2015 CAE Recipient Profile - Corporation of the City of Markham

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Markham, strategically located in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Ontario with more than 345,000 people.  More than 400 corporate head offices and over 1,100 high technology and life sciences companies are located in Markham.  These two sectors generate a total employment close to 33,000, or almost a quarter of the total employment of 123,000. Founded in the 1790s, Markham is now Canada’s most diverse community, enjoying a rich heritage, outstanding community planning and services, and a vibrant local economy. Markham is proud to be an official Host City for the 2015 Pan American and ParaPan American Games.

Municipalities derive their powers largely from the Province of Ontario.  Municipal elections are held every four years. Markham has an elected Council of thirteen.  Eight Ward Councillors serve constituents in eight wards. The Mayor and four Regional Councillors represent Markham’s interests Citywide and on the York Regional Council.  The Region’s responsibilities include planning approvals, regional roads, transit, water, recycling and solid waste disposal, police services, public health and welfare programs.

The City of Markham is the local level of government and provides services that include parks construction and maintenance, recreation facilities and programming, library service, fire and emergency services, the local road network, storm water management, community planning, and tax collection.

Our initial focus on quality began in 1998 as an approach to assist with improved customer service across the organization. It was slow going as we aggressively planned for multiple and complex improvements in our first few years.  We learned about the National Quality Institute and the Progressive Excellence Program in 2000 and immediately became a member. We received our PEP Level I in 2001 and continued with the progressive improvement approach while receiving PEP Level II in 2002. Key initiatives included a made-in-Markham customer satisfaction measurement system that continues to provide valuable service information and metrics today.
Another new practice identified early on was the measurement and management of employee satisfaction. This practice has continued every second year and provides valuable feedback to ensure staff engagement in all areas of the organization, along with benchmark comparison data from previous survey results at the local levels. A key component and success of the bi-annual process is the high level of employee involvement with identifying and contributing to local improvement initiatives.

Our annual Teamwork Day event is held to celebrate team successes across the organization as we continue on our progress with organizational excellence. This event has been held since 1999 and continues to showcase accomplishments and provides recognition to staff for a job well done. Typically a keynote speaker is engaged to motivate and educate staff each year, along with real stories of team successes.

In 2005, Markham was approached by NQI Senior VP John Perry to assist him with the development of an integrated quality and healthy workplace framework for municipalities. One of the results of this work was the establishment of Markham’s Wellness Program, now fully integrated with on-site fitness, screening programs, lunch and learn sessions, healthy lifestyle classes, massage therapy and many other components available to all staff. This program is guided by a cross-Commission Program Committee and is sponsored by a member of the Executive team, demonstrating the importance of this program to the organization.

Markham received certification at Level III Quality and Wellness in 2010. After receiving the Level II recognition, our practice of bi-annual internal/external quality assessments provided the necessary information to guide our improvement efforts to business planning and process management areas. It took some time to get it right and we now rely on annual business planning to guide our work for the upcoming year and Council terms. Key processes are mapped and many examples of efficiencies have been realized.

All of this occurred with the help of Excellence Canada (formerly National Quality Institute) and the Progressive approach to Excellence. Markham has long recognized the value of membership and became a Platinum member in 2004 and a Founding Partner in 2011.