By Mabell, Dave on December 17, 2019.
Lethbridge College is determined to promote the physical and mental health of its students, faculty and staff. And now that effort has received national recognition.
The college was named one of the nation’s “great employers” as part of the Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month initiative. Just two other organizations in the province – Travel Alberta and Alberta Blue Cross – won the award this year.
The Healthy Workplace Month campaign is promoted by Excellence Canada, an independent non-profit organization that manages it with support from Canada Life, an insurance, wealth management and benefits specialist.
The award recognizes the college’s efforts to foster a physically and psychologically safe and healthy workplace through healthy lifestyles, mental health and workplace culture, physical environment and corporate responsibility.
Participation in the new “Dimensions” health promotion program for post-secondary institutions is believed to be one of the factors in the “Healthy Workplace” judges’ decision, officials say. That project was launched earlier this year at the college and 16 more campuses across Canada.
“Receiving this award is a great accomplishment and I hope it echoes the way that our students and employees feel about the institution,” says college president Paula Burns.
“We care about our entire community and encourage them to put their own wellness first. A lot of work goes into making sure our people are supported in whatever way they need.”
The Dimensions program was developed with support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Funding (CIHR). It aims at creating “inclusion opportunities” in research, saying inclusion must be a priority at the institutional level for it to truly be successful in the research realm.
At Lethbridge College, wellness and safety efforts are often spearheaded by its Wellness Services and Occupational Health and Safety teams.
But officials say initiatives may also spring from the college’s academic centres – training a new generation of first responders, health-care professionals and child and youth-care workers.
The college also introduced mandatory training on workplace respect last year, and has a broad range of ongoing programs for students and staff on mental health, resiliency and first response to struggling colleagues or students.
The college and the University of Calgary are the two Alberta participants in the Dimensions program, a national pilot project assessing each institution’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.
The two-year project involves creating an internal self-assessment committee to evaluate what Lethbridge College is already doing to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and to identify areas in need of improvement. Its goal is “to eliminate obstacles and inequalities in the research and post-secondary ecosystems, to support equal access for all.”
Dimensions addresses obstacles faced by women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups, members of LGBTQ+ communities and others.
Institutions that successfully complete the two-year project will receive formal recognition for their efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion.