New IWH senior scientist reaches out to policy-makers

Getting workplaces, health-care providers and public institutions to understand and adopt evidence-based practices has long been a priority of the Institute for Work & Health (IWH). Now, the IWH is strengthening its ties in particular with the policy-makers within these stakeholder groups

Enter Dr. Ron Saunders, the newest senior scientist at the Institute — a policy expert with a passion for labour market issues. Ron Saunders’ appointment as a senior scientist will bring a wealth of policy development experience and a long record of policy research to the Institute, says IWH President Dr. Cam Mustard. My colleagues and I look forward to Ron’s contribution to strengthening our solid relationships with public institutions, employers and labour groups and to his contributions to the Institute’s research mandate.

Saunders officially joined the IWH in November 2008. Nationally recognized for his work on labour market issues, Saunders brings years of experience in policy research and development. He came to the Institute from the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN), where he was vice-president of Research. His own research at CPRN centred on vulnerable workers, the school-to-work transition, access and quality issues in post-secondary education, and skills development and training.

Prior to that, Saunders spent 17 years in the Ontario public service, most notably as the assistant deputy minister of Policy, Communications and Labour Management Services in the Ministry of Labour. There, he was instrumental in developing policies related to employment standards and labour relations.

Saunders spent time in the academic world, too, having taught at the University of Toronto and, in 2001/2002, at Queen’s University School of Policy Studies. His own academic credentials include a PhD in Economics from Harvard University, where he specialized in industrial organization.

Identifying policy implications of IWH research

At the IWH, Saunders will continue to pursue his research on Ontario and Canadian labour market trends, focusing on labour force demographics (such as immigrant workers, aging workers) and their potential impact on health and safety in the workplace. Equally important, Saunders will devote time to identifying and disseminating the implications of IWH research for decision-makers.

I’m already looking at developing and pilot-testing policy briefs that would summarize the policy implications of IWH research, Saunders says. I’m also planning to help the IWH strengthen its relationship with the policy community. That community includes policy-makers within public institutions such as the Ministry of Labour and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, as well as those affected by policy, such as employer groups and organized labour.

Saunders is proud to be joining the IWH team. He was well aware of the Institute’s strong reputation for research excellence before taking on his new role. Given his background, he hopes he can now “help the Institute connect with decision-makers so its excellent research gets accessed and implemented at the policy level.”

What’s more, Saunders has always valued the Institute’s mission. It is clearly an important one, he says. The health of workers is instrumental to both individual and societal well-being.

Source: At Work, Issue 55, Winter 2009: Institute for Work & Health, Toronto