Premier Sandy Silver presented three individuals and five teams of public servants with the Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation.
The individual recipients are Christine Tapp, Grove Taggart and Karen Thomson. The team recipients are the Cannabis Implementation Working Group; Environmental Education and Youth Programs; Online Cannabis Store Delivery Team; Time, Labour and Leave Core Team; and Whistle Bend Continuing Care.
Public servants work hard every day to deliver important programs and services to Yukoners. These awards celebrate those who have gone above and beyond their regular duties, making outstanding contributions through their work. I am grateful for this dedication. These award recipients have demonstrated leadership, excellence and innovation in public service. I would also like to recognize all the nominees and thank all those in the public service for their efforts on behalf of Yukoners.
Premier Sandy Silver
The Premier’s Award of Excellence and Innovation was established in 2005 and recognizes Government of Yukon employees’ exceptional accomplishments and celebrates their talent and teamwork.
The recipients are chosen by the Premier’s Award of Excellence and Innovation Selection Committee which includes Yukon government employees from several departments and one community representative.
Christine Tapp, A/Director, Social Supports, Department of Health and Social Services
Due to Christine’s vision, creativity and belief in her teams, three new social services programs were created in the span of 18 months: Housing and Community Outreach Services, Employment and Training Services, and the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter. Not only are these programs thriving, they were built with no new sources of funding. Christine questions the way things are done, thinks innovatively, and is not afraid to try a fresh approach. She has a genuine desire for all areas in her portfolio to best meet the needs of Yukoners while providing equitable and quality services. This was shown when, under her leadership and guidance, the Housing and Community Outreach Services program saw real life-saving and life-changing impacts and outcomes for its clients. As well, the existing Income Support program has evolved under Christine’s care to better meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and their caregivers. Finally, her team members find daily inspiration to be innovators in their own roles and truly feel she is a constant source of support to them.
Grove Taggart, Residential Attendant, Department of Health and Social Services
Grove is a beacon of light in the Intensive Treatment Program’s team at Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services. He cares deeply about each client’s healing journey and goes above and beyond to make sure their path is not walked alone. Their burdens are shared. Prior to Grove, the creative activities for clients to enjoy were limited. Following his tireless efforts, local and natural materials were sourced by him and brought to the program. Mammoth ivory, soapstone, porcupine quills, beads, and various metals are now used in many different projects that Grove gently guides clients through. All the while, he pays careful attention and honours the financial considerations that the program has. The attitude and values Grove represents have provided great inspiration to not only his clients, but also his colleagues. A positive culture of teamwork in the program is surely due in no small part to how Grove approaches his work: with friendliness and dedication.
Karen Thomson, Director, Sports and Recreation, Department of Community Services
In terms of building healthy and vibrant communities for Yukoners, Karen has certainly gone above and beyond in her role. In 2014, Karen jumped at a funding and partnership opportunity with the Public Health Agency of Canada that would lead to a new approach to wellness in the North. The Yukon Northern Wellness Project has now supported healthy-living leadership development in many small, rural communities. Other jurisdictions across Canada saw the results and have now copied this program and made it their own. In March of this year Karen successfully negotiated a two-year extension to this blossoming program. In winter 2020, Whitehorse will host the Arctic Winter Games for the seventh time in its 50-year run. Karen has literally written (and rewritten) the manual for many aspects of this important multi-sport event during her career. Last, but not least, she created the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Awards in partnership with the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle three years ago, which is part of the annual Awards for Sport Excellence. The legacy of how Karen has helped shape sport in Yukon will serve us well into the future.
Cannabis Implementation Working Group
Tasked with drafting historic, precedent-setting legislation within an ambitious timeline, the multi-disciplinary Cannabis Implementation Working Group jumped into the unknown of this immense project with dedication, creativity, flexibility; and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of humour. Long days on weekends and holidays were spent crisscrossing Yukon, drafting strategic communications plans, liaising with municipal and First Nations governments, and conducting one of the largest studies ever completed in the territory to make sure every single perspective was heard. This important work fed into the brand new Cannabis Control and Regulation Act and regulations. The new Yukon laws are clear, but also flexible enough to respond to future realities of federal cannabis legalization. In addition, the federal regulatory body felt well-informed about key areas of public interest for Yukoners as well as the important and unique perspectives of Canadians living in the North. Because of the strong foundation that this team built over the course of their work, Yukon was able to roll out a fully functioning distribution and retail system upon the Cannabis Act coming into force on October 17, 2018. This ensured that all adult Yukoners had access to legal, quality-controlled cannabis.
Whistle Bend Continuing Care Team
The outstanding work that was involved in transforming a plot of land into a fully staffed, state-of-the-art continuing care facility by an interdepartmental team of people is definitely an outstanding achievement that each member of that team can feel an immense amount of pride in accomplishing. In terms of scale, Whistle Bend Place is the first of its kind in northern Canada. During construction, the facility survived an earthquake, labour shortages, and changes in project leadership. Due to the collaborative efforts and attention to detail of this team of dedicated individuals, the building was completed on time, under budget, and within scope. All told, the build employed over 1,200 people, included over 65 per cent local labor, and over 60 per cent of the contractors were local. In addition to building the facility, this team needed to recruit over 200 new employees during a period of record shortage for health care staff nationally and low availability for rental housing. Because of the creativity and innovation of the professionals involved in the project, the undertaking was ultimately a success. The team faced numerous difficult challenges, but, due to their resilience, Whistle Bend Place will allow many generations of Yukoners to receive exceptional care while aging in place.
Environmental Education and Youth Programs
The duo of Remy Rodden and Morris Lamrock demonstrate an unmatched level of commitment to the enrichment of Yukon’s youth, their development as citizens, and, in turn, the health and sustainability of the territory’s wilderness and people. The operation of the Yukon Youth Conservation Corps work crews and Conservation Action Team camps stand out as a shining example of their dedication. These programs have had an exceptionally positive impact on the lives of countless young Yukoners by revealing to them the interconnectedness of our territory’s ecosystems and communities, and the importance of the human role within them. It is a true testament to the impression that these programs have had on youth in that so many young people, who have been involved, have gone on to thriving careers related to the conservation and wise use of Yukon’s natural environment. Not only do the Environmental Education and Youth Programs teach confidence and curiosity, they inspire them. The Department of Environment would not be the same without this duo motivating their colleagues to work hard, while also reminding them to laugh and take care of one another.
Online Cannabis Store Delivery Team
This team were faced with the challenge of developing the Yukon government’s first ever eCommerce website. Adding to the challenge, the website needed to be built while the legal and regulatory framework for the legalization of cannabis was still being developed. Despite the complexity of the project, this team was determined to deliver quality products to rural and remote Yukoners who would have limited access to the physical retail space located in Whitehorse. True pioneers, the Online Cannabis Store Delivery Team used innovative methods and collaborative problem solving to protect clients’ security, privacy, accessibility, and the legal limitations in terms of quantity all while providing a seamless shopping and shipping experience. Leveraging open source software and the private sector’s expertise, the online retail store was delivered at a fraction of what similar projects cost in other jurisdictions. Finally, the work of this team is an excellent example of what can happen when the right people come together with a clear mission to deliver value for Yukoners.
Time, Labour and Leave Core Team
Over the course of three years, this small but mighty team of four were tasked with leading the development and implementation of two integrated systems: the leave system followed by the time and labour system. The barriers to successful implementation and disciplined change management were numerous. The team’s skillful leadership, perseverance and innovation despite these challenges ultimately resulted in well-functioning systems and many benefits to Government of Yukon employees and management including: increased accuracy across the organization, consistent application of Collective Agreement provisions, automation of over 100,000 paper leave forms and expected 40,000 paper time sheets per year, and reducing the average approval time for leave to less than two days. Not only did the trailblazing work of this team provide a framework for the successful implementation of these two vital programs, they laid a solid foundation for other Government of Yukon processes and systems that will be used well into the future.