Perspectives is the quarterly newsletter of the New Brunswick Health Council

In this issue...

Stéphane Robichaud
CEO of the NBHC

Message from the CEO

The work undertaken by the New Brunswick Health Council is guided by the pursuit of three intentions; to have engaged healthier New Brunswickers, to have improved health services quality and to have a sustainable provincial health system.  Whether through our public reports or our various citizen engagement initiatives, our objective is to contribute positively to these three intentions.  Our capacity, as a province, for improvement in these three areas depends on our collective understanding of our current performance.  The work of the NBHC is meant to contribute positively to our collective understanding of where we stand and whether or not we are improving.

As mentioned in my last article about the absence of provincially standardized information, this reality initially represented a significant challenge for the NBHC.  Fortunately, we quickly identified leaders throughout our civil service who recognized this challenge and were willing to help us.  To this day, this network has continued to grow.  Recent efforts aimed at improving performance reporting within the provincial government have helped to raise awareness of how valuable proper performance information can be. 

As we developed our initial tools, we engaged hundreds of stakeholders in order to identify all existing information that could be leveraged.  We received valuable input on both the potential content and format of our reports.  Given most of these stakeholders were also the leaders of the programs and services that need improvements, their involvement helped ensure the credibility of our reports.  This has been particularly true of our reports on population health.  Collaborations with many organizations have led to tools that can significantly improve our collective understanding regarding the health of our population, both provincially and at the community level.

What we call our provincial health system is not about health and it is not a system.  Population health information brings the focus towards the health of those who, currently or potentially, need services versus towards those who provide or manage these services.  Performance information on health services shows that we can deliver excellent services in New Brunswick, but we don’t properly capture when or where this happens and we have not developed the capacity to ensure that the best practices are applied consistently across the province.  Finally, there is a growing recognition that we spend more on health services in New Brunswick compared to the national averal and we should be getting much better results with the level of resources we currently have.

New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey 

Surveys represent one of the most important tools the New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) uses in order to collect data.  We conduct two different types of surveys: first, those asking the population about health care, within a three-year cycle; the NBHC has also carried out, in the last two years, two New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey for students between grades 6 to 12 and between Kindergarten and grade 5 in New Brunswick schools. How did the NBHC get involved in this survey and what is its purpose?
In April 2014, the NBHC launched a follow up to its 2011 Primary Health Survey that falls in a three-year cycle of surveys meant to measure New Brunswickers’ care experience by sector of care (acute care, primary care and home care). During this phone survey, people were asked to answer questions regarding their experience with their family doctor, emergency rooms, specialists, after-hour clinics, community health centres, nurse practitioners and ambulance services. It is important that New Brunswickers know if there have been improvements in the primary health care services during the last three years. The survey results will be available in early 2015.

In 2005, the Wellness Branch of the Department of Healthy and Inclusive Communities began a partnership with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in order to undertake a multi-year initiative called New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey. It is a provincial initiative of the New Brunswick Department of Healthy and Inclusive Communities (HIC) in cooperation with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Data collection and analysis is carried out by the NBHC.

There are two different surveys: the first is intended for Grades 6-12 students, and the second for Kindergarten to Grade 5 students. It includes a section reserved for the parents’ answers. 

The survey’s component dedicated to elementary schools, the New Brunswick Elementary Student Wellness Survey, was initiated in 2007-2008 among Grades 4-5 students and among Kindergarten to Grade 5 students’ parents/guardians. It was conducted again in 2010-2011. The students’ attitudes and behaviours were probed concerning healthy food, mental fitness, physical activity and tobacco-free living.

The survey represents a very valuable tool for schools and government departments, as student wellness is important to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Research has shown that improving the students’ wellness contributes to educational outcomes as healthy students are better learners. The data gathered in the survey is also useful for different tools the NBHC uses to promote young people’s health, such as community profiles or youth health snapshot. 

Participation in the survey is not mandatory; 136 schools from Kindergarten to Grade 5, or 62%, participated, and 177 schools from Grades 6 to 12, or 89%.

Participating schools will receive a feedback report summarizing their school results and comparing those results to New Brunswick’s provincial results. The schools can then use their results to initiate enhancement plans, submit requests for funding linked to wellness as well as encourage wellness activities for students. Former years’ reports are available online at:

Did you know?

Childhood obesity is perceived as a growing epidemic. In New Brunswick, 28% of students in grades 6 to 12 are obese, and this is due to unhealthy behaviours.

Obesity can lead to chronic health conditions in adulthood and has adverse effects on quality of life.

A Long-Standing Collaboration

In 2010, the NBHC published its first Youth Health Snapshot, a tool presenting provincial indicators on youth.  Concurrently, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate was already publishing a report each year about the rights of children and youth called the State of our Children.  From the following year on, the two organisations decided to collaborate to publish a combined report for Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and a population health tool. Thus began a fruitful collaboration that would last over the years; it has given rise to a complete framework regarding the rights and well-being of children and youth and a first report that was published in 2011.  

The NBHC’s tool was renamed the Child and Youth Rights and Well‐being Framework from this date on; this tool presents a better perspective of the well-being of New Brunswick Children and Youth through a variety of available indicators. It also highlighted areas where New Brunswickers have an influence on the future development of our children and youth by ensuring the best possible programs and policies are being used and/or developed. The Rights and well-being Framework has also been linked to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most of the Articles listed as "rights" in the Convention are associated with this Rights and Well-being Framework. Almost every country has agreed to these rights. 

For 2014, the report will be published on November 18, in Fredericton, during the Children’s Rights Education Week that will be held from November 17th to the 23rd. The theme of the week is the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international treaty that recognized, for the first time, that children have rights and are no longer solely vulnerable beings that need to be protected.  A first round table regarding the provincial harm prevention strategy for children will also be held that day.  Its goal is to devise a strategy to combat acts of violence against children, in other words, article 19 of the convention.

Did you know?

Oppositional behaviours in school, including bullying in its various forms, can lead to academic problems, psychological problems and mental health problems.

In New Brunswick, 37% of students reported having bullied others, while 58% have been victims of bullying.

Publication of the NBHC Annual Report 

The NBHC recently published the annual report regarding its sixth fiscal year, from April 1st, 2013 to March 31st, 2014.

The report, which can be viewed online at, or on a paper copy through our offices, presents the range of the work accomplished by the NBHC in the areas of population health, care experience, sustainability and citizen engagement.  
The actions of the NBHC remain guided by its strategic axis, namely:
  • Develop and implement mechanisms to engage the population as well as other interested parties;
  • To measure, monitor and evaluate the level of population health and the quality of those services;
  • To measure, monitor and evaluate the level of population satisfaction with health services and health service quality; and
  • To measure, monitor and evaluate the sustainability of health services in New Brunswick.

Did you know?

Youth smoking in New Brunswick is still a problem, and the situation seems to be getting worse.

In 2013, 27% of students in grades 6 to 12 reported having tried smoking. Furthermore, between 2009-10 and 2012-13, the percentage of youth who never smoked by grade 12 decreased from 60% to 53%.

New Feature 

 Last April, the NBHC launched 33 community profiles entitled My Community at a Glance. The goal of this new tool is to empower individuals with information about their region that will stimulate interest in building healthier communities. The information in each profile gives a comprehensive view about the people who live, learn, work, and take part in community life in this area, including:

Demographics, like population density, birth rate, and how many seniors and youth live in the community.

Data about health behaviours, like healthy eating, physical activity, the use of alcohol and tobacco in the community.

Data about social and economic factors, like the main industries in the community, the median revenue and the education level of the people living in the community.

All profiles are available on our website,

To get a quick glance and summary of the essential information you can now view a video clip produced by the NBHC at this address:

The video is also available on YouTube in both official languages.

Did you know?

Several studies show that children follow their parents' example when it comes to physical activity: parents who are physically active often have children who are also physically active.

Lead by example and participate in regular physical activity to encourage your children to do the same!
The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance and population health, and that engages citizens in the improvement of health service quality.
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