“Policy must create the conditions that enable broad collaborative efforts to address public issues successfully and sustainably. The policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation process must deliver policies that work, that move our society forward in a positive and useful way.”
Founding Fellow, MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Dr. James Barker has been appointed a Founding Fellow of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance, for the term 2019 – 2021. The Founding Fellows play an important role in shaping the Institute’s agenda and profile, and ensuring it becomes the ‘go-to’ place for policy discussion and analysis regionally and nationally.
CEGE Connection reached out to Dr. Barker for his thoughts as he begins his tenure as a Founding Fellow.
Dr. James Barker:
I am very deeply honoured to be named a Founding Fellow of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance here at Dalhousie University, Halifax. I am especially honoured to be the first faculty member from the Rowe School of Business to receive one of these Fellowships.
First off, what exactly is the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance? As an Institute here at Dalhousie, MacEachen is a think tank that seeks a diverse public engagement on public policy decisions. How do we get public involvement into the discourse around public policy? We create conditions for public engagement in a beneficial way within our society so that we can energize and inform public policy, education, ideas, and debate. That is the broad vision and mission for the MacEachen Institute. As a Founding Fellow, my role is to do that energizing, informing and moving forward debates about public policy in a useful direction.
What roles do the Founding Fellows play?
I am not the only Founding Fellow. Right now, there are nine Founding Fellows from across Dalhousie University, coming from Health, Law, Arts, Medicine and Engineering. As Fellows, we work to shape the agenda for the Institute and to ensure that it becomes a go-to place for public policy debate, not just regionally but across Canada.
Why does policy matter? This question is the lead-in to what I want to discuss.
Public policy is very important to us because it creates the conditions that enable broad and collective efforts to address the public issues that we all face. As a civil society, we must address those issues successfully and sustainably.
Right now, the big issue we first think of is climate change. We know we must address climate change sustainably and successfully to ensure everyone’s (and everything’s) future. Public policy, then, in its formulation, implementation and evaluation, must deliver new climate policies that work and move our collective action forward in a positive and useful way.
My focus, as a Founding Fellow, will be on public health care policy, and I will be working to help the MacEachen Institute become a ‘hub’ for public health debate. My specialty area is community pharmacy safety, and I work to facilitate the ability of community pharmacies to deliver their business work in a safe and effective manner. For the next two years, I will be shifting this work more toward public and regulatory policy. I want to move forward public engagement with the community pharmacy practice that will contribute toward the sustainability of our health care system and help foster the development of governance, of operational mechanisms that community pharmacists can use to support the sustainability of health care. Much of our current discussions about health care in Canada involve pharmacies and pharmacists particularly, with the notion that pharmacists will expand their scope of practice to take on more of the health care work as a way of making our health care systems more sustainable. I am involved in ensuring that pharmacists can take on expanded roles in a productive and safe way.
That brings me to the next point I want to make.
Why is a business professor involved in this endeavour? A few months ago, I sat down for an interview with a local TV station to discuss our pharmacy safety research. I was expecting the first question to be about the work on safety, but instead I was asked: “What’s a business professor doing involved in public safety and public health?” The answer to that is quite simple and straightforward and very important.
Think about our health care delivery system, especially the role of community pharmacies in that delivery system. We have made a conscious decision, in our society, that the delivery of pharmacy products to the public via the community pharmacies is a business. As a society, we have conducted ourselves in that manner. For the business of community pharmacy to work well, we have to ensure the safe delivery of that health care in the community pharmacies via the dispensing of medications, the counseling about medications, the enhanced services that are offered by community pharmacies, the giving of flu shots, or other kinds of inoculations. To make the complex delivery of community pharmacy services to work requires an integration between the health policies of the Federal and Provincial Ministries on one hand, and the business practices of those pharmacies on the other, whether it be corporate or a small family-owned pharmacy. Said another way, for the delivery of pharmacy products to be safe, the pharmacist must be able to incorporate those safety practices in a sustainable way by integrating those practices into their business activities. That is where my role comes in, as a business professor. It is a pivotal role.
There is yet another reason for a business perspective – partnerships.
I first saw this in action when I lived and worked in New Zealand several years ago. One thing that impressed me about New Zealand was the strong partnership between the government, the universities and the business organizations to develop effective business models, government policy and plans and strategies for the good of the country. Much of the country’s success was due to the very tight and mutually supportive partnership between those three entities. Now, it is easier to do this in a small country like New Zealand, and much more difficult in a larger country such as Canada. But my New Zealand experience and seeing how that type of partnership worked – the policy partnership, the university partnership, the business partnership, taught me the importance of that tripartite partnership to a country’s economic success. My experience with such work in New Zealand made a big impression upon me and I brought that knowledge of partnering for policy to my work here with community pharmacy safety. The pivotal relationship between government, industry, and universities is why a business professor to be involved in public policy.
Things to look for in the next two years as I’m working with this fellowship:
I am going to be organizing a number of events around community pharmacy safety and general public health policy under the auspices of the MacEachen Institute to help foster that engagement that I was talking about before. I will also be steering a good bit of my writing in terms of my articles and the other works I do towards policy and how we can create better policies that give our community pharmacists the kinds of conditions they need to be able to incorporate new safety practices while still achieving their business outcomes that they must achieve.
I am very excited about what lies ahead. This is important work. For me personally, I enjoy this area of exploration and feel it is my contribution to society. It is also important for the Rowe School of Business to be deeply involved in the MacEachen Institute and in this essential dialogue.
Dr. James Barker
James R. Barker is the Herbert S. Lamb Chair of Business Education in the Rowe School of Business and leads the Safe Assured Pharmacy Safety Research Consortium.