BC Alliance for Healthy Living Leads $2.3M Initiative to Put the WoW! in Workplace Wellness


April 9, 2014 (Vancouver) – The BC Alliance for Healthy Living (BCAHL) has launched a three-year $2.3 million initiative to take workplace wellness lessons from BC and share them with our neighbours to the north. The Working on Wellness in Strategic Populations or WoW initiative is made possible through financial support from the Canadian Partnership against Cancer, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Health Canada, which was announced today in Ottawa.

Building on the success of the Canadian Cancer Society’s WellnessFits program – the WoW initiative will adapt and deliver tailored workplace wellness programs to rural and remote worksites, which have statistically poorer health outcomes. Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, Council of Yukon First Nations and Government of Northwest Territories will be piloting the adapted program.

“BC is a leader in health promotion, but as with other jurisdictions, we have trouble reaching certain groups of people. The WoW funding will allow us to go into industrial work camps in BC and the Northwest Territories, and First Nations administration offices in the Yukon Territory to see how we can target our activities and language to better meet people’s needs.” said Scott McDonald, BCAHL Chair and CEO of the BC Lung Association.

Male and First Nations health outcomes are below the national and BC averages. Workplace wellness is considered a promising practice in health promotion and the WoW initiative will test its applicability for underserved populations.

“How do we talk to men about health when they may not want to listen? How do we convince employers to take steps to support the health of their employees? These are important questions that we hope to answer and share through the WoW initiative over the next three years,” adds McDonald.

“If there’s one lesson BCAHL has learned over its ten years working together, it’s the value of leveraging partnerships. Health happens where people live, work, play and learn so we need the private sector to be actively involved.  We are very excited about this pan-Canadian work and our current and future partners,” said Mary Collins, Director of the BCAHL Secretariat.

Other BC-based partners include the UBC-CCS Cancer Prevention Centre, Iridia Medical, a private sector health company, BC Ministry of Health, WorkSafe BC, and the CMHA who are members of the initiative’s policy advisory committee.  The key to Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention or CLASP coalitions is the marriage of the policy, practice and research sectors.

“The WoW initiative is one of eight projects the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is funding through its Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention (CLASP) initiative to create a more supportive environment so individuals can make the healthier choice,” said Deb Keen, Director, Prevention and Research at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. “This coordinated approach accelerates the use of knowledge and best practices to ultimately improve the health of Canadians.”