Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.92
Liaison Mat Thijssen
Submission Date Oct. 26, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Waterloo
PA-14: Wellness Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.75 / 1.00 Mat Thijssen
Sustainability Manager
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a wellness program that makes counseling, referral, and wellbeing services available to all students?:

Does the institution have a wellness and/or employee assistance program that makes counseling, referral, and wellbeing services available to all academic staff?:

Does the institution have a wellness and/or employee assistance program that makes counseling, referral, and wellbeing services available to all non-academic staff?:

A brief description of the institution’s wellness and/or employee assistance program(s):

Students at Waterloo are provided with a full suite of services that include Health Services and Counseling Services. Health Services includes the student medical clinic, family health clinic, and nutrition services, including individual counseling with an on-staff dietician. Counselling Services provides workshops, peer support groups, podcasts and videos, and individualized counseling services for students to help with a variety of mental health issues. Health Promotions also provides services and programs for students through events, presentations, on-campus displays, and information on mental health, body image, healthy relationships, sexual health and responsibility, sleep, partying, smoking cessation, and substance abuse. Many of these are organized through student-run Peer Health Education teams supported by Health Services.

Employees who participate in the full benefits program (along with their eligible dependents) at Waterloo have access to the Employees and Family Assistance Program, which is provided through Homewood Health, all at no-cost to employees. Services covered include confidential face-to-face or virtual (phone or online during the pandemic) short-term outcome-based counseling for stress management, anxiety, substance abuse, marital problems, violence/trauma, and workplace issues. The program also has Life Smart Services that connect employees over the phone or online for consultation on work-life balance assistance with subject matter experts, including childcare, parenting, relationship solutions, financial consultation, legal advisory, smoking cessation, nutrition counseling, and career coaching and retirement planning.
The EAP also includes 10 complimentary wellness sessions per policy year which are hosted by Waterloo with presenters endorsed by Homewood Health and available to all employees to register; topics available during the Spring 2021 term:
- Establishing Work/Life Harmony
- Building Working Relationships
- Self Care Strategies during COVID-19
- COVID-19: Strategies for Managing Stress
- The Fundamentals of Change and Transition
Employees who participate in the temporary or full benefits program (along with their eligible dependents) at Waterloo have access to the extended health benefit, which is provided through Canada Life at no cost to full-time employees (part-time employees have a share of the premium cost). The benefit includes coverage for paramedical practitioners and effective May 1, 2021, the coverage for counselling was improved in terms of the maximum reimbursement per calendar year as well as the range of practitioners considered eligible for reimbursement.

Waterloo hosts an annual Keeping Well @ Work event for employees to attend which includes a range of keynote speakers and wellness sessions. Prior to the pandemic, this event took place in person on a designated day and vendors were available to provide information booths; however, during the pandemic, the event has transitioned to a virtual format only but spread over a couple of weeks (without vendor booths) which has enhanced accessibility by some employees, especially in satellite campuses or those who cannot dedicate a full day.

Waterloo’s commitment to a Healthy Workplace is outlined in the President’s statement. Waterloo also signed the Okanagan Charter in 2018, which includes commitments for both employees and students. which signifies a commitment to embed wellbeing into everyday operations, business practices and academic mandates, while providing leadership in new and innovative health promotion projects, initiatives, research, and learning. The Wellness Collaborative has emerged as a mechanism to operationalize the Okanagan Charter by communicating, coordinating and collaborating with all campus stakeholders to build on existing strengths and implement new evidence-based actions. It uses the following principles to guide its work:
o Holistic – addresses physical health, mental health and resilience, social inclusion and belonging, spiritual health; and
o Comprehensive – addresses personal development, the learning and working environment, the built and natural environment, and supportive policies.
o Inclusive and diverse – value the wellness of the entire campus community including students, faculty, staff, and CUPE members. To create a healthy university for all, we must draw on the differences in who we are, our lived experiences, and how we think, learn and work.

Considered both a strategy and a structure, the Wellness Collaborative’s goal is to “transform the health and sustainability of our current and future societies, strengthen our community and contribute to the well-being of our people, places and the planet.” This supports University of Waterloo’s long-term aspiration of strengthening sustainable and diverse communities of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025. .
As a first step to advancing its goal, the Wellness Collaborative established an Advisory Committee in August 2019, representing all campus stakeholder groups (e.g. students, staff, faculty, CUPE). Its first task was to review all current institutional health and wellness surveys and consultations to develop proposed priorities. This resulted in the following five priorities: i) institutional commitment at all levels to wellness, ii) sense of belonging, iii) mental wellness, iv) spiritual wellness, and v) supportive environments for active living and healthy eating. The Wellness Collaborative also has a Community of Practice, with over 100 members, which meets 4-5 times per year.

Does the institution prohibit smoking within all occupied buildings owned or leased by the institution?:

Does the institution restrict outdoor smoking?:

Does the institution prohibit smoking and tobacco use across the entire campus?:

A copy of the institution's smoke-free policy:

The institution’s smoke-free policy:
Website URL where information about the institution’s wellness programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.