Report from the Chair of the Board of Directors
June 19, 2023
Greetings to all LiveWorkPlay members, families, volunteers, staff, and community partners.
Preparing for the 2023 LiveWorkPlay Annual General Meeting, six of our current board members, including myself, have confirmed their intention to return for 2023-2024. This includes Kate Sherwood, Andrea Saldhana, Jon Doody, Danny Spagnolo, and Cathy Velazquez. We have one new candidate, Carole Sheppard, who has previously served on the Board, and is standing for election to fill a vacancy with the pending departure of Judith Eigenbrod. Andrea Saldanha was intending to stand for re-election but had to withdraw prior to the AGM due to family commitments. Just like Carole, we hope that Judith and Andrea will one day return to the Board as we have certainly appreciated their skills and perspective. The biographies of the six candidates standing for election at the AGM are in your AGM package. The Governance Committee will recruit a candidate for the vacancy left by Andrea, and we anticipate filling that position by the fall of 2023.
Over the course of 2022-2023, the Board convened eleven times for monthly Board meetings and a strategic planning retreat. Each Board member serves on either the Stewardship or Governance committee. Each committee typically met the week before our Board meetings. As Vice-Chair, Cathy Velazquez joined me and our Co-Leaders for an additional agenda planning meeting prior to our monthly committee meetings.
The Governance Committee and Stewardship Committee have both provided summaries for the annual report.
In last year’s report, Daniel Spagnolo spoke about the potential return to in-person Board meetings, but the Board and Executive Staff were unanimous in the decision to continue with virtual meetings. The reduction of travel time (or canceled meetings due to storms or other issues) has made the meetings more accessible, and there have been no issues with achieving quorum. As our 2022-2023 Board year wrapped up, we committed to organizing at least one in-person gathering, and board members committed to increase our attendance at organizational gatherings, such as the Family Feast dinners and the Make A Buzz event.
Attention to pandemic issues has dominated operational and governance conversations for the better part of three years, and we are working to get up to speed on some of the latest developments. There are two major reform processes underway within the Government of Ontario that impact our Community team and our Employment team.
The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services announced Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion back in 2021. This is a reform plan that MCCSS describes as “a long-term vision for developmental services.” Although there are few details available at this point, the Board is actively engaged in all opportunities to better understand this vision, and the type of outcomes that the plan expects to deliver. We continue to work with like-minded organizations at the local, provincial, national, and international level to ensure that Ontario moves forward in advancing the citizenship and inclusion of autistic persons and individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The transformation of employment supports in Ontario is at a more advanced stage. We are now in year three, and the plan is coming into full effect in the Ottawa area. This means that LiveWorkPlay employment services are no longer under contract with the Ontario Disability Employment Supports (ODSP) program at MCCSS. Those services have shifted to Employment Ontario and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD).
As part of this transformation, a Systems Services Manager (SSM) now holds the contract for our region. The SSM for LiveWorkPlay is a for-profit corporation called WCG. Effective January 2023, within the parameters established by MLITSD, WCG will choose who to contract for employment services and what the targets will be. The new system provides less funding and less flexible supports, so LiveWorkPlay has work to do to share our knowledge, experience, and prior learnings. We are already in conversation with WCG to explore potential solutions to address the funding gap. For more information, please refer to the Report on Operations.
There is recognition from WCG that LiveWorkPlay is one of the top providers of Employment Supports for people with disabilities in the province, and they have expressed their enthusiasm to work together to continue delivering great results for the most marginalized jobseekers. This is change presents a new and significant challenge, but those who know the history of LiveWorkPlay understand that we excel at building partnership and alliances, using innovative models and approaches. It will like take time to work through this transition, but our delivery of employment supports is incredibly important for our community, and we are all committed to doing our best and find ways to grow our positive impact.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the LiveWorkPlay staff team for the dedication and energy each of you bring to your work every day. We know that like so many other human services workers, you are the unsung heroes of the pandemic. The Community team worked tirelessly to assist people in their own homes, moving back in with family, moving back out after living with family, you name it, it all happened! And now the team is excited to assist our members in re-engaging with the leisure, arts, sports, entertainment, and recreation pursuits that they love.
The Employment Supports team have found jobs for people when none seemed available, helped others pivot to working from home, and supported people who lost their jobs to prepare for future opportunities. As the federal public service partnerships continued to expand, you helped to support a significant increase in indeterminate (permanent) positions.
To our more than 150 volunteers, we have seen you celebrating with our members at Friday Night Meetups all over the city, week in and week out, as well as building friendships through one-to-one matching. Your presence and conversations at our gatherings are a demonstration of how our mission, vision, and values come to life every day.
To our Executive Staff team Keenan and Julie, we thank you for your energy and commitment to continuous improvement. Your willingness and curiosity to learn and your proven record of adapting to challenging situations has not waned over time. In recent years, we have seen you lead significant changes with great successes and recognition by organizations near and far.
To all community partners, members, and families, a big thank you for your efforts this year and for all that you do every day to deliver the vision of LiveWorkPlay. Your grace and understanding throughout the challenging pandemic times was inspirational. The joy and enthusiastic ovations at Make A Buzz Ottawa has warmed our hearts.
We are looking forward to another fulfilling year. Even with the uncertainty of some external pressures, we are excited to continue in service to the LiveWorkPlay mission and our members and feel truly grateful to be part of such a great organization.
Chair, Board of Directors
Report from the LiveWorkPlay Stewardship Committee 2022-2023
Daniel Spagnolo, Chair
June 19, 2023
Summary of Activity
The 2022-2023 Stewardship Committee (SC) was comprised of Board of Directors (BOD) members Daniel Spagnolo (Chair), Robin McIntyre and Cathy Velazquez with Executive Staff member Julie Kingstone (Co-Leader and Director of Operations).
The Committee met 8 times during the year to support the Board’s fiduciary obligations related to our federal incorporation under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA), our status as a Canada Revenue Agency registered charity, and other oversight obligations. The scope of work for the SC included monitoring regulatory and financial reporting, providing oversight on behalf of the Board in the areas of finance, audit, investment, and risk management.
LiveWorkPlay has built a solid and sustainable foundation to deliver services to our members, families, and the community. The SC supports the Executive Team in managing resources, including the maintenance of current revenue streams, as well as the development of new short-term and long-term funding opportunities, be it with government funders, foundations, or the private sector.
Members of the SC support these efforts by sharing their knowledge and expertise and challenging the status quo by exploring opportunities for efficiencies or expanded revenues. Although we are continually investigating ways to strengthen LiveWorkPlay, the importance of delivering for our members and their families is always top of mind.
In 2022-2023, the SC provided oversight through the following activities:
- Reviewed and recommended the annual budget to the Board.
- Reviewed and recommended quarterly financial reports to the Board.
- Monitored key performance indicators.
- Reviewed budget variances and year-over-year comparatives.
- Reviewed funding proposals.
- Ensured compliance with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) Risk Assessment process.
- Ensured compliance with the annual Transfer Payment Agency Reconciliation (TPAR) process.
- Prepared for and reviewed the results of the annual financial audit.
Financial Reporting and Key Performance Indicators
At the beginning of the fiscal year, the BOD accepted the SC recommendation to move the reporting of financial information from monthly back to quarterly. After piloting monthly financial reviews in the prior fiscal year, it was determined a quarterly review is more efficient and effective in the SC’s ability to provide oversight and identify trends and is a better investment of time for the Director of Operations and our bookkeeping service provider at Charity acCOUNTS. There are many minor variances that occur from month to month that are solely based on the timing of expenditures and receivables, so the perspective provided by quarterly reports has been determined as the optimal schedule. Additionally, the SC continues to meet monthly, and the Director of Operations and/or Charity acCounts will continue to bring forward any concerns that might occur between the quarterly reports.
During the year, the SC helped build the new quarterly financial reporting template and worked with the Director of Operations to transition preparation and presentation tasks related to the quarterly financial report to the bookkeeping team at Charity acCounts, and we will continue to evolve this process as needed. The SC is pleased with the evolution of internal financial reporting and with the positive relationship established between Charity acCOUNTS, the Director of Operations, and our committee. The Director of Operations has multiple duties, and the addition of a professional bookkeeping service has reduced some of the workload thanks to new shared responsibilities.
The SC continued to monitor key performance indicators (KPI) on a quarterly basis, as these metrics are early indicators of potential areas for concern. As noted in the prior year, the SC observed minimal variances in these metrics through the year. KPI will continue to be monitored, as an established financial reporting best practice.
The SC continued monthly monitoring of LiveWorkPlay’s funding pipeline. This tool allows for the SC to carry out its oversight of grants and funding arrangements with annualized, short-term, and long-term funders and funding agreements. Through the Executive Staff monthly report, the Director of Operations provides monthly updates of the status of grants applications and other pending funding opportunities allowing the SC an opportunity to discuss trends and consider the results in the overall context of the organization’s financial health.
Risk Identification and Management
The SC reviews LiveWorkPlay’s risk management processes and uses a quality risk register to ensure the accuracy of the LiveWorkPlay risk profile. The risk register includes a 120-180-day view of key risk areas, including new change initiatives and the associated risk mitigation plans and controls.
The risk register continues to be particularly helpful in tracking the identification and assessment of risks related to the achievement of strategic objectives within acceptable levels of risk.
MCCSS continues to forgo some of the typical regulatory practices, such as the Quality Assurance Measures Audit and the Annual Risk Assessment process. The change in the scheduling of these processes was intended to lighten the load for agencies that were dealing with the added responsibilities of managing pandemic pressures. LiveWorkPlay is fully prepared for the resumption of the regular schedule of these activities and has successfully met all interim requirements established by MCCSS during this time.
The SC were notified of pandemic procedural changes and risks related to the COVID-19 and the implementation of established controls. This activity was monitored through our Quarterly Risk Register reviews. Developmental Services guidance and local public health guidance were not always the same, so the SC and Director of Operations also worked with the Director of Communications to ensure that information provided to members and families was as clear and accurate as possible in explaining these differences and what they would mean for service delivery.
The Stewardship Committee has continued to monitor trends in the attraction and retention of staff within the Developmental Services sector as well as broader labour market considerations. The pandemic pay premium was annualized by MCCSS during the year for community staff, and LiveWorkPlay also completed its three-year moderation period under Bill 124 which limited salary increases to 1%. With SC recommendation, the BOD approved new salary grids for front line and supervisory staff which resulted in increased salaries, and the pension plan was upgraded from OP Trust Select to CAAT Pension Plan for all staff.
New Stewardship Initiatives
As requested by the SC, the Director of Operations has identified strategic projects and initiatives for inclusion in the 2023-24 budget, such as the development of the Client Management system, Diversity Equity and Inclusion Training, the Employment Transformation process, and the BOD planned work related to strategic priorities. In addition, the SC requested that the Director of Operations include all known and planned grant proposals in its budgeted revenues and include budgeted expenditures in the 2023-2024 budgeted revenues and expenditures.
The activities of the SC remain focused on prudent fiscal management, risk management, and fulfilling our regulatory requirements while we support Executive Staff with the implementation of new initiatives and innovative approaches to challenges old and new. We are thankful that our committee members can contribute to such a tremendous organization and building the LiveWorkPlay community in a truly meaningful way.
We have much to celebrate again this year, especially our exceptional staff, volunteers and Executive Staff team who prioritize the needs of our members and their families in all aspects of their work.
Chair, Stewardship Committee
Report from the LiveWorkPlay Governance Committee 2022-2023
Kate Sherwood, Chair
June 19, 2023
Summary of Activity
The Governance Committee (GC) was comprised of Board members Andrea Saldanha, Jon Doody, Judith Eigenbrod, and Kate Sherwood (Chair), as well as Executive Staff Keenan Wellar (Co-Leader and Director of Communications) who also serves as Secretary to the Board. The committee met monthly throughout the 2022-2023 Board term. Some of our activities are explained in greater detail in the sections below, but here is a brief overview of some of our routine work:
- Ensuring regulatory reporting requirements are filed and updated as needed by the Secretary (example: Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA) form 4006, which provides an accurate record of current Board members.
- Supporting Executive Staff performance.
- Managing the board-building cycle (recruitment, onboarding, support).
- Ensuring completion of the Executive Staff Certificate of Compliance (signed annually).
- Ensuring the Annual General Meeting is held and that all proper notifications are sent to voting members of the organization within the required timeframes.
- Completing an annual review of the Governance Committee mandate and workplan.
- Completing an annual review of organization By-Laws and LiveWorkPlay Corporate Purposes.
- Completing an annual review of Governance Policies.
- Supporting Board development activities, including a yearly retreat, and planning for internal and external guests, typically at least one meeting that includes a presentation from LiveWorkPlay front line and/or supervisory staff.
Supporting Executive Staff Performance
The Governance Committee continued with our role in supporting Executive Staff performance through individual coaching sessions which occur three times each board year. The GC has determined that this approach is valuable, provides space for open dialogue, and provides time for our co-leaders to engage in robust discussions of challenges and opportunities in ways that would not be possible during our scheduled Board meetings. With management of the COVID-19 pandemic not as significant a challenge during this board year, Keenan Wellar and Julie Kingstone were able to focus on other priorities and concerns in our conversations.
A background document is utilized and updated in the coaching process, but this is an informal process that is intended to provide a reference point to previous discussions and how they have evolved over time.
The Governance Committee wishes to make certain that our membership understands that along with the Stewardship Committee and the Board of Directors as a whole, we receive substantial information (outside of our coaching process) related to the performance of the organization as well as the specific work of the co-leaders (Executive Staff). This ranges from a monthly Executive Staff Report which includes, as a matter of routine, updates on funding, events, communications, Employment Transformation, Developmental Services, Community Outreach/Advocacy/Partnerships, Media/Communications/Marketing, Executive Staff Priorities, and finally, the disclosure of any complaints or serious occurrences.
You will also note the financial oversight role of the Stewardship Committee, which meets monthly and approves quarterly reports that are reviewed by the Board as a whole. Financial oversight includes external parties such as the independent auditor Ross Holmes, and other reporting to third parties such as the Quality Assurance Measures audits and risk registry reporting for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
Our coaching sessions provide opportunities for our Executive Staff to identify and discuss goals, challenges, and opportunities that would not be captured during our regular committee and board meeting routines.
By way of example, and with permission, we can share that Keenan Wellar started the year weighing various considerations related to the return of live events and used coaching sessions to share the evolving thinking and planning about options and changes. GC members are not decision-makers on event planning, but Keenan benefited from an open dialogue about the pros, cons, challenges, and opportunities of a return to live events.
As another example, Julie Kingstone has been leading various technological improvements related to onboarding and staff training, which requires managing the challenge of supporting busy staff to understand and adopt new processes. Julie valued the opportunity to discuss this with people who know the organization but are not involved in daily operations.
We can confirm that the coaching sessions will proceed at the interval of three times per Board year, in September, January and April, and that there are no significant changes planned with respect to the overall performance management process. The GC, to ensure transparency, will review the summary documents from our work with performance management consultant David Chalmers, which is the genesis of our approach, and add this to our annual workplan; for additional clarity for the membership and our board colleagues going forward.
Ongoing Board Recruitment
Current and continuing, as well as outgoing Board members, are often critical contributors to building our Board pipeline, and at the GC we certainly appreciate that it is part of our culture utilize personal and professional networks for our board-building needs. The GC recognizes that this should not be our only means of recruitment, and that what the Board and the organization needs might not always be available to us through this method. In light of planned work on our newest strategic direction related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, we will need to consider additional recruitment efforts and are looking forward to evolving our efforts.
For AGM 2023 we have to say goodbye to Judith Eigenbrod and Andrea Saldhana, who need a break from Board work to focus on family and career. As luck would have it however, Carole Sheppard, who had taken some time off from the Board herself, is ready to return and will be standing for election alongside 5 current members hoping to return to their role. We will recruit a new member for the vacancy left by Andrea, and we expect to fill that position by the fall of 2023.
Beginning in the fall of 2023 we expect to have an online portal for Board member orientation, and we think this will be a valuable tool for recruitment and onboarding. There will still be live interviews and conversations, but prospective Board members will now be able to complete their basic Board readiness activities on their own time, reducing the challenge of scheduling appointments with Executive Staff and other Board member.
Board Effectiveness Feedback
The GC continues to oversee the Board effectiveness feedback process. This has traditionally included a survey that follows every Board meeting and a more thorough semi-annual review. The information from these processes is an opportunity for the Governance Committee to provide the Board with an annual update on how we are doing as individuals and as a collective. For 2023-24 we look forward to refreshing the approach to collecting feedback. We will be reviewing all current surveys, their timing, and what relationship the feedback has to the actual work of the Board and the conduct of our meetings.
Supporting New Board Members
The Board has a “buddy system” established and overseen by the GC that continues to be positively received as a means of welcoming and supporting new members. Connection with a tenured board member provides an additional resource for new members outside of the support available to them through the Chair and their Committee assignment. New board members have always indicated that they were appreciative of the process and felt welcomed and supported.
Supporting Board Development
Each year the governance committee recommends learning and development activities for the Board, the most significant of these activities being a day-long retreat which took place in January of 2023. This year the GC invited consultant Mike Coxon to facilitate a morning session centered on strategic planning.
Our previous strategic process dates to 2020, when the Board identified four strategic direction pillars of Just Enough Support, Employment, Knowledge Development and Transfer, and Community First. The details of these pillars can be found in our Annual Report 2020 https://liveworkplay.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020-annual-report.pdf
The key result of our strategic considerations from the 2023 retreat was to commit to further investment in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility learning and training. This will include formal training activities commencing in 2023-2024 with consultant David Chalmers, and the Board will then take stock and make decisions about additional activities and training, whether this involves further investment in staff training, board training, or both. Like most of our work, DEIA is not something you ever finish, so we recognize that this is about strengthening our baseline in the pursuit of continuous improvement.
It has been an exciting year for the Governance Committee. The work at the retreat revealed tremendous progress since the establishment of the 2020 priorities, and with the addition of our DEIA pillar, has given focus to a new priority for 2023-2024.
As Chair of the Governance Committee, I want to thank all members for your support, advice, candor, and collaboration. I have enjoyed the challenge of contributing to our innovative online events, I am thankful for the opportunities we had this year to be together in person, and I continue to appreciate the generosity of our members and families towards the entire LiveWorkPlay organization.
Chair, Governance Committee
Report on Operations, Including Strategic Directions Update
Julie Kingstone, Director of Operations
June 19, 2023
It was great to see so many of you in person at Make A Buzz on May 11! It is hard to believe that another year has gone by.
It is my pleasure to provide for a few operational updates for the year, progress on our collective work in the pursuit of our strategic directions, and a brief look ahead to 2023-2024.
Although there was more certainty around COVID-19 and strategies to live with COVID, in many ways, the changes and transitions of 2022-2023 were just as challenging for people we support, caregivers, staff, and volunteers. I wanted to recognize these challenges, and thank everyone for their patience, understanding, and effort for getting through a very tough year.
Thank you to our Board of Directors! Robin, Cathy, Danny, Kate, Andrea Jon, and Judith: your continued efforts and commitment to helping LiveWorkPlay to improve and evolve is appreciated. Through the pandemic and with so many meetings gone virtual, much of your work has taken place behind the scenes, but you have not cancelled even one meeting, having juggled the challenges of your own personal and professional lives, and worked as a team to make sure all our governance responsibilities stayed on track.
Over the last year we have had 50% staff turnover, the highest levels of staffing changes in the history of LiveWorkPlay. We are not alone: COVID and shifts in demographics have impacted all sectors. Fortunately, although we have had turnover, we do not have any vacancies – some agencies in the sector have unfilled positions that are remaining open for several weeks or even months. LiveWorkPlay continues to attract amazing candidates, but this is demanding and challenging work, and especially with people new to the field, only experience will truly reveal if it is the right fit for them.
We are a currently have an amazing team of 28 full-time staff. We all work together all the time, but here is a breakdown that helps explain it in the context of our two service areas: community and employment.
Community Team (15 total)
- 12 community staff who support individuals to build a life of their choosing in the community, plus one Volunteer Coordinator and two Team Lead positions.
Employment Team (10 total)
- 8 full-time employment staff who work with jobseekers and employers, plus one Team Lead, and one Project Manager.
We also have 2 summer students, ready to help wherever they are needed.
Other (3 total)
- One intake coordinator who supports both the community and employment team.
- One Co-Leader and Director of Communications
- One Co-Leader and Director of Operations
The Basics: Operational Update
During the past year we supported over 300 individuals, and some with more than one type of service. That is why adding up the numbers below will give you a total of more than 300.
60 of the individuals we support received help to live successfully in homes of their own. Supports have been provided in-person as well as remotely. What the supports look like, and the number of hours involved with direct and indirect support depends on many varied factors, but all supports are delivered according to the same set of person-centred principles.
Over the last year, we have supported 90 individuals with community connecting with over 80 one-to-one matches, virtual meetups offered 3 times a week, and a return to weekly in-person Friday night meetups (as restrictions lifted) all with the aim of keeping people connected. We could not do this work without the dedication and commitment of over 150 volunteers!
The Employment team has supported over 300 individuals in various stages of employment, securing 50 new jobs that have lasted 13 weeks or longer, and supporting the retention of over 140 jobs. Those are not typos; it is a lot of jobs!
The community continues to take steps to reopen and get back to normal, or at least, a new normal. We know everyone has diverse levels of comfort re-engaging in community activities and routines, and we hope it gets a little bit easier each day.
It has been a year since we began working with CHARITY acCOUNTS! to take over day-to-day bookkeeping and accounting duties, previously delivered entirely (outside of the work of the independent auditor) by Julie Kingstone. I am happy to report that this decision was a good one and has made a significant difference in the organization’s ability to respond to other priority areas, as well as strengthening and improving our bookkeeping processes and reporting abilities to both our Board of Directors and funders.
It has also been one year since we engaged CHARITY acCOUNTS! to provide on-going technology support with to our team, work that was mostly delivered previously by Keenan Wellar. I am happy to report that this decision has also been a success. Of note, CHARITY acCOUNTS! now completes most of the technology onboarding, as well as ongoing troubleshooting assistance. Although Keenan, Anthony Stratton, and many other staff often assist colleagues with technical issues, that has become a “once in a while” experience, not a daily responsibility.
Strategic Directions and Actions Update
Strategic Direction 1 – JUST ENOUGH SUPPORT
Scale up living and community supports using our “just enough support” approach.
In 2022-2023 we continued to research and develop ways of tracking and measuring LiveWorkPlay’s impact in providing Supported Independent Living and evaluating the outcomes of our Just Enough Support approach. In 2023-2024 we will be implementing the new framework, which will be based on measurements drawn from a combination of tools, including The Council of Quality and Leadership (CQL), City of Ottawa’s Community Funding Evaluation Framework, and John O’Brien’s The Five Accomplishments.
In the area of Employment, we are conducting a pilot project with Brain in Hand, an application available on a smart phone and or tablet that is customized to the needs of the individual. The app facilitates support in the workplace, including notifications to the employment support team when situations arise that need urgent attention.
Strategic Direction 2 – EMPLOYMENT
Scale up participation in inclusive labour market development.
We continue to work well with Ready, Willing and Able (RWA), a national employment initiative led by Inclusion Canada (delivered by Community Living Ontario for the Ottawa area). RWA (national) funded two LiveWorkPlay Employment initiatives this year, including supporting 20 youth to obtain summer employment (2023) and funding for a 15-month period to support the work we are doing with supporting the Federal Government of Canada to scale up hires of jobseekers with disabilities across Canada. There are 73 individuals actively working across 38 Federal Government departments and agencies, 20 of which are in indeterminate positions which means permanent positions.
LiveWorkPlay continued to prepare for the provincial Employment Transformation. In December 2022, WCG was announced as the Employment Service System Manager (SSM) for the Ottawa area (WCG is the Canadian branch of APM, a global human services organization). We have been meeting with representatives from WCG over the last few months to ensure as smooth a transition as possible to the new relationship and funding model. The transition from working directly with ODSP-Employment Support has begun and will be completed by December 31, 2023.
Strategic Direction 3 – KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFER
Create and share practical knowledge regarding just enough support, person-centered support, person-centered organization development, employment outcomes, and partnerships. This includes fee-for-service consulting and training as a revenue-generating social enterprise that supports the organization’s mission.
The activities under this Strategic Direction were limited due to the pandemic, but over the past year we did deliver on several learning and training contracts with several federal government departments and agencies, as well as non-profit organizations in our sector.
We have been busy developing training content and setting up an on-line training portal for our own staff with the help of a grant of $75,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. We will be continuing to add updated content over time, but this is already up and running for staff, is soon to be available for the board, and may be explored for volunteers and other audiences as well.
Strategic Direction 4 – COMMUNITY FIRST
Provide leadership in building engaged and inclusive communities.
With the community opening back up and people returning to more of a pre-pandemic lifestyle, we have seen a significant increase in new volunteers! Since January we have added 30 new volunteers to support both Friday night meetups and one-to-one matches. The direct local impact of volunteers is largely unprecedented in our sector, and those relationships provide a micro demonstration of our mission in action, in tandem with our macro work in policy and human rights advocacy.
Locally, LiveWorkPlay has been working closely with our colleagues in the Ottawa Developmental Services Network (ODSN) to leverage resources and collaborate more effectively, which led to a year of ongoing joint training initiatives.
Provincially, nationally, and international, information about these partnerships is found in the Report on Communications, Social Media, and Advocacy Partnerships such as our ongoing relationships with Community Living Ontario, From Presence To Citizenship, and Inclusion International.
Looking ahead: 2023-2024
The Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services (MCCSS) continues to provide updates on the Developmental Services Reform Policy Framework Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion. At the direction of MCCSS, KPMG corporation has completed a costing-study that MCCSS has chosen as a means for developing what is described as an “individualized funding model.” It is not yet clear what that phrase might mean, and part of the process is to identify this more clearly.
MCCSS continues to be in what they describe as the “design phase” leading to a “test phase” beginning in 2024, concluding with “full implementation” by the end of 2027. Although we are just 6 months from the start of 2024, we do not yet know what is being tested. MCCSS has stated that they remain committed to receiving feedback from individuals with intellectual disabilities, family members and service providers. LiveWorkPlay will continue to closely monitor these processes and identify these opportunities whenever they com available.
LiveWorkPlay is committed to working with allies to advocate for a principled approach to Developmental Services. Huge progress has been made towards developing more inclusive communities since the 1950s and the beginnings of the de-institutionalization process, but there is not guarantee that we will continue moving forward.
We look forward to strengthening our relationship with WCG and continuing to support jobseekers to obtain and maintain employment. There are serious barriers to overcome with many of the pending changes, but this is not the first time we have faced pressures from systems change.
Finally, we are excited to be expanding our learning with respect to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) to look for ways to further improve and evolve our internal workplace culture, as well as with the community at large. We will be sharing more about this in the fall of 2023 and beyond.
We know this was a challenging year but spending three hours with 200 of you at Make A Buzz, the meaningful connections remain, and in many ways have been strengthened by the many formal and informal supports we provided to each other through the pandemic.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Welcome Back BBQ and Staff Recognition at TD Place September 6, 2023. Get your tickets now, the summer will fly by, and you do not want to miss it.
Director of Operations
Report on Communications, Including Partnerships in Advocacy Update
Keenan Wellar, Director of Operations
June 19, 2923
I can never say it enough: without people with intellectual disabilities and autistic persons and their family members honouring us with the opportunity to support them, and allowing us to share parts of their lives with the world, most of what I will be discussing below would be impossible. Thank you.
Website, Social Media, E-News, and Mainstream Media Update
There were 15 published articles on the LiveWorkPlay.ca website news feed over the past year (essentially, blog posts) so we averaged a post about every three weeks, a similar frequency to last year.
Visits to our website were up, with about 6000 unique visitors to our website each month (as compared to 4000 last year) visiting about 16000 times, and total page views coming in at about 50000. This means each person averages 2-3 separate visits per month, and on average spends time on 2-3 different pages. What are they doing there? They are primarily reading LiveWorkPlay news stories and getting contact information, which makes sense. A lot of our website visitors arrive on our website after seeing posts on social media.
Also in the top three is the page explaining how to access services – this was not in the top ten last year, which was a problem, because we know it is what people often want most. The increase is due to our Facebook page private message settings, which were updated to direct registration inquiries to the services page on our website.
The news content on our website is part of our social media strategy – most people do not see our news stories first by visiting our website, they are clicking on a link in social media and ending up there because they want more information. But we do also have some website visitors that are downloading important documents like our federal public service employment case study, accessing our Just Enough Support videos and transcripts, and they even like reading our annual reports. It’s true!
Our Mailchimp electronic newsletter has jumped by about 200 subscriptions, with over 850 members on the public e-news and just over 300 for the insider e-news (for members and families). We post 1-2 times a month to these lists. There is also a Mailchimp just for volunteers, managed by the Volunteer Coordinator, which posts about once a month, and is now just under 140 subscribers, meaning close to 100% of our volunteers are on board.
We have just over 6700 followers on Twitter, which is slightly lower than last year. It is a reality that many individuals and organizations have left the Twitter platform in response to the change in management of the company. We typically post 10-20 original tweets per month which usually earns between 3000 and 9000 views. This year our April numbers were off the charts thanks to a well-received National Volunteer Week campaign with a launch video featuring interim Volunteer Coordinator Batoul Auf (who has since moved into a Team Lead role) and a daily series of morning and afternoon visuals featuring Friday Night Meetups and One-To-One Matches. This campaign was responsible for the staggering 9,854 views for the month.
As discussed last year, LiveWorkPlay has continued to slowly add to our Instagram presence, we now have over 1000 followers (up about 10%) and posting has increased from 2-3 times to 3-4 times a week. As with all our social media channels, we are not present on Instagram just to broadcast about ourselves, we support our friends and allies by liking their posts.
We have added more than 250 new followers to our company page on LinkedIn, with a total of 1170. There is not a lot of conversational activity to be found on our company page, but given our partnership with employers, it is important that we are on this platform so businesses can see our results. It is also a useful site for showcasing job opportunities, and we are aware that many candidates used LinkedIn as part of their research to learn about the organization and our team.
Our YouTube channel now has over 220,000 video views, which sounds like a lot, but most of our videos get about 50 views a year and it all just adds up over time. We added about 40 public videos over the past year, and once again about half of those are segments from our online events. We have over 460 subscribers (up 20) and we got over 10000 views this year (about the same as last year). A lot of effort goes into organizing our videos into playlists, for example, there is an employment playlist that brings together all our employment-related videos. There is almost no interaction on our YouTube site, and we use it for the convenience of embedding our videos in blog posts and ease of sharing with others who may not want to use other platforms. It’s like a video library of LiveWorkPlay history and it can be a fun walk down memory lane.
Finally, the LiveWorkPlay Facebook page has over 4000 likes (followers) and almost 15000 people (individual accounts) viewed posts from our page (this compares to 1500 on Instagram, so Facebook is still the dominant favourite of the LiveWorkPlay community). In a busy month like May, we average more than a post per day.
Our Facebook group, which is private and therefore has a limited membership, has over 420 members now, with 1-2 posts per day (unlike the page, our members can post their own content, and they often do, with impressive photos of their adventures around the city). The group averages 3-5 comments per day, and 20-25 reactions (like, laugh, etc.) per day.
Our mainstream media interactions were limited again this year but included a popular Rogers Daytime TV interview with Keenan Wellar, just before our 28th anniversary Make A Buzz 2023 event.
It was not a feature about LiveWorkPlay, but rather about accessible transportation, but certainly part of Daniel Pinsonneault’s story, as featured in a BBC online videos series, highlighted many LiveWorkPlay connections. In the video, Daniel discusses his job at Costco, his home at Multifaith Housing Initiative (The Haven in Barrhaven), and Friday Night Meetups.
Originally released in October 22, the BBC story came in at #5 on The LiveWorkPlay News (TLN) special edition Top 22 of 22 that was broadcast in January 2023, and then made the TLN countdown again for the first quarter of 2023 coming in at #18 thanks to a CBC radio story with Daniel and the newly retired former OC Transpo Accessible Transit Specialist Kathy Riley. We’ll say more about TLN and LiveWorkPlay events later in this report.
Partners In Advocacy Update
Community Living Ontario continues to support LiveWorkPlay and other member organizations with the Update Friday weekly e-news, and they carried numerous LiveWorkPlay stories in 2022-2023. Additionally, LiveWorkPlay participated in and occasionally facilitated breakout sessions for the Community of Practice for individualized and inclusive supports, as well as the new Communications Network, with Keenan Wellar presenting at one of the monthly sessions and contributing on the committee.
Keenan also continued with the Ontario Developmental Services Workforce Initiative Recruitment-Focused Marketing Sub-Committee (a reminder, he was not given the opportunity to bring his skills to bear in the naming of the committee). The group has delivered quality work in crafting modern and inclusive messaging to promote the opportunities and benefits of working in the Developmental Services sector, but there is also a fatigue setting in with this type of activity, because marketing and promotions is not going to solve the staffing crisis that is facing so many agencies across the province. DS budgets continue losing ground to inflationary pressures, and that is not a problem that marketing can solve.
The From Presence To Citizenship (FPTC) provincial advocacy collaborative, of which LiveWorkPlay is a founding member, has seen numerous changes in leadership, and is currently regrouping. Current members got together in May and will be reaching out to colleagues at the Community Living Ontario annual conference at the end of September. With so many unknowns about the future of the sector, and every agency still recovering from the unrelenting pressures of the pandemic, it is a vulnerable time for people with intellectual disabilities, autistic persons, their families, and organizations that support them. We need to advocate for clarity and transparency in the Journey to Belonging service reform process, which has thus far been a worrisome headscratcher for even the most seasoned of Developmental Services experts.
The consequences of involving profit motive in the care sector have been noted (and well documented) with devastating consequences in Long-Term Care. An expansion of privatized developmental services in other countries, including the United Kingdom, has resulted in catastrophic systemic failures, and it is important for advocates, family members, and community agencies to work together to ensure that Ontario does not head down this same dangerous path. One of the challenges is trying to understand when increased privatization is occurring, as words like “marketplace” or “choice” or even “inclusion” can have an unclear meaning when not tied to clear outcomes and standards. Explaining these nuances to a public audience is going to be a serious challenge over the coming year.
On a more positive note, our nearest geographical FTPC member is Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley (Pembroke), and they are helping organize conversations with nearby agencies (outside of the Ottawa region) so we can think about ways to support each other with learning and training opportunities. This is in addition to our ongoing membership in the Ottawa Developmental Services Network (ODSN) of local agencies, which engaged in extensive outreach over the past year, including online and in person events focused on including families in the conversations.
LiveWorkPlay is a member of many different advocacy organizations with mandates from housing to employment to human rights, and with jurisdictions that are local, provincial, national, and international scope.
One of the notable developments this year, which is an outcome of previous work dating back to 2018, is a newly established committee at Inclusion International. LiveWorkPlay’s Director of Employment Supports, Anna Nelson, has found herself on the Inclusive Employment Policy Working Group, which is really picking up steam in 2023. Among the tasks ahead, this committee will support the development of a position statement on inclusive employment to be ratified by Inclusion International’s global membership and adopted as the official position of the network. For those unfamiliar with Inclusion International, their policy papers are very influential, and often find their way into United Nations statements, conventions, and policy forums.
What a difference a year makes. In June 2022, we moved with both excitement and caution into a return to in-person events with an outdoor barbecue event at TD Place. It was so well received, we did it again in September. We know everyone would like two of these events again this summer, but we had financial help with the costs last year from the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and the City of Ottawa. It seems far off now, but we’ll have a blast on September 6, 2023. See you there!
Everyone was a little rusty with their socializing when we returned to our first in-person indoor event, the Festive Family Feast at St. Anthony’s (now known as Preston Event Centre). It was very emotional, and people were happy but tired, heading for the doors before our wonderful entertainer Kenny Hayes got halfway through his set. We saw that, and we learned.
For the Welcome To Spring Family Feast in March, we cut back on the agenda, and had our first ever live edition of The LiveWorkPlay News. But by the time the chicken supreme hit the table, the microphone was turned off, and everyone had a blast just chatting and relaxing.
By the time Make A Buzz 2023, our 28th anniversary party, rolled around on May 11, it felt like old times again. We still worked hard to give everyone plenty of time to socialize, but the awards were back, the 50/50, and the auction (the auction was 100% online, which helped us keep the event to a total of about 3 hours). The reaction to the award ceremonies showed that the LiveWorkPlay community was ready to laugh, cry, and simply explode with joy. It took some time to warm up, but by the time the Rob More Good Life award was announced by Mike More, 200 people sounded like 2000, as they raised the roof with a standing ovation for honoree Matt Suttie.
Director of Communications
Report from the Independent Auditor
The report was given verbally at the AGM, but the audited statements are available here.
Board Member Biographies
Board member biographies are available here.
DRAFT MINUTES ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2023 – JUNE 19, 6:00 PM (VIA ZOOM)
The draft minutes will not be official until adopted by members at AGM 2024.
1) Call to Order and Opening Remarks from Secretary to the Board, Keenan Wellar.
2) Approval of the Agenda by Voting Members (Keenan Wellar).
First: Jon Doody
Second: Mary Ann Wilcox
3) Proposal for Remote Voting Procedure (Keenan Wellar).
Voting to be conducted by a show of hands via Zoom.
First: Jon Doody
Second: Mary Ann Wilcox
4) Approval of the Minutes from 2022 (Keenan Wellar).
First: Jon Doody
Second: Robin McIntyre
5) Report from the Independent Auditor (Ross Holmes)
This will be the last AGM for Ross Holmes as our Independent Auditor after almost 20 years serving in that capacity. The new auditor will be determined this summer.
Mr. Holmes reviewed the audited statements which are available online https://liveworkplay.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Draft-Audited-Financials-LiveWorkPlay-March-31-2023.pdf
6) Approval of the Audited Financial Statements (Keenan Wellar).
First: Kaye Kwok
Second: Nancy Brodie
7) Appointment of the auditor for 2023-2024 (Keenan Wellar).
Although Mitchell & Holmes will not be our auditing firm for AGM 2024, Ross Holmes has agreed to continue until a new auditor is appointed.
First: Robin McIntyre
Second: Mary Ann Wilcox
8) Message from the Chair (Robin McIntyre).
For items 8-15, each presenter made brief comments drawn from the detailed reports provided in the AGM package, which are also a part of the Annual Report document https://liveworkplay.ca/liveworkplay-annual-report-2023/
Additional information that was not included in the original Message from the Chair is the news that Andrea Saldanha is unable to stand for election as planned. The Governance Committee will seek a replacement over the summer.
9) Report from the Stewardship Committee (Daniel Spagnolo).
10) Report from the Governance Committee (Kate Sherwood).
11) Report on Operations (Julie Kingstone).
12) Report on Communications (Keenan Wellar).
13) Proposal for election of candidates as a slate (Keenan Wellar).
There are 6 candidates standing for election with a maximum of 7 board members. This motion is to allow for the election of all 6 candidates as a slate.
First: Jon Doody
Second: Mary Ann Wilcox
14) Meet the candidates:
Robin McIntyre, Kate Sherwood, Daniel Spagnolo, Jon Doody, Cathy Velazquez, and Carole Sheppard shared brief comments about their desire to serve in 2023-2024.
15) Election of candidate slate (Keenan Wellar).
First: Kaye Kwok
Second: Barry Wellar
Robin McIntyre, Kate Sherwood, Daniel Spagnolo, Jon Doody, Cathy Velazquez, and Carole Sheppard were declared elected.
16) Adjournment (Keenan Wellar).
First: Cathy Velazquez
Second: Robin McIntyre