Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board (RRDSSAB) chair and mayor of Rainy River, Deb Ewald, was elected to the executive of the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) at its annual general meeting in Thunder Bay June 20-22.
According to its website, “NOSDA was formed to develop a co-operative and collaborative approach with municipalities and municipal organizations, to facilitate the consolidated municipal delivery of services in Northern Ontario. NOSDA is intended to create a political forum for reviewing and developing both policies and program delivery issues from a Northern perspective.”
Ewald was named one of two vice-chairs, she will serve with reelected vice-chair Mark King who is a North Bay councillor and chair of the Nipissing District Social Services Administration Board. Michelle Boileau, mayor of Timmins and chair of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board, will continue as NOSDA Chair.
Also in attendance at the meeting were RRDSSAB vice-chair Andrew Hallikas, and board members, Brendan Hyatt and Robert Burns. CAO Dan McCormick, along with Shelley Shute, director of integrated services, Sandra Weir, integrated services manager (housing lead), Tanis Fretter, integrated services manager (children’s services lead) and Chad Buist, paramedic services chief also attended.
In her role, Ewald says she will represent all of the northwest.
“I’ve been the chair for the Rainy River DSSAB for five years and they were looking for someone from the northwest, so I thought I’d step up,” Ewald said.
In representing the northwest, Ewald will represent the Kenora and Thunder Bay regions as well as her home district of Rainy River.
In addition to her experience as the current chair of RRDSSAB, Ewald has also served as executive vice-president of the Northern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA).
The meetings, built around the theme “Stronger and Better Together,” featured a number of speakers presenting on a variety of topics, such as social assistance modernization, the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement Funding Formula, and homelessness, addictions, and mental health in northern Ontario. Speaker panels also highlighted housing and homelessness,as well as community paramedicine. Key priorities of NOSDA, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), and NOMA were also presented.
Ewald says she believes she can be a good advocate for the Rainy River District as well as the whole northwest in this position.
“You’re advocating for your own, but you’re advocating for the whole area,” Ewald said. “We try to get everybody’s input on everything and so far it’s worked. It’s quite an effective board.”
The NOSDA membership approved 11 resolutions that will form the NOSDA priorities over the next year. NOSDA will also request delegations with various provincial ministers at the AMO and Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conferences to advocate for the northern priorities as articulated in the approved resolutions.
NOSDA brings together 11 service managers in northern Ontario responsible for the local planning, co-ordination, and delivery of Ontario Works, children’s services, community housing, and homelessness prevention programs.
This year’s AGM, the first in-person meeting since the pandemic, saw over 150 participants and was hosted by the Kenora District Services Board, the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board, and RRDSSAB.