Letter from Executive Director, Ron McCauley
and Charles Dyer, President
“For the times they are a changing” Bob Dillon
“There is nothing new under the sun” Ecclesiastics
The more observant readers may have noted that we tend to begin these reports with a statement such as “these have been challenging times”. Well they are challenging times globally, nationally, provincially and locally. This is an inescapable conclusion apparent daily in media reports. For the Developmental Services Sector, this conclusion is also supported by the recently released Ontario Ombudsman report into the crisis situation affecting individuals and families struggling to support loved ones with intellectual disabilities and complex needs. We strongly encourage everyone to read the report entitled:
Nowhere to Turn: Investigation into the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ response to situations of crisis involving adults with developmental disabilities. (www.ombudsman.on.ca)
The Ombudsman’s report is a revealing and damning commentary on the state of affairs for individuals in crises seeking services that are extremely scarce or nonexistent. It is difficult to read at times, but for those of us who live and work within the sector the findings in the report were not surprising.
The issues are not new, and at times it appears that we are dealing over and over again with the same old issues, (thus the apparently paradoxical quotations above). Both statements are true, and although we are tempted to resign ourselves to the cynicism of “nothing new under the sun” we must strive to embrace the potential for change.
This is what we seek to do at New Leaf, and over the past year we have been actively involved in discussions with government and other stake holders on how we can enhance services and supports to families and individuals with intellectual disabilities and complex needs.
Yes, these are indeed challenging times for agencies and families in Ontario. As you know, it is a well-documented fact that Ontario is in the midst of a housing crisis as it relates to individuals with an intellectual disability and nowhere is the crisis more evident that in the case of individuals who, in addition to their intellectual disability, present with challenging behaviours and complex needs. This becomes abundantly clear when reading the Ombudsman report. It is our mission at New Leaf to provide the environment and resources needed to support these individuals and families. We are proud of our work toward this goal, but years of underfunding are making this task more difficult to accomplish.
Having said this, we have succeeded as an agency to conclude the past year with a balanced budget related to the programs we deliver, and we have seen advancements for our staff and residents.
Again this year we underwent an annual MCSS Developmental Services Compliance inspection which was conducted from August 17-19. This was a very stressful time as staff and management prepared for this extensive review of 280 indicators. We are pleased to report that the compliance review went very well; New Leaf is deemed to be fully compliant. We are pleased with this outcome and we commend the staff and management for their diligence in ensuring that we are and remain in compliance with the Quality Assurance Regulations (Ontario Regulation 299/10).
Out staff and residents continue to be involved in their local community and are proud to be giving back. For example, we have had a small crew who have volunteered their time to assist Habitat for Humanity in a couple of local build projects. We have also assisted the Georgina-Brock Garden Club with their annual community plant auction. This event helped raise over $2,000 for the garden club, a not-for-profit organization that supports a very active youth program, organizes monthly meetings with expert gardeners and supports several beautification projects in our community. Our residents have volunteered for food drives, Christmas Kettle drives, tree planting and stream revitalization projects. Events and activities such as these go a long was to enhancing New Leaf’s image in the community while providing our residents with an opportunity to interact positively with the local community.
Our Joint Health and Safety Committee and other volunteers conducted another successful Health and Safety Day. This was a fun filled educational event involving staff and residents and local emergency services (fire, ambulance and police) personnel. The goal of the day is to educate and develop awareness of health and safety practices while having fun doing so.
We are very pleased to report that New Leaf has received $398,172 from MCSS in one-time fiscal partnership Facility Renewal funding. This fiscal funding is directly related to our annually submitted infrastructure requests, and is intended to fund specific retrofit projects across our facilities. In this case 15 separate projects were approved and completed by March 31, 2016.
As in the work force in general, people holding more senior positions are progressing toward retirement, and will need to be replaced by younger people moving up in the management structure, and the developmental service sector is no exception. As a result, we are becoming keenly aware of the need to successfully prepare our staff and future leaders for succession into leadership roles. A small consortium of Toronto Developmental Service agencies has received funding to deliver a course curriculum in partnership with George Brown College called Leaders for Success. The goal of this program is to provide leadership training to middle management personnel working in the Toronto Developmental Service sector. Enrollment is limited and by application, and I am pleased to report that we were successful in having two of our managers enrolled in this course in the fiscal year being reported, as well as the next fiscal year.
In this past fiscal year we received funding to increase staff salaries. This funding is very welcome, but it does not alleviate the pressures from years of zero increase to base budgets. As these pressures mount we continue to search for creative opportunities to increase revenues and decrease costs.
We are also happy to report that we reached a new three year collective agreement with the Union representing our front line staff.
We look forward to continued positive labour relations over the course of this agreement.
It gives us great pleasure to report that New Leaf applied for and received an Ontario Trillium grant of $69,400 to purchase a new wheelchair van. We are very grateful to Trillium for this grant, and to Dean Johnson and Margaret Patrowicz for their leadership on this project.
As you know, working in this sector can be very stressful. We see the effects daily on some of our staff and their families. In order to assist our staff, management and their families to deal with the stresses of their work, and the stresses of daily life we have purchased and implemented an Employee Assistance Program. We are confident that this will be an important and helpful tool for our staff and their families.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff and management team for their dedication and support of New Leaf, our mission and the people we serve. We would like to especially thank Heather Hill, Linda Connolly, Beth Feasby, Olusegun Akinwumiju, Tammy Spencer, Liz Landry, Eduard Ahland Strack, Tina Fairbanks and Sid Till who individually have displayed, on an ongoing basis, flexibility, dedication and commitment to New Leaf, and the people we support.
Finally, we also thank our Board of Directors for selflessly volunteering their time and skills to ensuring that the vision and dream of our founder, Stan Smith, continues as an enduring legacy to his vision and commitment to the people we support.
Charles Dyer, President
Ron McCauley, Executive Director
Tree Planting Team
We have succeeded as an agency to conclude the past year with a balanced budget related to the programs we deliver, and we have seen advancements for our staff and residents.