In 2019 the NPAA recognized a need to make connections not only with para-government organizations, but with government itself. This prompted a process to select a lobby organization, in order to make inroads into the Ministry of Health and effectively leverage government stakeholders. Alberta Counsel was the successful lobbying group of those who applied, and have been incredibly helpful as the NPAA Board advances the advocacy priorities for NPs in Alberta. And hence our journey with Pascal began and here he shares his story..
Title: VP of Corporate Development and Government Relations
Education: Bachelors in Sociology, Masters Degree in Media and International Development
Interesting Fact: Completed his Masters at the University of East Anglia in the UK.
I’ll gladly admit I’m one of those people who didn’t really know what they wanted to do with their lives until their mid-thirties. After I completed my undergraduate degree, I ended up travelling a lot and became interested in aid work and international development, which is why I ultimately decided to complete an MA in this field. But I missed my friends and family in Alberta, so I decided to come home from the UK despite the lack of international development jobs available here. I ended up getting a job as an organizer with the federal NDP, mostly because their platform on foreign policy interested me and fit with my personal beliefs. It was only meant to be a short-term job to pay the bills, but of course one thing led to another. Eventually I spent four years working at the NDP Caucus in Edmonton before moving on to the world of government relations. I have now been with Alberta Counsel for just about seven years.
I have to admit that I didn’t even know what a nurse practitioner was until a couple of years ago. And of course, that is a common problem for NPs and one that we have been facing not only with the general public but also with political decision-makers who really should know what NPs are and what they do. Working with the NPAA has certainly broadened my appreciation and understanding of our health care system and I can confidently say that I now understand why and how NPs are a critical part of a sustainable health care system in Alberta.
Alberta Counsel as a firm is split into two halves, that being legal and lobby. As VP of Corporate Development and Government Relations, my job is to oversee the lobby side of the business and also to drum up new business for both the legal and lobby sides. In my day to day work I ensure that all of our lobby clients are happy and getting the support they need. Although I don’t directly lead as many files nowadays as I used to (so I can focus on my other responsibilities), I still enjoy working directly with clients like NPAA.
Over the years working with the NPAA, there has been varying approaches depending on priorities. Currently, the priorities we are working on are focused on expanding access for NPs within Alberta’s health care system and advocating for changes that facilitate independent practices. Building bridges to the UCP Government and educating political decision-makers is key to achieving these objectives and that is where Alberta Counsel supports NPAA.
Looking to the Future
I’m happy to report that the NPAA has incredible momentum at the moment, and we are making great progress in achieving our objectives. As we all know, access to primary health care is a major concern in all corners of Alberta and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. NPs present a great solution to this problem, and it is no surprise that we have been able to find receptive ears within the halls of power. We are not far away from an election (due in May next year) and all parties will have to clearly outline how they will walk the balance of keeping our health care system sustainable while also increasing access. This of course plays in NPAA’s favour. Politically speaking, I think it is fair to say we can expect a lot of uncertainty in the next 6-12 months. There may be a leadership election for the UCP if Premier Kenney does not do well in the upcoming leadership review, and polls are showing a very unpredictable race between the UCP and the NDP. As we have always done, we will ensure the NPAA stays above the fray and does not “pick sides.”
How can members and other NPs help with lobbying efforts?
The best and most effective help is for NPs to speak with their local MLA about what NPs do and how they can help. Even if your MLA is a backbencher, information about meetings with constituents usually trickles up to the top and can reinforce the message that NPAA is sending to the UCP Government centrally. Having said that, I would caution the importance of ‘staying on script’ and working from the same key messages as NPAA. If you are interested in helping out by meeting with your local MLA, I would advise you to contact NPAA’s leadership to ask for direction or help. Alternatively, you can always feel free to reach out to me as well and I would be happy to guide you in how to effectively engage on the local level.