2014 CAE Recipient Profile - Canadian Forces Housing Agency

The Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) is a Special Operating Agency of the Department of National Defence (DND). On behalf of DND, CFHA manages a Crown-controlled residential accommodation portfolio of over 12,300 homes and provides housing services for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and their families. The Agency employs two military members and approximately 280 federal public servants, the majority of whom are located at the twenty-two Housing Services Centres on CAF Bases and Wings across Canada, in direct contact with the occupants in our homes. The remaining employees (approximately one-third) are located at CFHA’s Head Office in Ottawa. 

The Treasury Board of Canada governs the policy providing direction on government housing, a policy that aims for fairness and equity for all CAF families, regardless of whether they choose to live in the private sector or in DND housing. Every year during the active posting season, which typically runs from mid-June to early September, CFHA helps thousands of CAF members and their families move into or out of their DND homes. Homes are allocated based on household size, on a first-come, first-served basis – not by rank or position. Rental revenues are reinvested into the housing program.

CFHA’s planned excellence journey began in 2005 and was guided by the implementation of the then National Quality Institute’s Progressive Excellence Program (PEP). In 2008, CFHA achieved PEP Level 2 certification for the Federal Public Service framework, followed by certification in 2010 for PEP Level 2 Healthy Workplace. Despite a delay in pursuing subsequent levels of certification, a forward-moving momentum toward organizational excellence was maintained and a consultative workplace culture was built.

In 2012, CFHA transitioned to Excellence Canada’s Excellence, Innovation and Wellness (EIW) Standard for Canada, to enable a simplified yet more robust approach. Activities in support of the two former PEP frameworks were redirected to the single, integrated EIW model, which also aligns well with Treasury Board of Canada’s Management Accountability Framework. We are confident that the implementation of the EIW Standard is helping us to better communicate, both internally and externally, about how our excellence journey is unfolding and the tangible benefits to our customer, employees and stakeholders.      

Following a baseline self-assessment against the EIW Standard, it was determined that the level to which CFHA would transition was the Silver Level of implementation, as opposed to Gold, given the robustness of the new Standard and the gaps that needed to be closed. The results of an organisational self-assessment in early 2014 confirmed that CFHA was ready to move forward with an application to Excellence Canada for EIW Silver Level certification.    

While we still have much work to do, we have been able to advance to this phase of implementation, one small step at a time, by building on what we were doing well. Over time, with strong senior leadership support and the buy-in, dedication and engagement of people at all levels of CFHA, we have moved yet closer to our vision to “… excel in providing the Canadian Armed Forces with wide-ranging, innovative accommodation solutions”. The strengthened synergy between our site staff and head office employees is enabling us to develop innovative and fresh approaches to the management of our housing portfolio and the delivery of housing services to military members and their families.   

Two examples of how we have improved our business include a robust process management governance project and the foundation of a Stakeholder Engagement Plan to clarify the interactions between CFHA’s myriad departmental and external stakeholders and partners. CFHA is now modelling the way for other departmental groups and has implemented many management excellence practices that are being widely shared. We anticipate that the implementation of the EIW Gold Level Standard will help us to find even more ways to improve the delivery of housing services on behalf of the Department of National Defence.