Knowledge Exchange Blog

An Interview with Cathy Cousins

July 2024

Cathy Cousins worked for the Region of Niagara in Corporate Services for 10 years, until 2005, when she began to hold a variety of roles in Community Services including Director of Support Services, Acting Commissioner, and Director of Homelessness Services and Community Engagement within the Region. She has experience with labour negotiations and job evaluation, and involvement in a variety of committees with the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) for emergency management and emergency social services. She is skilled in budget preparation and management, financial reporting and committee presentations. Cathy has previous experience on the OMSSA Board as President and currently serves as Past-President. This interview explores her priorities in human services delivery for Niagara Region, her involvement with OMSSA, and her overall experience and contributions to the human services sector. 

Previous Posts

Understanding Autistic Human Services Workers

June 2024

Often, autistic individuals are overlooked for roles in helping professions, yet, recent research that examines autistic educators, nurses, librarians and doctors, demonstrate that those with lived experience are proud of their workplace contributions in helping professions, especially in relation to supporting autistic service users. Further, human services boast inclusive values and ethics, which might draw autistic workers towards the field. In this article, author Sarah Southey provides a brief overview of autism in the workplace and describe challenges and recommendations that can be implemented to foster neurodivergent inclusion in human services organizations.

An Interview with Mike Nadeau

June 2024

Mike is currently the CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Social Service Administration Board and Treasurer of OMSSA. He has over 20 years’ experience in both First Nations and municipal human services. Prior to joining the District of Sault Ste. Marie, Mike was the Executive Director for the Ontario Native Welfare Administrators’ Association (ONWAA) for 12 years and was accountable to 108 First Nations across the province.

Mike has extensive knowledge regarding human service delivery, policy and best practices. This interview explores his experience working with different communities and his overall experience and contributions to the human services sector.

Lee Airton Real Talk and Fireside Chat Summary

June 2024

At OMSSA's 2024 Exchange Conference, our Day 2 Keynote Speaker, Lee Airton (they/them), Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in Education at Queen's University, discussed contemporary successes and challenges in the work of creating institutions that welcome gender and sexual diversity, particularly in the changing Canadian political context. Lee also answered questions from attendees about specific practical issues that are arising in workplaces so we can work to ensure our spaces are affirming for all. This conversation, including Q&A, has been summarized for the Knowledge Exchange Blog and Exchange Conference Resource webpage. 

Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound: Connecting for the Dream

May 2024

Seven years ago, Ashley Pitawanakwat moved 700 kilometers across the province from Wikwemikong First Nation to Niagara Region with her three children to escape an abusive partner.

Pitawanakwat describes herself as lost in her trauma at the time. She hadn’t lived in her hometown of Fort Erie for 20 years and was nervous about reconnecting with the local urban Indigenous community. Gradually, though, she began to attend women’s drumming circles at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre (FENFC).

At one of these events, a Friendship Centre board member asked if she would consider participating in a new pilot program, Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound (UIHB). "I didn’t know what UIHB was, what the goals were, or even what being a pilot participant meant, but I said yes and jumped right into it," she recalls.

To learn more about the Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound Program, please attend the session Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound: Connecting for the Dream at the 2024 OMSSA Exchange Conference on May 8th at 10:30 a.m.

An Interview with Andrew Scavarelli

May 2024

Andrew is currently the Director of Ontario Works for the County of Simcoe and he is also Chair of OMSSA’s Awards Committee. Andrew has nearly 15 years of experience in the successful and integrated delivery of municipal social services. He began his career with the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB) in 2009, where he held progressive leadership roles, and played a key-role in TBDSSAB’s commitment and transition to an integrated service delivery model. 

Known by his colleagues as an influential leader, strong consensus builder and exceptional communicator, Andrew is a visionary leader who continuously demonstrates his commitment to furthering social and human service integration.

This interview explores his experience working with different communities and his overall experience and contributions to the human services sector.

Developing an Indigenous-led RECE Training Program in Niagara

May 2024

OMSSA is featuring several 2023 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read this entry from Niagara Region.

The Niagara Region Children’s Services Division, the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre (FENFC), Niagara College (NC) and Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) formed a partnership, planned and delivered the Indigenous-led Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) Program pilot project.

An Interview with Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou

April 2024

Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the human services sector. As Commissioner of Durham Region’s Social Services Department, Stella oversees programs and services across six divisions that include; early learning and childcare, social assistance, emergency social services, housing and homelessness, individual & family counselling along with four Long-term care homes.  

Stella is currently the Vice-President of OMSSA and she is also Chair of the Housing and Homelessness Network. 

Stella holds a strong vision for helping individuals and families in the community through integrated service delivery of innovative modernized approaches. This interview explores her priorities in human services delivery for Durham Region, her passion and value for keeping Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the core of her work, and her overall experience and contributions to the human services sector.

OMSSA Report on the 2024 Federal Budget

April 2024

On April 16, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered the 2024 Federal Budget. The budget focused on three themes: Solving the Housing Crisis, Fairness for Younger Generations, and Economic Growth and Productivity. Learn more about some of the highlights relevant to OMSSA Members and the human services sectors.

Build Belonging Through Inclusive EarlyON Programming

April 2024

OMSSA is featuring several 2023 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read this entry from the City of Brantford.

Build Belonging is a collaboration between the Brantford Immigration Partnership, Community Living Brant, Child and Family Services of Grand Erie, YMCA Immigrant Services, the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, and the City of Brantford.

The goal of Build Belonging is to increase EarlyON attendance from diverse families, by offering culturally-informed programming, art, books, and toys, culturally-based storytelling, open houses, translation of promotional material and program calendars, community/parent consultation, and identification of champions within various cultural communities.

Build Belonging represents a key project supporting both the Inclusive Community Plan and Building the Community from the Kids Up Plan.  

OMSSA Report on the 2024 Ontario Budget

April 2024

On March 27, Ontario's Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, delivered the 2024 Ontario Budget titled Building a Better Ontario.

Learn more about some of the highlights relevant to OMSSA Members and the municipal human services sector.

Service Delivery Approach with the Catherine Street Community Service Hub

March 2024

In August 2022, the Catherine Street Community Service Hub (CSCS Hub) was created. The CSCS Hub is an innovative way of providing integrated person-centred services through collocation. Caring and knowledgeable staff and partners work together to create a safe resting space where everyone is welcome to drop in and access coordinated wrap around municipal and community services and supports in one location.  

This service delivery approach aims to streamline the client experience, increase the capacity to deliver responsive services and support, and reinforce accountability to clients, staff, and community.  

An Interview with Douglas Bartholomew-Saunders

February 2024

Douglas Bartholomew-Saunders has 45 years of managerial and executive expertise in health and human services operated and funded by the government. Throughout his career, he has devoted himself to providing strategic guidance to government, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations.

Douglas’ experience covers service system management, multi-system integration, strategy and policy development, systems expansion, and oversight design and implementation within human services and includes considerable understanding and expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

His recent advisory work includes: developing a 10-year Early Learning and Child Care Service plan in collaboration with an Ontario social services organization; advising an Ontario temporary shelter on external pressure management; advising two Ontario-based social service organizations on fiscal viability amid declining funding; leading an Ontario municipality in introducing integrated service access and delivery to improve client service and reduce multiple intakes; and leading an Ontario immigration settlement community in settling and offering services to 1,800 immigrants on an emergency basis within a year.

He is also the recipient of the 2023 OMSSA Lifetime Achievement Award. OMSSA sat down with Douglas for an interview to discuss human services, his career, and his involvement with OMSSA.

Global Events Have Local Impacts

February 2024

OMSSA is featuring several 2023 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read this entry from the County of Simcoe below. 

Working in community-based planning is rewarding. It is gratifying to foster partnerships that create local solutions for people arriving in Simcoe County. Community stakeholders did not disappoint, working collaboratively to help Ukrainians find a temporary new place to call home.

In May 2022, the Simcoe County Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) hosted two online community information sessions to coordinate local system planning, identify gaps, and brainstorm potential solutions. Securing temporary and permanent housing, transportation, and childcare were some of Ukrainian's greatest challenges. The Simcoe County LIP engaged in solution-focused planning with local systems to bridge gaps.

Highlights from OMSSA's 2023 Policy Conference

February 2024

OMSSA's 2023 Policy Conference successfully took place on November 30 and December 1. This year’s conference, once again, contained a mix of sessions. There were several plenary sessions designed to be of interest to all OMSSA Members, as well as a comprehensive slate of sector-specific break-out sessions.

We’ve learned that there continue to be profound challenges to the social services sector. But knowing the energy and enthusiasm through which OMSSA Members approach their work, it’s assured that throughout 2024 we will hear stories of amazing successes that have been achieved.

City of Windsor Asylum Claimant Team

January 2024

OMSSA is featuring several 2023 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read this entry from the City of Windsor. 

Roxham Road is bisected by the Canada-U.S. Border between Quebec and New York. It sits about 50 km south of Montreal. The road is a well-travelled unofficial border crossing for asylum seekers hoping to enter Canada. Due to the volume of claimants arriving in Quebec, It was not long until Quebec shelters were full. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stepped in and rented hotels in Quebec to accommodate the asylum seekers. The hotels rented in Quebec by IRCC quickly filled. They had to expand their hotel operations outside of Quebec. IRCC transferred asylum claimants via charter bus to multiple municipalities across Ontario for temporary hotel accommodations. Windsor first welcomed the asylum seekers crossing at Roxham Road in January 2023. Learn more about the team that helped asylum seekers as they arrived in Windsor.

An Interview with David Thomas

January 2024

David Thomas has been involved in policy development and training for over 30 years. Many of you know David from past years employed by OMSSA as a Lead Trainer in their Social Assistance Training, commencing from 1994, and more recent years as a Lead Trainer for the SAIL Curriculum and currently with OW Directive Training and Life Stabilization. David is involved with various Leadership Initiatives providing skills and competencies designed to improve service quality, build organizational capacity, enhance service system management, and further service integration. David’s role in supporting Integration includes managing multiple projects related to implementation and delivery of streamlined services for clients and staff alike. He is also one of the recipient of the 2023 OMSSA Champion of Human Services Award. OMSSA sat down with David for an interview to discuss his work as a facilitator and his thoughts on social assistance in Ontario.

An Interview with Laura LePine

December 2023

Laura LePine is the Director of Community Services with the County of Renfrew. Passionate about people and services, Laura has been a strong voice for those in need. Removing barriers and creating easy spaces for people to feel comfortable and valued is what she is known for in her work and in her community. Ensuring that the residents have a clear pathway to services, and staff feel valued in the work they do, has been the focus of her work throughout her career. She is a no-nonsense kind of person who speaks clearly and without hesitation when it comes to any form of advocacy. She is also one of the recipients of the 2023 OMSSA Patti Moore Human Services Integration Award. OMSSA sat down with Laura for an interview to discuss her work and experiences over her career within the County of Renfrew and various human services topics.

An Interview with Fern Dominelli

December 2023

Fern Dominelli is currently the Executive Director for the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA). He retired as CAO of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board in August 2022. Fern started with the Manitoulin-Sudbury DSB as a Program Manager in August 2000 and then became Chief Administrative Officer in 2009. Prior to his work with the Manitoulin-Sudbury DSB, he was with the Ministry of Community & Social Services for 18 years. He is also one of the recipients of the 2023 OMSSA Patti Moore Human Services Integration Award. OMSSA sat down with Fern for an interview to discuss his work and experiences over his career within the Manitoulin-Sudbury DSSAB and NOSDA, and various human services topics.

A Big Step from a Small Community

November 2023

On December 14, 2022, Lanark County Council unanimously passed the motion [declaring Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic], and they made three amendments that improved the motion. They amended the motion to add that they would share the declaration with all 444 municipalities across Ontario, that they would share the declaration they made with AMO and ROMA, and that they would share their declaration with any, and all federal and provincial ministers and ministries that I thought were important. It was the best experience of a friendly amendment I have ever experienced in my career. Erin Lee, Executive Director of the Lanark County Interval House and Community Support, talks about the efforts to recognize Intimate Partner Violence as an epidemic in Ontario.

Highlights from OMSSA's 2023 Forum

November 2023

OMSSA’s Forum was held virtually over two mornings on September 26 and 27. This year we were joined by 363 participants from all over the province, including 38 Member and 15 Non-Member organizations. With the format of this event being virtual we were able to feature a variety of speakers from New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Wales, Scotland, Washington, Texas, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta. Hearing from these perspectives it was clear that many jurisdictions are facing challenges similar to what OMSSA Members are facing on a day-to-day basis. In developing a conference drawing on speakers from outside Ontario, our goal was to create sessions where attendees could learn about unique approaches and solutions that can inform and corroborate the work being done by CMSMs and DSSABs.

Celebrating Urban Indigenous Housing Solutions as part of National Truth and Reconciliation Day

October 2023

Ontario is estimated to have a shortage of approximately 22,000 deeply affordable urban and rural Indigenous community housing units. The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is dedicated to working with partners to deliver housing solutions in communities across Ontario that close that deficit and deliver tangible reconciliation commitments. But often, these innovative housing solutions face pushback and are labeled as controversial, often because of stereotypes and subconscious bias against Indigenous people that exist in many communities. Suze Morrison for OFIFC discusses how achieving true Reconciliation requires a joint effort from stakeholders, community members, and government at all levels.

How Can the Social Services Sector Help End Hunger?

September 2023

Food banks and municipal social services share the same goal: supporting vulnerable Ontarians to live a life of dignity. Each September, Feed Ontario and their network of food banks take part in Hunger Action Month, encouraging everyone in the province to do their part to end food insecurity in Ontario. With the dramatic rise in food bank use over the last few years, the need for action on hunger and poverty is more urgent than ever. Ashley Quan for Feed Ontario explains how OMSSA Members have a vital role to play in this fight.

Building Partnerships and Innovative Programs to Expand EarlyON Child and Family Programs

August 2023

Before the pandemic, York Region organized a "Think Tank session" with EarlyON agencies to evaluate current outdoor programming. They also recognized that their EarlyON educators, who were trained in Early Childhood Education (ECE), often did not have outdoor education or Indigenous cultural training to make the necessary changes to the curriculum development for outdoor program delivery. To address these concerns, the Region sought the advice of outdoor education and Indigenous worldview experts to help develop a new four-season outdoor program. Then, they partnered with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to support training and curriculum development, leading to the creation of the Walking Together Through the Four Seasons collaborative initiative. Kathy Lucky, the Manager of EarlyON Programs with York Region, explains how this program was developed to benefit the community.

Urban Indigenous Children Deserve Equal Access to Child Care

August 2023

Indigenous children thrive when they are proud of who they are and have access to their culture. But Indigenous children living in cities don’t currently have equal access to child care that meets those important cultural needs. Of the approximately 473,000 child care spaces currently in Ontario, 12,000 of those would need to be dedicated to urban Indigenous children to equitably match the population need. Currently, only about 2,000 spaces are in urban Indigenous child care sites – representing a staggering shortfall of nearly 10,000 spaces. With unprecedented federal investments being made through the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) funding, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to right these inequities and invest in Indigenous children. Suze Morrison, Chief Engagement Officer for the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) explains how OMSSA Members can assist. 

Pickering Shares Casino Revenue with Durham Region to Address Shared Goals

August 2023

The City of Pickering is the host community (those with gaming facilities located in their communities) for their new casino and is a municipality located within the Region of Durham. As the upper-tier municipal government, Durham is responsible for providing social housing, transit, policing, and other services to residents across the Region. Pickering is the first and only host community in Ontario to voluntarily share its revenues with another municipality and/or regional government. Together, the City and Region hope this revenue will help to meaningfully address their shared goals including more affordable housing and enhanced social services in the community.

The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville's Collaborative EarlyON-Social Housing Summer Pop-Up Program

July 2023

Leeds and Grenville’s EarlyON programs are delivered as a branch of the Children’s Services Department within the greater Community and Social Services Division, the same division that delivers the Social Housing program and Ontario Works. Years ago, the idea came about for a Pop-up Play program dedicated to the families that were living in some of the Social Housing units. Mattea Steacy, the EarlyON Supervisor with the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville explains how this program works and the benefits to service users in the community.

Bridging the Digital Divide in Northern and Southern Ontario: How Wellington and Thunder Bay are Helping Clients Connect

July 2023

Thunder Bay and Wellington County came together with shared goals and similar ideas about how to support their communities during COVID. The rapid shift revealed the existence of a digital divide – the gap between those who can access and use information and communication technologies in their daily lives and people who cannot. With essential supports such as medical appointments, court hearings, and training programmes shifting to hybrid or virtual delivery, the need to address digital equity in our communities quickly became a clear imperative.

An Interview with Dan McCormick

July 2023

Dan McCormick has been employed as the CAO of the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board (RRDSSAB) since February 2011. The RRDSSAB delivers Social Housing, Children’s Services, Ontario Works and Land Ambulance across the Rainy River District. Dan has always been very involved in the community on local, district, and provincial levels, serving on several boards and committees. He is the Past President of OMSSA having served in various roles since 2017. OMSSA sat down with Dan to discuss human services, his career, and involvement with the Association.

From Struggle to Stability: Creating a Tailored Management Course for those Living with Low Income

June 2023

Now more than ever Canadians are recognizing the importance of financial well-being – achieving peace of mind about our financial situation, feeling secure in our ability to absorb a money setback, and having the freedom to make choices that allow us to enjoy life. Financial stress is compounded when people feel a loss of control and lack the appropriate knowledge and information to make decisions in their best interests. Carrie Wong and Nandita Bijur from Prosper Canada talk about the work they are doing in this area. 

An Interview with Sutha Balasingham

June 2023

Sutha Balasingham has over 20 years of experience in the human services sector working with municipal governments and NGOs and extensive experience in policy, program, and strategy development through research and analysis. Sutha led the development of an Integrated Human Services Plan for Community and Health Services at York Region, which has 2,500+ staff delivering programs such as Housing, Homelessness, Paramedics Services, Long-Term Care, Social Assistance, and Public Health. Sutha is also a member of OMSSA's Board of Directors. She sat down with OMSSA to talk about human services delivery, her career, and involvement with the Association.

Reflections on the 2023 Exchange Conference

June 2023

Held in Ottawa this past May, OMSSA’s 2023 Exchange Conference brought together more than 330 people for two days of learning, sharing, and connecting. It was a huge success! Over the one and a half days of the conference, attendees got to see many great examples of the excellence of OMSSA Member organizations and the staff and managers who carry out important work geared towards improving the lives of so many Ontarians. The Conference program was packed with content related to the work that OMSSA Members do in housing and homelessness, children’s services, and employment and income supports. Learn more about our 2023 Exchange Conference. 

A Summary of the Region of Waterloo's Encampment Decision

May 2023

On January 27th, 2023, Justice M. J. Valente of the Ontario Superior Court rejected The Regional Municipality of Waterloo’s application for an injunction to evict individuals who were encamped on Region-owned property due to those individuals being in breach of a local By-Law prohibiting such actions. While the Justice praised the valuable work that the Region has already done to address homelessness, he nevertheless denied the injunction on the basis that the By-Law violated the homeless residents’ Charter right to life, liberty, and security. More recently, the Region announced that it has decided not to appeal the ruling. There are several significant takeaways that can be gleaned from this first-of-its-kind-in-Ontario decision. The decision represents the need for a serious shift in thinking around how OMSSA Members will address the issue of encampments moving forward.

Making York Region EarlyON Child and Family Programs More Accessible for Families Through the New EarlyON Registration Tool

May 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from York Region. In April 2022, the York Region EarlyON Child and Family Programs and Ontario Child Care Management System (OCCMS) teams in collaboration with CMSMs/DSSABs came together to develop and implement a system-wide, centralized online registration platform for EarlyON programs.

An Interview with Polly Smith

May 2023

OMSSA sits down to speak with Polly Smith, Director of Employment and Social Services at the Municipality of Chatham-Kent about the importance of human services delivery, her career, and involvement with OMSSA. 

Peel's Youth Caseworker Team

April 2023

The Region of Peel is dedicated in creating a community where every person experiences a sense of belonging while having access to all services that may be required through each stage of life. As a result, the Peel Youth Caseworker team was founded, to provide integrated services to youth while being devoted to assisting residents out of poverty. 

An Interview with Henry Wall

April 2023

OMSSA sits down to speak with Henry Wall, Chief Administrative Officer, from the Kenora District Services Board about the importance of human service integration and the issues of housing and homelessness in Northern Ontario communities. 

The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board: Community Resource Centres

April 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board. Over the past five years TBDSSAB has worked to create community resource centres for tenants and clients, creating centralized access for neighbourhood engagement and service enhancement. 

A Municipal Approach to Employment Service System Leadership

March 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from the County of Bruce. The Employment Service System Manager for the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula took a truly local approach to service system management. Within the Employment Service Transformation, the Bruce, Grey, Huron, and Stratford consortium is the only Service System Manager that formally brought together the four CMSMs into an integrated model to deliver employment services to the catchment area.

Lambton County Integrated Team

March 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from the County of Lambton. With early uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and strong awareness of the heightened vulnerabilities for those experiencing homelessness, the County of Lambton was tasked with ensuring the shelter and safety of households experiencing homelessness. They had varying needs, levels of support, and sources of income. It was understood within the Social Services Division that a unique approach to helping these households begin their journey to a new home would be required. This is where the concept of the Integrated Team originated. 

OMSSA Report on the 2023 Ontario Budget

March 2023

On March 23rd, Ontario's Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, delivered the 2023 Ontario Budget. The budget comes at a time when Ontario is facing a housing crisis, homelessness crisis, pandemic recovery, inflation, and global economic uncertainty. Learn more about some of the highlights relevant to OMSSA Members and the municipal human services sector.

OMSSA Report on the 2023 Federal Budget

March 2023

On March 28th, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered the 2023-24 Federal Budget. The budget was themed around the cost of living, dentalcare and clean energy. Learn more about some of the highlights relevant to OMSSA Members and the municipal human services sector.

Serving The Community Through OMST

February 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from the City of Ottawa. Social Service Staff members took steps to address concerns of mental health with an increased digital divide and aggravating pre-existing inequities as the effects began to impact individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those concerns were addressed by challenging the status quo and removing barriers to providing essential human services when people were most in need. In 2021, the Outreach and Mobile Services Team (OMST) began to offer outreach services to individuals and families.

This Is Not OK

February 2023

Homelessness can be a result of a complex mix of social services, health, and economic difficulties. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we work, our way of education and how we interact with others. Due to reduced in-person social services, widespread isolation, and inflationary housing and food costs, homelessness is gaining recognition as a serious problem. With agencies and drop-in centres now open people can have access to in-person support yet the number of people wandering our streets continues to shock and disappoint the public. 

The City of Toronto is Leading and Learning with Pride to Better Support 2SLGBTQI+ Seniors

February 2023

Within the next 25 years, Canada's elderly population is expected to grow three times larger compared to today, necessitating the need for senior services. The needs of seniors in the 2SLGBTQI+ community who identify as Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex—must be considered as the country's demographics change.

Coming Together For The First Time Since 2019

February 2023

The 2022 Policy Conference was the first in-person event for OMSSA in the last three years. OMSSA members and staff were eager to meet with their colleagues resulting in a great turnout at the event with members joining from all around the province. The Conference consisted of several plenary and concurrent sessions focusing on relevant human services policy topics. 

Transforming the System of Homelessness Prevention Services and Supports in Simcoe County

January 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from the County of Simcoe. To effectively manage needs within the homeless shelter system during the COVID-19 pandemic and enable early identification of issues, the County of Simcoe rapidly integrated public health, mental health, addictions, housing services and paramedic services through weekly meetings and on site in regular and temporary motel based shelter settings, established new relationships and strengthened existing relationships across systems to improve access to critical services and supports to homeless individuals and families.

An Interview with Greg Bishop

January 2023

Greg Bishop has been the General Manager, Social and Community Services Division at the County of Simcoe since 2015. This role includes leadership and oversight to the Social Housing, Community Services, Ontario Works and Children Services Departments. Greg is also one of the recipients of the 2022 OMSSA Lifetime Achievement Award. OMSSA sat down with Greg to discuss human services, his career, and involvement with OMSSA. 

An Interview with Debbie Cercone

January 2023

In 2006, Debbie started in the role of Executive Director of Housing and Children’s Services with the City of Windsor responsible for housing, homelessness, child care and early years and emergency social services and held this position for over 15 years until her retirement in 2022. Debbie is also one of the recipients of the 2022 OMSSA Lifetime Achievement Award. OMSSA sat down with Debbie to discuss human services, her career, and involvement with OMSSA. 

Welcome to OMSSA's Knowledge Exchange Blog

OMSSA’s Knowledge Exchange Blog provides members with an opportunity for knowledge exchange to discuss sector issues across Ontario so readers are aware of the depth and breadth of sector issues, events, and activities across Ontario. 


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