A Vanderhoof resident, social worker and volunteer has been nominated by the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the Premier’s Awards under the Leadership category.
Phil Turgeon has been nominated by the Ministry for the provincial award which will be announced in November this year.
“Just to make top three is huge in the government,” Turgeon said.
“Just being nominated by the Ministry too, is big. I know other people who were nominated, but to be picked by the Ministry is super rewarding after all these years,” he added.
Turgeon has worked with the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the past 25 years and is currently the temporary Executive Director of Operations for the northwest region, but has held the position of Director since 2006.
“Sometimes you think being in the North, they don’t really notice people much. So I think this nomination is awesome,” he said.
As the Director of Operations, Turgeon has looked after everything the Ministry offers which include a multitude of services. He has worked in the adoption and foster care system, youth justice, child protection, children with special needs.
Other than these services, the Ministry also funds programs through contract services with Connexus and Carrier Sekani which Turgeon manages.
To do all this work, Turgeon invests time and resources in his staff.
“We have a lot less resources here than other places in the province. So our resources are our staff.”
“Part of what I have done in the past five years is invest a lot of time in our staff and people. Making sure they are well settled in the community and have what they want, and are liking their work,” he said.
Turgeon says there is a turn-around with staff because not everyone can settle in a small town, but his main aim is to make sure their time in Vanderhoof is “as good as possible.”
He creates such a good environment for employees to work in, that the office was in the top 10 best places to work in B.C. in an engagement survey done in 2018. The survey runs every two-years, but Turgeon is unsure how the engagement would look like with COVID-19 in the picture.
“People here are engaged and like to be at work, and I think that is a big part in getting better results for children and families you serve,” he said.
Liza Wigmore, Office Manager for the Ministry of Children and Family Development said she has worked with Turgeon for close to 20 years and says he truly deserves the nomination.
“Phil is a proven leader who has encouraged and empowered staff to be their best. Phil has also given selflessly to our community and I am honored and proud to work with him,” Wigmore said.
Turgeon’s community work that Wigmore is alluding to, is his involvement with the Fire Department, multiple sports teams and W.L. McLeod’s backpack program.
He has been in the volunteer Fire Department in Vanderhoof for over 10 years where he has been a treasurer and director.
On the sports side of things Turgeon has managed minor football for the past few years, he has coached football and soccer. He has also been the manager for hockey and more.
In terms of the backpack program at W.L. McLeod Elementary School, Turgeon said the idea to start such a program came from two facets — the fact that McLeod feeds a lot of kids and that through his job with the Ministry, he knew of families who were struggling with food.
“And I was like – hey we can hit two things at once. So if we can feed some of these families over the weekend, maybe then we will reduce some of the work we have to do at work and that it is a better outcome for kids and families,” he said.
Launched in 2004, the Premier’s Awards celebrate the best examples of innovation and excellence across the BC Public Service, as per the provincial government’s website.
These awards showcase the work of some of the provincial government’s most outstanding employees whose professionalism, dedication and innovation make a difference in many lives and communities in B.C., stated the website.
There are provincial and regional categories including — Innovation, Leadership, Organizational Excellence and Partnership.
In the “provincial only” section, categories include —Emerging Leader, Evidence-Based Design, Legacy and BC Public Service Hall of Excellence.