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Amethyst Awards 2009 Recipients

Archived Backgrounder

Amethyst Awards 2009 Recipients

The Amethyst Awards program was created in 1992 to recognize excellence in the Ontario Public Service (OPS).  

Any individual, group or partnership in the OPS can be nominated. Recipients are selected based on exceptional work in the areas of client service, innovation, leadership, professional achievement, building a diverse organization, championing learning and working horizontally across government.

The Sandra D. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award honours the late Deputy Minister Sandra Lang. It is awarded to individuals whose career achievements have set an extraordinary example of excellence and service for other Ontario public servants.


INDIVIDUALS

Thomas Chong, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Diversity in the Ontario Public Service has been strengthened through Thomas' leadership and innovation. A senior analyst in accounting policy and financial reporting, he founded the East Asian Network and helped create the Diversity Council that brings different diversity groups in government together. In addition, his unique Virtual Group Mentoring Program establishes mentor-mentee relationships for improving the self-confidence and self-esteem of minority groups and enhancing service delivery to Ontarians.

Judy Gombocz, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Officially, Judy's title is an Immigration Policy User Support Officer, but her colleagues often call her an "Ambassador of Ontario."  Judy provides exceptional customer service to thousands of newcomers who submit questions through OntarioImmigration.ca. Judy understands her answers will affect life-changing decisions, so she treats each client as if they were her only one, and does extensive research to get them the information they need.

Johanne Grégoire, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
There are hundreds of new and exceptional plumbers, hairstylists and mechanics in Ontario thanks to Johanne, an examination/administrative clerk. Johanne's manuals and training sessions are used across the province and she is often called the "best exam invigilator in the province" by managers and colleagues. Her commitment to excellence in client service is unwavering because she knows passing a trade certification exam can make a big difference in a person's professional and personal life.

Allan Gunn, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services  
Allan wants other people to shine in the OPS. An Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), he has demonstrated exceptional leadership in motivating colleagues and employees to succeed. He started a program to help summer students better understand government, supported colleagues as chair of the CAO forum and helped recognize staff in many formal and informal award events.

Walter Kushnir, Ministry of Research and Innovation
Walter is an innovative policy-maker and tireless collaborator. This manager of life sciences and health technologies has mentored and inspired many employees to develop and implement policies that make Ontario a better place to live. This includes leading teams in the creation of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the Health Technology Exchange. These important initiatives are just two examples of Walter's ability to address complex issues and deliver effective solutions.

Helen Lowe, Ministry of Children and Youth Services
As program supervisor, Helen is committed to helping children with mental health issues get the best support available. Over the past nine years, she has brought together more than 125 service providers in the Southwest region of Ontario to establish a shared vision and a standard of care. Under her skilled leadership, the Ideal Model for Children's Mental Health Services was developed. The model focuses on children having strong support at all stages in their young lives.

Sergeant Robyn MacEachern, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
The Internet is a safer place for children thanks to Robyn, an OPP sergeant and youth issues coordinator. She developed the Cyber Risk Program that educates children and youth about the risks of online predators, bullying, victimization and crime. Robyn also communicates with youth in their online environments and has developed a week-long training seminar for her colleagues to investigate online criminal activity.

Peter Moses, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
Peter goes the extra mile to provide prospector training courses and information sessions. The majority of his sessions are held in very remote First Nation communities with no road access. A mineral information officer, he is focused on strengthening communication between government, First Nation members and the mineral industry. Through his courses, he has increased the understanding of the industry among First Nation people and encouraged many of them to take up prospecting as a career.

Geoff Quirt, Ministry of Culture
Geoff is one of Ontario's strongest advocates for the elderly. The recently retired Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario Senior's Secretariat spearheaded the development and implementation of innovative programs and policies including an Alzheimer strategy that is the first of its kind in Canada. Government departments and outside agencies have come to rely on Geoff for his leadership and expertise about our aging society.

Mark Saltmarsh, Ministry of the Attorney General
Thinking outside of the box is what Mark does best. A Peel Region Crown attorney, he is always looking to develop and implement innovative ideas to enhance justice and safety in the province. His efforts include improving police access to Crown consultations for complex cases and violent offences, and better tracking of guns, gang allegations and other high risk offenders. As a result of Mark's work, more collaborative approaches to investigations, bail hearings and prosecutions have improved public safety.

Dave Wake, Ministry of Transportation
Dave was the glue that held together four governments during a four-year environmental assessment review of the Detroit River international crossing -- part of a plan to improve the movement of people and goods across the Windsor-Detroit Border. As the planning office manager and study team lead in Canada, Dave managed a complex process by providing inspirational leadership, expert environmental knowledge, skilled internal and external communications, a principled approach and high integrity.  

Dr. Dave Yap, Ministry of the Environment
Dave is a pioneer in forecasting air pollution in Canada. A senior scientific advisor, his work has led to the development of Ontario's Air Quality Index and Smog Alert Programs. He is also renowned for interpreting complex air pollution science for various stakeholders and the media. In addition, Dave's scientific leadership has contributed directly to air emissions reduction plans and a decrease in acid rain in Canada and the United States.


TEAMS

Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act Team, Ministry of the Environment
This team successfully brought a ban on cosmetic use of pesticides into law seven months after the commitment was made in the 2007 throne speech. During those months the team consulted extensively and considered a record-breaking 11,000 comments. The law now creates consistent levels of protection for Ontarians, particularly children who are more vulnerable to toxic exposures.

Family Health Team Implementing Project Team, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Almost two million Ontarians are now receiving primary health care through family health teams that were established by this project team. They developed 150 family heath teams - including physicians, nurses, dieticians and social workers - that reflect the unique needs of local communities. The project team's work included developing implementation guides, holding conferences for health professionals and distributing information kits to the public.

Facilities Initiative Team, Ministry of Community and Social Services
This team successfully moved nearly 1,000 adults with developmental disabilities out of three government institutions into community homes. This work fulfilled a 25-year government commitment. Their plan demonstrated innovative planning and decision making, and how to build strong partnerships with families, service providers and different levels of government.

Hand Hygiene Program Team, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
More Ontarians are cleaning their hands after a public hygiene campaign was launched in hospitals by this team. Their efforts focused on reducing the spread of avoidable infections that account for nearly 8,000 deaths each year in Canada. After careful research, the team distributed a tool kit that included a step-by-step guide, train-the-trainer sessions, communications tools and the website justcleanyourhands.ca.

I&IT Infrastructure Consolidation Team, Ministry of Government Services
This team of three is saving the government $100 million annually after merging eight email systems with 96,000 mailboxes into one centralized email system and bringing together nine help and order desks into one virtual centre with standardized service. The team excelled by developing strong partnerships, using innovative technology and employing solid project management skills.

Lake Nipigon Reserve Creation Team, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
The Ojibway community has a new home near Lake Nipigon thanks to this team. They used legal and technical knowledge of land transfer and dispute resolution processes along with patience and partnerships with other provincial officials and the federal government. The creation of the reserve marks an important milestone in the province's commitment to building new relationships with First Nations and settling unresolved land claim issues.

Lake Simcoe Protection Team, Ministry of the Environment
This team helped develop and deliver on key elements of a protection strategy to save Lake Simcoe's ecological health. Their work included developing an interim regulation to restrict phosphorus discharges from sewage treatment plants, seeking broad stakeholder input, developing the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, obtaining approval for a $20 million investment in protection activities, and developing the most comprehensive legislated watershed-based plan in Canada.  

Neighbours, Friends and Family Team, Western Interministerial Council
This team raised awareness with 12,000 OPS employees in Western Ontario about the signs of abuse and how to help at-risk women. They distributed information through email, trained trainers to bring the campaign to their offices and provided regional and interministerial presentation options to staff. There are now 50 employees qualified to deliver the campaign, and feedback from those who have received campaign information has been very positive.

Ontario Public Service Learn and Work Program Team, Ministry of Government Services
Three hundred teens from priority communities have been given a second chance to finish school and graduate because of the OPS Learn and Work program run by this team. The three-year-old program provides students with paid co-op placements within the Ontario government that help them refocus on learning and build confidence. The team treats the students with compassion and fairness, and encourages them to take pride in their work and accomplishments during this placement.

Student Success/Learning to 18, Ministry of Education
Thirty-six thousand students have graduated from high school thanks to this team who developed a strategy to help students complete their diploma. The strategy made it attractive for students to stay in school and continue learning, or, for some, to return and complete their studies. The team's success is partly attributed to strong research and effective relationships with ministries, school boards, businesses and postsecondary institutions.

Social Assistance Restructuring Project Team, Ministry of Community and Social Services
This team made significant changes to the complex rules within social assistance to support the creation of the Ontario Child Benefit, a cornerstone of the government's new poverty reduction strategy. They succeeded by coordinating multiple challenging activities including developing policy, consulting stakeholders, managing issues, training front-line staff and employing technology to ensure a smooth transition. As a result, all affected families kept the same level of income without interruption.

The Victor (De Beers) Diamond Mine Project Team, Ministry of the Environment
This team expertly guided De Beers, a multi-national company, through federal and provincial environmental assessments and approval processes to establish a mine in the James Bay Lowlands.  The team was able to accomplish this while ensuring local First Nations were involved and consulted to ensure environmental, socio-economic and cultural rights and concerns were considered and addressed.   

SANDRA D. LANG LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Dr. Carlana Lindeman
, Ministry of Education
This retired Thunder Bay regional manager worked tirelessly with school boards and Aboriginal leaders to improve the education system so more students could reach their true potential. Her work included implementing self-identification policies for Aboriginal students, organizing biannual forums that brought Aboriginal and education leaders together, and supporting students displaced from the community of Kashechewan. Dr. Lindeman has left a lasting legacy that both inspires and reflects public service of the highest possible quality.

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