Departmental Healthy Workplace Committees

It is hoped that by the end of the fiscal year, all departments will have Healthy Workplace or Wellness Committees. This is the latest list of departments with Healthy Workplace Committees, and their chairs:

Agriculture/Fisheries and Aquaculture: Suzy Farmer

The Employee Survey Implementation Team was established in response to the 2004 Government of Nova Scotia Employee Survey. This team, appointed by the Deputy Minister, is responsible for developing a strategy to address issues identified by employee surveys. On April 25, 2007 the Wellness Committee joined the Employee Survey Implementation Team. The blended committee was renamed the Work Well Team, and the Wellness group is now a subcommittee.

A needs assessment survey was conducted in conjunction with the first annual "Wellness Day" in May 2007. Results will be used to help establish a work plan for the upcoming year.

Healthy Workplace Week gave employees an opportunity to nominate co-workers whom they felt made a positive difference in their workplace. Fifty-seven awards were given out, and nominees were entered into a prize draw. Lunch and learns were also held in Halifax, and Truro, hosting Rene Robichaud, President of the Atlantic Laughter Club.

Communications Nova Scotia: Adele Poirier

A small group of staff at Communications Nova Scotia -- CNS for short -- started looking at wellness ideas early in 2005. We launched a walking club soon after and arranged a lunch and learn session on nutrition for co-workers. When the agency formally pulled its Wellness Committee together in January 2006, one of the first actions was to provide a monthly lunch and learn series with topics ranging from fitness and ergonomics to stress management and meditation. The committee also developed a healthy catering policy to ensure healthy options are always offered at meetings hosted by CNS.

During Healthy Workplace Week 2006, professional health risk assessments are being offered for all interested staff. The committee is also going high-tech with a new wellness forum on the agency's intranet (sorry, we can't link you to it since intranet sites are not available for non-government users). Staff who share wellness thoughts and tips through the forum will be eligible for prizes. These activities not only give staff a chance to learn more about wellness, but they also give the committee hard data and lots of ideas as they work at developing a long-term plan for their corporate initiative: CNS Working Well.

Community Services: Rosemary Lewis

The Community Services Healthy Workplace Advisory is excited about helping achieve and ensure a healthy and productive atmosphere while on the job. With representatives from each region and head office, the Committee is dedicated to providing opportunities to learn and talk about what a healthy workplace is, and how to best achieve one.

Since our word has gotten out to the various offices across the province, there has been an incredible grass roots movement by staff to embrace the Healthy Workplace. Walking groups and recipe trades run rampant, and Healthy Workplace bulletin boards highlight these local, as well projects like a monthly desktop publication and Healthy Workplace Tips have both encouraged creativity and supported what's already taking place. Departmental newsletter articles from the Healthy Workplace Advisory are well received, and a recent trivia contest had tremendous response. Feedback from employees is still the driving force behind new ideas and goals.

Education: Sarah Hainsworth and Joe Rudderham

The Committee was formed in May 2006. We have presented a project charter with budget, short and mid-range plans to Senior Management. There is a plan to include showers, changing rooms, a bike lock up facility and a Healthy Workplace Activity room within a renovated space in Brunswick Place. It is anticipated that these facilities will be available by December 2007. The Committee continues to formalize plans for Healthy Workplace activities within the Department of Education.

Environment and Labour: Terry MacPherson

Nova Scotia Environment and Labour has a Healthy Workplace Committee with representatives from across the province. Since its launch in early 2006, the committee has undertaken a number of initiatives, including a successful Healthy Workplace Week in October 2006. The committee looks forward to doing more work in the future and is always open to suggestions from NSEL staff about what healthy workplace initiative they would like to see in their workplace.

Finance: Janet Briggs

The Department of Finance's Healthy Workplace Committee was established in the Spring of 2007. In May, the Deputy Minister held two information sessions that were attended by all Finance staff. Information about the HW Initiative was provided, information and particiapation were solicited from staff.

The official kick off event for the HW Initiative was the Manulife Dragon Boad Fesitival at Lake Banook on July 7, 2007. Our team, "The Hidden Assets" collectively rasised $1,658.00 towards the NS Amateur Sports Fund. The Committee paddled like never before (some never had) in competing for the Premier's Cup and the "heats" throughout the day.

The Committee's also:

  • developed its terms of reference
  • organized noon hour walking clubs
  • distributed posters, brochures and other information
  • promoted the HW Initiative
  • developed an interactive HW Intranet site
  • developed an employee needs assessment (survey)
  • developed strategies for communications
  • investigated using the 8th floor showers, bike racks, and water coolers, and
  • participated in the "Jump Start Your Healthy Workplace Committee" Training

The Committee is now developing their formal plan for 2007-2008.

The Committee had many successes in such a short period of time and look forward to even greatere staff participation into the future.

Health: Dennis Holland

The healthy workplace committee was established in June 2006 and currently has 10 members. Since we started, our initiatives have included organizing a walking club this summer, coordinating the painting of our offices, and piloting a health risk assessment program in our department. The Committee has recently sponsored a series of lunch and learns during the Spring of 2007. Topics covered included Motivating Behavior Change and Stress Management, Eating Right for Health, Managing your Weight, Managing your Blood Pressure, and Understanding Food Labels. These lunch and learn sessions were video taped and placed on the Departments intranet site for easy access of all staff.

Health Promotion and Protection: Carolyn Davison

Intergovernmental Affairs: Melanie Fewer

Although Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) is a relatively small department, it is committed to promoting a healthy work environment and healthy lifestyle practices.

The committee conducted a needs assessment survey early in 2006 to get a sense of what staff would consider beneficial in terms of healthy workplace activities. Since then, the department initiated several activities based on this feedback, including:

  • a lunch and learn presentation on good nutrition
  • health risk assessments for employees
  • team building and social activities
  • the Trans Canada Trail Challenge - a walking competition with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs (OAA)

The committee plans to continue to address the issues identified in the needs assessment survey and learn from other departments that have had success in designing and implementing healthy workplace initiatives.


The Department of Justice was selected to participate in the Healthy LifeWorks Project, a four-year pilot project studying comprehensive workplace health. Twelve sites are involved in the study, each implementing their own initiatives

  • Terminal Road: Deborah Barbour

    As one of the sites selected to participate in the pilot project, Justice Head Office established a committee that included representation from all divisions, as well as management, non-management, and a member from the Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

    Since it started two years ago, the committee has been working closely with the Atlantic Health and Wellness Institute to support the Healthy LifeWorks project and providing monthly tracking reports. Some of the initiatives undertaken include: Health Risk Assessments; Organizational Health Assessment; Weight Watchers at Work Program; Tobacco Intervention Program; Women's Workshop on Menopause; Managing Stress Workshop; Heart Health Nutrition Seminar; Relaxation and Stress Reduction Techniques; Walking to the North Pole Challenge; Core Stability Training demonstration; and Wellness Corners established in the main lunchrooms.

    The Healthy Workplace Plan for this year includes initiatives focused on work-life balance; employee recognition; communication; stress management; ergonomics; etc.

  • Western: Maureen Acker

    The Bridgewater Justice Centre has a very healthy and active Health and Wellness program. Over the past 18 months, the Centre's Health and Wellness Committee has led the way in scheduling events such as noon hour skates, monthly “lunch and learns”, our “Journey to Fitness”, use of pedometres, and creation of a Wellness corner.

    Most significantly, the Committee has worked hard, and continues to work hard, to cultivate a workplace environment that encourages all Centre staff to lead healthy and balanced lives. Through providing opportunities to support and promote exercise through the walking club, flexible works hours, healthy meeting snacks and a team approach that encourages everyone to “take back” their lunch hours and breaks, the Centre is getting healthier, happier and more productive.

    The Committee is composed of staff and management from all work areas in the Justice Centre. The Committee is ably chaired by Maureen Acker and her supporting cast of Deputy Sheriff Judy West, Judicial Assistant Cheryl Hinckley, Probation Officer Paula Huskilson and Supervisor Peter James. In addition to actively implementing a Health and Wellness Program in the Centre, the Centre also contributes innovation and creativity to the Western Region Health and Wellness Committee and the Chairs Working Group.

    Thanks to Sheriff's Deputy, Judy West, our Centre will in all likelihood have a space and equipment dedicated to exercise on site. Judy has been raising funds by getting donations from staff or friends of the Centre and raffling them off as well as through 50/50 draws, and most recently a Yard Sale.

  • Sydney Justice Centre: Pam Kachafanas

    Participants in the Health and Wellness Initiative in the Sydney Justice Centre include staff from Court Administration, Victim Services, the Maintenance Enforcement Program, Sheriff's Office, and members of the Judiciary. The Wellness Committee, consisting of both management and staff, has a rotating Chair and is committed to the development of each component of the NQI Health and Wellness Triangle.

    The Wellness Committee has been responsible for several successful personal health and wellness initiatives including:

    • An internal communication network that provides information on meeting times, programs and contact information, provides entertainment and celebrates local successes
    • A “Lunch and Learn” series that addresses topics identified by participants as being of local interest such as stress management, migraine prevention and relief, breast cancer information and screening and homeopathy.
    • The committee has also organized several physical activities to promote individual health such as yoga on site at lunch, organized walks and support groups for weight loss and smoking cessation.
    • Wednesday is Healthy Snack Day at the Centre although we encourage healthy eating every day.
    • A Wellness Room has been provided for the staff to use for meetings. The Wellness Room houses bookshelves for health-related brochures and reading materials, a body fat scale, posters and other written materials that are displayed on the walls and bulletin boards.

    The Wellness Committee, in the wake of the Leadership Summit, has recently begun strategic planning in relation to organizational health by tackling such issues as physical work environment, morale, reward and recognition. The local Occupation Health and Safety Committee is strong and active and has been purposefully linked to the Wellness Committee thereby providing a stable link in the Health and Wellness triad.

    For more information contact Pam Kachafanas at 902-563-3757 or

  • Sydney Correctional Centre: Theresa Edwards and Deborah Quinlan

    At the Cape Breton Correctional Facility, we have taken an active role in helping staff make healthy life choices. We are providing a fruit/muffin tray in the staff lounge twice a day for both the day shift and night shift as an alternative to a vending machine. We had a healthy recipe contest judged by staff in the cooking program of the NSCC .We have also located our "Wellness Corner" in the staff lounge, so that it is accessible to our staff and serves as a gentle reminder of the work that we have committed to do.

    The staff at the CBCF and in fact all provincial facilities, had the opportunity to give direct input into the development of a Vision Statement for Provincial Correctional Facilities over the past year and a half. In this statement, "Wellness" and "Healthy Environment" were embedded in many of the core values. Staff will play a key role over the next two to three years in operationalizing the vision statement.

  • Burnside: Eileen Collett

    When asked for suggestions, many staff indicated that the facility was lacking a space to really “get away from it all” on their breaks, often leaving many with the feeling that they had no break at all during their shift. With this in mind, the Committee set to work on the planning and implementation of a new staff lounge at Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility (CNSCF). The grand opening of this space took place in June '06. The event was celebrated with an “open house” and a staff barbeque, keeping wellness in mind with a selection of healthy food choices for the luncheon.

    As a result of suggestions from the Wellness Committee, the kitchen at CNSCF is now offering fresh fruit or yogurt for lunch as opposed to sweets and canned fruit. Currently, a monthly luncheon is being planned as well as different varieties of salads.

    With the success and positive feedback received, the committee continues to move forward, keeping an open mind to suggestions and ideas of staff.

  • Waterville: Paul Getson

  • Metro Courts: Iona Stoddard and Jean O'Hearn

    The Halifax Metro Department of Justice, including Provincial Courts Halifax and Dartmouth, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal at the Law Courts in Halifax and the Supreme Court Family Division on Devonshire, established a Metro Healthy Workplace Committee in June of 2005. The committee developed a terms of reference that was adopted at the April 12, 2006 meeting. Wellness boards were placed in all of the sites with a variety of health and wellness related information and events. Each site has established a sub-committee participating in lots of extremely interesting and fun workshops. Some of the initiatives include a four month challenge, “Walk around the Province”, a Smoking Cessation program at the Law Courts with ten staff members attempting to kick the habit, and a Supreme Court Family Division forming it's own Weight Watchers group, with 8 members shedding over 170 pounds.

Natural Resources: Hugh Gillis

Office of Economic Development:

  • Healthy Workplace Steering Committee: Darlene Griffin, Tracy Fiander
  • Healthy Workplace Committee: Kathlene Farrell, Judy Knott, Dennis McCarthy, George Spencer and Beth Pendlebury

October 12th and 13th 2006 OED participated in a Health Risk Assessment to reveal the needs of the department. The results indicated our employees have interests in weight management, fitness, nutrition, and health risks. We are now in the process of developing and implementing an action plan that includes: a challenge between the divisions, lunch and learn presentation (on the topics of interest), lunch hour dance lessons, and a resourceful web page

Public Service Commission: Jane Allt & Maria Tendencia

PSC Healthy Workplace Committee

Established in Fall 2005, this committee is made up of voluntary members representing management and employee groups from different floors and divisions across the Public Service Commission and includes at least one member from each of these committees: Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee; Communications Committee; AND Employee Survey Committee. This committee's mandate includes creating a Healthy Workplace Plan, identifying wellness and health issues important to employees, encouraging employee participating in healthy workplace initiatives, and more.

Our plan, “Success Through Healthy People,” was presented to senior management for approval in October 2006. Over the past year we have started to implement a number of the strategies in our plan such as:

  • Health Risk Assessments.
  • Support to charities such as the Salvation Army Christmas Angel Program, United Way and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
  • Developed and implemented an employee survey on social activites.
  • Continuted Wellness Corners in our main lobby on such topics as Winter activities and nutrition and stress during the Christmas season.
  • Held a highly successful two-month Walking Challenge - Club PSC.

Further planning will be schedualed for the Fall of 2007.

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations: Margo Wilkinson and Gerald Hashey

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations launched our Wellness Club on October 16th 2006. It's an employee-driven initiative designed to encourage and facilitate healthy living by SNSMR employees and their families. The club focuses on four important areas: providing information for healthy living, providing opportunities to practice healthy living, creating incentives that motivate staff to live healthy lives, and recognizing the achievements of staff who strive to maintain or improve their health.

In delivering our mandate, the Wellness Club organized Nutrition and Label Reading sessions, Health Screening (blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol) sessions, launched a "Stairway to Health" program, organized an Evening Skating event, organized a SNSMR Softball Team, provided Fitness Passes to the Four Point Sheraton, provided Skate Passes to the Metro Centre, and so much more.

The Wellness Club's website, SNSMR Wellness, continues to be popular. It provides information, an activities calendar, and important links that help staff incorporate healthy practices into their lifestyles. We've also added a Recipe section, a Book Club section, the Yarmouth Diet Club, and a Walking Club.

Tourism, Culture and Heritage: Chris Keefe (Interim Committee Chair)

Transportation and Public Works: Greg Lusk

Treasury and Policy Board: Frank Reinhardt

Healthy Workplace