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CEO Update: December 2021

CEO Update: December 2021

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Parry Sound DSSAB Releases Strategic Plan with the Help of HSC

In April of this year, the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board started working with a team from HSC to put together a strategic plan for the organization.

The project represented a first for both organizations: it would be the first strategic plan in the history of the DSSAB. It was also our first shot at helping put together a strategic plan that encompassed all Service Manager business lines including affordable housing.

The project didn’t just produce the five-year strategic plan; it also included an implementation plan; an evaluation measurement framework; the development of mission and vision statements and organizational values; and an update to the DSSAB’s branding and its visual identity.

Together, staff from the DSSAB and HSC team worked to raise awareness of the process in the local media and among key stakeholders. To ensure that the resulting plan reflected community priorites, the HSC team conducted 25 key informant interviews; created surveys for staff and municipalities; facilitated 4 staff engagement sessions, 2 Board sessions and 2 Community stakeholder engagement sessions – with a total of 39 community groups participating. At the same time, HSC worked with the project team and DSSAB staff to revamp the organization’s mission statement and establish a new vision statement and set of values to guide the organization. The DSSAB launched the plan earlier this month.

“HSC provided us with the extra capacity we needed to put together our strategic plan. Their experience in our sector and expertise in strategic planning, project management and marketing meant that we were able to work quickly while ensuring that our process was rigorous.”

– Tammy MacKenzie, CAO, District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board 

New Build in Powassan

In addition to our consulting work with the DSSAB, HSC Technical Services continues to provide project management oversight on a new build in the District. The 50-unit building will house seniors and is being built in a partnership between the DSSAB and the Non-Profit Organization for Almaguin Housing (NOAH). The project is scheduled for occupancy in January 2022. The picture to the right, with its vibrant Fall colours, is courtesy of HSC’s Senior Project Manager, Bill Bacon. Do you need help developing a strategic plan for your social services organization? Or extra capacity to deliver your housing project? We can help.

Kenora District Services Board Doubling Down on Energy and Asset Management

I’m pleased to report that Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) recently added 11 buildings to HSC’s Gas Program and Utility Management Program (UMP).

In addition to aligning gas rates across its portfolio and simplifying administration, the move strengthens KDSB’s broader asset management strategy. Kenora already uses HSC’s AssetPlanner software to house asset management and capital planning data for its portfolio. By adding UMP, KDSB can now actively monitor the utility performance of its portfolio. Combined, these systems can enhance Kenora’s ability to make evidence-based decisions on the capital projects it needs to undertake.

Welcome KDSB!

Insurance Renewals

As I mentioned in my introductory letter, the cost of building materials has dramatically increased. According to Statistics Canada, the price of lumber increased by 68% between March 2020 to March 2021 while fabricated metal products and construction materials rose by 9%. During the pandemic demand for residential construction services has also risen due to low interest rates and homeowner interest in renovation projects.

Since it costs more to repair and replace property, the value of the buildings providers operate have risen, and this impacts property premiums. Climate change also remains a significant driver for the cost of insurance. Severe summer fires remain an ongoing factor due to property losses and damages. And these don’t just affect Canadian underwriters but extend internationally. Both of these forces have meant that demand for insurance continues to exceed supply — the hard market continues – and as such, premiums have increased.

In spite of this, we were able to hold the group property premium increase to an average of 7% for providers – this continues to beat average rates in commercial real estate property insurance. Underwriters also requested an increase in the total Claims Trust Fund, bringing the Fund to a total of $18M. But we believe the increase in the fund is a fair concession since it affords our program even less exposure to the volatility of the market. Furthermore, it offers the possibility of end-of-year surpluses and better opens up opportunities to make recoveries via subrogation. These dollars are reinvested in the program and better help us moderate costs in the longer term.

On the whole, providers in our group insurance program fared well in spite of factors beyond their control. While no one likes increases, we’re pleased that we were able to contain them reasonably well. 

Government Payments for Tenant Insurance

Due to challenges associated with the processing of Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program payments, HSC is unable to continue to offer a government pay option. This change to the HSC Tenant Insurance Program will come into effect for new clients on January 1, 2022. For renewing clients, it will come into effect with policies expiring after February 1, 2022.

Clients will be required to select annual or monthly payment by credit card or direct debit.

This change affects:

  *   OW/ODSP clients that have such pay-direct billing arrangements,

  *   Their OW/ODSP caseworkers and

  *   Housing providers who house OW/ODSP clients that match the above criteria

To maintain coverage, existing clients must set up a new account and method of payment after receiving the letter. Clients or caseworkers can do so by calling Marsh Canada’s Private Client Services at 1-866-940-5111.

HSC has already communicated this change to members of OMSSA’s Employment and Income Network. Providers that use the brochures to raise awareness of HSC’s low cost-option for coverage can order updated brochures by visiting this webpage.

Technical Services

Since my last newsletter, our Tech Services unit has continued to be very busy, in spite of the pandemic, having signed 12 new contracts since the second quarter of the year. Housing providers engaging HSC are looking for project management support for COCHI projects, various engineering studies and help with managing capital repair projects.

In mid-September, we were on site in Moosonee performing Building Condition Assessments and updating AssetPlanner data for Cochrane DSSAB when we snapped this beautiful photo of an evening sunset!  These are the unexpected benefits of having projects that require visits across our picturesque province and thanks to Jim Scott for sharing.

Highlights from Newsletters

Energy Matters Highlights

The next issue of Energy Matters is around the corner. Here are some highlights from September’s issue:

Energy Matters comes out quarterly. It features news on energy-related solutions, markets, policy, and funding affecting our sector as well as success stories and case studies to inform your organization’s conservation efforts.

Managing Risky Business Highlights

Here are some of the notable stories from September’s issue of Managing Risky Business:

Managing Risky Business comes out quarterly and includes stories on claims trends, risk management resources and new products and services.

Highlights from the last Encasa Express

The August 2021 newsletter featured articles on:

In addition, the Q3/2021 Market and Economic Commentary just came out.

Worth Repeating: Winter Safety Tips from Managing Risky Business

As we move into winter and the holiday season, I’d like to highlight some timely resources we included in last November’s Managing Risky Business:

Holiday Related Resources

HPC Housing Investment Corporation Survey on Sector Lending Needs

The HPC Housing Investment Corporation (HIC) wants your feedback so it can better understand the lending needs of Canada’s social and affordable housing providers. 

The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and includes questions about your past and future lending needs.

The survey results will help HIC and its partners to design programs that meet the sector’s evolving financing needs.

Comings & Goings

In spite of the pandemic, which has limited where people have been able to go, we’ve had a lot of movement in the sector since my last newsletter in May.

We welcome Jag Sharma and Paul Chisholm who have taken the helm as CEOs of Toronto Community Housing and London Middlesex Community Housing respectively. Among our Service Manager cohort, we welcome in Eastern Ontario Connor Dorey, who has become the Housing Manager at the Lennox and Addington County; Sue Ritchie Raymond has joined Hastings County as the Director of Community and Human Services, coming from positions at the Region of Peel and ONPHA. In the southwest, Jeff Wilson joins us as Housing Manager at the City of Stratford. Kate Lawrence is the new Manager, Housing Administration and Support at the City of London.

We also have a number of new faces on our advisory groups. Andrea Warren (Peel Living), Lisa Smith (Cornwall and Area Housing), Kelly-Ann Salerno and Danielle Hounsell (both from the Regional Municipality of Waterloo) joined the Service Manager Housing Company Network. Nicola Reid (City of Kingston), Ryan Pettipiere (Regional Municipality of Waterloo) and Jenny Shickluna (Niagara Regional Housing) came aboard our Service Manager Advisory Group. Kimberly Zarichney (City of Greater Sudbury) and Georgina Daniels (Thunder Bay DSSAB) came onto our Energy Services Stakeholder Advisory Group and Insurance Reference Group respectively.

Some in our group are passing on the torch: Annette Keough (County of Lennox Addington), Paul Beaton (Oxford County), Eleanor MacDonald (Regional Municipality of Durham), Dan Saumar (City of Greater Sudbury), Stephen Giustizia (Housing Development Corporation London) and Debbie Cercone (City of Windsor) are retiring. Dan, Stephen, Eleanor and Debbie served on our advisory committees and we are grateful for their contributions.   

At HSC, we said goodbye to Jim Scott. We also recently welcomed Yajing Cheng as our Salesforce Administrator and welcomed back Shikha Segal who rejoins our accounting team after a parental leave.

To all, we wish the best in their new endeavours.

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