Our 2017-2020 strategic plan

Setting out our overall direction and priorities for the next three years. This is our first strategic plan since PAIL Network was funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in 2016 and joined the Women and Babies Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in 2017.


Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network is a provincial program mandated to provide peer-based support to families who experience the loss of a pregnancy or infant and education to health-care providers who care for them.

This strategic plan sets out our overall direction and priorities for the next three years. It is our first strategic plan since PAIL Network was funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in 2016 and joined the Women and Babies Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in 2017. We are at a very exciting point in our evolution as an organization so before we look forward, we would like to reflect briefly on where we have been.

Where we've come from

Established in 1992 by a small group of bereaved parents, PAIL Network became the recognized leader in Ontario for compassionate pregnancy and infant loss support to families and valued training to health-care providers. Its success over more than 25 years was the direct result of many passionate and hardworking volunteers who provided leadership, fundraised, developed resources and delivered programs with minimal paid staff support.

In 2015, PAIL Network was instrumental in the passage of Bill 141, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, Research and Care Act. Bill 141 made it mandatory for the Ontario government to fund research and expansion of programs for the more than 37,000 families impacted by pregnancy loss and infant death in Ontario each year. It also declared October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in Ontario. As a result of Bill 141 and PAIL Network’s reputation and hard work, PAIL Network was given a mandate to expand services across Ontario as well as funding to undertake a number of foundational projects including:

  • conducting a provincial needs assessment of existing services and service gaps,
  • establishing an Advisory Committee with membership that included families with lived experience of pregnancy and infant loss, and
  • developing a strategic plan to guide PAIL Network’s expansion over the next three years.

The provincial needs assessment was conducted in early 2017 with an online survey of families and with a series of in-person focus groups with care providers and families across Ontario. The information gathered through the needs assessment has directly informed the contents of this strategic plan. In addition, an interim Advisory Committee was established in early 2017 and provided input and advice as this plan was developed.

Where we're going

This plan sets out the direction, priorities and high-level plans for PAIL Network for the next three years. Building directly from our past experience, what we heard from families and care providers, and advice from our Advisory Committee, this plan describes the new Vision and Mission statements, a set of three overall themes for the next three years, and goals and plans in four overall areas of strategic priority.

There are challenges to achieving all that we set out in this plan but the opportunities are even greater. They include:

  • Our volunteers continue to commit themselves to our collective work and now with dedicated staff and other resources we have the stability and increased capacity we need to expand our programs and undertake new and innovative projects.
  • Our provincial mandate opens up new opportunities to engage and partner with more families, care providers, experts in perinatal bereavement and loss, and communities across the province. One of our first steps will be to establish a Provincial Advisory Committee to be a permanent source of advice to PAIL Network on our programs and the needs and gaps in their communities.
  • Our new relationship with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) has allowed us to expand our services and provides us with the infrastructure needed for real change to occur for families and health-care professionals across Ontario. SHSC is a world leader in integrating care, research and evidence to improve patient outcomes. In particular, the Women and Babies Program, of which we are now a part, has a long history of leadership in the field dedicated to improving care for women and babies, including being one of the first to implement special supports for bereaved families and, more recently, a specialized program to support families through a subsequent pregnancy after loss. The culture of excellence and expertise in research and innovation now available to the PAIL Network will be of direct benefit as we strive to create a more coordinated, comprehensive system of support for families and improve education for health-care providers.
  • The Ontario government is in the midst of implementing a long-term strategy to improve mental health and addictions services for Ontarians across the lifespan. The strategy has four overarching goals: improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians; create healthy, resilient and inclusive communities; identify mental health problems early and intervene; and, provide timely, high quality, integrated and person-directed health and other human services. These four goals are consistent with what we have heard is needed to improve care and support for families who experience perinatal loss and bereavement. We have a tremendous opportunity to link our work, and the outcomes we are striving for, to this broader commitment to improving the mental health and well-being of all Ontarians.
  • Finally, Ontario’s health-care system undergoing a transformation centred around a commitment to put putting the needs of people who use health services and their families at the centre of care. The promise of the “Patients First” strategy is one that PAIL Network fully supports and exemplifies: to put people and patients first by improving their health-care experience and their health outcomes. The priorities we have identified in this strategic plan will contribute directly to achieving this important goal for Ontario.

As we launch this exciting next phase for PAIL Network, we would like to thank the many people who have given their time, advice, and resources over the years and especially in recent months. In particular, we would like to thank the families who shared their personal stories of loss and the care providers who shared their experiences and insights. Your input has been invaluable and we trust you will see in this new plan that we have heard you and are committed to working together towards an even better system of care and support for families who experience pregnancy or infant loss in Ontario.


The mission of PAIL Network is:

To improve care and support for families who experience the loss of a pregnancy or infant through high quality evidence-based information, peer-led support programs, health-care provider education, and public education and advocacy.


The vision of PAIL Network is an Ontario where…

Families who suffer the loss of a pregnancy or infant are cared for and feel supported automatically.
Babies are remembered and honoured, and the entire family is embraced by their community.
Health-care providers have the skills, resources and support they need to provide effective and sensitive care to families who experience the loss of a pregnancy or infant.
Communities are informed about perinatal loss and bereavement and are able to wrap around families who experience it with compassion and without stigma.
Leaders, funders and decision-makers recognize and support effective and properly resourced care for perinatal loss and bereavement as an essential part of a high quality, person- and family-centred health-care system.
The health-care system offers a standard of care that is comprehensive and effective so that every family who experiences the loss of a pregnancy or infant receives the care and support they need.

Three in three

The following three themes will guide PAIL Network for the next three years – they are our collective “three in three.”


Support & education to make a difference

We will increase our focus on care provider education to make family support and provider education equal areas of focus for PAIL Network. While PAIL Network has taught a respected care provider program for a number of years, we heard clearly and consistently in the provincial consultations that more needs to be done. Families told us that the number one opportunity to improve support for families experiencing pregnancy or infant loss is to provide more training and education for care providers. Care providers also confirmed the need for more and better training, a wider range of evidence-based resources for both families and care providers, and easier access to training and educational materials including online modalities.


Be transformative

The passion and success of PAIL Network over 20+ years and its leadership in advocating for Bill 141 were critical to the significant investment the Ministry of Health now has made to expand the services PAIL Network provides. PAIL Network has a powerful legacy upon which to build but our focus forward needs to be more than “the same just bigger.” To be truly transformative we will actively seek and respond to new opportunities and challenges, and most of all to the new and emerging needs of the families experiencing pregnancy or infant loss, and those who care for them.


Demonstrate impact

We will to build evaluation and outcome measurement into everything we do. The need to report to our funders on the impact of their current investment is an important reason to evaluate and measure. Embedding measurement and evaluation into our work will also enable us to continually improve the quality of our programs to best meet the needs of families and care providers. We want to be able to clearly demonstrate that better support for families and better education for care providers has a direct impact on the quality of care and overall experiences of families.

These three themes reflect on the impact and past success of PAIL Network and what we have heard over the last few months about where we must focus going forward.

2017-2020 strategic priorities

This plan identifies four overall strategic priorities for PAIL Network over the next three years. These are where we will focus our efforts and resources on and measure our impact and results. Together these four strategic priorities chart the path for PAIL Network over the next three years to fulfill our mission and work towards our vision.

Our four strategic priorities for the next three years are:

Family support

We will continue to have a primary focus on providing information and educational resources and direct peer support to families who experience perinatal loss and bereavement, and will expand support programs and resources for families who experience pregnancy and infant loss as part of an integrated continuity of care. Providing support in a variety of modalities, including online support, will allow families to more easily access support and in the ways that best meet their need. We will establish PAIL Network as the provincial “go-to” source for peer-led family support and information for families across Ontario.

Health-care provider education

We will increase our focus on education, training and support to health-care providers who care for families experiencing perinatal loss and bereavement. We will establish a comprehensive, coordinated and recognized education program for health-care professionals who care for families experiencing pregnancy or infant loss. PAIL Network will seek to support health-care providers to provide compassionate care with confidence and competence. To further support health-care professionals in delivering the best care possible to families, we will increase the availability of evidence based care tools and timely information about caring for a family experiencing pregnancy or infant loss.

Awareness & advocacy

Throughout the provincial consultations, we heard loud and clear that PAIL Network is a respected and effective voice and needs to play a leadership role in ensuring continued improvements in support for families experiencing perinatal loss and bereavement. We will continue to provide leadership, including in partnership with others, to increase awareness about perinatal loss and bereavement, to address stigma, and to advocate for better services and support.

Organizational capacity

We take seriously our obligation as a provincial program to provide services and support to families and health-care providers no matter where they are located across Ontario. Over the next three years, we will put concerted effort into building our organizational capacity to deliver on our provincial mandate and the Mission and Vision we have set. For this reason, we have elevated “organizational capacity” to a strategic priority to highlight this commitment and give this work the attention and focus it requires. Our dedication to evaluation and continuous improvement will be evidence of our desire to exceed expectations of families, health-care professionals, and other external stakeholders.