September 6, 2013

Welcome to the first edition of OMSSA’s E.D. Letter in September. In many ways this week is like the beginning of a new year for all of us, with Labour Day behind us, the regular cycle of municipal council proceedings starting up and the Provincial Legislature sitting again as of Monday (September 9.)

September 6, 2013

Dear OMSSA members and friends,

Welcome to the first edition of OMSSA’s E.D. Letter in September. In many ways this week is like the beginning of a new year for all of us, with Labour Day behind us, the regular cycle of municipal council proceedings starting up and the Provincial Legislature sitting again as of Monday (September 9.)

Here in your OMSSA office we are more than ready: your new Board is another great team of experienced and passionate leaders from CMSMs and DSSABs across Ontario; the Leadership Table of all 47 service system managers meets in early October to help keep us all focussed on our strategic priorities; and we have a honed staff team eager to serve you.

Your President for this year is Janet Menard, Commissioner of Human Services for the Region of Peel. Janet follows a series of strong and innovative Presidents and is also a ground-breaking champion and practitioner of integrating human services from the client’s perspective in Ontario. Janet shares OMSSA’s vision of an inclusive Ontario that values and respects people by serving them in the communities where they live. Janet, the Board and your staff team also know that it is vibrant service system management, responsive locally to local needs, that support healthy and prosperous communities. You can read Janet’s incoming President’s speech here, and be confident that she will lead us well in our work on your behalf in Ontario.

Also of interest below is the reminder of OMSSA’s new Early Learning and Child Care Resource Centre, hosted in partnership with the Ministry of Education, information on our upcoming policy conference in December, as well as some of our fall workshops. Over the summer many OMSSA members have been working with us to arrange tailored OMSSA training for their specific needs, sometimes arranging these contracts with us for multiple CMSMs or DSSABs.  I encourage all of you to explore this opportunity for designing exactly what you need for your teams by contacting Meagan Shepard, Education Coordinator at or 416-646-0511.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the item below announcing a new study, released last week, that explores the impact poverty has on individual’s mental acuity and capacity. These findings, and recommendations to minimize this effect (which is limited to the time people are actually living in poverty) are particularly interesting during Ontario’s focus on social assistance and employment services reform.

As always, I, the Board and staff, look forward to serving OMSSA members in the “new year” and in moving the yard-stick for service system management forward together. All my best to all of you, Kira.



Ontario Improving Supports and Employment Opportunities for Vulnerable Families

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has publicly announced the implementation of changes to social assistance, which OMSSA and its members will be familiar with.

A number of changes detailed in the province's 2013 Budget are coming into effect. People with disabilities receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits saw an increase in rates by one per cent on Sept. 1, 2013, and people receiving Ontario Works will see an increase of one per cent starting Oct. 1, 2013. In addition, clients in both programs will be able to earn up to $200 per month through employment before their social assistance benefits are reduced.

The province is also increasing the amount of assets people are able to keep before they can get assistance, such as a car a client may need for getting to and from work. Single people supported by Ontario Works can now have up to $2,500 in assets without affecting their eligibility. Couples receiving Ontario Works can have up to $5,000 in assets.

McMeekin commits to changing social assistance

In an article for the Toronto Star, Laurie Monsebraaten, profiles the work of Ted McMeekin, MPP Hamilton on reforming Ontario's social-assistance system.

In the past four months, provincial Community and Social Services Minister Ted McMeekin met with some 147 groups to discuss how to make system more coherent and compassionate for about 900,000 adults and children who rely on it. OMSSA has been and remains involved in this process.

McMeekin acknowledges that the Commission for the Review of Social Reform in Ontario report released late in 2012, guides his efforts, and that while he recognizes some of the recommendations contained within the report are contentious, he is committed to pushing forward with social assistance reform. 

Province Releases New Cycling Strategy

Ontario has released a new cycling strategy to promote safe cycling and encourage more people to ride their bikes to work, school and recreation destinations.

The CycleON strategy presents a 20-year vision that supports cycling by encouraging and promoting items including healthy, active and prosperous communities.

The strategy reflects input from the public and expert advice from cycling stakeholders.  The government will release next steps to implement the strategy by spring 2014.

Premier to Tour Northern Ontario

Premier Kathleen Wynne began a northern tour last week as part of the government of Ontario’s efforts to strengthen regional economies.

The tour will include stops in: Sudbury and Lively, Thunder Bay and Kenora.

Update on the Ministry of Education’s Unlicensed Child Care Review

Liz Sandals, Minister of Education, issued a statement on the review of unlicensed child care complaints.

The ministry had previously committed to reviewing every complaint received about the number of children in unlicensed child care settings, dating back to Jan. 1, 2012.

Out of a total of 448 complaints received between Jan. 1, 2012, and July 12, 2013, it was determined that 25 had not been addressed with a site visit. The ministry has taken immediate action on all the remaining unaddressed complaints, investigating them thoroughly and confirming that all providers are in compliance.

As a further step, the ministry will be establishing a dedicated enforcement team to investigate complaints about non-compliant unlicensed providers, respond to public inquiries and supply information to parents about unlicensed providers.

Study Shows Benefits of Full-day Kindergarten

A new study, conducted by the Ontario government in partnership with Queen's and McMaster universities suggests that Ontario's full-day kindergarten (FDK) program is giving children a better start in school and preparing them for success in Grade 1.

The study measured the progress and development of students who were enrolled in FDK compared to those who participated in half-day programs. In every area, students improved their readiness for Grade 1 and accelerated their development.

Boards Skeptical of Kindergarten Timetable

A commitment by the Ontario government to roll out full-day kindergarten across the province is being met with skepticism from school boards where student enrollment is growing, according to a recent Globe and Mail article.

The Ontario government, however, remains committed to universal all-day kindergarten program by 2014. “The commitment has been five years. I know it’s a struggle for some boards to meet that, and so they’ll have to find ways to accommodate while they’re in the process of building,” Jim Grieve, assistant deputy minister is of the early learning division is quoted as saying.


New Parliamentary Budget Officer Announced

On August 30th Government House Leader Peter Van Loan officially announced the appointment of Jean-Denis Fréchette as Canada’s next Parliamentary Budget Officer. Mr. Fréchette’s five-year term commenced September 3, 2013.

Mr. Fréchette, an economist who has been employed in the Library of Parliament since 1986, most recently served as the Senior Director of the Economics, Resources and International Affairs Division of the Library’s Parliamentary Information and Research Service.

In their announcement, the Government also thanked Sonia L’Heureux who served as interim Parliamentary Budget Officer since March 2013 when former Officer Kevin Page’s term ended.

The position of Parliamentary Budget Officer was created through the 2006 Federal Accountability Act. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is an officer of the Library of Parliament, a parliamentary institution that operates independently from the Government under the control and management of the Parliamentary Librarian. The Library of Parliament is accountable through the Librarian to the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons.


Poverty Lowers Brain Power, Study Suggests

Poverty, and the all-consuming fretting that comes with it, require so much mental energy that the poor have little brain power left to devote to other areas of life, according to the findings of a study published August 29th in the journal Science.

In a series of experiments, with two very different groups - shoppers at a mall in New Jersey in the United States, and sugar cane farmers in rural India, a team of researchers from the University of Warwick, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of British Colombia found that pressing financial worries had an immediate impact on poor people's ability to perform well in cognitive and logic tests.

The mental strain is costing poor people 13 IQ (intelligence quotient) points on average, the equivalent of a night’s sleep. As a result, poor people have less "mental bandwidth" left over for education, training, time-management and other steps that could help break the cycle of poverty, and means they are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that amplify and perpetuate their financial woes, researchers contend.

Of particular interest to OMSSA readers, the researchers suggest that services for the poor shouldn't "cognitively tax" them. Positive measures could include simpler aid forms, more guidance for receiving assistance, and more flexibly structured training and educational programs.

Pan Northern Ontario Homeless Study Announced

The Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) has announced a partnership with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to study the need for, and feasibility of, implementing the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) on a Pan-Northern Ontario basis.

HIFIS is software which assists service providers, organizations and municipalities in data collection, analysis and reporting to help with their long-term planning and capacity building.

NOSDA will be undertaking activities to produce a regional level report on homelessness by coordinating HIFIS data collection and analysis from the Northern Ontario communities that are presently using HIFIS. These include Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Nipissing.

NOSDA will also test the feasibility of HIFIS in the seven District Social Services Administration Boards not using the software, examining the costs and the benefits of collecting consistent, reliable and valid data in each community and across the northern service areas.

A variety of stakeholder groups will be consulted over the course of this initiative.

Enough for All: Household Food Security in Canada

A new report published by The Conference Board of Canada, entitled Enough for All: Household Good Security in Canada, estimates that some two million people in Canada suffer from “food insecurity” and that nearly half of those are school-aged children. 

In a related article in the Globe & Mail, Why Canada needs to make sure kids don’t go to school hungry, Andre Picard reminds us that nutrition has an immediate impact on the physical well-being of children and has the potential to undermine their economic well-being for a lifetime. “Children cannot learn, they cannot thrive, if they are not well-nourished.”

In a letter to the editor, Elaine Powers, Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University responds to Mr. Picard’s article by stressing the importance of any school meal program being part of a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy that enabled families to meet their basic needs.

The Conference Board is recommending a national feeding program as a short and long-term investment in children’s wellbeing.

2011 National Household Survey: Income and Housing

The third and final set of data from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) has been publicly released. The release focuses on income, earnings, housing and shelter costs. It will also feature two analytical reports, which will be available September 11, 2013.

The first report provides an overview of income in Canada, including income composition, the breakdown of income from private and public sources as well as individual and family characteristics. The report also examines income across a spectrum of variables such as total income level, self-employment, province/territory and age.

The second report will provide an analysis of homeownership in Canada. It will focus on a number of topics including shelter costs and affordability, as well as housing market activity over the previous five years.

Various products and services will also be made available on the 2011 National Household Survey website. For example, data on income, earnings, housing and shelter costs will be available for standard geographic areas, through the NHS Data Tables and NHS Profile.


OMSSA’s Early Learning and Child Care Resource Centre

OMSSA, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, is supporting Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) and District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs) to implement Ontario's new child care funding framework and formula.

As part of this effort, OMSSA is hosting the online Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Resource Centre, which provides resources, including newly developed ones, to support capacity building for children services system managers to plan, manage and deliver quality integrated early learning child care services. 

In addition, several CMSMs and DSSABs have kindly shared examples of their work to date for the benefit of mutual learning and capacity building.  If you have materials you’d like to share with members on the Resource Centre website, please send them to Rachael Walisser, Policy Advisor,

OMSSA’s 2013 Human Services Integration Policy Conference

Municipal Human Service System Management, 15 years after Local Services Realignment

December 3 - 4, 2013

Toronto, Ontario


Join us this December to explore the present and future of municipal service system management. The 2013 OMSSA Policy Conference acknowledges that it has been 15 years since Local Services Realignment and that much has changed in the social policy landscape since then. Through plenaries, workshops and panel discussions, the conference will examine service system management from different perspectives, including:

  • Exploring the history of municipal service system management and understand how it has shaped the current landscape – a critical discussion especially for those newer to the human services sector in Ontario.
  • Understanding how service system management has helped focus on people centered outcomes.
  • Discussing current and emerging opportunities and challenges in moving to the next step in furthering municipal service system management.
  • Modeling the future of Service System Management, exploring best practices from our own and other jurisdictions to understand the best conditions needed to maximize the capacity of service system management.

Upcoming OMSSA Education Opportunities

Better Beginnings, Better Futures

September 20, 2013 – In Toronto

September 27, 2013 – In Brantford

October 18, 2013 – In Ottawa

Click here to Register

Started in 1991 in 3 pilot communities by the Government of Ontario, the Better Beginnings, Better Futures (BBBF) project is an innovative, community-based project designed to support the development of young children and their families living in disadvantaged communities. It is a flexible, ecological model that addresses the needs of children in low-income communities beginning from JK to Grade 2 through family, school, and community programs. It is not a “one size fits all”, top-down package, but rather a collection of strategies that can be shaped by communities to address their unique needs.

Additional Information


Webinar: Changes to the Non-profit Corporations Act

September 23 (2pm – 3:30pm)

October 15 (3:30pm – 5:00pm)

Click here to Register

Bill 65, which is expected to be proclaimed in January 2014, will replace the Ontario Corporations Act (OCA) with the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act (ONCA). This new legislation will provide a modern legal framework that is intended to address the needs of today's not-for-profit corporations in Ontario. It will simplify some business practices and create greater accountability in other areas to allow for more effective governance of not-for-profit organizations. Attend this webinar to hear more about these changes.

Additional Information


Effective Risk Based Decision Making: Managing Risk in Working with Community Human Services

September 26 – 27 - Toronto

Click here to Register

Understand how risk management principles apply to human services, and how to apply risk management concepts to improve and support your decision making process. Attend this workshop to learn how to incorporate risk mitigation strategies into your organizational systems, strategies, and decision making practices.

Additional information


Working Effectively with the Media

October 8, 2013 in Toronto

Click here to Register

Leading and managing projects is both a technical and a people management task. This workshop gives you the tools and techniques to accomplish the technical aspects of project management as well as the softer skills of managing teams – skills that are needed for successful project completion.  This workshop will be useful for anyone who needs the tools to manage single or multiple projects.

Additional Information


Leading and Managing Projects

October 15 – 16, 2013 in Toronto

Click here to Register

Leading and managing projects is both a technical and a people management task. This workshop gives you the tools and techniques to accomplish the technical aspects of project management as well as the softer skills of managing teams – skills that are needed for successful project completion.  This workshop will be useful for anyone who needs the tools to manage single or multiple projects.

Additional Information


Interested in the topics, but unable to attend the session?

Consider bringing any of these topics or other OMSSA workshops in-house in 2013. Contact Christie Abramovic, Senior Coordinator of Education, at to make custom arrangements for bringing any OMSSA workshop to your staff and community.