- New Website: Learn about the features of our new website. Fill out a survey and let us know what you think of it.
- Insurance Updates: COVID-19 is affecting property and liability insurance. Learn how and what we’ve done about it; how we’ve streamlined our group insurance program; and how DSSABs can now get coverage for their entire business operations.
- Energy Services Update: A recap of the last issue of Energy Matters.
- Encasa Update: The results of June’s Equity Fund vote and introducing our new advisory group.
- Business Solutions Update: Learn about the projects we’ve been working on and who our clients have included.
- Sector Shoutouts: Sault Ste. Marie DSSAB and Ottawa Community Housing have some great news.
- @HSC: Read about sector Comings & Goings; view our 2019 annual report and our work with the sector.
If you are reading this newsletter, you will have noticed that it’s on a new website. Our previous web platform needed some technical updates so we decided to take the opportunity to update and streamline the information on the site to make it easier for our clients to find what they need.
The new website features:
- A new events section for our upcoming events and webinars and a search function for past event materials and resources.
- A resources page with quick access to tools and tips related to each of our business lines.
- Mobile-friendly interface that adjusts content for various screen sizes.
- WCAG 2.0 standard for web accessibility.
Over the coming weeks, we will continue to add new content and resources so be sure to check back for updates. In the meantime, we would love to hear what you think! Click below to fill out a short survey.
2021 Insurance Renewal Results
In August we held webinars about the insurance market and what we expect for the year ahead. We now have the final terms and the news is mixed: while we will have increases to the group premium, we expect that our group members will fare better than those who are seeking insurance in the open market.
The reason why this is the case involves a combination of factors. As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, COVID-19 has extended the hard insurance market costs due to COVID claims to the industry as well as anticipated future claims. On the other hand, HSC’s property claims trust fund, is a moderating force for costs – since your contributions to it reduce our group’s exposure to the volatility of the property insurance market by paying for smaller, more frequent claims.
While COVID has broadly affected the global insurance market, the coverage areas that have been most significantly affected are liability and directors’ and officers’ (D&O) insurance; it’s because of the surge of lawsuits involving ‘duty of care’ (e.g. nursing homes, schools, hospitals) and the wide range of businesses that have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
What does this mean to me?
Like nursing homes, our group has duty of care responsibilities for residents, staff and visitors. As a result, insurers that underwrite liability and directors’ and officers’ coverage have been wary of the risk we carry – this has been seen with the struggles the Ontario Non-Profit Network has experienced in obtaining coverage for its members.
- Because of this, we’ve sought to challenge impressions these insurers have of community housing by proactively educating them on how our members have been combatting the spread of COVID in their buildings. To that end, in July and August we reached out to providers in our program and encouraged them to fill out a short survey. To those that have filled out a survey thank you! These efforts have not only moderated premium increases; they have also helped us avoid a coverage gap that many are experiencing.
Renewal packages will be sent out shortly to program participants with further details. In the meantime, should you have any questions about your coverage or premiums, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Streamlining Insurance Renewals
This year we undertook a review of our renewals process and are introducing some changes. To make things simpler, we’ve shifted to electronic fund transfers. We’ve also adopted an approach that’s been in place with home or auto insurance for many years . This means that coverage will now roll over unless you notify us otherwise. Given the amount of additional work providers and Service Managers have had to undertake with COVID, we’re hoping that people will welcome a less complicated, streamlined renewal process..
Earlier this month, we were pleased to launch a new program for District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs) in Northern Ontario. As you may know, DSSABs are Service Managers in Northern Ontario. In addition to working with housing providers, they are also in charge of administering a range of social services, encompassing income support and employment services, children’s services and in some cases paramedic services across a number of municipalities.
HSC is now offering insurance to these additional service areas. Rest assured, claims in these areas will not affect HSC’s group housing program; however by offering ‘one stop shopping’ it makes things easier for DSSABs.
Energy Matters Newsletter
Our next issue will be published at the end of September. In the meantime, here’s the best of our June issue:
- Make the Case: Energy Efficiency for Healthier Tenants & More Resilient Buildings
- Know Your Gas Pricing to Manage Your Costs
- Energy Reporting Regulation – Changes for 2020
Equity Fund Vote
In my last update, I noted that Encasa was preparing for a vote relating to Canadian Equity Fund that would change the further diversify its mix of investments with greater exposure to global securities.
I’m pleased to announce that the vote passed and that the proposed changes took effect on July 1, 2020.By enabling Encasa to choose from a larger stock of global securities, it affords greater opportunities to maximize returns and meet its responsible investing mandate.
New Advisory Group
In July, HSC hosted the first meeting of its Encasa Advisory Group. As with our Insurance Reference Group, the goal of this group is to provide feedback and insight into Encasa services and to identify opportunities for improvement. The group currently comprises of the following members:
- Cindi Briscoe – Manager, Housing Services, City of Greater Sudbury
- Georgina Daniels – Director, Corporate Services, Thunder Bay DSSAB
- Stephen Quinn – Board Member, Vincent Paul Family Homes
- Geoffrey Seaborn – Board Member, Portland Place Non-Profit Housing Corporation
- Jim Steele – CEO, Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation
- Lois Trullo – Board Member, Richview Baptist Foundation
When we launched HSC Business Solutions in 2019, it was unclear what kind of response we would get from the sector. While we knew we had the housing-based experience and expertise to assist Service Managers, we were not sure if they would think of us for services outside of our core mandates. We have been so pleased with the engagement we have had with Service Managers over the last year and half. We have been able to be involved in large strategic plans and smaller policy reviews. We have quickly become a go to for a range of services and believe we bring a uniquely collaborative approach to the sector.
Like other organizations, our Business Solutions group has moved online under COVID. But work has not slowed down with the pandemic. In fact, clients are relying more on HSC to help on projects and add temporary capacity.
Projects currently underway and recently completed, include:
- Housing Master Plans
- Asset Management Plans
- Capital Reserve Strategies and Policy Analysis
- Governance and Operational Reviews
- Housing Provider Viability Reviews
- Community and Housing Provider Consultations
- Board Strategic Planning Facilitation
- Scenario Modelling to support NP/Coop capacity building /viability
- Capital Planning
- IT hosting and eLearning course supports
Clients have included Northumberland County, City of Toronto, City of Kawartha Lakes, Chatham-Kent, District Municipality of Muskoka, Halton Region, Cochrane DSSAB, Manitoulin-Sudbury DSSAB, and Elgin-St. Thomas.
HSC would be happy to work with you on your next project. For more information, contact us today!
As with our Business Solutions unit, HSC Technical Services has also continued busy with a variety of projects. Increasingly these projects are part of larger projects (e.g. Building Condition Assessments or site visits as part of an Asset Management or Capital Plan). The team is also increasingly called upon to manage new build projects with projects currently underway in Bruce County and Parry Sound.
One recently awarded project very much reflects our current times: the redesign of the Timiskaming DSSAB office so that it supports COVID social distancing.
The development and maintenance of building data using AssetPlanner also falls under the Technical Services umbrella. Over the past several months, we’ve helped support the review and update for this data for Chatham Kent. We’ve also worked with Toronto, St. Thomas and Kawartha Lakes on training and other support.
Do you have an upcoming capital project? We can help. We advocate on your behalf with external engineers and contractors to ensure that your best interests are put first and you’re informed of all options.
Sault Ste. Marie New Builds
Congratulations to the Sault Ste. Marie DSSAB on the completion of their new build in May. It marks a major accomplishment – the first new development since 1979! The 17 unit complex features energy efficient technology and comprises of two buildings: one for seniors and the other for developmentally delayed adults. The DSSAB also plans to another building on the same site in 2022. Here’s a story on the complex that appeared on CTV:
In early September, the city had even more good news with the launch of two additional developments: a new social services hub that includes additional seniors housing (9 units), childcare and additional support services and a Homeward Bound project led by Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services with 15 units for indigenous women and children.
Like other new housing developments in Ontario, both utilize former school buildings and lands. Watch the CTV report:
Ottawa Community Housing Announcement
Earlier this month, Ottawa Community Housing announced that it had landed a $167.9M investment from three levels of government. The money will help develop four new buildings across three sites for a total of 700 new units; 211 units are set at affordable rents (80% of median market) and 179 reserved for priority groups.
The mixed-use developments are located near public transit, community centres and support services. As with the developments in the Sault, the OCH buildings will be highly energy efficient. The video below provides more details on this exciting series of projects:
Congratulations to OCH on this major announcement!
HSC and Sector Groups
In addition to providing client support on our business lines, HSC has continued to participate and convene several working groups including the Independent Local Housing Corporation Forum, the Yardi User Group, OMSSA’s Service Manager Housing Network and Housing and Homelessness network and the Housing Partnership Canada meetings.
In late June, we released our 2019 Annual Report. The report very briefly summarizes our accomplishments and work with the sector. I’m very proud of the accomplishments of our team.
Comings and Goings
In spite of COVID-19, the sector has seen quite a bit of activity. At Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Housing Corporation, I’d like to welcome Shelly Smith who has taken over from Sandy Thomas who has retired. At Toronto Community Housing, we’ve also seen some similar changes with Hugh Lawson retiring as Director of Strategic Planning and Stakeholder Relations, John Angkaw moving up to the role of Senior Director, Business Operations and Anita Tsang-Sit, who is replacing John as Manager, Risk Management and Insurance. We’d also like to congratulate Heather Sheridan, who has moved from acting to permanent Director of Social Services in St. Thomas and Elgin County.
I’d like to welcome Tammy MacKenzie who’s become the new CAO at the District of Parry Sound Social Services and Administration Board. Also welcome to Ray Harper, who’s now the Director of Housing Services in Chatham Kent, replacing the retiring Shelley Wilkins who we also said goodbye to from the HSC Board. Thanks to Chris Stewart, who briefly returned to the Northern Ontario Service Delivery Association to pinch hit as Executive Coordinator to help navigate during the early, chaotic days of COVID. On a similar note, we also say ‘see you later’ to Harvey Cooper, who announced that he’s completed his work as Deputy Executive Director of the Cooperative Housing Federation – Ontario Region and going into “at least semi-retirement.” Welcome to Andrea MacKenzie who’s now the London & Middlesex Community Housing representative on the Housing Partnership Canada and the Local Housing Forum tables, replacing outgoing CEO Josh Browne. We also congratulate Joe Bradbury, who’s recently joined the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation as CEO, and to HSC Board Member Michael Duben who has moved as CAO from Muskoka to Oxford County.
At HSC, we recently welcomed two new board members: Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou, Commissioner Social Services, Region of Durham and Anne Marie Shaw, Director of Housing, Grey County. We also welcomed back Jennifer McMahon who’s returned to the Technical Services team after parental leave and see you later and congratulations to Shikha Seghal who had a baby in August and is on parental leave. Finally, Brian Laur recently announced that he will be retiring from HSC in January 2021. Brian was instrumental in implementing the redesign of our insurance program and will be sorely missed. While we can never replace Brian, we are looking to fill the role, so if you’re interested you can find the job posting here.