Volunteering preview: 3 new ways to network and share

May 16, 2013

Volunteer treeCanadians are clearly committed to making their communities better places to live, work and play. According to the Canada Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 2010, 13.3 million Canadians contribute 2.1 billion hours, the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs to worthy causes throughout the country. At WSPS, our volunteers act as safety advocates and champions in communities across Ontario. They help to develop cultures of safety in their workplaces, their own homes, and the communities in which they live.

Later this year, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) will officially unveil three new volunteer programs that will help people to connect with others in their communities: a speakers bureau, one-on-one mentoring and coaching, and regional roundtables. These new programs add to existing opportunities, such our Networking and Knowledge Exchange and Young Worker Awareness Program, that enable volunteers to promote health and safety, share their expertise, and further develop or enhance their skills. More about the new and existing opportunities appears below.

Kathleen Douglass, WSPS's manager, volunteer & community programs, is keen to launch the new programs. “What our volunteers accomplish is inspiring, and these new programs will help them tap into existing strengths and develop new ones. Ask volunteers why they share their time and expertise, they’ll tell you that they want to make a difference. But in the process of sharing, people also grow. They develop leadership and facilitation skills, learn best practices from others, and raise their firm’s profile in the community. Our existing and new volunteer programs can contribute to this growth.

“It's also good for WSPS. Working with volunteers gives us a deeper understanding of issues in the health and safety community, which helps us formulate solutions that offer real value. Everyone wants to eliminate injuries and illnesses, and WSPS’s mission is to put solutions within reach of every employer and employee in Ontario.”

Here's what Kathleen Douglass told Network News about the three new programs.

  • Speakers Bureau. “Many of our volunteers already speak in their communities, so this program will build on our volunteers' passion, knowledge and commitment. As part of the process, we'll be asking volunteers about their preferred speaking style or audience. Are they comfortable talking to adults? Young people? Local business groups? Would they prefer to circulate in the community, such as at a fair or trade show? This will help us provide them with the necessary materials, tools and venues to deliver messages that are compelling, engaging and motivating.”
  • Mentoring and coaching program. “This program will draw on the principles of our Networking and Knowledge Exchange, and offer two approaches:
    • a one-to-one match between an individual mentor and an individual learner
    • a one-to-many match in which one volunteer coaches and guides a number of people on a common topic or priority. These learners may be from the same geographic area or industry sector.”
  • Regional roundtables, featuring exchanges of ideas and information two to three times a year. “These sessions are intended to increase communication, enhance relationships, and build stronger volunteer/staff teams. We believe the conversations will help us better understand the challenges facing businesses in Ontario, encourage feedback on possible WSPS solutions, and lay the foundation for regionally based communities of practice. The format will be very much give-and-take, drawing on subject matter expertise, research and other forms of knowledge.

These three new programs will complement WSPS's existing volunteer activities, including the following:

  • Networking and Knowledge Exchange. Local chapters hold functions throughout the year, during which participants discuss health and safety issues, legislative updates, injury trends, best practices, and other topics. The intent is to help members connect with others in their community, enhance their health and safety knowledge, share best practices, and aim for excellence. Learn more about the Networking and Knowledge Exchange, including locations and dates of upcoming functions.
  • Young Worker Awareness Program (YWAP). Through this long-running program, volunteers introduce high school students to workplace health and safety by means of a general assembly plus a half day of classroom instruction. Since 1995 more than 400,000 students have taken part. “Volunteers tell me they have a real sense of accomplishment after each session,” says Douglass. “They can see by the students’ faces that they’ve made a difference.” Learn more about YWAP.
  • Volunteer Council. Members of the council provide vision and direction for WSPS’s overall volunteer framework. A number of council committees take part in volunteer recruitment and recognition, volunteer system performance, program and planning, and other aspects of volunteering.
  • Volunteer leadership. WSPS offers volunteers a number of opportunities to participate in leadership roles, including:
    • participation on the Volunteer Council
    • Networking and Knowledge Exchange chapter chairs/vice chairs
    • YWAP master trainer
    • chair of regional conferences.

Watch for more information on WSPS’s new volunteer opportunities in late 2013. For more information on existing opportunities, contact

  • Customer Care, toll-free, at 1-877-494 WSPS (9777) to inquire about how you can volunteer to serve Ontarians
  • Kathleen Douglass, WSPS’s manager, volunteer and community programs, Kathleen.Douglass@wsps.ca.