April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022
The last two years have been difficult years for New Leaf in a number of ways, but also years when some threatening forces for New Leaf were handled with success.
Again the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to challenge New Leaf, and it continues even now with recent outbreaks occurring, despite the perception of some that the pandemic is essentially over. New Leaf staff and management worked very hard to keep everyone safe, while running in a manner that preserves the quality of life for people at New Leaf. This success arises from the deep commitment of very many staff and managers to the principles that make New Leaf a unique community, along with the measures that keep our people protected to the maximal possible extent from Covid-19. 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.
The Covid-19 situation brought abnormal pressures on personnel at New Leaf, and renewed awareness of the importance of carefully following all policy and procedures in all areas, particularly where it involves the safety of clients and staff. Review of policy and procedures must be an ongoing process to ensure that evolution of the environment at New Leaf is always part of the review process.
This year saw the retirement of our Executive Director, Ron McCauley, who had been the ED at new Leaf for more than fourteen years. With his retirement effective September 1, 2021, the Board was challenged with the daunting task of replacing Ron, after so many years of devoted service as the Executive Director. An open recruitment search for the new ED was initiated by the Board, with help from recruitment consultants familiar with the sector, and eventually led to the arrival of our new Executive Director, Ms. Colleen Ashmore-Miehm. Colleen joined us in September, and has quickly become engaged in all New Leaf activities. We welcome Colleen to the New Leaf family, and hope she will be with us for many years to come.
We have had two resignations by Board members. James Lockyer is an original board member from the very beginning of New Leaf. Jim Thompson is retiring from the Board as of this AGM, having served on the Board for many years, being invaluable as Treasurer for many of those years. Both will be missed following such strong contributions over so many years.
We have a new Board member in the last year, Dr. Michael Szul, who joined the Board in last November. We welcome Michael and look forward to him being on the Board for many years.
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, in what have been very difficult times.
Charles C. Dyer
I was excited and honoured to join New Leaf as the new Executive Director in September. I want to thank retiring Executive Director, Ron McCauley, the leadership team and the Board for their support and assistance in my transition into this new role. Thank you to New Leaf employees, residents and loved ones for welcoming me.
Beginning a new role in the midst of a pandemic has been challenging. I commend all employees for their creativity, problem solving, resiliency, stamina and strength to face the challenges that still inundated the organization this year. With new variants, numerous outbreaks, periods of isolation, and everchanging guidelines, protocol and perspectives I know it often felt the same as the first year of the pandemic. As we’ve entered the pandemic’s third year, we are learning to live with the virus and the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” is coming into view. We look forward to fully re-opening our doors and being able to truly reconnect with one another and our community.
After multiple delays, the new Pines location opened on December 15. This triggered the closure of the old Pines site and multiple moves. I thank everyone, including our Maintenance Team, who supported these transitions. I also want to thank the individuals supported and their loved ones for their patience during this time.
Labour shortages across developmental services continues to challenge us and the broader caregiver sectors. Early on in the pandemic, the Ontario government provided a temporary wage enhancement to recognize the efforts of direct support workers. This enhancement was made permanent acknowledging that, even beyond pandemic pressures, their work is vital and valuable. We are actively involved in several workforce initiatives that will seek to improve how we both attract and retain workers into developmental services – including a York-Simcoe partnership as well as working committees through OASIS, OADD and regional planning tables.
Our 2021-2022 budget closed at year-end in a balanced position. The MCCSS has continued to support COVID related costs and although this additional funding, in addition to the permanent wage enhancement is appreciated we continue to advocate for funds to address growing cost pressures that will persist beyond the pandemic.
In 2020, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services introduced us to Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion which outlines the ministry’s long-term vision for developmental services in Ontario: people with developmental disabilities are supported to fully participate in their communities and live fulfilling lives. Journey to Belonging will challenge New Leaf to ensure that we continue to deliver services that are of high quality, proactive and responsive to the changing needs of those we support now and into the future. In March, New Leaf’s Board engaged a consulting firm to support the development of a new Strategic Plan. The eagerness of New Leaf employees, individuals supported and family members to be involved in the strategic planning feedback process has been amazing and we will build on this momentum in the coming year.
I again thank the Board, our leadership team and employees for all that you have done for New Leaf this year and the individuals we support.