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The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada > News & Events > Communications Magazine > Vol. 36, No. 3, Summer 2010 > 2010 Gold Medal
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2010 Gold Medal


President Corbett presented the Gold Medal in Victoria. Left to right: President Gary Corbett; Lynn Bailey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environment Protection, B.C. Ministry of Environment; Dan Jones, Director, BC/Yukon Region; Dr. Richard Bennett, Gold Medal laureate.

Gold MedalOn June 11, 2010, in Victoria, British Columbia, President Gary Corbett presented the Institute's 2010 Gold Medal to Dr. Richard Bennett in recognition of his leadership in influencing public policy and his global vision on the importance of air quality to human health.

Through his 30 years of work in the field of air quality management, Dr. Richard Bennett made an exceptional and lasting contribution by building one of Canada’s leading air quality programs and spearheading the development of the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), a tool used to communicate the risk posed by air pollution to human health.

In his remarks, Gary Corbett said, “Dr. Bennett’s accomplishments serve as excellent examples of the importance of the science/policy interface the Institute promoted through its second International Science Policy Symposium in May 2010. I am especially pleased that this year’s Gold Medal Award is being presented to someone whose career serves as a paradigm of how science and public policy can serve each other For the Public Good. The contribution to the public good of dedicated professionals like Dr. Bennett confirms that the public service has a unique role to play in safeguarding the well-being of Canadians.”

Richard’s quiet influence on public policy occurred over the phones, in the backrooms and through corridor chats. Yet his effectiveness moved a nation.

– Paul Hasselback, Medical Health Officer,
B.C. Interior Health

Dr. Bennett recognized the importance of using science to develop public health and environmental policy. He brought together air quality experts and health science professionals to develop the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). The first pilot project for the AQHI was held in British Columbia, but it was soon endorsed by the Canadian government for use across the country. This index has gained international recognition for its value in converting complex scientific data into a tool simple enough to help individuals make decisions to protect their health by limiting short-term exposure to air pollution, adjusting their activity levels during increased levels of air pollution, as well as reducing their personal contribution to air pollution. This index is of particular use to people who are sensitive to air quality because it conveys specific health messages for this group.

Recognized internationally as an expert in air quality management, Dr. Bennett retired as head of Air Quality Analysis and Forecasting at the British Columbia Ministry of Environment in 2007. His work provided the basis for environmental standards in British Columbia, and the rest of Canada. His vision led to the development of public health and environmental policies based on science that improved the lives of people affected by them. His considerable achievements have had a significant impact in improving the quality of life of Canadians.

Richard pioneered a fundamental and necessary change in how air quality information was presented to the public.

– Lynn Bailey, Assistant Deputy Minister,
B.C. Environmental Protection

The Institute thanks the selection panel for their contribution to the 2010 Gold Medal program: Dr. William Barker, President of the University of King’s College in Halifax; Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President of Carleton University in Ottawa; and Dr. Vianne Timmons, President of the University of Regina in Saskatchewan.

The Professional Institute established the Gold Medal Award program in 1937 to recognize professional public service employees whose outstanding work has led to the improvement and enhancement of public well-being. The program’s other objective is to promote greater awareness of the role and value of professional public services in Canada and globally. The award is presented on a yearly basis.