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University of Victoria and Ministry of Health - Seed Grant Program 2023

June 05, 2023

Seed Grants provide funding for critical research that responds to the government's research questions to support key decision making and policy development. The program is a collaboration between UVic and the Ministry of Health.


Program Goals:

  1. Generate new research that responds to the Ministry's current evidence needs
  2. Produce research proposals informed by policy decision-makers and end-users
  3. Build a knowledge transfer pathway directly from expert researchers to knowledge users
  4. Build relationships between Ministry staff and UVic researchers and between UVic and the Ministry
  5. Support and make progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Good Health and Wellbeing (Goal 3)

The Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation distributes the funds annually, supporting key Ministry areas of interest.

2022/23 Projects

1. Pilot Evaluation of the Decriminalization of Small Amounts of Substances in Victoria, B.C.

Co Principle Investigators:

  • Karen Urbanoski, Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy
  • Jaime Arredondo, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy
  • Jinhui Zhao, Senior data analyst, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
  • Tim Naimi, Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy

In BC, there has been an ongoing epidemic and declared public health emergency of overdose deaths from poisoned illicit drugs. In response, the provincial government has initiated several harm reduction measures, including a policy to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs. Rigorous evaluation of the impacts of this policy change is needed to satisfy federal government requirements, and to further our understandings of decriminalization as a response to reducing substance-related harms. This project will undertake a rapid mixed methods pilot study to evaluate the impacts of decriminalization in Victoria, BC, informing the work of the BC government and other research teams who will be conducing province-wide evaluations of this policy change.

2. Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol: A View through the Lenses of Social Justice

Co-Principle Investigators:

  • Tim Stockwell, Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Bernie Pauly, Professor, School of Nursing
  • Adam Sherk, Scientist, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
  • Tim Naimi, Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy

Implementation of evidenced-based alcohol policies has been shown as an effective way for governments to reduce alcohol-caused harms. Minimum pricing policies introduce a floor price for alcohol products to reduce or eliminate the sale of cheap alcohol products which tend to be consumed by those at high risk of incurring or causing alcohol-related harms. This project will include the co-development of theoretical frameworks for potential benefits and harms from minimum unit pricing policies, a review of literature about the effects of minimum pricing policies for alcohol through the lenses of social justice and health equity, and development of a research agenda to better understand the impacts of pricing policies on vulnerable groups and persons.

3. Working Together to Understand Climate Change and lək ̓ ʷəŋən Wellness at Tl’ches

Principle Investigator: Darcy Mathews, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies

Tl’ches is an archipelago off the southern tip of Victoria and has always been a place of healing for Lək̓ ʷəŋən peoples. However, these sites are under threat from climate change: sea level rise and increased storminess are particularly concerning, actively eroding key cultural sites. Understanding these changes is an urgent research priority for the community. By centering the knowledges that lək̓ ʷəŋən peoples already hold and understand about health in the context of their relationships with the lands, waters, and other-than-human beings at Tl’ches, this project will examine the ongoing and projected effects of increased sea levels and storminess at Tl’ches, particularly at those places central to lək̓ ʷəŋən health and wellbeing.

4. Identifying gaps and challenges in the mental health and substance use workforce in BC

Principle Investigator: Nancy Clark, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

A report from Mental Health Commission of Canada highlighted the need to prioritize support for front line workers, including efforts to change the culture of invisibility for workers who are part of Canada’s care economy. Recent evidence highlights mental health as a growing problem amongst crisis responders including significant vicarious trauma and secondary stress related trauma. Supporting and building on the mental health supports offered to front-line health care providers and identifying the mental health requirements of professionals is key to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. This community-engaged project will analyze front line providers’ experiences to identify what practices, processes, policies support their mental health.