It’s been an honour to continue serving as the Health Quality Council (HQC) board chair. Over the past few years, I witnessed the agility and adaptability of this organization to support its health system partners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Team members rose to the occasion to assist where needed by providing not just talent and skills but heart and camaraderie. Now, as we return to our new normal, it’s remarkable to watch the organization shift again and work toward its mission: optimal health and health care for everyone in Saskatchewan.
The 2019-24 strategic priorities for HQC dive deeper into areas of critical importance: First Nations and Métis health and wellness, and child and youth mental health and wellness. As a board member, it’s been exciting to watch the growth in these areas since the strategy’s launch just four years ago—the work completed so far is nothing short of amazing.
Life promotion in Saskatchewan
One milestone we reached in 2022-23 is creating a report, in partnership with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, identifying health disparities and inequities in First Nations health. The data, though heartbreaking, highlights changes that need to be made within the health system to support First Nations life promotion efforts in Saskatchewan. HQC also ramped up work on its Four Winds life promotion project, establishing three work streams to support communities in their healing journeys using quality improvement (QI). HQC is building relationships with communities, engaging in a meaningful way, aiming to support the empowerment and healing of Indigenous Nations. This also creates a space for the power of cultural knowledge systems, strengthening mental health and resiliency within communities.
Reconciliation in action
HQC furthered its work towards reconciliation with collaboration to support Indigenous access and control over health-care data. A memorandum of understanding was established with Métis Nation–Saskatchewan, establishing common priorities between the two organizations. This led to the development of a research project aimed at measuring and understanding the health trends among Métis citizens in regards to chronic diseases. This work helps us together to predict risk factors for chronic diseases and highlights areas for improvement. Once completed, this work will support future life promotion initiatives and data sovereignty endeavors.
Expanding HQC’s learning programs
I’m also delighted to see the expansion of the Youth Mental Health Sharing and Learning Community. This dramatic growth shows that the demand is there for this type of community-based learning in the youth mental health space. By spreading the magic of QI beyond the health sector, we can enable children, youth and their families to lead healthy lives.
Welcome to new board members
We welcomed two new members, Franki Stuart and Darwin Whitfield, to our board this year. Franki is a retired intensive care nurse and passionate patient advocate. Darwin currently serves as the reeve of Oakdale and is active with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. Their experience working in health and with community is an asset to the board, providing new perspectives for our governance, and it is a privilege to work with them.
As a board, we’ve also had the privilege of welcoming guests into our meeting space this year, including the Honourable Everett Hindley, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, Rural and Remote Health, Deputy Minister of Health Tracey Smith, members of HQC’s Cultural Advisory Committee, the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism and Métis Nation–Saskatchewan. Our partnerships define who we are as an organization. Building and fostering relationships—with government, health partners or community groups—is at the heart of HQC’s work. After all, we achieve so much more together than we do as one.
Celebrating 20 years of quality improvement
Looking back on 20 years (and I count myself incredibly lucky to have been around for most of it!), HQC has demonstrated its value as a change-maker and advocate for continuous improvement in Saskatchewan. As board chair, and on behalf of every member of the HQC board of directors, I extend my gratitude to our team members, partners and stakeholders for your resilience and trust as we continue our journey to better health for everyone.
Dr. Susan Shaw
Board Chair, Health Quality Council