Municipalities Promoting Positivity During the Pandemic

As Ontario prepares to enter the second Provincial Emergency amid stay-at-home orders, many folks could use some positivity. Here are some lighthearted and fun projects that municipalities across Canada are undertaking to bring a smile to peoples’ faces. 

City of Waterloo

 

The City of Waterloo, Ontario has launched The Community Happiness Project. The Community Happiness Project aims to connect community members by sharing messages of hope, positivity, welcoming, and connectivity from community members and hopefully you!

 

From January to mid-February, residents can submit audio messages and images through an online portal. These will be assembled into signage that will be posted throughout the city and can be accessed through QR codes on mobile devices. Audio messages collected from the community will reflect Waterloo’s caring spirit and can include stories, poems, and notes to combat the feelings of isolation that have grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Town of Blackfalds

The Town of Blackfalds, Alberta is continuing the Lunch Box Pandemic Response Program into 2021. The Blackfalds Food Bank has now settled into their new home in the old Community Services Department Shop, at 5014 Waghorn Street, there is plenty of room to accommodate donations to support the Blackfalds Food Bank needs and the Lunch Box program.

 

The Lunch Box Program started in March 2020 due to the pandemic and increased local families’ needs to provide food for their children. Initiated to provide school-aged children with healthy lunches and snacks for school, the program quickly changed when schools shut down and were then expanded to include any local family with children, of any age. This pandemic response program fed 3,877 children in 1,061 families from March through December of 2020. 

 

City of Barrie

 

The City of Barrie, Ontario is running a fun, new contest to name the snowplows. Barrie has 12 snowplows that need names and is asking residents to come up with some creative and unique ideas.

 

Between now and January 22, 2021, Barrie residents are invited to submit their idea for a snowplow name for your chance to win a City of Barrie prize pack. The winning names will also be featured on the City’s Plow Tracker app and will be added to the snowplow machines for the 2021-22 winter season.

 

We love seeing municipalities coming together to enrich the lives of their citizens! We also love connecting municipalities with the businesses that provide the municipal goods and services that they need. Learn more at www.muniSERV.ca and join today. 

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Our 2021 Wage Outlook

A Challenging Year Ahead

While Canadian and global stock markets reach new records week, after week (at least at the time of this writing!), employment, inflation and interest rates tell a very different story.

Employment insurance claims at of the end October were up 200% versus the same timeframe last year.  Interest rates are negligible, and the Consumer Price Index, while rising modestly in November (+1.0%) was a mere +0.7% in October — a reference point used in many collective agreements and other compensation plans as a benchmark for 2021 wage increases.

Despite overwhelming government stimulus, it appears that some employers will face cost pressures and may have difficulty maintaining their budgets as the economy slowly recovers. Downward revisions to pay increases in the coming months is expected.

In the last quarter, more than 36 per cent of Canadian organizations froze salaries for 2020, compared to a pre-COVID forecast of just 2% per cent, and this trend is likely to hold true for the coming year.  In fact, almost half of employers are uncertain about what to do in 2021 and 13% plan to continue salary freezes in 2021, while 6% of employers will be looking to reduce wages.

Not since the 2008 financial crisis have we seen average base salary increases drop below 2%.

Union workforces are being hit particularly hard. Negotiated wages for 2020 came in at 1.7 per cent, compared to 1.9 per cent in 2019. Looking to 2021, negotiated wage increases are expected to fall further to 1.6 per cent or lower.

Alberta, historically a region with the strongest wage growth, will also continue its slide below trendlines at 1.7 per cent, the lowest among Canadian provinces and territories.

Not all employers are freezing salaries. Many sectors are experiencing strong demand, and recruitment in a number of job classifications remains competitive.  Among employers who are considering wage bumps, the average pay increase for non-unionized employees in Canada is projected to be 2.1 per cent next year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Other bright spots include those working in waste management and remediation services where projections are a rosy 3% cent increase while those in utilities will see a 2.4 per cent increase. Professionals in finance and insurance, scientific and technical services as well as wholesale trade can expect increases of 2.2 per cent.

By sector, salary projections for 2021 are highest among Crown corporations at 2.5 per cent.

The recovery will be uneven. Industries that lend themselves well to remote work, or that were shut down for only short periods, will recover quickly. Other sectors, such as recreation, accommodation and food services will recover much more slowly, with employment levels not returning to their pre-pandemic levels presumably until vaccine campaigns are more widely available in late 2021.

 

We Are Your HR Department

We look after your Policy Manual, Employment Agreements, government-mandated compliance training and more.  We have you covered – we are your HR Department.  SHRP provides full-service HR support including Job Evaluation and Pay Equity planning in addition to best-in-class Human Resources solutions on a project or ongoing basis with our exclusive HRLive platform.  Contact us today for a free demonstration and start the development of a results-oriented HR strategy for your municipality.

 

Matthew Savino, B.A. LL.B., C.H.R.E.

Managing Partner, SHRP Limited

925-550 Skyway Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 0E7

[email protected]ca | www.hrlive.ca | 705-400-7145

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Sources:

-Statistics Canada

-Morneau Shepell “Salary Projection 2021” Survey

-Conference Board of Canada “Compensation Planning Outlook 2021”

-Canadian Payroll Association

-Willis Towers Watson

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Physical Security Risk: know how to assess it

 

Many small to medium sized business (and even large enterprise businesses)  and government, have limited budgets, let alone spending a lot on risk and security.

Before you do go and spend a lot of capital on risk and security mitigation measures (aka security cameras, access control, bars and locks, lighting, training, fencing, etc.), you need to know what you’re buying for.

That is, you need to know what risks you are addressing.

Risk dial

Having a Risk Assessment completed on your municipality narrows the focus of your spending and aligns your purchasing with the specific types of risk and security mitigation measures you need.

To get a little technical…Risk assessment is the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. It involves the process of identifying internal and external threats and vulnerabilities, identifying the probability and impact of an event arising from such threats or vulnerabilities, defining critical functions necessary to continue the organization’s operations, defining the controls in place necessary to reduce exposure and evaluating the cost of such controls.

That is a mouthful. Let us break this down a bit.

If you have a threat, but there is no vulnerability, then there is no risk.

If you have a vulnerability but no threat, no risk.

Perhaps something many can relate to, you went online and purchased some products, and they are set to be delivered to your home. And no, we are not going to discuss online security…a topic for another day perhaps.

The packages are delivered to your home. But because of your daily routine, errands, off to the office, or shop, you are not always home. The shiny object is the packages just delivered. The vulnerability or sometimes referred to as a gap, is you are not home, and the packages now sit on your front step unattended. The threat, someone will take those packages right from your front step.

So, going back to the assessment. The key is once you know what your largest threats are (and yes you need to be able to determine that), it is important that you take action (implement risk and security mitigation measures) to lower your vulnerability.

Why not eliminate the vulnerability?

Great question, thanks for asking.

Eliminating the vulnerability may not always be possible.

Some business sectors and industries simply have built-in threats. But, if we focus on lowering the vulnerability, we lower the risk of a loss.

The assessment is complete, and we have identified risks. The next important step is finding the risk and security measures that are going to be the most effective in mitigating the identified risk. These measures come in all different shapes and sizes, video surveillance, locks and safes, lighting, security focused training, etc.

Where in doubt, reach out to us or find your trusted Independent Risk and Security consultant.

Yes, we highlighted Independent. That is definitely a topic for another day.

It all starts with a conversation.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

 

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Municipalities Build Back Better With Whole Person Care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot of talk about a Build Back Better approach in our communities during the Covid 19 pandemic.  One strategy that helps address those in need is a Whole Person Care approach using a digital platform to collect and measure outcomes for wrap around programs which can be fully funded under the new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.

With the arrival of Covid 19, the amount spent on healthcare is increasing in every community. While the amount invested in healthcare is increasing, municipalities are spending up to 25% of their healthcare costs to support non-value add aspects in their healthcare system. Value-based care models help optimize what is spent to get the best outcomes. How do communities do more with less as Covid 19 increases health and economic risk? In the short term we will need to work together with what we have and find ways to get better outcomes for less.

We know that Covid 19 is accelerating value-based healthcare approach in communities. Whole-person care is not far behind.

Whole person care describes a wrap around approach that addresses complete physical health, behavioral health and social wellbeing. Communities that work together as a team to provide care for individuals with poorly managed conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and COPD are better equipped to improve health outcomes for less. Helping to manage care for this population most at risk relies on seamless information exchange, tele-health, care co-ordination and consumer engagement. All of these conditions are closely related to the social determinants of health.

Post acute care including home health, hospice and senior living facilities and human service including community mental health centers, addiction treatment centers and social service agencies in every community need to have the technology and skills to work as equal partners. Every community now has a chance to build back better with whole person care. 

Whole person care gets even better when amplified with data science and analytics that are driven with a prescriptive approach to patient care. To prepare our communities to deliver better outcomes during the pandemic, municipalities need to look at systems that offer interoperability – a framework that supports bidirectional exchange of data across systems and providers of care, a network to network bridge, policy agreements, discrete data and support for client consent and sharing that consent with others.

Consumer engagement with a patient portal makes it easier for hospitals and physicians to work with clients. Automated referrals, tele-health and patient information integration create a public care eco-system that serves the public in Covid 19 times. Building Back Better with the help of funding from the Canada Healthy Community Initiative makes it possible to accelerate the care you need in every community. Let us know if you need help with your digital transformation as you build back better in your community.

 

Learn more: Contact Athena Software

 

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Ensuring Accessibility in your Municipality

By law, as of January 1, 2021, all public sector organizations and private or non-profits organizations with 50+ employees must make their web content fully accessible and compliant under Ontario’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

How to Comply

 

To comply with WCAG, your public-facing website and all newer posted content must meet WCAG 2.0 standards (as outlined in the Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications). For more detailed information on what needs steps need to be done to make your website accessible visit – https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-websites-accessible.

 

It should also be noted that you don’t have to make changes to your internal website to make it accessible. As well, any content posted to your website before 2012 does not need to be modified to meet WCAG. However, if you are asked, you will need to work with individuals to make this content available to them in an alternate format such as large print or braille.

Tips for Testing your Websites for Accessibility

Once your website is updated to meet WCAG, it is a good idea to test your website out to make sure that your new or refreshed website is accessible before it is launched. Here are some good ways to ensure your website will be accessible for all of your users.

Automatic Assessment and Assistive Technology – Do a final review of your website using an automatic assessment tool that will help flag any issues that have not been resolved. An example of this would be to review your site using assistive technology like a screen reader to make sure the website’s design and technical aspects are accessible.

 

Review Key Milestones and Changes – It is a good idea to keep a record of the accessibility issues that have been made to your website. Doing this will allow you to see the completed work and how it has been made accessible. As well, having this done up can be helpful if your organization is asked to show how your website is WCAG 2.0 compliant.

 

Online Accessibility Checker – Use an online tool to check if your website is accessible. While using an online tool does not guarantee that you will find all accessibility issues it can still find somethings you might have missed. This is why it is important to have people review the site as well.

 

User Testing and Feedback – When possible, ask people with disabilities to test your site before it is launched. Receiving feedback from potential users will help you to find out if there are any further improvements needed.

 

If You Can’t Comply with WCAG

It may not always be possible to meet the WCAG 2.0 requirements. As an example of this, your website may have been created using software and other tools that predate WCAG 2.0.  While you may be able to update or repair the products you used to support accessibility, if this is not possible, you will need to make sure that when you refresh your website you use new software that supports accessibility.

 

As well, it may not be possible for you to post some content in a way that complies with WCAG 2.0. An example of this is when you post something like an online map or a complex diagram that is not readily accessible to people with visual disabilities. In cases like this, you may still post the content, however, you must provide it in an accessible format upon request.

 

In the end, the positive outcome of compliance with WCAG, is that your website will be accessible to everyone! 

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Covid 19 – Federal Funding for Municipal Solutions

The Covid 19 pandemic is creating a massive strain on resources in communities across Canada. Human service solutions in education, justice, social and health were never designed to take on this much for so long. Canadian municipalities are making adjustments to accommodate the surge in demand and the ever changing needs of their community. 

 

Some of our communities are now in the red zone creating the need for further restrictions. Federal, provincial and municipal governments are responding with additional funding and co-operation to help reduce the damage and improve the outcomes in less time. 

 

On August 13 2020, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced the creation of the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative with up to $31 million ($19M 2020-21 & $12M 2021-22) in federal funding to support community-led solutions that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years.The demands placed on families and individuals by COVID-19 have exposed a real need for low-cost, locally-driven ideas to help communities adapt and thrive. The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help breathe life into these small projects that can have a big impact as local governments, Indigenous communities and their non-profit partners rethink public spaces and how they deliver services to people.”

 

While Infrastructure Canada (INFC) is providing the funding, there is another organization yet to be announced that will organize, evaluate and distribute funding based on your proposal. This announcement will be made shortly. Your municipality will be able to submit a Covid 19 related infrastructure proposal that is between $5,000-$250,000. Three focus areas are: digital solutions, improved mobility solutions and safe and vibrant public spaces. 

 

A community project that develops infrastructure -related solutions to address changing community needs through the use of data and connected technologies starts with the ability to understand who is affected, what is being delivered and what needs to be done with priority. Measuring outcomes and sharing this information in a secure way becomes the source of truth for social service, health, justice and education partners that are focused on helping those most affected by Covid 19. Any municipality working to solve these complex and rapidly evolving stress points without a case management solution will have overlapping solutions that cost more than required and fail to see the gaps, reducing the outcomes. When you have time and budget, municipalities will continue to manage human services in a way that offers a path with least resistance. 

 

Covid 19 has exhausted both time and budget. Human services in your community need to work together efficiently. Working to save lives today and preparing for the future depends on it. Athena Software is a Canadian company that has experience working with every level of government in 15 countries around the world helping them find a way to do more with less and get better outcomes. Let me know if you would like to see how this can work for your community. 

Learn more: Athena Software

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COVID-19 Pandemic – What’s next.

girl looking at a piece of paper

The pandemic continues to rapidly expand in communities across Canada. At the time of this article over 267,000 Canadians have contracted the disease, 217,000 are recovered and 10,552 died. The number of cases each day is accelerating.

The effects of this highly contagious disease are catastrophic when left unchecked. Health systems are at risk of collapse affecting all other health issues. Covid 19 is not just affecting health care. Municipalities are being asked to address the surge in demand in every human service sector – education, justice, social and healthcare.

Primary care and wait times are measured with traditional outcomes in most communities. The wave we do not see coming as easily is just outside of the range of a 911 call. Mental health issues, loss of income, housing, food, education, relationships are all affected with Covid 19. The cold dark days of winter are coming. The risks associated with Covid 19 and issues associated with the disease are going to increase over the winter months.

While a vaccine may be available early 2021, it’s unlikely every Canadian will have access to the vaccine when it is approved.

Municipalities need to proactively seek strategies that wrap programming around individuals and families at risk. Traditional models of care that involve home visits or appointments are shifting to tele-health.

The federal government in co-operation with the provincial and territorial governments announced funding and extension to funding as the need requires.

It’s time to consider the short and long term requirements of your community during and after the pandemic and make use of the funding currently available to enable your municipality to not just survive but build its way out to a better future.

Contact us to learn more about Athena Software!

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Digital Solutions for Canadian Municipalities

The past few months have been challenging for everyone as we change the way we live, play and work. Many industries have been forced to pivot and find digital solutions to continue serving their customers in the “new normal”. Canadian municipalities are no different. With many municipal offices closed to the public or working at a reduced capacity, there has never been a better time to start introducing digital solutions to work safer and work smarter. Here are some great digital solutions from Canadian muniSERV members to get you started.

Citizen Engagement/Customer Service

 AccessE11 is a Municipal 311, Citizen Issue and Relationship Management platform designed to provide small to mid-sized municipalities with a simple, cost-effective means to manage citizen issues. The platform drives simplicity, reduced administration, stronger decision making and better compliance across specific areas of focus within local government operations. Citizens can report issues and monitor the status of their issue digitally, improving customer service and operational transparency.

Smart City/IoT

 Trilliant has revolutionized how municipalities, cities, energy providers and utilities manage their mission-critical operations. Trilliant connects the world of things (IoT) and incorporates Smart City functionality to new or existing networks. Municipalities can improve the efficiency of their offerings through the implementation of things like advanced metering infrastructure for water, electricity and gas, smart street lighting, smart network sensors and so much more.

Treasury

 Clik2Pay  is a customer billing payments solution that allows citizens to receive and pay their tax bills or other municipal invoices directly from their smartphone. Municipalities benefit from quicker payments and simplified bill collection, all for less than it costs to pay by debit or credit card.

Payroll Efficiency

 Mother Clock  Inc. is a fully integrated time tracking payroll platform that is modernizing payroll technology. This tablet-based time tracking service is the solution for businesses that want to abandon paper-based processes.  Mobile employees can use their smartphones to clock-in/out with GPS time tracking, increasing accountability.

Cyber Security & Training

 RiskAware provides municipalities with an Information and Cyber Security advantage through governance, training, education and risk management. They can help you assess your digital risks before getting started.

Digital Transformation Consulting

 ArchITectAbility provides IT Advisory, Assurance, Architecture and Governance expert services as well as Business Process Re-engineering offerings. If you’re not sure where to start your digital transformation, here you go!

These are just a few of the great Canadian companies that are helping municipalities go digital. 

Search our  Find a  Consultant database by service, business name, province or city, for even more of our members’ innovative digital solutions, to help municipalities simplify processes and find efficiencies! 

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Risk Complacency

Why should you have a cyclical strategy to your risk and security?

Risk Complacency. You run the risk of being complacent. The one man-made hazard that is probably the easiest to avoid and the largest threat to any sized business, organization, government, event, institution, and book club. Okay, maybe not the book club.

 

So, what happened?

It was quiet. It was nice, there was a sense of security. Unfortunately, that feeling is usually supplemented with a lack of awareness. A lack of awareness of threats, dangers to your organization, those deficiencies that slowly creep up but yet can quickly hammer down all the previous work.

Plan out the work to get your organization on a cyclical strategy to address, manage and mitigate your risk and security threats.

Once planned out. Execute the plan. Do what you say you are going to do…and don’t stop.

Need help? We can Help.

It starts with a conversation.

As we say…Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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Organizational Resiliency – What else is it good for?

What else does organizational resiliency do for the organization aside from being able to carry on during and after a disruptive event?

  • Reduces stress – it reduces stress in those managing and working prior to, during and after an event
  • Increase in trust and confidence – employees believe in the leadership, each other, and the plan to move through an event
  • Reduces absenteeism – people are comfortable and confident in the decision making of their peers and the responsibilities they have
  • Improvement in physical health and wellbeing – with strong mental health comes stronger and maintained physical health
  • Productivity increases – a happy workforce wants to produce
  • An alert workforce – reduction in accident and workplace injuries
  • Learning power – with overall personal health and wellbeing comes the drive, adaptability to learn and the willingness to be flexible in the event of change

There are other benefits to making your organization resilient that are not just about the bottom line.

We can help your organization in building your risk and security management program resiliency.

It starts with a conversation.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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