2015 CAE Recipient Profile - Regional Municipality of Durham


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The Regional Municipality of Durham
Social Services Department

The Social Services Department is the largest department within The Regional Municipality of Durham employing over 1,800 staff. The Region of Durham encompasses 8 local municipalities with a population of approximately 654,000. We are the largest geographic municipality in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and one of the fastest growing populations in Canada.

The Social Services Department provides essential programs and human services to more than 25,000 residents each month. It is comprised of six divisions: Business Affairs, Children’s Services, Family Services, Housing Services, Income and Employment Support, and Long-Term Care and Services for Seniors.

Our Excellence Journey
In 2004, we began our Excellence Journey with the development of a departmental vision of “Strong People…Caring Communities…Our Future.” This vision demonstrates the inspiration for the support and services we provide to Durham Region citizens. Also established was the mission statement; “To meet the needs of our citizens through leadership, cooperation, and service excellence.” This mission statement identifies our purpose for continually striving towards our vision. The Social Services Department’s vision and mission align with the Corporate Durham Region Strategic Plan to provide efficient and effective service delivery within a public organization.

The Excellence Journey also began with establishing our four important principles:

  • Care: Lead to higher morale, creativity, and problem-solving in the workplace.
  • Excellence: Develop and sustain a workplace where employees are respected and innovation is encouraged.
  • Learning: Increase the collective knowledge and skills for the department.
  • Leadership:  Embraces the principles of Care, Excellence, and Learning, leading to a higher quality of service.

These principles are known as our pillars and have become a strong foundation within our organization. They help us to achieve excellence in service delivery, optimum organizational performance across six divisions and they are the essence of our innovative culture.

The Progressive Excellence Program (PEP) was the initial driving force to establishing our journey for excellence in quality service. It began with important training to staff on quality management systems and practices. The excellence framework provided the necessary platform for measuring our customer/client/resident feedback in order to implement continuous improvements. Engaging staff at all levels throughout this work was vital to meeting quality assurance standards set out in the excellence framework.

The Excellence Canada partnership has provided many resources and tools, including the methods for our organizational internal assessments.  The Excellence Canada training and coaching on the assessment processes has been instrumental to identifying our organizational strengths, action plans and opportunities for growth. This mechanism helped us to see the importance of our four Innovation Committees, which continue today, to maintain a focus of continuous improvements in key areas (financial, customer, internal processes and learning & growth). Every committee is comprised of various levels of staff (managers and front-line) from across our six divisions. All efforts from this inclusive approach have resulted in a variety of improvements to service provisions across the organization. We have strengthened our capacity to meet the growing needs of our clients/customers and continue to do so. Today, these ongoing efforts have become operationalized and part of our business practice; service provision improvement measures, strategic planning and program development.  

Throughout our excellence journey there has been a strong focus on staff innovation to making continuous improvements supported by our senior management team. This approach has resulted in staff feeling more inspired and engaged in their work. Our most recent Employee Engagement Survey detailed these positive impacts by outlining that in the last 10 years our response rate has increased from 59% to 77%. This report further detailed that staff embrace our Departmental Principles (Care, Excellence, Learning & Leadership); they are emotionally healthy and are able to function effectively.

Our excellence journey has helped to build a positive culture of innovation with strong leadership of all staff throughout the organization. We are all leaders. The Social Services Department’s excellence journey has been tremendously valuable for delivering optimum quality service to our Durham Region residents. We do this work with an organizational confidence, strong caring people and dedication to quality service.

Excellence is not about perfection – it is about continually striving to be better. Excellence is what we do.