contributed by scholars in the broad interdisciplinary and international field of narrative studies. Two of the contributors, Bodil Hansen Blix (UiT The Arctic University of Norway) and Chandranshu Sinha (Amity Business School, India), have spent time at St. Thomas as Visiting Researchers at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative.
The issue also contains a book review by eminent narrative sociologist Arthur Frank (Emeritus, University of Calgary).
“We sincerely appreciate Dr. Frank’s continuing contributions to Narrative Works,” says co-editor of the journal, Elizabeth McKim.

The articles include: 
  • “Narrating Climate Change: Conventionalized Narratives in Concordance and Conflict,” by Daniel Andersson and Coppélie Cocq (Umeå University, Sweden)
  • “The Importance of Untold and Unheard Stories in Narrative Gerontology: Reflections on a Field Still in the Making from a Gerontologist Still in the Making,” by Bodil Hansen Blix (UiT The Arctic University of Norway)
  • “’The Diseases of Astonishment’: Cotton Mather and Narrative Possession,” by Scott Harshbarger (Hofstra University, New York)
  • From Spirits to God: Stories of the Kalash Converts from Before and After Their Conversion,” by Syed Kazim Ali Kazmi (PhD candidate, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)
  • Joining Past and Present Self-Stories: The Narrative Complexity of Our Subjectivity,” by Chandranshu Sinha (Amity Business School, India)
  • Review of Michael Bérubé’s The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read by Arthur W. Frank (Emeritus, University of Calgary).
Disciplines often represented in Narrative Works include, but are not limited to, psychology, sociology, anthropology, gerontology, literary studies, gender studies, cultural studies, religious studies, social work, education, healthcare, ethics, theology, and the arts.
The new issue is available at

Work by Fine Arts Professor Martin Kutnowski Featured on Ventus Machina Album: “Tonadas y Mateadas” one of five compositions on quintet’s debut album

PUBLISHED DATE: Friday, September 1, 2017
Work by Dr. Martin Kutnowski, of the Fine Arts Department, will be featured on the first album by the woodwind quintet Ventus Machina.
Kutnowski’s composition “Tonadas y Mateadas”, which can be translated as “Tunes Sung While Drinking Yerba Mate in a Gathering of Friends,” was composed in 2015.  It attempts to recapture the rhythms and moods of different dances from Argentina.
“Ventus Machina is Atlantic Canada’s premier woodwind quintet,” Kutnowski said. “Writing a piece for consummated artists like them is highly stimulating because you know the music will reach audiences with the most expressive power.”
The album titled “In the Weeds” is the first for Ventus Machina and includes other works by Astor Piazzolla, Paquito D’Rivera, and Richard Price. 
“In the Weeds” will be released on the American label MSR Classics and will be available for download and sale online or directly from the quintet.