Submitted by Petra Nash, Executive Assistant

Submitted by Petra Nash, Executive Assistant

Courtesy of LifeWorks Wellbeing Experts

Many places around the world are looking to lift or partially lift pandemic restrictions.

As businesses start to reopen and people return to the workplace, COVID-19 will not have gone away. While some people may happily and easily try to get “back to normal”, it is understandable that some will have concerns and feelings of apprehension. There are things you can do help manage your fears as post-pandemic life begins.

Stay Informed

Stick to the facts communicated by public health agencies, medical professionals and lawmakers. Always go to reliable sources for your information, such as the World Health Organization, or the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as your government and local health authority websites. Understanding the facts—even if they are a bit scary—is better than letting anxieties grow due to the lack of knowledge.

Put It in Perspective

Understand what is happening and how it relates to your situation. Just because restrictions are being lifted, your organization may choose to delay the reopening of your workplace. If parks or other public spaces in your area are open again, it does not mean you have to go. Easing restrictions may be happening to help certain sectors and may have no direct impact on your day-to-day life during the pandemic.

Stay Cautious

It is OK to err on the side of caution. You may be dealing with challenges and feelings that you do not understand. It is still important to follow the prevention tips recommended by your local heath authority, such as maintaining physical distancing and stringent hand washing. For more suggestions of how to protect yourself, read our article on Tips to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Ask for Help

If you are having trouble managing your anxiety, ask for help. This could range from asking someone to run errands for you if you are not comfortable going into busy places, to talking to a friend to get their perspective, to seeking professional help from a mental health professional or a counsellor at your assistance program if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Do’s and Don’ts as Restrictions Are Lifted

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Continue to follow guidelines from authorities about using public spaces and following prevention guidelines.
  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces in your work area, including keyboards, phones, handrails and doorknobs.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. You may also want to consider telemedicine or digital healthcare options available so that you can remain at home while seeking medical care.
  • Know what to expect of yourself. You may experience a variety of emotions. Talking about your feelings with someone you trust is a healthy way to process this evolving situation.
  • Continue to take care of yourself. Eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise, and remain digitally connected with those closest to you.

By Debbie Ciccotelli, Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives

Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am as the COVID-19 pandemic infection rate continues to rise?  Feeling overwhelmed is normal when there is so much disruption to our lives.

We have had enough negativity in 2020 to last a lifetime. I am exhausted by the gloom and doom and disheartened by what is currently happening in our community and world around us.

I believe that it is important to talk about our experience and the reality of what we are going through, so I thought I would share some personal experiences which COVID has had on me and my family.

I lost a cousin to COVID in April this year – he died in hospital alone and only his wife and mother attended his funeral.  I have a young niece who has both Parkinson’s and Addison’s disease, which has resulted in a severely compromised immune system, confining her to her home.  My daughter is an essential worker and is suffering anxiety from fear of bringing COVID home, as well as for having made the choice to send her 2 children to school.  I personally am in the vulnerable age sector and have been working and locked down in my home since March. I have not been able to see my children or grandchildren, whom I love dearly and miss more than can be imagined.  My 5-year-old granddaughter is in JK and due to minor cold or flu symptoms has been required to go through COVID testing three times already. Five days prior to finishing this article, my father passed away at home and we made the decision not to have a funeral service and to wait to hold a Celebration of Life when it is safe to do so – it is the right decision but somehow it seems wrong.   

Many of you are experiencing similar, if not more difficult, challenges.  In these troublesome times, it is important to think beyond ourselves and consider what others are facing.  How you respond to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic can depend on your background, your social support from family or friends, your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors.

I am generally a very positive person and I have tried very hard not to let the impact of the pandemic get me down, but like many people there are times when I struggle to cope, which is a normal reaction.  During these periods, receiving support and care from others has had a powerful effect on helping me cope with challenges. Spending telephone or virtual time talking through concerns, thoughts and feelings with supportive family and friends gives me a sense of comfort and stability.

Our world has not faced anything like this in over a century. It’s big. It’s ok, and even appropriate, to not be ok.  Allow yourself to feel the reality of what you’re going through. Reach out, if it would help to talk to someone (it probably would). You don’t have to present a brave face to the world, if you’re having a tough time – If negative emotions threaten to overwhelm, find a counseling professional who works with people virtually or by phone, such as A.S.P.’s Employee Assistance Program (LifeWorks).

Connecting on a personal level, extending compassion and assuming positive intent from others may make all the difference for someone who is really hurting, either visibly or below the surface.  It is important to understand the power we each have to connect and lift each other up, especially during the holiday season when we cannot be with the people we care about the most.  These small interactions can make a massive impact on others.

If you want to be a respectful co-worker during this challenging time, show your peers you care by taking time to understand their world, stay in touch, and find ways to offer support. If we do, we may just come out of the other side of this health crises closer and more connected to each other.  But if you’re really struggling as you watch it all unfold, feeling fear as this thing marches closer, or mourning your own real losses, that’s a normal reaction too.   It’s better for our mental health to see this time as a collective challenge – one that is extremely difficult but remember: We’re all in this together

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou

With a vaccine arrival and the end of this horrible pandemic on the horizon, we will get through this and regardless of how people remember their own circumstances, I am convinced that they will have long-lasting memories of how others treated them.

By Paul Parkinson, Director, Finance

Practicing positivity is often easier said than done, especially given the complexity and the challenges we face in today’s world.

Positivity isn’t a slogan or something that can be passively attained. It’s something to work toward, a mindset that helps you better respond to and navigate life’s challenges. Working toward a more positive outlook can also help you work toward positive change in your home, workplace, and communities – creating a snowball effect that can help make a meaningful difference in the world.

The modern study of neuroplasticity has shown that how we think and behave can alter the structure of the brain. Positivity—positive thinking—can rewire the brain. By practising positivity, we can train ourselves to be happier and more resilient overall. The brain was once thought of as static—unchangeable—meaning once the brain was formed, you couldn’t change it. The good news, scientists have discovered, is that the brain is not unchangeable. In fact, we change our brains every day without even realizing it. Every habit you practise, each skill you learn, causes your brain to strengthen certain connections and weaken others. Our environment, habits, emotions, behaviours, and thoughts all have an impact on our brain.

Being able to change our brains in positive ways—to learn, to recover and heal—is a wonderful thing. However, on the flip side, our brains are also vulnerable to our external environment and even internal influences. This means that in the same way that we can heal, grow, and improve our brains and thoughts, we can also injure our brains and stay stuck in negative thoughts and behaviours.

What Negative Thinking and Worry Do to the Brain

As humans, we naturally focus on the negative—we are hardwired that way to keep ourselves safe from threats. In fact, when confronted with negativity or a potential threat, our brains activate more intensely than they do when an equally intense good or positive situation presents itself.

Interestingly, even just thinking about negativity activates the same parts in the brain as a real active threat to our safety or well-being. And while a negative thought or situation can “stick” in our brains after a split second, it takes 10 or more seconds of focusing on a positive thought for our brain to translate that positivity from our active memory to short-term memory and eventually to long-term memory.

There are also physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms typically associated with negative thinking and worry.

Although it’s necessary for our brains to let us know when we are in danger or there is a threat, we need to be careful not to let negative thoughts take over our lives. The more our thought patterns tend to be negative, the easier it becomes to return to these automatic negative thought patterns. In fact, rumination (constantly turning over a situation in one’s mind and focusing on its negative aspects) can damage structures and connections in the brain that regulate emotions, memory, and feelings. As we focus more on the negative, over time, it becomes more difficult to create positive memories.

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

The physical health benefits of positive thinking can: help boost your immune system, improve heart health, reduce or prevent hypertension, lower stress levels, boost resilience.

As you increase your positive thinking, you’ll feel healthier in general, which can empower and motivate you to increase your healthy habits.

The emotional health benefits of positive thinking can help you handle problems more effectively, enjoy your life more, develop positive habits, boost your self-esteem and form healthy, positive relationships more easily. It’s easier to see the good in others when you’re looking at your world through a positive lens.

How To Change Negative Thoughts and Think More Positively

  • Engage in an activity that fully occupies the mind, such as doing a crossword puzzle. This can be helpful in breaking out of ruminative thought patterns.
  • Practise mindfulness or meditation. Focusing on the here and now and being present is a valuable way to change negative thought patterns and brain activity. Meditating regularly can help shift negative thought patterns, help the brain focus, and even slow the loss of brain cells.
  • Practise Yoga. Like meditation, yoga helps make you more aware of your own self-talk. Being aware of negative self-talk prompts you to make a change.
  • Consciously replace your thoughts. Make it a point to change your negative thinking by replacing a negative thought with a positive one.
  • Smile. It has been proven to improve your mood and thought patterns. Smiling sends positive thoughts to the brain.
  • Sing. Singing has been scientifically proven to fight depression and boost one’s mood.
  • Make a list of things you’re worried or stressed about to get your worries out of your head. Then make another list of things you feel positive or grateful for. Next, make an effort to shift the focus of your brain from negative to positive thoughts.
  • Read something positive. Doing so can boost your mood and give you a mental break.
  • Be around positive thinkers. Your attitude will tend to follow that of your friends.
  • Help someone else solve a problem. Take a break from thinking about yourself and do what you can to help someone else. It will help bring a sense of accomplishment and can help you gain a new perspective on your own problems.
  • Take control of your life. Make choices to change what you can control.

It’s tough to start, but as you work at it and intentionally take steps to improve yourself, you’ll build stronger connections between positive thinking and challenges, and you’ll be on your way to a more positive outlook.

By Laurel Woodhouse, Health and Safety Manager

What’s the Danger?

When you’re cold, blood vessels in your skin, arms and legs constrict, decreasing the blood flow to your arms and legs.  This helps your critical organs stay warm, but you risk frostbite in your extremities.

Cold-related illness and injuries can cause permanent tissue damage or death.  The toe, fingers, ears and nose are at the greatest risk because they do not have major muscles to produce heat.


Adjust the pace or rate of work – not too low that a person becomes cold, nor too high and cause heavy sweating or wet clothing.

Allow time for new workers to become accustomed to the conditions.

Make sure that protective clothing is worn at or below 4°C. including layers of warm clothing, with an outer layer that is wind-resistant, a hat, mittens or insulated gloves, scarf, neck tube or face mask and insulated waterproof footwear.


Occurs when tissue temperature falls below the freezing point or when blood flow is obstructed; symptoms include inflammation of the skin in patches and slight pain.  In severe cases, there could be tissue damage without pain or burning or prickling sensations that result in blisters.


  • Get medical aid.
  • Warm the area with body heat—do not rub.
  • Don’t thaw hands and feet unless medical aid is far away and there’s no chance of refreezing. It’s best to thaw body parts at a hospital.


Is the most severe cold injury. The excessive loss of body heat can be fatal.  

Moderate symptoms • Shivering • Blue lips and fingers • Slow breathing and heart rate • Disorientation and confusion • Poor coordination

Severe symptoms • Unconsciousness • Heart slowdown to the point where pulse is irregular or hard to find • No shivering • No detectable breathing. Although these symptoms resemble death, always assume the person is alive.


  • Hypothermia can kill—get medical aid immediately.
  • Carefully move the person to a shelter. Sudden movement can upset heart rhythm.
  • Keep the person awake. Remove any wet clothing and wrap them in warm covers.
  • Move workers to a heated shelter and seek medical advice.

Identify Controls

  1. Survey and monitor the temperature
  2. Train managers, supervisor and workers on symptoms, safe work practices, rewarming procedures, proper clothing practices, and what to do in case of cold injury.
  3. Use buddy system to watch for symptoms in others.
  4. Wear several layers of clothing rather than one thick layer to capture air as an insulator.
  5. Wear synthetic fabrics next to the skin to “wick” away sweat.  
  6. If conditions require, wear a waterproof or wind-resistant outer layer.
  7. Wear warm gloves, hats, and hoods. You may also need a balaclava.
  8. Tight-fitting footwear restricts blood flow. You should be able to wear either one thick or two thin pairs of socks.
  9. If your clothing gets wet at 2°C or less, change into dry clothes immediately and get checked for hypothermia.
  10. If you get hot while working, open your jacket but keep your hat and gloves on.
  11. Take warm, high-calorie drinks and food.

By Sarah Northrup, Human Resources Director

It is my pleasure to introduce and welcome our new Health and Safety Manager, Laurel Woodhouse to our A.S.P. family.

Laurel joined the Human Resources team on November 2, 2020. I can attest to the idea that joining a new company is not easy this year, as I know a number of our employees can also relate to! Laurel spent her first month with A.S.P.  with a laser focus on the public health crisis affecting us all. Laurel has established partnerships with our leadership teams across the country.

Laurel has an extensive career as a Health and Safety specialist and a wealth of experience fostering a health and safety culture. A Certified Health and Safety Consultant, Laurel has built and grown pro-active safety systems in a variety of industries for the last 15 years.

Laurel has a strong philosophy of putting safety first and unique experience in both federal and provincial health and safety legislation which will be a definite asset to the company. Her approachable personality combined with her collaborative approach has already made her a great contributor to the A.S.P family.

Located in our corporate HQ office in Burlington, Laurel’s work will take her across the organization.  

Please join me in giving Laurel Woodhouse a warm A.S.P. welcome.

By Garinder Grewal, Airport SDM, YYZ, Aviation K9

Congratulations to all of the Access Control Guards that achieved a perfect score of 50/50 on their first attempt of their 2020 recertification test.

For those who missed the mark, don’t worry! Keep working at it and you’ll get 100% next year!

  • Banugopan, Anuratha
  • Coluccio, Sophia
  • Gill, Sukhmani
  • Karma, Marin
  • Mohamed, Abdirahman
  • Parmar, Shinder Kaur
  • Sasan, Mandeep
  • Singh, Kanwar Harpal
  • Tiwana, Rupinder
  • Vakeeswaran, Sinthujan

  • Bauman, Margaret
  • Dhamoon, Arjun
  • Ilir, Hanxhari
  • Karruku, Nevila
  • Nadan, Rushmika
  • Patel, Urvish
  • Sharma, Rekha
  • Sodhi, Jaswinder
  • Walia, Tajinder Kaur
  • Karshe, Jabrel
  • Brati, Mustafa
  • Dharni, Raveena
  • Jain, Arun Kumar
  • Kaur, Jasbir
  • Nijjar, Harpinder
  • Samra, Ashok
  • Sidhu, Harjinder
  • Sond, Sukhjit
  • Weheliye, Abdulhamid
  • Ndreu, Lejla
  • Chowdhury, Jarar
  • Gill, Amarjit Kaur
  • Kalia, Meenal
  • Mohamed, Mohamed
  • Panchbhaya, Saeedahmad
  • Samra, Kartar
  • Singh, Amolpreet
  • Sulo, Orion
  • Yonan, Sany

By Angus Wilson, Director, Aviation Services

As we close out another year, this one has been one of the more challenging years we have all had.

I personally would like to thank each and every member of the A.S.P. family for all their hard work and dedication over the year.

Toronto Pearson Airport Security

With the ever-changing environment at the airport, A.S.P. successfully held a shift bid in December. A.S.P. management spent a great amount of time creating schedules in a manner that ensured all employees maintained their employment and no one was laid off.

We are continuing to support the GTAA by ensuring everyone in the terminal is safe and secure, by enforcing the COVID protocol, by performing the difficult task of making sure meeters and greeters are not allowed access to the terminal and by making sure everyone travelling or working at the airport is wearing their face mask.

A Special Thanks to Nataliya Boychuk.

We have also had some special thanks to Specialist, Nataliya Boychuk from a passenger and the GTAA.

Simply thank you! I would love to express my gratitude to a security officer Nataliya in Terminal 1. She pleasantly welcomed us, asked a few questions before entering the terminal for COVID screening and directed us to the departing area. Officer allowed us to come in and she told my son where exactly to find a wheelchair and she allowed us to use it all the way to our car, which was very kind, as I recently had knee surgery and was walking in with a cane. On our way out, she checked on me, which was unexpected. Thank you for what you do and I hope this compliment finds its owner.
-Compliment from a Guest

Congratulations, Steve Coulcher! Steve moved to Canada in 2012 from England.

He had been part of the British Military and was very nervous of this life-changing move. Steve didn’t think he would be able to work as a dog trainer, something he had dedicated his career to in the British Military. He was lucky to find work with a number of security companies, but his passion was always to work as a trainer. As he began to adjust to life in a new country, Steve was told about a security company that was looking to start a Canine Unit! He could barely contain his excitement! 

This was it – his chance to reignite the career he loved so much! Steve was selected to join the elite unit and became the first operational handler for the A.S.P. Canine Unit in May 2015 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The original five handlers quickly passed the basic handler’s course and became a strong team working together.

The transition to handler was not difficult for someone who had the skill set and experience like Steve. However, the toughest transition wasn’t as a handler, but adapting to a role outside of the military environment. It took time for him to understand the differences in managing, working and operating in a non-military role. His ability as a handler and the standards he set were excellent; every day he was learning more and more on working with his peers in a “civilian” role.

Steve was part of our Canine Unit, as it grew from Aviation to add important Commercial clients. We have added Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and El-Al Airlines to our original contract and we continue to look for greater opportunities.

Steve and our team have had so many proud moments with A.S.P. Many firsts as a team and Canine Unit, but recently Steve was selected for the Canine Unit Trainer position. His hard work and long hours helped him to achieve this promotion. His dream of working with a Canine Unit came to life.

Congrats Steve on your hard work and dedication to A.S.P. It has been an excellent transition into his new role, with the help of our full Canine Unit. Every member of our team has been exceptional in helping Steve with his new role. I look forward to seeing our Canine Unit continue to grow and of course to see many of you interested in becoming a handler grow with us too!! This unit truly hires for the personality and trains for the job.

Steve Coulcher and Canine Partner SASCHA.