Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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ACOA’s Public Service Renewal Results for 2016

ACOA continues to focus on its people, encouraging new ideas and embracing a culture of innovation, collaboration and engagement. Here are several examples of the past year’s activities and their impacts:

Respectful Workplaces

Daryell Nowlan

New Mental Health Strategy / Action Plan

Following the release of the new Federal Mental Health Strategy in June 2016, ACOA created a pan-Atlantic working group to develop an action plan that builds on the Agency’s existing tools and initiatives in support of mental health.

Not Myself Today

Mandy Thomander

The “Not Myself Today” campaign – developed by Partners for Mental Health to encourage dialogue around, and support for, mental health in the workplace – was launched Agency-wide, and this helpful suite of tools has been used by many employees to engage in conversations about mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Activities

Mental Health Discussions Staff Day

Raising awareness of the importance of maintaining and supporting good mental health helps to create a more respectful workplace. Staff across the Agency attended a wide range of activities promoting mental health awareness and wellness, including: group discussions, videos, a presentation from the Canadian Mental Health Association, yoga, art therapy, mindfulness sessions, a stress mapping tool presentation and more.

Civility in the Workplace

Lisa Gautreau

Ensuring a civil workplace is a priority for ACOA. To this end, staff participated in a number of forums and learning opportunities on the topic of civility in the workplace, including conflict resolution and response training, an online discussion hosted on ACOA’s Intranet site, internal surveys, and discussions with work units on the Civility Matters report commissioned by the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada.


Joint Learning Program Sessions on Mental Health in the Workplace

Lisa Hugues

Employee attendance was very high at the Joint Learning Program sessions on mental health in the workplace, which were held at ACOA offices across Atlantic Canada. These events provided staff with insights into mental health issues, while suggesting tools and strategies for creating a healthier, more respectful workplace.

Recruitment and Onboarding

Continuous Improvement and Learning

Betty Lundrigan

Continuous learning is essential in empowering public servants to deliver quality services and products that are relevant, agile, and responsive to our swiftly-changing global and economic realities. To meet this challenge, learning events are routinely offered across the Agency in the form of webcasts, webinars, and presentations. Examples in 2016 include: the Learning in Action initiative to support professional and career development, White Belt Lean training, and sessions on process improvement, identifying waste, and leadership.

Employee Development Initiatives

Sofia Ferrari

Flexibility and open dialogue in the workplace are key components of this initiative, which enables employees to take charge of their own professional development. Regular discussions between managers and staff about learning and career goals, as well as calls for expressions of interest in new postings and positions as they arise, ensure that ACOA employees have ample opportunity to explore new professional pathways, and to develop their skills.

The New Brunswick Federal Youth Network (NBFYN)

Christine MacPherson

The NBFYN is a nationally recognized network that provides mentoring, leadership training and networking opportunities for youth and future leaders working in the federal public service in New Brunswick. ACOA has been actively involved with the NBFYN on many projects and activities, including the 2016 pan-Atlantic Amazing Wellness Race, held during National Public Service Week. The network is co-chaired by an ACOA Head Office employee, and also has a representative from ACOA’s New Brunswick Office.

Ashley MacDonald

YDAY Youth Event

ACOA’s Prince Edward Island office supported YDAY, a one-day event that sought input from youth on economic programs and policies, entrepreneurship and youth employment.

Anne Richard

Career Cafés

Staff in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia participated in three Career Cafés and two follow-up sessions to discuss tools and opportunities for career development, while also coming up with ideas on how to develop the Agency’s future workforce.

Atlantic Federal Council Initiatives

The Agency continues to play an active role in the Atlantic Federal Council (AFC), with people management and official languages identified as its two top priorities. The council is currently working on three programs in support of talent management: Group Mentoring, Secondments and Exchanges, and Tapping In, a program that offers coaching to develop the next generation of leaders. ACOA’s commitment to the AFC was recognized with a Public Service Award of Excellence group award for Living the Blueprint 2020 Vision, presented to AFC manager Liette Lavallée and the other regional federal council managers in October 2016.


Recruitment and Student Hiring

Marie-Ève Lejeune

ACOA continues to grow its talent and knowledge-base by actively recruiting skilled professionals and youth. Every year, through Public Service Commission programs such as the Federal Student Work Experience Program and the Co-op Internship Program, ACOA hires between 40 and 50 students to fill temporary or short-term positions, invigorating the Agency with their enthusiasm, energy and ideas, while receiving valuable work experience in return.

Other Actions to Renew the Public Service

Atlantic Growth Strategy

Atlantic Growth Strategy

The Atlantic Growth Strategy represents an unprecedented level of collaboration between the federal government and the four Atlantic provinces. ACOA officials are coordinating with provincial counterparts and other federal department representatives to build a vibrant economic future for Atlantic Canada by focusing efforts and resources to stimulate the region’s economy, support the middle class and address both longstanding and emerging regional challenges.


ACOA Program Managers’ Forum

Michel Poitras

To help equip program managers with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to assist them and their staff in delivering on new Government of Canada priorities and systems, a Program Managers’ Forum was held in Moncton, New Brunswick, in October. The forum was attended by 48 program managers from across the Atlantic provinces.

Rapid Results

Rapid Results

A Rapid Results project was undertaken to improve the Agency’s key decision-making tool, the Project Summary Form (PSF). Using the Rapid Results approach, Agency staff were able to work collaboratively and efficiently to refocus the PSF summarizing document into a more useful prioritizing tool. In light of this positive experience, ACOA will be applying the Rapid Results approach to future tasks and projects.

Finding Efficiency in Collaboration: Developing a New Grants and Contributions Solution

Gilbert Philion

ACOA is working with the five other federal regional development agencies to develop a common Grant and Contribution Program Management System. The new system will replace obsolete technology with a more integrated and agile system, which will better support the administration of grants and contributions, providing improved access to information and enhanced client relations and customer service.

Startup Canada Award

Tony Roche

ACOA found itself on the red carpet at this year’s regional Startup Canada Awards in September. The event celebrates outstanding achievements in Canadian entrepreneurship, and the Agency was honoured with the Entrepreneur Support Award which recognizes "a government organization, academic institution or not-for-profit business that demonstrates excellence in advancing Canadian entrepreneurship through their leadership, innovation and impact."


The examples highlighted above show how ACOA is finding new and improved ways to work together – to enhance its collaboration with new partners, both within the federal family and with its all-important provincial and community partners, the private-sector, and other non-governmental organizations – and to learn from each other.

These examples outline some of the tremendous progress the Agency has made in building and maintaining a respectful workplace, in recruiting employees and making the best use of their talent, and in fostering greater openness and collaboration.

ACOA’s engaged workforce is proud of the work it does for Atlantic Canada and the country. Together, we are helping advance key priorities in the region and to improve what really matters – our overall well-being and quality of life in Atlantic Canada.