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Wednesday, January 30, 2013



  • New standards for workplace mental health
  • There and back again: one grad's co-op story
  • Emergency alert system to be tested tomorrow
  • Wednesday's notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


New standards for workplace mental health

The University of Waterloo is among the earliest adopters of a set of new voluntary standards for psychological health and safety in the workplace.

On January 16, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Bureau to Normalisation du Quebec (BNQ) released The National Standards of Canada Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation at an event in Toronto that featured Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt.

These new standard provides a systematic approach to developing and sustaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace with measures that include:

  • The identification of psychological hazards in the workplace;
  • The assessment and control of the risks in the workplace associated with hazards that cannot be eliminated (e.g. stressors due to organizational change or reasonable job demands);
  • The implementation of practices that support and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace;
  • The growth of a culture that promotes psychological health and safety in the workplace; and
  • The implementation of measurement and review systems to ensure sustainability.

The initiative was developed jointly through public consultations led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Bureau de Normalisation du Quebec (BNQ).  Bell Canada and Great West Life provided financial contributions to fund the development of the standard.  The Government of Canada through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada also provided funding. The initiative’s partners have also developed a Frequently Asked Questions document (PDF) to help provide more insights into the standard’s scope and prescriptions.

“A psychologically healthy workplace helps keep workers safe, engaged, and productive,” writes Linda Brogden, occupational health nurse at the University of Waterloo. “A framework was required to guide organizations towards this in an effective and efficient manner.”

Six organizations, including the University of Waterloo, were asked to be early adopters of the national standard.

Employers will be provided with the necessary tools to help develop and implement policies and programs to help achieve psychologically healthy workplaces. The standard is intended to provide a management system for the protection of employee psychological health and safety, and can be integrated into existing frameworks that many organizations already have in place (occupational health and safety programs, human resources strategies, management approaches, etc.).

The process to develop the voluntary standard brought together experts from many sectors and disciplines to develop the framework that is now available to Canadian organizations at no cost.

“Adopting best practices and encouraging an open and supportive mental health environment will continue to be the approach at Waterloo,” Brogden continues. “These standards will enable a strong foundation for university students, faculty and staff to function at their best and engage fully in their pursuits.”

A team of internal “champions,” with representation from the Conflict Management and Human Rights Office, Human Resources, the University of Waterloo Staff Association, CUPE, the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, Organizational and Human Development and the Safety Office, has been working to evaluate what Waterloo is doing in the area of promoting workplace mental health, and what best practices can be added based on the new standards. They have put together an explanatory document (PDF) that outlines the impact of the voluntary standard on employees and employer alike, and what steps will be taken next.

Plans are in the works to send out a short survey to employees in order to gauge perceptions about their workplace.

Workplace mental health is serious business. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness this year, and more than 6.7 million Canadians are living with a mental health problem or illness today, and 500,000 Canadians miss work each day because of a mental illness, costing the nation’s economy millions of dollars annually. Currently in Canada, only 25 per cent of employees believe that their supervisor manages mental health issues effectively.


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There and back again: one grad's co-op story

by Ian Dunlop

Ian Dunlop has come full circle at Waterloo; he started his career as a Waterloo co-op student in 1986, hired Waterloo co-op students at his company Dun-Map Inc., and has now returned as a candidate for Masters of Applied Environmental Studies. He shares this unique story in his own words:

Unquestionably, Waterloo Co-op was the launch point for my career and first 20 years running a successful business enterprise.

It started off in my third year in Planning at Waterloo, when I created an opportunity to return to my previous co-op employer as an independent consultant. Through my new company, Dun-Map, I designed and published transit route maps and timetables with desktop mapping and publishing software – cutting edge technology at the time.  Being an entrepreneur in co-op was cutting edge at the time as well.  Now, of course, Waterloo actively encourages and mentors young entrepreneurs in a dedicated enterprise co-op program.

After graduation, I gained new clients through word-of-mouth, eventually serving 18 transit agencies across Canada. Dun-Map also partnered with MapArt, Canada’s largest map publisher, where I developed a series of street maps and atlases on CD and pioneered online mapping engines. Through the ups and downs, I always knew I could count on Waterloo's co-op program to fill short-term staffing needs when things got busy.  Rather than hiring new full-time staff amid uncertainty of how long they would be needed, the co-op program provided a flexible short-term workforce of students who were able and willing to learn and make a productive contribution to Dun-Map’s projects. The dozen or so students I hired over the years, sometimes two at a time, ranged from environment, engineering, and mathematics backgrounds. It was interesting to see how students from non-mapping backgrounds quickly made the connections between their fields of study and Geomatics.

Now, I’m back at Waterloo again as a graduate student! Three years ago, it was clear how the mapping industry had been turned on its head by changing technologies and services like Google. And for me personally, the business I started was no longer exciting, interesting, and fulfilling. It was time for a change.

I sold the mapping portfolio, but retained the company I founded and rebranded it as Strategic Interchange. After being invited to tour the new EV3 building and talking to the faculty, I decided the Local Economic Development program was a great way to refresh my credentials. It has been a lot of hard work, but returning to Waterloo was like I never left. Where Waterloo will launch me for the next 20 years of my career and business enterprise remains to be seen.  However, there’s a good chance I will tap the student talent in the co-op program at some point for future endeavours - whatever they may be.

This article originally printed in The Prism newsletter.

Last week’s poll results: 29 per cent of you guessed correctly: Waterloo co-op students work in 63 countries worldwide. Congratulations to last week’s draw winner Supreet Kaur, management engineering student.

This week’s question: What do students cite as the most valuable resource in career research? (Hint: check out this infographic for the answer) Take a guess and enter to win an umbrella.


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Emergency alert system to be tested tomorrow

a message from the Emergency Planning Steering Committee

There will be a campus test of the university’s Emergency Warning System tomorrow (Thursday, January 31) at 8:00 a.m. This is a test of the system that is conducted each term.

No action is required. The test will involve notifying campus that this is “a test of the Emergency Communication System — Go to the Home Page for information.” It will be seen on many computer screens across campus as a pop-up message activated by the university’s emergency planning steering committee. A link on the pop-up page will lead to a special emergency web page that in a real emergency will also be activated taking the place of Waterloo’s regular home page.

The same warning notification will also appear as a text message on cell phones listed with the university. Students can add their cell phones to the list through the Quest info system, while faculty and staff can list their phones using the HR info system.
As well, the university has an Infoline number (1-866-470-0910) that will be engaged during genuine emergencies. In coming months a number of reminders to campus will advertise the number’s existence. This special number will help manage the flow of incoming calls to Waterloo's main campus in time of emergency.


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Wednesday's notes

Human Resources has reported that the following staff members will be retiring as of February 1, 2013:

  • Ruth Hawes, who started working at the university in August 1976, retiring as a Student Advisor in Co-operative Education and Career Action; and
  • Dawn McCutcheon, who began her career at Waterloo in January 1986, retires as a Research Technician in the Office of Research's Central Animal Facility.

Bradley Blain, who started in September 2000, retired effective January 1, 2013 as Senior Development Officer - Engineering Advancement.

All aboard the HackBus: Students from the University of Waterloo and nine other institutions have the opportunity to travel the University of Michigan for a 36-hour event billed as "the most epic hackathon ever." MHacks, sponsored by Facebook and taking place from February 1 to 3, aims to bring together hack-happy university students to build web and mobile applications, with free food and comfortable lodging provided. Local media reports that the event is in the running to be the largest of its kind in the country. Buses have been organized to shuttle students to and from the event, and interested participants can reserve a seat online. The organizers can be emailed for further details. I'll conclude with the obligatory "HACK THE PLANET" reference.


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LEARN difficulties update

According to Information Systems & Techology (IST) Waterloo LEARN has been having problems since about 3:25 p.m. yesterday. Desire2Learn has been working on a fix and things seem to be going in the right direction as of this morning, but some sites may be encountering issues. Keep tabs on the situation by checking the Waterloo LEARN help page.

Link of the day

45 years ago: The Tet Offensive begins

When and where

The Department of Housing and Residences Housing Fair, Wednesday, January 30, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Student Consultation Group, "Food Services: How Can They Meet Your Needs?" Wednesday, January 30, 12:15 p.m., Student Success Office multipurpose room. Details.

CIGI Collaborative Research Awards (CRA) information session, Wednesday, January 30, 2:00 p.m., Balsillie School of International Affairs room 1-23. Details.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Renée Miller, University of Toronto, "Big Data Curation," Wednesday, January 30, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Waterloo Engineering presents "Engineering Healthcare - live webcast," Wednesday, January 30, 6:00 p.m. Details.

History Speaker Series event featuring Devon Elliott, PhD Candidate, University of Western Ontario, “The 3D Historian : Technologies for Experimenting with Form, Matter, and Interaction,” Thursday, January 31, 11:30 a.m., HH 117.

Organizational and Human Development presents "Navigating Through the University Registration Process", Thursday, January 31, 12:00 p.m., TC 2218 a/b.

UW Biomedical Seminar Series featuring Dr. Claire Davies, University of Auckland, New Zealand, "Increasing independence: Integrating perception, cognition and physical motor control into therapy strategies," Thursday, January 31, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Department of Religious Studies presents Dr. Prema Kurien, Maxwell School of Syracuse University, "Race, Religion and U.S. Immigration Today - The Political Integration of Indian Americans," Thursday, January 31, 2:30 p.m., EV3 4438.

26th Annual Math Faculty Awards Ceremony, Thursday, January 31 cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Observations and Free Inquiries seminar featuring Hamid Tizhoosh, Systems Design Engineering, "The Nature of Violence - Why ideas and beliefs cause violence" Thursday, January 31, 5:30 p.m., E5 6004.Details.

Waterloo Engineering presents "Clean, Green, Self-Driving Machines - live webcast," Thursday, January 31, 6:00 p.m. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture featuring Jennifer Keesmaat, "Practices in City Building," Thursday, January 31, 6:45 p.m. Details.

Deadline for Distinguished Teacher Award nominations, Friday, February 1.

Knowledge Integration seminar: KI alumni panel, Friday February 1, 2:30 p.m., Environment 3 room 1408. Details.

Science and Technology in Society Collaboration and the Philosophy Department present Dr. Nancy Tuana, "Coupled Ethical-Epistemic Issues in the Climate Sciences," Friday, February 1, 3:30 p.m., HH 334. Details.

The KW Linux User Group presents "A grassRoots History of the Early Hi-tech Community in KW", Monday, February 4, St. John's Kitchen, 97 Victoria St. North, Kitchener. Details.

Turkish Students Association presents Turkish Classes at UW, Tuesday, February 5, and Tuesdays thereafter, 5:00 p.m., RCH 106. Details.

MDEI Program Information Session, Wednesday, February 6, 12:00 p.m., Stratford Campus, 12:00 p.m. Details.

Noon Hour Concert series featuring the Crusell Trio, "Classical music on original instruments: No valves and not enough keys!" Wednesday, February 6, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel.

UW Drama Department presents On Love, Wednesday, February 6 to Saturday, February 9, Hagey Hall 180.

Kitchener Public Library Ideas and Issues Lecture Series featuring Professor Gary Bruce, Department of History, "Displaying animals…and humans: The Berlin Zoo in German History," Wednesday, February 6, 12:00 p.m., Forest Heights Community Library, Kitchener.

Deadline for Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student nominations, Friday, February 8.

FASS presents FASS for President, Thursday, February 7, 8:00 p.m., Friday, February 8, 7:00 p.m., Saturday, February 9, 7:00 p.m. All shows at the Humanities Theatre. Details.

Town Hall Meeting, Tuesday, February 12, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable through myHRinfo:

• High Voltage Lab Technologist, Electrical & Computer Engineering, USG 7
• Stationary Engineer 2nd Class, Plant Operations
• Administrative Assistant, School of Pharmacy, USG 6
• Buyer, Procurement and Contract Services – USG 6
• Associate University Librarian, Information Resources & Academic Excellence (AUL, IR and AE), Library, USG 14-16


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