OEA NS Society President
The Employer Advisor Nova Scotia Society is here to assist Nova Scotia employers and employer associations. We are a not for profit society, providing Nova Scotia employers advocacy for key issues.
Many of our services and programs are free to employers and businesses do not need to be registered with WCB in order to access OEA.
Our knowledgeable advisors are here to assist your business and our education programs are tailored to ever changing employer needs. Need assistance and want to speak to an Employer Advisor or schedule an info session for yourself or your management team? Call us today!
The regulatory challenges and complexities faced by Nova Scotia employers make the OEA a necessity. With an ever-changing regulatory and business environment- the timing for such a program couldn't be better. Nova Scotia is one of the last provinces to implement an OEA; having existed in various forms throughout Canada since the early 1980s. After 15 years of lobbying by employer groups, the Office of the Employer Advisor became a reality to employers, as a pilot program, in May 2008. In 2011, the OEA received a commitment from the OHS Division and the Worker's Compensation Board to make the program permanent.
Operating through a funding agreement with WCB, the OEA is administratively separate from government and is a registered not for profit with Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies.
The OEA was designed to:
OEA NS Society President
Elected President of OEA NS Society in March 2019, Henry Vissers joined the OEA NS Society Board of Directors in June 2012 representing the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. Henry is the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. Founded in 1895, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture represents the interests of over 2400 families in Nova Scotia.
Henry's career has been focused on the business of agriculture. Prior to assuming that position, Henry was the Executive Director of Pork Nova Scotia and prior to that General Manager of Bridgewater Co-op. Henry grew up on a Dairy and Hog farm in Lunenburg County and as an adult owned and operated the farm in partnership with his father and brother prior to seeking off farm employment. During his years as a farmer, Henry was involved in the agricultural community in a number of organizations including the local exhibition commission and County Federation.
In addition to his duties with the Federation, he sits on a number of committees including the Provincial Round Table on the Environment, Provincial Energy Committee and the Provincial Water Advisory Group as well as numerous NSFA committees dealing with agriculture policy both provincially and nationally.
He also has a “Viewpoint” column for the NSFA newsletter and an agriculture issues column for the Truro Daily News.
Henry studied at the NS Agriculture College Business Program and holds a Management Certificate from Saint Mary’s University.
Henry and his family live in Valley Nova Scotia.
OEA NS Society Vice President
Elected as OEA NS Society Vice President, Patricia Bland has been a Director on OEA NS Society Board since 2018. Patricia graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a B.Sc. in Biology and from Dalhousie University with a Masters in Health Services Administration. For the past 18 years she has worked in senior management positions with a range of health care providers including Riverview Home Corporation, the Victorian Order of Nurses, Parkstone Enhanced Care and Scotia Nursing Homes Limited.
Prior to that she worked as a policy analyst for the Registered Nurses’ Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Department of Health. Patricia has worked on numerous provincial committees in the health field and has been a board member of Health Association Nova Scotia, Capital District Health Authority, AWARE NS and the Health Care Human Resources Sector Council.
With significant experience in policy issues and the human and financial costs associated with workplace injuries, Patricia is pleased to accept the Vice President role and continuing her longstanding commitment to workplace health and safety.
OEA NS Society Treasurer
Elected Treasurer of OEA NS Society in March 2019, William (Bill) Costin has been a Director of the OEA NS Society Board since 2015. Bill began his construction career in Amherst as the eldest son of a construction business family. At the age of 18, he decided to pursue a career in music and obtained a music degree from Mount Allison University and a performance degree from the Folkwang Hochschule fur Musik Ruhr, Germany. He has performed with orchestras and in music festivals throughout Canada, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Before returning to take over the family business in 1986, he was principal horn and general manager of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.
President of Costin Paving and Contracting since 1987 and presently is a Director on the boards of the Nova Scotia Roadbuilder’s Association, the Nova Scotia Asphalt User Producer Association and the Employer Advisor Nova Scotia Society.
In October 2018, his group won Best Classical Music Group of the Year while performing at the New Brunswick Music Awards.
OEA NS Society Past President
A highly experienced labour and employment lawyer and arbitrator, Bernadine MacAulay has been with OEA NS Society since prior to its launch in 2008 having paved the development of OEA NS Society, then in the new role as Chair of the OEA NS Society Employer Council from 2008-2010, then as President and now Past President of the OEA NS Society Board of Directors.
Working with employers, employer associations and system partners, Bernadine leads OEA NS Society’s mandate to advocate for improvements to the workers' compensation and occupational health and safety system and provide for employment and human resources assistance for Nova Scotia employers and business. With strengthened business practices and knowledge comes a healthier employment climate within the province. The OEA NS Society assists employers in every industry sector, across the province and its independent Board of Directors is a best practice in its governance model. Business associations that would typically operate independently work closely together to ensure OEA NS Society remains current, relevant and in touch with Nova Scotia businesses and employers. Bernadine leadership will continue to trail blaze the employment environment on behalf of employers.
In January 2019, Bernadine began in a new role as General Counsel for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. This is also a new role within the Nova Scotia Barristers Society and Bernadine is excited to be part of a team that develops the role and creates in-house expertise for the Society.
Bernadine graduated from Dalhousie University Law School in 1989, then worked at McInnes Cooper, served as in-house Counsel for Scotia Investment’s Ltd., and served as a labour lawyer for Caravel Law from 2015 - 2019.
As a labour and employment lawyer, Bernadine has acted as Chief Negotiator in collective bargaining, and provides legal advice, assistance, and work shop training on employment issues, collective agreements, occupational health and safety issues, human rights, workers' compensation, and workplace policies and procedures. She has appeared before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal and all court levels.
Bernadine also has significant expertise in human resource management, policy development, contract development and implementation of legislative and corporate change.
OEA NS Society Board Director
Alan joined the OEA NS Society Board of Directors in 2010. Alan was born in Digby NS, graduated from University of New Brunswick in 1993 with a BScF. He is a Registered Professional Forester and currently Manager of the Forestry Safety Society of Nova Scotia as well as a small forestry contractor in Annapolis County.
Alan has worked in both the public and private sector, in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and western Washington State before returning to Nova Scotia to begin his own small business in 2000. Much of his career has been working with forestry contractors and workers in skills development and occupational health and safety.
Alan has served as a Councillor and President of the Registered Professional Foresters Association of Nova Scotia.
OEA NS Society Board Director
Jim joined the OEA NS Society Board of Directors in June 2012 representing the Retail Council of Canada - Atlantic Region. Jim Cormier serves as the Director (Atlantic) for the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has been the Voice of Retail in Canada since 1963. We speak for an industry that touches the daily lives of Canadians in every corner of the country — by providing jobs, career opportunities, and by investing in the communities we serve.
RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing more than 50,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada, including department, specialty, discount, grocery and independent stores, as well as online merchants.
In his role as Atlantic Director, Jim is a strong advocate for retailing in Canada and works with all levels of government and other stakeholders to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail, promote and sustain retail investments in communities throughout the region, and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness. Jim works with the RCC team to provide members with a full range of services and programs including education and training, benchmarking and best practices, networking, advocacy, and industry information.
Jim was raised and educated in Nova Scotia. He has worked as a teacher, an executive recruiter and as a political advisor at both the federal and provincial levels. He has been employed in his current position with the Retail Council of Canada since 2011.
OEA NS Society Director
Rick Feehan joined the OEA NS Society Board of Directors in May of 2012 as Treasurer until March 2019 and continues as Director to represent WearWell Garments Limited.
Rick is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Nova Scotia.
He has served as Treasurer for many public organizations and has been on various boards and committees in Pictou County.
Rick is actively involved as the Treasurer for the Macgregor Kinsmen Midget AAA baseball team and the Wear Well Major Bantam Bombers hockey team.
OEA NS Society Board Director
Chris Ipe joined the OEA NS Society Board of Directors in 2008. Chris is a practicing lawyer in Nova Scotia who has represented Employer interests in workers’ compensation for the past 12 years. He is a founding member of the Office of the Employer Advisor Nova Scotia.
He currently acts as Chair of the WCB Committee for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, NS Division.
Chris is currently employed as Disability Management Professional with a major corporation. Chris strives for the expansion and permanence of the OEA program in order to better serve the needs of all Employers.
OEA NS Society Board Director
Executive Director/ Employer Advisor
OEA NS Society's first employee since 2008 and holding senior leadership positions in Occupational Health, Safety, Environmental, Occupational Health Nursing and Human Resources, Mary Morris is Executive Director and Senior Employer Advisor with the Employer Advisor Nova Scotia Society.
Mary has worked for 38 years in the field of Occupational Health and Safety and Occupational Health Nursing in unionized and non-unionized settings; provincial and federal workplaces. With extensive experience participating on various Boards of Directors, committees, government legislation reviews and numerous consultations, Mary has co-authored published articles and presented at numerous local and national conferences on topics related to workplace health and safety, HR processes, appeals, accident investigation and case management and accommodation.
One of 30 nurses across Canada and two in Nova Scotia, Mary is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Nursing. The medal, presented by the Canadian Nurses Association in Ottawa recognizes her outstanding nursing practice and exemplary contributions to the health of Canadians.
A graduate of Dalhousie University School of Nursing and certified with the Canadian Occupational Health Nursing Association, (1987), the American Board of Occupational Health Nurses, (United States), the Canadian Board of Registered Safety Professionals, CRSP (1988) and the Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia, CHRP (1997). She is also a past award-recipient of the Peer Award of Excellence from HRANS. She was featured as the “Nurse to Know” in Canadian Nurse Magazine in 2017.
Her expertise in developing and implementing disability case management and attendance management programs, Human Resources policy and program design has assisted employers throughout Canada in telecommunications, manufacturing, land development, construction, tourism/hotels/gaming, aviation, long haul trucking/transportation and brewing industries.
Jeannette joined OEA NS Society in October 2015 in the role of Employer Advisor.
Jeannette is a licensed health clinician with experience in occupational health, tertiary emergency medicine and trauma, pediatric, neonatal, travel health, tropical medicine, public health, acute care hospital health and independent practice. She has worked in Canada, Great Britain, Cyprus and Australia.
Jeannette has worked in a variety of industries, including a harsh environmental jack-up drilling rig, offshore marine and drilling vessels, manufacturing and an occupational health clinic. Manufacturing industries include brewing and food production.
Jeannette's post-secondary education include: a Master's Degree in Nursing, and certificates in Midwifery, Pediatrics and Intensive Care. Jeannette is a Certified Occupational Health Nurse (Canada) (COHN C), Certified Perinatal Nurse (Canada) (CPN C) and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
She received the Western Australian School of Nursing prize for the highest aggregate in theory and practice in 1979 and the Canadian Occupational Health Nursing National Award of Excellence for her contribution to Occupational Health Nursing both locally, provincially and nationally in 2010. Jeannette is a part-time course instructor at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in the Occupational Health Nursing post graduate program.
Since 1999 Jeannette has been a member of the Canadian Occupational Health Nurses Association (COHNA) and was the board secretary/treasurer from 2010 to 2012. Provincially she was President of the Occupational Health Nurses Association of Nova Scotia (OHNANS) from 2004-2007. She has been a member of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses since 2001 (AAOHN).
Jeannette combines her extensive and broad work experience with business and advanced level educational preparation in a continuing commitment to ensuring workers safely return to work. A team player focused on objective outcomes, Jeannette brings to OEA NS Society an incredibly capable understanding of the needs of Nova Scotian employers.
Work is important. Business success makes it possible.
Lawyer, Employer Advisor
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Katie Roebothan completed an undergraduate degree in music at Memorial University in 2004. Katie then went on to study business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax (MBA, 2006) and then law at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton (LLB, 2009). At the University of New Brunswick, Katie was the valedictorian of her graduating class. Katie articled at the law firm of McInnes Cooper in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 2010.
Katie worked as a lawyer with McInnes Cooper in its Halifax office from 2010 until 2019. During this time, her practice focused on labour and employment law. Katie has experience in all areas of labour and employment law. Specifically, she has considerable experience in the areas of workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety, employment standards, labour relations and wrongful dismissals. She has appeared before the Nova Scotia Labour Board and Workers’ Compensation Tribunals across Atlantic Canada. She has also appeared before the Nova Scotia Small Claims Court, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
Katie has spoken at a number of seminars, conferences and webinars in recent years addressing issues in labour and employment law as well as human resources.
She joined OEA NS Society in May 2019 in the role of Lawyer and Employer Advisor.
Communications and Business Development
Nick joined the OEA NS Society in September 2020 as their Communications and Business Advisor. Nick’s primary role will be to bring awareness of OEA's programs and services to employers, while working closely with the OEA Board on policy and legislative issues. Additionally, he will be assisting to expand our services and training, all in an effort to navigate employers to business success.
Originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, Nick Cunningham completed his undergraduate degree in Commerce with honors in economics at Saint Mary’s University (SMU) in 2017. Nick then went on to complete his master’s degree in Applied Economics at SMU in 2019. His research was focused primarily on health and labour economics.
After his studies, Nick went on to work for Halifax’s economic development firm, the Halifax Partnership, where he worked as a Research Analyst for their Investment Attraction team. Following his time at the Halifax Partnership, Nick then worked as the Nova Scotia Policy Analyst for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), where he advocated for employers on a wide variety of legislative issues. Nick has considerable experience working collaboratively with employers to help expand and strengthen the business community throughout Nova Scotia.
Lawyer, Employer Advisor
Running your business is hard enough … and while you might be an expert in your own industry, an unexpected workplace issue can throw everything off course, taking up the time, energy and attention you should be putting into your business.
Julian understands the situation owner/operators face when a legal issue crops up at your business – and it’s his mission to help you navigate safely through it.
With knowledge and experience in the legislation that governs the workplace, including the Workers’ Compensation Act, Labour Standards Code, Trade Union Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, and other workplace legislation, Julian can explain the law and how it impacts you and your business. He has successfully represented clients in various levels of Courts and Administrative Bodies, and has previously worked for the Nova Scotia Labour Board, dealing with various types of employment, labour and safety-related Appeals and Complaints.
In addition legal expertise, Julian has a background in education and journalism. After a B.A. from Mount Allison, he earned a Bachelor of Journalism from Kings College and worked a writer and editor for a number of years. He also has a B. Ed. From Acadia and taught high school students. As a result of all this, Julian is extremely well-positioned to help you both as a lawyer and an employer-advisor. That means he is equally comfortable representing clients at a trial or hearing, as well as presenting at seminars or conferences to help employers to better know and understand the laws and procedures that affect them and their employees.
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