A Conversation with Emily Gruenwoldt, President and CEO Children’s Healthcare Canada
CHSCY Check-In #3
My name is Emily Gruenwoldt. I’m the CEO at Children’s Healthcare Canada. I am also the executive director of the pediatric chairs of Canada.
So, Children’s Healthcare Canada, we are a national association and our members, our health service delivery organizations that serve children, youth and their families every day.
Our membership includes all 16 of Canada’s children’s hospitals, but also community hospitals, rehabilitation centers, home care providers, palliative care agencies, so really the full continuum, less primary care so the relationship with the CHSCY project is directly related to the data and evidence almost in real time that the survey is able to produce to help us do a better job of telling the story about why it’s important to invest in children’s health and wellbeing part of our job.
A really important part of our job is to help to amplify the policy priorities to measurably improve children’s health and health care in Canada. And what we noticed is that there is a real dearth of evidence and data to describe how children and youth are faring in this country. Certain jurisdictions collect different data elements, but they’re not consistently collected from coast to coast. And so it’s very difficult to paint a pan-Canadian picture of the health of Canada’s children youth, both their physical health and their mental health.
This 2023 CHSCY survey gives us a really unique opportunity to evaluate the impact that the COVID 19 pandemic has had on kids in this country with measures pre-pandemic and 2019 in comparison to their own self-reported health in 2023. This is really novel information that will help to us to better prepare programs and services for this cohort of youth, but also to plan for the future.
And to get a sense of what are those evolving trends in terms of health service utilization and demand, the other opportunity that we have is to get a better sense in particular around mental health data more than perhaps any other specialty within children’s health, we really grapple with understanding both self-reported data with respect to children’s mental health, but also in terms of informing how we can plan services to meet the needs of these children close to home.
This is data that’s also going to help us to shape more evidence-based policy recommendations and hopefully seek out funding opportunities both from provincial and federal governments. So, we work very closely with the Federal Minister of Health and his team, but also the Federal
Minister of mental health and addictions on her team. We connect with them on a very regular basis, trying to tell the story about why it’s important to identify and to support children’s health and wellbeing through policy and investment.
So, the data and evidence that we derived from the CHSCY survey will really help us to be more evidence based in terms of our approach building or strengthening the relationship that we have with these ministers in their offices. You know, Children’s Healthcare Canada has become a really powerful advocate for children and youth. And how we’ve seen evidence of that is we were making suggestions that it would be timely to undertake a children’s health study in Parliament.
And two short months later, the House of Commons Committee on Health had convened or had called for a pan Canadian Child Health Study to be undertaken. And we’re now midway through that it looks like there’s going be a strong recommendation for our Children’s Health Study to emerge from the committee hearings.
You know, thanks to our advocacy through our members. And working in close collaboration with the Federal Minister of Health, we were able to secure $2 billion in the most recent federal announcement regarding the Canada Health Transfer, which is going to be earmarked for children’s health that is significant and will go a long way towards addressing that crisis that we saw in pediatrics in particular in our children’s hospitals earlier this fall with the data that we derive from the CHSCY survey.
Hopefully this will provide a stronger evidence base for us to develop recommendations to think about stronger programs and services that can evolve to meet the needs of children and youth living in this country.CHSCY