Entries in social services (1)


Policy Forum 2014: Collaborating for Social Services Success

The strongest theme to emerge from Policy Forum 2014: Connecting the Dots is that groups have to work in collaboration with each other. This theme was an underlying current at the table discussing Transforming Social Services. 

The policy forum was hosted by the Young Professionals Group (YPG) of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. It was based on an article by best-selling author, economist, thought leader and current Chancellor of Trent University, Don Tapscott. The article called “As Toronto dithers, Guelph sets sights on 21st century” was first published in the Toronto Star on Friday, October 17, 2014. Seven key areas for improving a community were identified: 

  1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity 
  2. Open Government 
  3. Turning Public Safety Inside Out 
  4. Rethinking Transportation 
  5. Creating a Sustainable City 
  6. Transforming Social Services 
  7. Reinventing Local Democracy 

So far in this seven-part series we have revealed the table discussions on entrepreneurship, open government and reinventing local democracy. Entrepreneurship wrapped up with a call for a coordinated strategy. Having an official strategy would allow all interest groups to map out the united front on entrepreneurship the community wants to present to its own residents, the province and beyond. 

Open government revealed six recommendations in total including two quick wins:1.Putting the councillor handbook online as a guide to government for all residents and 2. Using external language vs. internal language to communicate better with residents and businesses. 

The discussion around reinventing local democracy led to a call for community-building activities, such as a parallel council and highlighting Peterborough’s community areas to continue to engage all residents. 

The group at the table discussing public safety came to the conclusion that when it comes to this issue everyone in the community has a role to play. 

Transforming Social Services 

Lynn Zimmer, Executive Director of the YWCA was the table lead for the discussion on transforming our social services. 

The group identified the following as currently happening in Peterborough: 


  • Data sharing/ measurement/ evaluation/proof of outcomes by various organizations which then leads to streamlined & priority based funding 
  • Collaboration between organizations and joint community projects and committees on a variety of issues, from employment to housing and homelessness (Vital Signs, Who Works Where in Peterborough, the 10 year Homelessness and Housing Plan, The Social Planning Council’s Living Wage White Paper) 
  • The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough is seen as an asset though it is still in its infancy 
  • Increase in core funding 
  • Change in United Way funding – they are not sure if this will be positive or negative 
  • One-stop shopping program once a week for services at the YWCA 
  • Progress for various groups: Peterborough Council on Aging, The Mount development 
  • With an aging/aged population the need for services is increasing and there needs to be a focus on this particular demographic 


As a result of their discussion around the current situation, the group came up with one quick win, three short term goals and three longer term goals. 

Quick Win 

The Peterborough Volunteer 
According to the 2014 Vital Signs document which brought together 30 community groups, including the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Peterborough has a high rate of volunteerism at 51.9% compared to Ontario (47.7%) and Canada (47%). So the numbers show people are the power in Peterborough. The group discussing the issue felt there were best practices we could learn from each other to harness and efficiently utilize the giving spirit. They also wondered about a coordinated volunteer management system for the entire city. 

Short-term Goals 

Amalgamation and Networking of Organizations 
This was a theme that was common throughout the table discussion. In his original article Chancellor Tapscott wrote about the Guelph Wellbeing Leadership Group. This group is made up of 22 community leaders from different sectors, agencies and stakeholders within that city. Through this group they are able to pool resources inside and outside government to find solutions. 

This coordinated approach could fuel best practices, recording the experiences of those who have retired from the sector. 

With the current culture of making every penny count, pooling resources would save time and effort and make more efficient use of the taxpayer dollars that go to these services. 

Communicating About the Non-Profit Sector 
Getting the word out about the services available, the volunteer opportunities and the difference these groups are making in the lives of Peterborough’s most vulnerable residents. 

Tapping into Expertise 
The group felt that there is an untapped wealth of knowledge about the social services and non-profit sector in our senior population. They feel that starting an intergenerational conversation could lead to new opportunities and ideas. 

Long-term Goals 

This issue was identified as the most important long term goal, in that an effective, efficient and safe transportation system is needed for clients and employees. The group identified that the more transportation available the more accessible services would be. 

The group came away with a similar conclusion as the policy forum attendees discussing the need for a coordinated strategy to help develop entrepreneurs in Peterborough. Taking a “we’re all in this together approach” to social services could lead to a “Peterborough Wellbeing Leadership Group”, and with the dedicated volunteers in the city and county it sounds like a winning combination. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.