All fun and games?

Slinging rubber bands around the room may have earned you a detention in grade school. But, at the ministry of children family development's north region, "rubber band archery" was one of the events at a "Winter Olympic Games" organized for staffers earlier last month.

According to an email obtained exclusively by Public Eye, other events included paperclip stringing, a trivia challenge testing contestants knowledge of ministry acronyms and programs and "the much anticipated Flonkerton Race" - as seen on the television sitcom The Office.

In an interview, children and family development critic Nicholas Simons questioned the value of those games, stating, "A paper-clip Olympiad won't improve the morale of front-line social workers. They're professionals, they want the tools to do their work.

But, Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen defended the event, noting the ministry received positive feedback from the 175 employees who participated. "It was an effort to try to engage employees in something other than their work," he explained.

"I think if you talk to any major employer or employees for that matter, they'll recognize that, particularly in stressful jobs, you need to have some things that are lighthearted from time to time and naturally part of good human resource practice."

The north region was criticized last year by children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who reported practice in the region "remains in adequate in assessing risk and developing a plan to keep a child safe, once a child has been found in need of protection."

The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned email.


From: Phillips, Cathy Lynn MCF:EX
Sent: Friday, February 6, 2009 7:23 PM
To: MCF Region Q
Subject: The Official Guide to the MCFD North Region Winter Olympics!


The Olympic Games Committee is happy to present you with our more detailed guide to our events and a few ground rules:

1. First and foremost, the objective is for all of us to get moving and doing something fun and different with our co-workers during this time of the year. You will notice that some events provide physical challenges and others cerebral and/ dexterity challenges. Pick the ones you'd like to try.

2. This is definitely not the Olympic Games (or DNTO for CBC listeners). There is no travel to exotic locations, large expenditures, judging scandals or time wasters. Most events will take a very short period of time. Oh yes, and no doping testing. In fact, drinking caffeine or taking anti-inflammatory medications may be essential for some of our athletes.

3. Every event will need cheering - and the more the better! Our regional executive and managers are totally on board with our taking time for fun. Even the Trivia Challenge should have colleagues on the sidelines cheering on the competitors. Also, photographs of everyone enjoying the events are very important for each country to have. Each office should have a camera. Use it and share your fun throughout the region.

4. Like the Olympic Games, not every country participates in every event. How you develop your office's country identity is up to you. Feel free to set up the trials for each event and decide on officials, design your own flag etc. We've included sign up sheets for the trials below. Additional details will follow for the officials when they have been identified.

5. Once the trials are complete, your country will choose the three top athletes for individual events, or the top team of three for the team events. The officials must submit the sign up sheet for the Olympic Games by Thursday, February 12th. You will find this sheet at the end of each Event Description.

6. For the competition, your office will pick whatever time of day you want to run each event, as long as the results are submitted by the end of that day (4:30 pm PST).

7. Medal standings by country and athlete will be posted once all daily results are received. Officials are the most important volunteers in these Olympic Games. They have to miss out on participating in the event they work on. Without them we wouldn't have targets available to shoot at or timers, or anyone to submit results - so don't forget to thank them.

8. This is the first time that any of us have done this, and like any volunteer, we might not get everything right the first time. We appreciate your support, and also want to hear your feedback on how we can do better in providing these events.

The few rules we want to follow are the ones on the Event sheets provided below. This should help keep the results consistent for the regional scoring and awarding of medals for athletes on each office/country.

9. Finally, imagine how cool it would be to find out that you are one of the fastest typists in the entire north region, or you can walk more steps than anyone in 1/2 hour! Your athletes and your country will have that acknowledgement until the next games come around.

The Opening Ceremonies will be shared as a powerpoint presentation on Monday, February 16th, complete with fireworks, so you won't have to schedule your day around it. You may want to turn this into an event in your country during a break or meeting - go ahead - enjoy! We will be happy to present your flag and competitor's names, pictures etc., so send them in to me or Marny Williams.

On Tuesday, the games begin with the much anticipated Flonkerton Race. Some of you may have seen this on tv on "The Office". It will be hilarious to watch and compete in!

Also on Tuesday is the dexterity challenging Paperclip Stringing event! This requires more work than you might expect. Competitors will want to start training now.

On Wednesday, Rubber Band Archery will be even more challenging as the target is ten feet away! You might think you know how to shoot a rubber band - find out!

The MCFD Trivia Challenge is a mix of multiple choice questions made up by different contributors. Think you know about your ministry, region, programs and acronyms?

I recommend you start studying now if you are interested in winning this. My only hint is to pick your team of three wisely to use everyone's expertise on Wednesday.

If you participated in this spring's regional Pedometer Challenge, you will want to try out for this event! The Olympic Pedometer Challenge will be much shorter at 1/2 hour, with a team of three. The interesting part is that the team members can walk, and only walk, anywhere and at any time on Thursday, and not even together - definitely a challenge for the Official!

Most people think of Typing Tests as a stressful situation related to getting a job. If your fingers fly across the keyboard, this is the event you've been waiting for! We have a fabulous program to download that makes testing easy. For the trials to determine your three best typists in your Country, you might want to try three minute tests.

Friday is the day for great entertainment for the cheering crowds - the Basketball Toss had people laughing during the entire time - both athletes and bystanders!

What a great way to use recycled printer paper too!

The last and probably most physically challenging team event is the Decathlon Relay Race - a very exciting way to end off the games!

The New Years Resolution "get fit" crowd will excel at this challenge. Taking turns at one minute each of crunches, jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges and squats should be a breeze.

Now find out how quickly your team does them compared to the other countries!

Ready for more information? Here are the Event Descriptions:

Tuesday, February 17th <> <>

Wednesday, February 18th <> <>

Thursday, February 19th <> <>

Friday, February 20th <> <>

Now that you are interested, here is a copy of the Olympic Trial Sign Up Sheets to post in your office Country: <> may need to print out extra copies...

So now that you know what the events and Olympic rules are, sign up for the trials and practice, practice practice!

Your Olympic Committee Members are Del Graff, Johanne Cloarec, Marny Williams, Liza Wigmore & Cathy Phillips.


Cathy Phillips, CHRP

Manager, Strategic Human Resource Planning MCFD North Winter Olympic Committee Chancellor
North Region
Ministry of Children & Family Development


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Athletes will string together paperclips in the shortest time possible to complete a circle. This is an individual timed event requiring speed and dexterity.


* 50 paperclips, size #5, 2" long, non-slip (not vinyl coated)
* A table or desk
* two office chairs
* a clock or timer with a second hand.

Athletes will clip together fifty (50) individual paper clips, one at a time. The intention is to create a string then clip together the first and last paperclips to form a complete secured circle. This will be confirmed by the circle being held in the air by one hand.

The competition timing starts when the first two paperclips are clipped together. Timing stops when the athlete produces the completed circle.

Athletes may prefer stand or sit in this competition. The shortest paperclip stringing times will determine the winners regionally.

Cheering on, making suggestions, or otherwise supporting contestants is important and encouraged.

* Prepare the competition area by providing a desk or table and chairs for the competitor and official.
* Place 50 #5 non-slip paperclips (new or used) individually in a small pile on the desk/table.
* Advise the athlete of the rules and, when they are ready with two paperclips in their hands, start timing the event.
* Observe the method being used to confirm that clipping is being done strictly by one paperclip at a time.
* Once all 50 clips have been strung and the athlete has completed a circle that will stay together, stop timing.

* Complete the contest with up to three athletes, and submit their times.


The Official will submit times for the country's three athletes to the Olympic Chancellor before 4:30 pm on the day of the event.

Fax the scoresheet to Cathy Phillips @ 250 565-4427, or e-mail it as an attachment to

The scores of each country will be reviewed by the Chancellor and Medals will be presented to the region's three highest scores.





OFFICIAL: ________________________________________________________________

This sheet must be submitted to Cathy Phillips at
or by fax @ 250-565-4427, by midnight, Thursday, February 12th, in order for athletes to compete in the Olympics.

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