PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION/HEALTH PROMOTION–Wellness Program forGovernment Employees Announced The Nova Scotia government is launching a campaign aimed atmaking civil servants healthier. To celebrate Canada’s HealthyWorkplace Week, Oct. 25-29, the Public Service Commission, inpartnership with the Office of Health Promotion, has committed todeveloping wellness programs across government. Wellness is a broad and holistic concept that deals with anindividual’s physical and mental well-being. Although workplacescannot be responsible for an employee’s health, organizations canprovide employees with tools and resources to help them achieveoptimal health. “Research in both the private and public sectors shows thatworkplace wellness programs make good social and business sense,”said Human Resources Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson.”Organizations that have implemented wellness initiatives haveachieved significant and far-reaching benefits by having healthyemployees working in healthy environments. We are committed tohelping departments develop their own wellness programs that aretailored to each work environment.” Wellness programs address the full range of health-related issuesfaced by employees, from repetitive strain injuries to stress,and juggling home and career. “Our employees will have a key role in developing programs thatmeet their needs,” said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. “Our employee surveyindicated that some groups of staff have a hard time balancingfamily and career obligations. A comprehensive workplace wellnessprogram will identify ways that employees can reduce workplacestress and restore balance to their lives.” Workplaces that promote health and wellness have experiencedimproved team environments and increased productivity, as well asdecreased absenteeism, disability claims, and drug and healthcosts. Healthier employees in healthy workplaces have also hadpositive effects on their families and communities. In 1996, a review of 10 major companies reported that the returnon investment for every dollar spent in wellness initiatives wasbetween $2 and $20. “Focusing on the workplace is a natural place to start inimproving the health of Nova Scotians,” said Health PromotionMinister Rodney MacDonald. “These programs will improve thehealth of our employees and their families and will ultimately beapplied to workplaces throughout the province. We will lead byexample in helping organizations promote health and wellness fortheir employees.” Departmental programs will be based on the unique needs of eachdepartment’s employees, as well as health issues that are commonacross government. Programs could include such things as: smokingcessation; weight control; flexible work options to betterbalance work and family; or information on nutrition. Some ofthese initiatives are already offered in departments and willserve as examples as government develops its organization-wideinitiative. A wellness co-ordinator will be hired in November to assistdepartments in developing their programs. Employees will be askedto provide information about their health concerns beginning inearly 2005. This information will be used to help developprograms that meet their health needs. Departments will begin tosee the development of programs shortly thereafter. For more information on Canada’s Healthy Workplace Week, go towww.nqi.ca/chww/index.htm .
Public demonstrations like the one that took place at Brock University today help raise awareness of the need for more effective ways of helping survivors of sexual harassment and violence.Universities are no more immune to these types of incidents than any other workplace in Canada, however unlike most workplaces, Brock was one of the first universities in Canada to have formal procedures dealing with sexual violence.Earlier this month, Brock administrators took action against an employee after a former student came forward with a complaint about sexual harassment. The complaint led to an independent investigation, the results of which were presented to the University in January. As a result, the employee is not assigned to a class and is not on campus.Brock has been receptive to, and mindful of, all concerns raised about how we have responded to this issue, and the University will be reviewing its current policies and processes.As well, a sexual assault working group, formed last year, has evolved into a committee that is developing a new stand-alone policy to deal with sexual harassment and violence. That committee is inclusive of students, faculty, staff and senior administrators, and will produce a policy that is in line with Ontario’s new Bill 132.