Improving access to culturally safe, gender affirming, and trauma-informed abortion services and support for Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ people in Canada

While Canada is currently one out of four countries globally to have no national restriction in law, the 2016 UN Human Rights Commissioner’s report indicated a lack of access to abortion due to cost, knowledge, and geography. For Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit, and LGBTQIA+ people in Canada, additional barriers exist including colonialism and racism. Yet there is an alarming gap in the literature surrounding Indigenous peoples and abortion services — despite knowing that one in three people in Canada will experience an abortion in their reproductive lifetime. The goal of this program of research is to build on existing community knowledge and strengths, advance knowledge around, and remove barriers to abortion services for Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit, and LGBTQIA+ people in Canada. Guided by an Indigenous feminist framework that acknowledges the intersectional experiences of Indigenous women, Two-Sprit, and LGBTQIA+ peoples and abortion access, this program of research will apply an Indigenous methodology to investigate experiences, gather knowledge, and co-develop resources to improve the abortion access gap among Indigenous peoples.

Towards transformative pandemic response, recovery, and preparedness: An intersectional gender analysis of the secondary effects of COVID-19 on women and healthcare providers

The response to COVID-19 has exacerbated gender inequity and gender inequities have limited the effectiveness of the COVID-19 response. This vicious cycle has been entrenched in past pandemics and will recur with future outbreaks, unless it is interrupted by intentionally transformative pandemic preparedness, response and recovery. This requires interdisciplinary research to better understand and respond to COVID-19’s secondary effects — defined as those caused by non-medical interventions to prevent primary effects (infection, morbidity and mortality). Secondary effects have long term health equity implications, with women and healthcare providers disproportionately affected. This research program aims to: 1) advance evidence of secondary effects among women and healthcare providers and 2) determine whether, how and to what effect public health policy has responded to these secondary effects. Three core projects and two collaborating projects will document the lived experiences of women and healthcare providers, while linking municipal, regional, provincial, and national level analysis to inform and promote equity-based pandemic response, recovery, and preparedness in BC and beyond.

Evaluating systems-level interventions to reduce overdose during dual public health emergencies

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing overdose public health emergency in British Columbia (BC). Over 3,700 persons have died from illicit drug-related overdose since April 2020. In the context of the sixth year of the ongoing overdose provincial public health emergency and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, there is urgent need to evaluate how changes to the correctional health system and prescribed safer supply interventions have effected overdose. The overarching objective of my research program is to conduct timely and policy-relevant research on overdose that informs response activities throughout the province. This will be achieved by using novel linked health data to identify trends in overdose since the original public health emergency declaration. I will also evaluate provincial interventions introduced to reduce overdose such as prescribed safer supply and systems-level changes to the delivery of health care in correctional settings. This project will directly inform provincial and regional overdose response activities through collaborations with persons with lived experience and knowledge users from the BC Overdose Emergency Response Centre.

Alternative approaches to the criminalization of drugs: A drug policy research program for BC

The criminalization of drugs contributes to a range of health and social harms for people who use drugs (PWUD) across BC and Canada. Criminalization is a barrier for PWUDs access to health and harm reduction services. It also increases overdose and infectious disease risk and contributes to the over-incarceration of PWUD in Canadian prisons. The harms from criminalization are increasingly recognized by policymakers, scholars, and advocates across Canada. In BC, alternative policy models are being considered, including depenalization, decriminalization, police diversion, and safer supply programs. There is a timely opportunity to investigate the decisions, policies, and interventions related to these alternative approaches that aim to promote health equity for PWUD. This community-engaged research program will engage, work closely with, and gather the views of policymakers, health and justice system actors, PWUD, and other communities impacted by illicit drugs, to ensure the relevance, usefulness, and applicability of findings. Knowledge gained from this research is vital to support and promote health equity for PWUD both in BC and beyond.