April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020
Who could have imagined on April 1, 2019 that by the end of the fiscal year New Leaf and the world would be dealing with a worldwide pandemic that would dramatically impact our lives, health, social routines and the economy. In our annual report of 2018-2019 we closed by saying “We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the last fiscal year, and excitedly look forward to the challenges and opportunities of 2019-2020.” Had we known that by the time we closed the new fiscal year COVID-19 would so dramatically impact our services, and support that we undoubtedly would have been a little more constrained in our forward looking optimism.
Having said this, as I review the year behind us I am impressed at what was accomplished. For example, on July 24, 2019 after many years of negotiations we finally sold the Pines residence to the Region of York for two million seven hundred and two thousand dollars. At the same time we entered into a two year lease agreement with the Region permitting us to remain in the home while we sought a new house to retrofit to meet our needs going forward.
On November 27, 2019 we purchased a house at 22289 Warden Avenue that will become the future home for the Pines Residence. On July 16, 2019 we sent out a request for proposals to hire an architect to develop the building plans, oversee the bidding and selection process for the contractor and to provide oversight of the project from beginning of construction to completion. Ronald Aude Architect was the firm selected, and after a full and open bidding process Orion Construction & Management Company was selected as construction contractor. We anticipate completion of this project in January of 2021.
This same year we completed final renovations on our Sycamore house with the grand opening taking place on May 25, 2019. Dignitaries present at the grand opening included the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, then Ontario’s Attorney General and Minister of Francophone Affairs, Margaret Querk, Mayor of Georgina, and Larry Smith from Churchstation Foundation. It was the Churchstation foundation that provided New Leaf with a one million dollar donation that made this project possible. Sycamore house is now fully occupied and the program is successfully meeting the needs of the residents living there.
In addition we dealt with a new government and uncertainty as to our budgets and funding for the year. Budgets this year were not available until half way through the year. This made planning extremely difficult and stressful not knowing how much funding we would have available to us this year. In spite of these uncertainties New Leaf once again closed the fiscal year with a balanced budget.
This was also the year that the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services introduced very significant changes to the Serious Occurrence Reporting process which required a great deal of work for us to successfully implement at New Leaf and across the sector.
This year we were also very active with respect to activities for our residents and families. On September 7, 2019 the Highland Yacht Club once again hosted their annual Good Will Day that was hugely successful and greatly appreciated by staff and residents. Our annual corn roast had to be rescheduled due to weather, but on September 28, 2019 the event was held to the enjoyment of everyone in attendance.
Then in March COVID-19 hit and on March 12, 2020 New Leaf put into play our pandemic Plan, and the world has not been the same since. In spite of a number of positive COVID-19 cases I am pleased to report that at this time New Leaf is COVID free. The impact of this ongoing pandemic has and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the way we deliver services, as we do everything possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and residents throughout this crisis period.
Over the fiscal year 2019-2020 we have dealt with successes and we have dealt with loss. Our condolences go out to our staff who lost loved ones, and to the families and friends of residents who passed away this year.
As I write this report we are six months into the new fiscal year 2020-2021 and New Leaf is strong and ready to meet the challenges the lay before us.
In closing I would like to thank the board of directors who provided much needed support and encouragement throughout the year, and thank you to our management team and staff who when called upon to deal with difficult times were there for the agency and for the people we support.
New Leaf has endured a very busy and challenging year. Some of the challenges were to be expected, particularly as a number of building developments continued through the year. These have been described in useful detail in the Report of the Executive Director, Ron McCauley, which I urge you to read to learn more about these activities. The success in bringing these projects to completion is an indicator of the excellence with which Ron and his senior staff have managed these complex situations.
Of course the unexpected challenge came with the arrival of the Covid-19 epidemic in January, and this challenge remains dominant in the affairs of New Leaf, as in the rest of Canada. The very nature of a highly communicable virus like Covid-19 brings significant consequences to the population in general, but even stronger consequences to a congregate living environment such as New Leaf. Unfortunately the significance of these stronger consequences was not recognized by many health authorities until rather late in the early phase of the Covid-19 outbreak.
New Leaf acted early to ensure that there was minimal possibility of cross transmission of Covid-19 between the various New Leaf houses, in part by ensuring that staff were not normally involved on site in more than one house. Management at New Leaf got an early start on implement and augmenting protocols to minimize the transmission of Covid-19, ensuring there was sufficient PPE, for example.
But it was fairly late in the outbreak in Ontario that broadly available testing was available for congregate living environments such as New Leaf, and this was driven by the rapid explosion in case numbers from long term care homes. As soon as there was the possibility of broadly available testing, New Leaf moved to have staff and residents tested. The results of the first batch of tests were startling, although not entirely unexpected.
The management and staff at New Leaf were able to limit the extent of the outbreaks in the various houses, and their commitment and diligence are to be credited with bringing the outbreak under control as early as possible. While New Leaf did have some very serious cases, the number was kept small. With one sad exception we had some spectacular successes as well.
We are most appreciative of the extraordinary efforts of so many of our New Leaf staff and management for their strong efforts to handle this difficult situation.
While the Covid-19 pandemic is still with us, and apparently intensifying in some sectors, handling such an epidemic depends very strongly on the dedication to those on the front lines, and New Leaf has shown that there is the dedication from staff and management to lead us to expect that New Leaf will be able to handle the situation. This pandemic will end, and these people are those who will get New Leaf to the other side in the best shape possible.
So from the Board of Directors, I want all our staff and management to know just how much we admire the job you have done, and continue to do.
While I have spoken mostly of the impact of Covid-19 on New Leaf, and how well it has been handled, it is remarkable that the Executive Director and his team have been able to handle all the other complex developments that have occurred at New Leaf this year.
Charles C. Dyer