Local Loops & Linkages: Bringing the Circular Economy to Canadian Cities

In March 2020, the EU released its new Circular Economy Action Plan to accelerate the transformational change required by the European Green Deal. The plan aims to streamline the regulatory framework for a sustainable future, maximizing new opportunities from the transition and “[making] circularity work for people, regions and cities.” 

Moving away from the linear “take-make-waste” industrial model, a circular economy involves “gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system.” By keeping products and materials in use, a circular economy not only has immediate environmental benefits for cities, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste, but also provides social and economic benefits. 

 

Many cities across the EU have started to make circularity work. Amsterdam was among the first to carry out a scan to identify areas in which circular business models could be applied and has since launched over 70 initiatives to meet its goal of becoming fully circular by 2050. Amsterdam’s circular economy initiatives are now expected to create up to 1,900 new jobs. By embedding circular economy principles into urban planning practices, London is expected to double the use of 20% of its buildings by 2036 thus saving millions annually. city view from top down

 

Cities as Key Actors in the Circular Economy 

Cities make up two-thirds of global energy demand, consume 75% of the world’s natural resources, produce more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 50% of global waste. The current cycle of growth associated with urbanization and globalization puts considerable and unsustainable pressure on the natural environment. A circular economy would create opportunities for the most optimal and climate-friendly use of city resources and land.

 

Cities are well-equipped to make the shift to a circular economy. Cities generate over 80% of the global GDP and remain hubs of innovation and connection between government, businesses and private actors. Municipal governments are closest to their residents, and much more “agile and flexible” than higher orders of government when it comes to implementing new initiatives. Cities also have significant purchasing power that they can leverage to positively impact a shift towards circular models for their suppliers.

 

Circular Economy in Canadian Cities 

Canadian cities have already been recognized as leaders in the fight against climate change. Some Canadian cities, including Toronto and Montreal, have committed to zero waste futures and transitioning to a circular economy. Toronto recently introduced its circular economy procurement implementation plan to use the city’s purchasing power to reduce waste and enable social and economic prosperity. 

Though Canadian cities face constitutional and financial restrictions in exercising their powers, courts are generally reluctant to interfere with the decisions of democratically elected councils to increase the wellbeing of their municipalities. Ontario municipalities, in particular, have broad powers in a number of areas including waste management, business licensing, the protection of persons or property, including consumer protection, and the economic, social and environmental well-being of the municipality, including respecting climate change.

 

In their circular economy initiatives, Canadian cities can follow the example of Brussels, which created a fund that provides grants to circular economy businesses and research projects. They can additionally use other forms of public-private partnerships or bonusing mechanisms to support circular business models. Canadian municipalities can include circular economy principles in their official plans to influence land use planning decisions that lead to circular designs for neighbourhoods, an increase in sharing infrastructure and in the modularity of building materials. They can look to urban planning guidelines that include criteria for circular building implemented by cities like Amsterdam to promote the use of secondary and residual materials. They can ban or impose fees on materials that they receive at their waste management facilities or landfills

 

These examples highlight the powerful role that Canadian cities can play to be sustainable, resilient and thriving even in the face of threats as great as the degradation of the natural environment and climate change. As cities work toward realizing sustainable futures, transitioning to a circular economy can bolster their efforts, and at the same time increase the quality of urban life. 

 

By Denisa Mertiri and Alexandra Potamianos

For more information on how to make the circular economy work in cities, contact Denisa Mertiri at [email protected]

 

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Redesigning The Way Your Company Works

COVID-19 has changed the way we work, play, and interact with our world. Whether your company is a single or multiple branch office operation, with industrial facilities or mobile public and field workers — developing a clear, concise program requires careful consideration and detailed risk and resource assessments.

Unique challenges require unique customized solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for businesses and workforces all across Canada. Public health departments, government leaders, and associations provide continual streams of information where business owners and executives must analyze this information to the best of their ability, providing direction in the creation of customized solutions for their business.

Barantas Inc. (Barantas) has remained focused on the core principles of prevention and safety services offering clarity and direction to company programs and operational procedure development.

Barantas can assist in any of the following key areas:

  • Business re-opening plans and implementation strategies
  • Operational redesign of workspace management
  • Worker inter-personal safety prevention programs and methodologies
  • Workforce programs for office, industrial, municipal and education sectors
  • Construction project-specific pandemic enhanced programs and inspections
  • Health and safety manual and policy development
  • Personal protective equipment supply and sourcing (masks, gloves, face shields)

Barantas provides comprehensive, long-term protection strategies and a personalized partnership anchored by our commitment to service excellence.

Redesigning Workplaces in a Post Pandemic Era

Our national reach and multi-disciplinary approach to safety management allow you to access a complete suite of health and safety services for a fraction of what it would cost you to source these services individually.

Barantas interactively works with you in evaluating and developing your new workplace strategies and worker health and safety management. Our goal is to collaboratively provide our expertise and knowledge to your key persons or teams, building a sustainable, internal infrastructure focused on the health and safety of your workforce.

We utilize a FIVE phase process. This process begins with a data acquisition phase, where we learn and understand your business, through to ensuring your teams can execute, monitor and continually adapt your program to meet today’s and future challenges.

Our process is based on the following principles:

  • Risk Reduction: Focused on reducing risk through prevention methodologies using the hierarchy of controls.
  • Individual Health and Safety Protection: Ensuring your company is taking the precautions reasonable for the protection of workers, employees, clients and affected individuals.
  • Maintenance of Applicable Requirements: Continual monitoring of authority directives, legislative requirements, and corporate due diligence best practices combined into a preparedness program able to adapt to changing environments and new directives.
  • Education and Sustainability: As part of working with your team through the five-phase process, our goal is to ensure understanding and application of the principles and methodologies for key team members ensuring an ability to assess, respond and adapt to continual change in both external factors and internal business decisions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR 5 STEP PROCESS https://www.barantas.ca/the-five-phase-process/

For a full version PDF of this document https://www.barantas.ca/pandemicmanagement/

 

 

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Canadian Government Entities Under Scrutiny for Lax Cybersecurity

Canada’s government sector is increasingly coming under scrutiny for both lagging privacy and security both in legislation and in practice

 

In a sign of the times, figures released in February to the House of Commons reveal that the personal information of at least 144,000 Canadians was mishandled by Federal department and agencies, including the Security Intelligence Service and Department of National Defense.  The breaches were widespread, impacting over 10 separate departments and agencies, with evidence indicating that these figures are being underreported due to inadequate reporting requirements.  The Canada Revenue Agency led the pack with 3,020 identified breaches over the last two years impacting at least 59,065 Canadians. 

 

Helical’s offerings meet the “Baseline Cyber Security Controls for Small and Medium Organizations” published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and can be scaled up according to need.  You can learn more about how we meet these requirements here or for more information about Helical, visit our website.  

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What is the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT?

In short: leaders create risk, and managers reduce it.

LEADERSHIP ANTICIPATES THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE, AND MANAGEMENT ANTICIPATES THE WORST. While leadership invites others to follow, management ensures the followers are following.

Leadership is the act of inviting others to a new and better future.  A leader inspires and creates change by casting a vision of a destination that is different, better, and achievable.

Management is the ensuring things happen by creating, communicating, and monitoring expectations.  It tracks individual people to see that they perform as expected, as opposed to inspiring a number of them. 

Leadership skills can be summarized as those skills relevant to interacting with large groups of people, and to inspiring and creating vision. Conversely, management skills are those which are relevant to interacting with individual people, and to specifying and monitoring performance.

Many of the skills required to lead people are also the ones used to manage people. However, the expression of these skills can be significantly different.  For instance, a leader needs to effectively communicate to be compelling and inspirational, and a manager needs to effectively communicate to be precise and personal.

Because of the skillset overlaps between management and leadership, it is quite possible that a single person assumes either of these roles.

 

Want to learn more about leadership?  Check out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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Now available on demand: Ecofiscal Commission online course – Using Market-Based Tools for Municipal Sustainability

Municipalities are missing out on the full potential of market-based tools!

Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.

These challenges include:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

It all sounds a little daunting. Yet an under-used policy option might lie at the intersection of these challenges. Municipalities can use market-based tools to fund critical infrastructure and create incentives for individuals and businesses to make choices that improve the livability and sustainability of our communities.

Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, with support from the McConnell Foundation, has developed a unique online course on municipal market-based tools for sustainable development that will help municipal employees, and those that work with municipalities, successfully design and implement these solutions.

Through five self-directed and on demand modules that include recordings of webinars led by experts and experienced practitioners and a series of online exercises, participants will learn how Canadian municipalities can practically use a variety of market-based tools. The five modules include:

 The course is guaranteed to provide unique insight and practical guidance on the selection, design and implementation of municipal market-based tools.

Who should attend?
The course is intended for municipal employees, as well as federal and provincial employees that work with municipalities on related issues. It is open to anyone, including students and private sector employees, that has an interest in topics such as municipal finance, asset management, infrastructure financing, environmental policy, urban planning, traffic management, water and wastewater management, and solid waste management.

The course is well suited to busy professionals. You can complete the modules at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Registration details:
You can purchase individual modules for $50, or sign up for all 5 modules for $200 (a $50 savings). Complete at least 3 modules, including course exercises, to receive a certificate! While modules can be mixed and matched, Module 1 is a pre-requisite for modules 2-5 as it is foundational. 

French option:
We’ve also made available a mini-course that summarizes the material for $70. Presented by Justin Leroux in French, this mini-course includes videos that cover the highlights of our traffic, water and wastewater, and municipal waste modules as listed above.

Go to courses.ecofiscal.ca for more information and to register. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]

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The answers municipal governments have been looking for?

Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.

These challenges include:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

Continue reading

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Dealing with Escalated Situations in Your Workplace

Resolving workplace conflict is an expected part of the job managers and Human Resource Practitioners. Whether you work in education, healthcare, human services, business, or any field, you might deal with angry, hostile, or noncompliant behaviour every day. Your response to the defensive reaction is often the key to avoiding a physical confrontation with someone who has lost control of their behaviour.

These ten De-Escalation Tips will help you respond to challenging behaviour in the safest, most efficient way possible.

  1. Be empathetic and non-judgmental
  2. Respect personal space
  3. Use non-threatening nonverbal communication
  4. Avoid overacting
  5. Focus on feelings
  6. Ignore challenging questions
  7. Set limits
  8. Choose wisely what you insist upon
  9. Allow silence for reflection
  10. Allow time for decisions

 

 To help you towards more efficient conflict de-escalation and resolution, the following basic steps can be followed:

  • Obtain the name of the person with whom you are speaking: People respond favourably to their own name. It also makes the conversation more personal. Ask for the person’s name early in the piece and use it throughout the discussion.
  • Use Active Listening: Clarifying, paraphrasing and using open-ended questions ensure that the individual you are speaking with knows you are aware of their situation and frustrations. Resaying a person’s own words back to them demonstrates that you have understood entirely what they were trying to say.       
  • Show support and suspend judgement: Empathy needs to be shown during conflict situations. Respecting the other person’s point of view even if you do not agree entirely will be the first step to resolving the conflict. 
  • Get them to agree and say yes: Having the person agree with you on general factual points leads the conversation towards a more favourable outcome. If you can show that you have understood their point of view by making clarifying statements you generate a state where the other person must reply with an affirmative response. The sooner you can get the person to say yes then sooner the conflict will de-escalate. It always works.
  • Avoid clichés: The worst of these being “Calm Down”. Did you ever notice how people who tell you to calm down are the ones who got you mad in the first place? Saying those words during a verbal conflict usually gets the classic retort “I AM CALM” very loudly usually with an animated hand gestures as well.       
  • Show empathy: You need to show compassion and understanding and give the conflict your full attention. Do not make impulsive decisions. Take the time to work through the problem.
  • Consistency in Courtesy: The person you are dealing with first thing in the morning deserves the same level of respect, civility and patience as the individual you are dealing with at 2 in the afternoon. They warrant the same high level of service and professionalism as the first person you spoke to. You need to maintain that position of positive brand ambassador and an excellent professional service.

There are many physical aspects of being mindful of in conflict situations. It is important always to be aware of features of conflict such as your body language, your emotions, your judgement, and your initial thoughts. Keeping these in mind is essential when trying to de-escalate a problematic situation.

Monika B. Jensen is the principal of the Aviary Group, consulting company that address workplace discord.  For more information, visit www.aviarygroup.ca

 

 

 

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Reducing Carbon Footprint with Softworks Time & Attendance Software

When you think about time and attendance software, you probably think of a software system which is designed to increase time efficiency, reduce costs, maximise profit and also increase security and productivity. Well you are correct, however there is another level that you may not have thought about – Reducing carbon footprint. We spend a lot of time at work so it’s important to bring greener habits from home into the workplace.

Paperless systems, remote staff management and much more efficient use of working hours can all help your company to reduce carbon footprint. Going green can have a huge impact on the environment and taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint plays an essential role in preserving our planet. One of the best ways for companies to become greener is to implement and promote less paper wastage. Softworks time and attendance system will help your employees and company on the way to becoming more environmentally friendly.

Our time and attendance software system is one great leap into less paper wastage for your company. By simply automating your system, you can eliminate the waste that is associated with throwing out paper time cards and time sheets every week. Printed reports, wage documentation and manual shift rosters all add up the amount of paper that your company uses every week. There are other ways you and your organisation can help reduce your carbon footprint in the workplace:

  • Install recycling bins
  • Use laptops instead of computers
  • Power off electronics at night
  • Look in to alternative transport – cycling, car-pooling, public transport
  • Introduce flexible working so employees can avoid rush hour traffic & work from home
  • Think before you print!

Not only will a time and attendance system help reduce your carbon footprint, it will also provide the following benefits:

  • Cut costs
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Put an end to buddy punching, absenteeism, tardiness, time abuse and overpayment
  • Reduce errors
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Develop a stronger company culture
  • Create reliable accuracy
  • Decrease burden on one person or department
  • Make for easier scheduling and compliance
  • Promote a better work-life balance

Request a Live Demo

Check out our free guide for some advice and tips to help you select a Time and Attendance system.

You can keep up to date with Softworks by following us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

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What does Bill 132 (Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act) mean to you and your workplace?

One in four women and one in ten men say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Of the reported cases of workplace sexual harassment, 55% were committed by co-workers; 39% of which involved a supervisor or manager. 8% of those who are sexually harassed at work report the harassment.

Recently there have been some changes made to Bill 168 – Violence in the Workplace, which gives employers’ statutory obligations. Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, which received royal assent on March 8, 2016, requires all employers to have policies and programs including an investigation procedure. The essential changes brought by Bill 132 include: an employer is required to create a workplace harassment program; the program must include reporting and investigating tools for incidents of workplace harassment and violence; the employers must ensure that all complaints are investigated, and investigations are completed in a timely fashion and a new power to the Ministry of Labour (MOL) to order an independent workplace harassment investigation at the employer’s expense.

September 8, 2016, now looms for companies as the date for compliance with Bill 132. The amendments stand to change dramatically how workplace harassment is addressed in Ontario. The new OHSA obligations and expectations have been set and are accompanied by expanded government oversight. Harassment in the workplace is already a challenging issue that could engage multiple forums, with complaints possibly being advanced through a grievance, civil claim, complaint under the Human Rights Code, and, depending on the severity of the conduct, the criminal justice system.

Also, and particularly, the Bill amends the OHSA to require an employer to conduct an investigation of a workplace harassment complaint that is “appropriate in the circumstances.” The phrase “appropriate in the circumstances” is not defined. Further, the Ministry of Labour has not published any guidance material to communicate what factors will be considered by inspectors when determining whether an investigation meets this standard. Assuming that the inspectors could be evaluating investigations against expected best practices which would include such things as an impartial investigator, a collection of all relevant information, and procedural fairness to the alleged harasser could create challenges for employers as the appropriateness of an investigation may be evaluated in hindsight.

Consequences of flawed investigations would impair or prejudice the employer’s ability to establish just cause for termination or discipline. There would also be an issue of due diligence under the OHSA and Human Rights Code. Consequences would include aggravated, punitive or Code damages; penalties from the Ministry of Labour under the OHSA and reinstatement in unionized workplaces. Some of the critical mistakes some employers are making include: failing to act at all; taking the complaint seriously; failure to train investigators; inability to plan, improper or inadequate files; and retention of evidence.

Many situations happening in the workplace may prompt the necessity for an investigation, such as allegations of discrimination or harassment, workplace bullying, inappropriate use of the internet or social media, policy breaches, or statutory violations. Often, employers attempt to resolve minor issues informally through discussions with the employees involved. When the allegations are more serious, employers may depend on managers to conduct internal investigations. However, in many situations, having an organization deal directly with the problem is not necessarily the best approach – informal discussions may rapidly collapse, and basic investigative steps may be overlooked by inexperienced managers, making matters worse. A vital skill for any employer is identifying when a formal investigation by an external investigator is appropriate.

Note: meeting the requirements of Bill 132 could lead to mistakes that can be costly to your organization.

Be prepared. Be proactive.

Contact Monika Jensen, Principal Aviary Group at [email protected]  or (905) 683-9953 if you need a complaint investigated or mediated.

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