DSSAB approves first strategic plan

Duane Hicks

Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board has laid out a five-year plan in its first-ever strategic plan.
The board approved the plan at its inaugural annual general meeting last Thursday night at the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau.
“Perhaps the most significant exercise we performed this year was formulating a strategic plan for the first time in our DSSAB’s existence,” said chair Ross Donaldson, who also is reeve of La Vallee Township.
“This five-year plan gives us our future direction and a framework for decision-making,” he noted.
The plan was developed by staff and the board with the help of a consultant, and outlines new vision and mission statements, values, and goal and objectives.
Goals include:
•To meet service needs and deliver mandated responsibilities.
This includes addressing housing and homeless needs, strengthening “Ontario Works” services; addressing children’s services’ needs; delivering quality land ambulance services; and improving people-centred services.
•To be a financially sustainable, accountable, and transparent organization.
This includes engaging in creative methods for cost reductions, such as bulk purchases, as well as reviewing jobs, actively pursuing funding, and using the media to provide more open communication to the public.
•To advocate for the improvement of senior government policies and funding to support DSSAB in achieving its goals.
•To ensure DSSAB’s information technology supports the organization in achieving its goals.
This includes upgrading its website to be more accessible, as well as improving videoconferencing capability and investing in other information technology.
•To increase public awareness and support, and build strong community partnerships.
This includes improving the DSSAB’s newsletter and expanding its distribution, engaging in activities to promote DSSAB to the community, expanding community partnerships, and ensuring there is sufficient time within the budget process to enable local municipal input.
The decision to have the AGM also tied into the new strategic plan.
“The board, as part of its newly-developed strategic plan, wants to ensure the municipalities, community partners, service providers, and the public are kept informed of the DSSAB’s annual progress,” said CAO Dan McCormick.
“This AGM is one of the first steps in achieving this goal,” he added.
The DSSAB will be reviewing its plan annually to see how it’s measuring up against its action items.
Chair report
In his annual report, Donaldson noted 2012 was “a year of transition, evaluation, and planning” for the local DSSAB.
The board hired McCormick as its new CAO, replacing Donna Dittaro, who had been with the organization since its inception.
Anthony Leek came aboard as the Township of Emo representative, replacing Gary Judson, while Gary Gamsby replaced Moe Henry, who had resigned as the Township of Morley rep.
“Another significant change was our decision to rejoin the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association [NOSDA] after several years of absence,” noted Donaldson.
He explaining NOSDA consists of all 10 DSSABs and the City of Sudbury, and currently represents all of the social service delivery agents in Northern Ontario.
Donaldson added he and McCormick attended the NOSDA AGM in Timmins, and were given a “warm welcome.”
“They felt that our rejoining strengthened the voice of NOSDA by making it unanimous, and we have already realized the benefits of membership in terms of education, training, and lobbying,” Donaldson said.
Meanwhile, Donaldson and Town of Fort Frances rep Ken Perry joined McCormick, two DSSAB managers, and two staff members last summer for a review of every position in the organization.
Donaldson said it was “an onerous task, it was a lot of hard work, and it was a really good thing to do.”
“We found that job descriptions were not accurately reflecting what people were doing and the format was not consistent,” he remarked.
“Some changes have been made, and work continues to revise the job descriptions and performance evaluations.”
The local DSSAB board also underwent its annual self-evaluation.
“That has shown that we are steadily improving at how we think we’re doing,” said Donaldson. “We’re working far more as a group.
“I think we still don’t always agree about things, but we can have those disagreements in a constructive way,” he reasoned, noting the board will “continue to work toward improving as a cohesive, responsible, and effective group.”
Donaldson said the DSSAB has an excellent board and thanked them all for their help and support.
He also acknowledged the committed and caring DSSAB staff and their continued efforts to provide quality programs.
“We have many excellent people who rise to the challenge every day in providing ‘Ontario Works,’ children’s services, social housing, and emergency medical services across our district,” he said.
Revisions to Corporate Bylaw No. 1 also were reviewed and adopted by the board at last week’s AGM.
The revisions were brought forward by the board’s Governance and Bylaw Committee to strengthen and clarify sections of the bylaw.
DSSAB’s audited financial statements also were received by the board and BDO Canada LLP was confirmed as the auditors for 2013.
Meeting reports and audited financial statements will be posted on the DSSAB website at www.rrdssab.ca