Senate Task Force on Wellness (2003)

Task Force on Wellness (2003) PDF

In 2002, the University of Alberta Senate struck a Task Force on Wellness to study the current status of health and wellness initiatives at the University of Alberta. The Task Force released its Final Report on 21 July 2003. The report is posted at the end of this page (Acrobat Adobe required for viewing/printing). Due to unprecedented demand, print copies are no longer available.

On 26 September 2003 the University's Board of Governors unanimously passed the following motion:

"That the Board of Governors approve in principal, as strongly recommended by the Board Safety, Health and Environment Committee, the recommendations of the Final Report of the Senate Task Force on Wellness (2003) and that the Board of Governors ask the Administration to review the recommendations, prepare an official response to the report to be presented to the Board of Governors at its January 16, 2004 meeting, and report progress back to the Board of Governors at subsequent Board meetings."

The official response was deferred to the March 2004 meeting of the Board. An update on the status of the report will be provided after the March meeting.

Executive Summary
Awareness and concern about health and wellness issues have been growing within society in general and at the University of Alberta in particular. Health and wellness initiatives are not only beneficial to the physical and mental well being of individuals, they are also beneficial to the productivity, efficiency and operational performance of institutions and organizations.

The University of Alberta Senate Task Force on Wellness was struck to examine the current status of health and wellness initiatives at the University, to critically examine any gaps and challenges and to build on established initiatives by proposing plans and solutions to further enhance them. Emphasis has been placed on the ability of the University to promote practical and sustainable ways in which the University population can attain a healthier lifestyle, both in the short and long term, in order to establish itself as the healthiest University in Canada and thereby become a model for post-secondary institutions nationally and internationally.

To achieve this, the Task Force seeks the support of the President, the Board of Governors and senior administration in the development of an integrated campus-wide wellness vision with supporting goals and initiatives. The realization of a wellness vision, in collaboration with the University?s constituency groups, should result in long-term returns on investments, healthier and more productive work and study environments, value-added student, faculty and staff recruitment capabilities and heightened recognition for the University as a leader in innovation and workplace wellness. It is essential that this vision be supported by specific and measurable goals and, further, that initiatives for reaching those goals be established and implemented.

The University of Alberta is a complex organization with complex issues. It comprises a large and diverse population of approximately 27,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students, 3,850 support staff and 4,148 faculty members. The main campus of the University encompasses 50 blocks with over 400 distinct research laboratories and the second largest research library in Canada. The largest research institution in Alberta, and the fourth largest in Canada, the University has over two dozen recognized areas of research excellence and, with 23 national 3M Teaching Awards, leads the nation in undergraduate teaching excellence.

In order to gather comprehensive information about the state of health and wellness at the University of Alberta, the Task Force organized public hearings, operated a web site to accept comments and data, held meetings, received written submissions and distributed comment cards to staff and faculty. As a result, a number of challenges, possible solutions and recommendations have been recognized, developed and explored in this report.

The key wellness concerns identified by the University of Alberta community are: the lack of an integrated approach to a campus-wide wellness vision; difficulty, due to an increasing campus population, in gaining accessibility to fitness facilities and programs; various roadblocks to achieving a study-work-life balance; increased stress; rapid change; nutrition barriers; and the consequences of smoking and the flu.

In 2001-2002, the University of Alberta invested $24 million in direct health related benefits. This amount, however, does not represent all of the University?s health related costs as studies have demonstrated that the indirect costs of unhealthy work and study environments far exceed the direct costs of long-term health related treatments. The development and maintenance of an integrated campus-wide wellness vision will not only improve employee and student performance levels, it will also drastically reduce the financial costs of illnesses, long-term disability, absenteeism and health benefits. The Task Force believes that by implementing its recommendations, benefit costs can be better contained and the University of Alberta can become an even healthier and more productive University.

To improve the overall wellness of the University of Alberta, and to work toward becoming the healthiest University in Canada, the Senate Task Force on Wellness makes the following recommendations:

1. Develop an integrated, campus-wide wellness vision with measurable goals and initiatives to reach those goals.

2. Obtain the commitment and continuous involvement of all major university stakeholders in developing an internationally recognized wellness vision.

3. Facilitate personal growth and development by effectively communicating and promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and school-work-life balance to the University community.

4. Increase opportunities and encourage participation in wellness and health initiatives across campus.

Task Force Members
Louis Hugo Francescutti, Task Force Chair & Former University Senator
Wendy Kinsella, Task Force Vice-Chair & University Senator
John Ferguson, Chancellor
Jean Agrios, University Senator
Gerald Glassford, University Senator
Melanie Goroniuk
Anita Moore
Randy Olson, University Senator
Gerry Predy
Kim Raine
Stephanie Langton, Task Force Coordinator
Sandra Kereliuk, Senate Executive Officer

For further information contact Derek Roy-Brenneis, Senate Executive Officer, at: Senate Office