Academic Council Holds First Meeting

The Academic Council of PCU-WHS, established in accordance with the University’s governing legislation, held its first meeting earlier this year to review and finalize the proposed Bachelors Degree in Workplace Health Sciences (Disability Management) to be submitted to the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) of the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology. The group was tasked with providing a further layer of scrutiny on both the proposed degree program and the design and content of the individual courses to be offered.

Bringing together a vast spectrum of knowledge, skills and experience, the Academic Council is comprised of expert members of the academic community from universities in Australia, Germany, Ireland, the U.S. and Canada, as well as senior representatives from private industry, labour, and the public sector.

Upon incorporating recommended changes suggested by the Academic Council, the final program proposal was submitted to the Degree Quality Assessment Board of the Ministry. Once the DQAB review is complete, PCU-WHS has an opportunity to respond prior to the recommendations going to the Minister for final determination.


PCU-WHS International Research Advisory Council Chair Appointed

The Board of Governors of the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences (PCU-WHS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Donal McAnaney as founding Chair of its International Research Advisory Council.

McAnaney, who holds a PhD in educational psychology, was Director of Program Development for the Rehab Group, a private not-for-profit organization serving people with disabilities based in Ireland and the UK, and is a well-known top researcher in the field of disability management and works throughout Europe and indeed, the world. He is Senior Research Consultant, Work Research Centre, Dublin; Lecturer and Associate Researcher, Centre for Disability Studies, University College of Dublin (UCD); Team Leader, Bernard Brunhes International Research and Training Consultant, European Platform for Rehabilitation; Chair, Board of Professional Conduct, Psychological Society of Ireland; and Past Chair, Global Applied Disability Research and Information network on Employment and Training. He has worked closely with the National Institute of Disability Management and Research since 1998.

Born in Dublin, McAnaney attended the University College of Dublin. “After graduation, I went into teaching learning-disabled children,” McAnaney said. “We were doing a lot of campaigning on dyslexia as a special-education need.” He subsequently left teaching to pursue a degree in psychology and qualified as a clinical psychologist. “Then I decided to see the world. That’s when I went to McGill to work on a doctoral program in educational psychology, and got a job the minute I came back to Ireland.”

During his tenure at the Rehab Group, McAnaney set up the first graduate degree program for social and vocational rehabilitation at UCD, a program he still teaches on a part-time basis. During the same time he also conducted major international research programs into disability management and return to work policies in Europe and around the world, through agencies such as the Office for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Labour Organization of the United Nations.
At the first meeting of the Academic Council of PCU-WHS in Vancouver on April 12, McAnaney summed up his findings after several decades of studying how employers and countries deal with people who become sick or injured while on the job. “It’s not about managing people, it’s about managing the factors in the workplace that cause people to become disabled,” he said.

McAnaney cited one study that randomly surveyed 2,000 people in the Netherlands, the UK and Austria that revealed physical injury is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting workers back into the workplace. “The big question we had was, what was the role of stress and mental distress in sickness/absence and return to work?” McAnaney said.

“Co-morbidity, where stress occurred, was 19 per cent, and mental distress on its own added another 10 to 15 per cent. That’s over 30 per cent of all return to work cases where there is some component of stress. In its most recent publication, the OECD warned that we are not paying enough attention to people who are in distress before they become ill.”

Under Bill PR 401 – 2007, the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences Act , the new University is required by statute to have an International Research Advisory Council consisting of members who are “internationallyrecognized leaders, from educational institutions or private or government organizations, in relation to occupational health and safety, disability management and rehabilitation, and related subjects.”

In making the appointment announcement, Ken Neumann and Trevor James, Labour and Employer Co-Chairs of the PCU-WHS Board of Governors commented, “We are extremely pleased that someone with Dr. McAnaney’s vast experience in the whole field of work and disability has accepted this challenging opportunity. The University’s mandate addresses the entire life-long workplace health cycle and we are very confident that Dr. McAnaney will be able to establish the strategic research priorities/direction for PCU-WHS in a manner where it will directly contribute to better outcomes for workers and employers.”

“What we are trying to do is reduce the factors in the worker’s life that are pushing or pulling them out of work, because sometimes, not going to work can become quite attractive,” McAnaney said. “It’s a complex picture. That’s why we need a University and why we need a research program.”

The PCU-WHS campus was built on a 1.4-hectare parcel of land donated by the City of Port Alberni. An official opening of the facility took place in September 2011.

Following a review by the Academic Council, the program proposal for a Bachelor’s Degree in Workplace Health Sciences, specialization in Disability Management, was submitted to the Degree Quality Assessment Board of the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education in May.


PCU-WHS Benefits from Strong Support

Teck Resources and the Steelworkers

Before PCU-WHS had even opened its doors, Teck Resources had committed $300,000 each year for five years for a total donation of $1.5 million. The PCU-WHS lecture hall is now known as the Teck Global Workplace Health Lecture Theatre.

At the September 6 opening of the university, Teck President and CEO Don Lindsay stressed “the need for investing in research and education to better integrate injured and disabled workers in our workforce.” He added, “The Pacific Coast University will help us make tremendous strides in that regard and having an institute focused on safe work environments and reintegrating disabled workers back into the workforce will create a centre of excellence right here in BC.”

Ken Neumann, who is both Co-Chair of the PCU-WHS Board of Governors and Canadian National Director for the United Steelworkers, which represents many of Teck’s employees across Canada, welcomed the contribution to the new University and provided further commitment from the union he leads. The Steelworkers to date have made contributions from their Canadian national office, their international office, as well as from individual locals across Canada.

The Coulson Group

The Coulson Group of Companies has a 50-year history of working in the logging industry in the Alberni Valley and Central Vancouver Island. Now diversified into an international conglomerate involved in aviation, manufacturing, millworks and transport, the Coulson Group also operates Chances RimRock, a successful community gaming centre in Port Alberni. According to Chief Executive Officer Wayne Coulson, the company’s ties with NIDMAR go back a long way. “We’ve known Wolfgang for 25 some odd years. He is a bit of an icon in Port Alberni. He’s driven to succeed to make it better for people with disabilities in business.”

The Coulson Group of Companies signed an agreement this fall to provide sponsorship funding to PCU-WHS for a five-year period. “When Wolfgang approached us to become involved, we were definitely interested in participating. The university is a community gem, because of what it stands for. It’s a tribute to all the men and women who have worked in the forestry industry and served their time here, and it’s a showcase in this area,” he explains. The partnership is a natural fit for the two organizations. “With such a large work force ourselves, we’re happy to provide a long-term financial commitment to the success of this project.”

Coulson is enthusiastic about what the new university can do for employers. “It will give us new tools to help us be sharper about what we do, and how we create a better quality and safer workplace. Part of entrepreneurship—beyond the idea of money coming in and out—is that the human side of the business is not forgotten, but kept at the forefront and part of keeping scores.”


At the university’s official opening on September 6, 2011, then Minister of Labour for British Columbia Stephanie Cadieux announced a donation to PCU-WHS from WorkSafeBC to establish a new Chair in Workplace Health Sciences.

In her address, Minister Cadieux said, “…we need to educate our employers and our workers of how to be safe in the workplace. Should an injury occur, we also need to ensure that they know how to manage that disability and how not to let that disability stand in the way of a return to work and a return to life. Becoming leaders in this regard is our responsibility as legislators, as regulators and as educators. This university can become the first in the world to take an integrated approach to workplace health sciences.”

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of Ontario has also agreed to provide sponsorship funding to PCU-WHS in accordance with that province’s strong legislated commitment to disability management and return to work. WSIB Vice President of Work Reintegration Judy Geary explains why. “Countries and organizations around the world are seeking an improved understanding of how to create healthy and safe workplaces, including the reintegration into the workplace of disabled individuals.”

“Our Board of Directors quickly understood the value that PCU-WHS will bring to the field of workplace health through its integrated educational approach and access to experts and educators from around the world. They are happy to provide this grant to assist PCU-WHS to get ready for students.”

Acclaim Ability

Chief Executive Officer Tony Fasulo of Acclaim Ability Management Inc. was one of the first in Canada to earn the Certified Disability Management Professional (CDMP) designation; one year later he became certified through NIDMAR to conduct Consensus Based Disability Management (CBDMA) audits.

Based in Toronto and Sudbury, ON, Acclaim has boutique satellite offices across Canada providing what Fasulo calls a “one-stop shop” to help employees and employers in the areas of early intervention and ability management, medical evaluations, vocational assessment and human resources advisory resources. The company advocates NIDMAR’s collaborative, consensus-based approach, which Fasulo adopted early on as a consultant.

Fasulo’s familiarity with NIDMAR began in 2001 when he took the certificate program offered at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON, met Wolfgang Zimmermann and stayed involved. “At the time, no one in industry was following any high standard. NIDMAR was providing guidelines to ethical and productive work.”

In keeping with that long-time involvement, Acclaim has committed to providing a set sum of money over ten years to PCU-WHS. The goal, says Fasulo is to serve the school’s focus on research into health and wellness in the workplace.

“Clearly in Canada, there’s nothing else like it. We’re excited that PCU-WHS will continue to do research and find better ways to manage return to work, and will teach individuals to practice in a practicable and ethical manner.” He added, “We’ve never sponsored before, so there was a lot of due diligence in this. We think it’s an excellent cause and we’d like to see others support it as well.”

Cúram Research Institute

Cúram Research Institute, the research arm of Cúram Software, announced its support for the creation and dissemination of workplace health information with an international focus. Cúram Software is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and India.

Cúram Vice President of Market Strategy Martin Duggan said, “We are stepping up our research and support for best practices across a range of social programs. As the leading provider of IT solutions to workers’ compensation and disability management organizations, the investment in Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences was a natural fit. Both of our organizations share a strong commitment to a safer work environment and the integration of disabled workers into the workforce through advanced education and research knowledge.”

Island Timberlands

Island Timberlands, a private timberlands business focused on the sustainable management of high quality timber and other forest products from coastal British Columbia, contributed to PCU-WHS. It is the vision of Island Timberlands to achieve zero recordable incidents by promoting a culture that demonstrates continuous safety improvement through employee involvement and teamwork.

Farmer Construction

Farmer Construction Ltd., general contractors and construction managers in business for over 50 years, were the general contractors that built the PCU-WHS facility. Their approach to workplace safety on the worksite was without exception and they supported the context of the university by their own contribution to it.

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

In a message from Dave Coles, President of the CEP, he states, “We wish the university all the best in the important work you are pursuing on behalf of injured and disabled workers, and for the pursuit of Workplace Health Sciences. We look forward to hearing from you regularly about the development and work of the university and its programs.”