- Group Insurance Renewals: The bigger picture on premiums and what we’re doing to address the key issues.
- Changes to Tenant Insurance Premiums: Tenant insurance premiums are changing on February 1.
- New Resources for Practical Risk Management: Check out some of the resources we’ve developed over the past few months.
- Energy Efficiency Incentive Programs: Enbridge is offering three programs for affordable housing providers. Find out if you’re eligible.
- Highlights from Energy Matters: Read about heat pumps and the connections between capital planning, energy savings and GHG reductions.
- Gas Renewals: A brief update on this year’s renewal.
- Business Solutions Update: Learn about the range of projects our team is working on and the event we’re planning for 2024.
- Tech Services Update: Get an updated on the types of projects we are currently working on and check out pictures of a recently finished new build in Little Current.
- Investment Program Update: Access the latest market commentary and information about Encasa’s High Interest Savings Account.
- IDEA at HSC – Indigenous Peoples Focus for Fall: Find out about the activities we have been recently undertaking internally to deliberately embed Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) principles into our workplace.
- Comings and Goings: Sector people on the move.
Group Insurance Renewals
The 2023-24 Insurance Term began on November 1. Leading up to the start of the term, we heard from many providers regarding the increase to insurance costs.
As we noted in our October issue of Managing Risky Business, our group’s performance plays a strong role in the terms we can obtain from underwriters. The 2022-23 term was a difficult one for us due to a dramatic surge in high-cost fire claims, particularly ones related to human behaviours (e.g., arson, careless smoking). To obtain the most affordable and sufficient coverage, we were obliged to raise deductibles and increase the size of the Claims Trust Fund.
That said, we have taken efforts to do what we can to address these issues. We worked with the Insurance Reference Group to offset the cost increase by allocating dollars from the program’s Global Trust Fund; we have apprised the Province of the escalation of insurance costs in recent years and encouraged a re-appraisal of the benchmark indices for insurance. Furthermore, we have supported the Local Housing Corporation Forum (a group of Ontario’s largest providers) in their efforts to raise awareness of issues associated with housing increasingly vulnerable tenants with limited supports.
We hope that the 2023-24 term is a smoother one – and that 2022-23 was an atypical year. Stay tuned for our next issue of Managing Risky Business for an update on that before year’s end.
Changes to Tenant Insurance Premiums
Premiums for the HSC Tenant Insurance Program are changing. The change applies to residents with new and renewing policies and will come into effect February 1, 2024. For most residents, the increase will be a little more than $1/month. HSC’s program remains one of the lowest cost options in the marketplace.
For details on costs, visit our Tenant Insurance Program Costs and Coverage page.
New Resources for Practical Risk Management
HSC’s Managing Risky Business newsletter and its regular webinars offer providers valuable information on keeping residents and properties safe. Here are some of the new informational materials we developed over the past few months:
- Managing Tenant Risk: A New Resource Guide
- Property Inspection Checklists
- Do you have aluminum wiring in your building? It could be a fire hazard! (newsletter story)
- Fire Safety & Prevention: Managing Tenant-Related Risk (webinar)
- Preventing Internal Crime In Your Organization (webinar)
Energy Efficiency Incentive Programs
In October, HSC hosted a webinar with program experts from Enbridge Gas. They provided an overview of their energy efficiency incentive programs geared to affordable housing, including:
- Affordable Housing Multi Residential Program
- Affordable Housing Savings by Design
- Home Winterproofing Program
The webinar covered the types of projects, activities and equipment eligible for rebates and incentives and how to access them.
You can also view further information on the Enbridge programs in our June and September issues of Energy Matters:
- Enbridge Gas – Working Together to Help You
- How Can Enbridge Incentive Programs Support You and Your Tenants?
Highlights from Energy Matters
- Have Your Say in a Direct-Install Heat Pump Opportunity
- Connect the Dots: Capital Planning, Energy Savings, and GHG Reductions
Earlier in the year, HSC worked with Local Housing Corporations from across Ontario to finalize their gas purchasing options for 2024. A total of 30 clients were renewing their terms – either signing on for new commodity contracts and/or transportation hedging contracts.
The key benefit of HSC’s gas purchasing program is that it offers stable pricing, enabling providers to budget with a high degree of certainty.
This year, our Business Solutions team has been busy working with Service Managers (SMs) and District Social Services Administation Boards (DSSABs) as they develop strategies and processes to implement the new service agreement framework. Specific areas in which we are supporting the sector include:
- Creating a SM/DSSAB Service Agreement template
- Developing and implementing Financial Plan modelling tools
- Undertaking financial viability analyses of housing providers to inform SM/DSSAB decisions about future subsidy funding
- Developing individual Financial Plans, on behalf of the SM/DSSAB for providers who have reached or are reaching End of Mortgage (EOM) in 2023
- Facilitating engagement sessions with housing providers on behalf of SMs/DSSBs
- Developing SM/DSSAB “Community Housing Strategy” documents which outline the vision for community housing into the future and the key elements of the new agreement framework
- Capital modelling to support State of Good Repair
- Building Housing Provider Toolkits
We have the privilege of working with so many SMs/DSSABs across the Province and because of that, we have a good sense of best practices and innovative ideas related to EOM planning. To share what we are seeing, we will be offering a one-day SHARE EOM Forum event in April 2024. The purpose of this event is to showcase key learnings from across the sector as we move from the Housing Services Act, 2011 into new service agreements. To get information about Forum as soon as we release further details, subscribe to our alerts below.
Since my last update, HSC Technical Services has been working on a number of projects across Ontario. In addition to the numerous Building Condition Assessments we have project managed on behalf of Service Managers and housing providers, we have been working on design-builds in Espanola and Timiskaming.
We were also happy to conclude our work with the Manitoulin Sudbury DSSAB on a Fielding Place, a new build in Little Current. HSC’s Technical Services project manager, Bill Bacon, shepherded the project to completion, his last major project before retiring (see below). Here are some pictures of the new 12 unit housing development for seniors, which was funded under the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI).
Investment Program Update
In September, Encasa Financial released its latest market and economic update. The commentary on inflation and fixed income markets may be of particular interest to providers. In addition, I’d like to remind providers of Encasa’s new High-Interest Savings Account (HISA). HISA’s launch was driven by provider demand for a low-risk, capital preservation product. It offers clients more competitive interest rates than a traditional savings account and reduces the short-term risks associated with the volatility of bond and equity markets.
IDEA at HSC: Indigenous Peoples Focus for Fall
Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) remain priorities for us at HSC – and our work of engaging our staff at HSC in reflecting on these issues has continued since my last update. This fall, HSC’s IDEA Working Group decided to focus our staff learning activities on the lived experience of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
Frances Sanderson from Nishnawbe Homes joined us in person on November 3rd to share about her organization’s history, clients and the challenges they continue to face. For the past 29 years Frances has made significant contributions to the housing sector as Executive Director of Nishnawbe Homes, which provides safe secure housing for Native homeless and underhoused in Toronto. She has also served on many boards and committees with a focus on providing more opportunities for success for Indigenous peoples in the GTA. We are grateful Frances took the time to share her experiences and unique perspective with the HSC team.
Other activities HSC staff undertook this fall included:
- Participating in the Community Housing Transformation Centre’s Indigenous Intern Program. Christina Gervais joined HSC for three weeks and supported our team and clients by reviewing Building Condition Assessments, mining data in our Asset Planner system, researching articles for the Energy Matters newsletter and reviewing Energy and Fire Code Audits. While our time together was short, we are grateful to have met Christina and for all her help.
- Sharing information and photos about events staff were attending to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th
- Launching a Lunch & Learn series featuring TVO’s series First Contact. The series takes a group of non-Indigenous Canadians with strong opinions on Indigenous people and immerses them into Aboriginal Canada for the first time.
Our IDEA Working Group is also planning several staff learning activities for 2024, including bringing in housing providers who can share their experience with outreach activities aimed at racialized communities. We continue to welcome dialogue with our clients and sector partners both to exchange practices and to help HSC improve its sensitivity on this front. We invite you to contact us at email@example.com
Comings and Goings
I have just a few updates this time. On the sector front, former HSC Board member Catherine Matheson has moved from serving as the CAO of Nipissing DSSAB and CEO of the Nipissing District Housing Corporation to becoming the Interim Commissioner of Social Services for City of Mississauga, a newly created position to support the dissolution of Peel Region. Similarly Tom Hunter is now serving as the Interim CEO of Toronto Community Housing, taking temporary leave from his position as CEO of Toronto Seniors Housing Corporation. Jill Bada, in turn, is Interim CEO at Toronto Seniors Housing Corporation, covering for Tom.
On the HSC front, Anita Tsang-Sit (Toronto Community Housing) assumed the Chair for our Insurance Reference Group just prior to our renewal, taking over from Tina Gardiner (York Region). We thank Tina for her work over the last several years as Chair and look forward to working with Anita, as the program navigates some interesting times. On a staff level, we are pleased that our summer student, Arsalan Shams, has now become a permanent member of our team, serving as our Data Support Specialist. Rachelle Brown also recently joined HSC from the Region of Peel, joining us as Client Services and Communications Specialist.
Finally, it was with extremely mixed feelings that we said goodbye to Bill Bacon in late October, who retired from HSC after many years of service. Bill was our longest serving Technical Services Project Manager. While Bill was based in Northern Ontario, he seemed to manage capital projects everywhere, including several in Nova Scotia under a program HSC had with CHF Canada. We will miss Bill’s sunny disposition and willingness to share his knowledge with both clients and staff – he was an excellent ambassador for HSC. Thank you, Bill!