2015 CAE Recipient Profile - Upper Canada District School Board

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The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) is a diverse, public board of education in Eastern Ontario.  We are a character-focused educationalsystem which consists of dedicated individuals committed to quality education that fosters lifelong learning through creative and challenging learning experiences. Our students thrive under our philosophy of All Means All! We work hard to get all of our students across the graduation line. 

Formed in 1998 by the amalgamation of four predecessor boards of education, the UCDSB is one of the largest geographical school boards in Ontario and one of the largest employers in the area. UCDSB staff members focus their skills and expertise to ensure over 27,000 full-time elementary and secondary students receive a world-class education.  As a major employer, we feel we have a duty to look inward to ensure that we not only inspire excellence amongst our students but in all aspects of our operations.

Our journey to excellence began in late 2004, when a new initiative stemmed from the impact of declining enrolment, financial constraints and keeping ourselves focused on “Teaching for Learning” which became intertwined with our strategic goal of Operational Excellence.

Embarking on a 15-year strategic plan entitled CREW (Communications, Resources, Educational Programs and Wellness), we strived to not only graduate students who are better able to think, read, write and enjoy healthy relationships, but be better all-around citizens filled with character.

As an employer, we care about the health and welfare of our students and staff. We have physical literacy programs in place to improve the health of students and encourage physical fitness, and have increased mental and nutritional health awareness among our staff through initiatives such as activity promotion events, staff walking clubs and fitness classes. In short, we sought to inspire the leaders of tomorrow and ensure a prosperous and meaningful future for all our employees.

In 2007, the Board approved a formal healthy workplace business case to support its employees in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This project was referred to as Wellness and Work Life Balance.  A partnership with Excellence Canada (formerly NQI) ensured the initiative would be rooted with a strong foundation that would include the ongoing measurement of data towards becoming a sustainable part of the organization. Excellence Canada’s Healthy Workplace PEP elements of Health & Lifestyle Practices; Workplace Culture & Supportive Environment; and Physical Environment and Occupational Health and Safety were a continued focus and an evaluation measurement tool against the board’s healthy workplace strategy.

Level 1 (Commitment) – Achieved in 2008
Level 2 (Planning) – Achieved in 2010
Level 3 (Implementation) – Achieved in 2012
Level 4 (Sustainability) – Achieved in 2014

The workplace health program that was developed provided a comprehensive and integrated approach to health that focused on the entire population of the workplace and the organization as a whole. It addressed a broad range of health issues including physical and psychological, environmental, health practices, and personal resources through programs, policies and practices. The program dealt with stressors in the worksites, constructive conflict resolution, enhanced accommodation and improved early and safe return to work. It also included processes and programs to enable individuals within the organization to balance healthy living and working skills, to adapt to change and to cope in a positive productive manner.

Our wellness program has witnessed a transformative change within the UCDSB and has represented a positive shift towards embedding a true culture of wellness. As we continue to move forward together, we maintain a continued focus on our key objectives:

To become an employer of choice
To attract and retain good employees
To create (maintain) a work-life balance culture
To reduce absenteeism & presenteeism
To improve accommodation and early safe return to work
To control drug utilization costs
To improve job satisfaction
To develop enhanced capacity in the organization for dealing with conflict and identification of job stressors
To create (maintain) a culture that supports wellness

Our wellness culture continues to support a balance of physical, emotional and social development. It is through the promotion of well-being in our schools and workplaces that contributes to an individual’s overall wellness to enhance character, to create a sense of belonging, to successfully address change and to live and work at optimal capacity.