2015 CAE Recipient Profile - Ontario Parks

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Ontario Parks
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Ontarians have always turned to the out-of-doors for adventure and relaxation.  Nature-based activities such as canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing are woven through the very fabric of Ontario.  These activities are also enjoyed by travellers from other provinces and countries.  Our natural resources are one of Ontario’s most valuable tourism assets in the province. Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario’s oldest park established in 1893 is considered an international tourism icon.  Our provincial parks are a vital contributor to the province’s economy and have established Ontario as a “must visit” destination providing the widest range of outdoor experiences for visitors.

Ontario Parks by the Numbers

  • 241 year-round staff
  • 600 seasonal staff
  • more than 1,600 summer students
  • 339 provincial parks, 294 conservation reserves
  • 9.78 million hectares, about 9% of the province
  • over 100 parks with visitor facilities,9 open all year
  • 9.5 million visits on average are made to parks each year
  • Almost 20,000 car accessible campsites
  • Over 7,000 back-country/wilderness campsites

The new Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act (PPCRA) wasproclaimed in 2007.  This is the first update of parks legislation since 1954 and marks a significant strengthening of the legislative framework for the management of the protected areas system in Ontario.

The Act dedicates provincial parks and conservation reserves to the people of Ontario and to visitors, for their inspiration, education, health and recreational enjoyment – with the intention that these areas be managed to maintain their ecological integrity, and preserved for future generations.

Ontario Parks strives to achieve four specific objectives for provincial parks:

Protection: To permanently protect the best examples of Ontario’s ecosystems; to protect biodiversity and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage; and to manage these areas to ensure that ecological integrity is maintained
Recreation: To provide opportunities for ecologically-sustainable outdoor recreation and encourage associated economic benefits
Education: To help increase knowledge and appreciation of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage
Science: To enable scientific research and support the monitoring of ecological change on the broader landscape 


Our Quality Journey

Ontario Parks’ decision to participate in the Excellence Canada certification process stemmed from a commitment to deliver the best possible customer experience, and a desire to challenge ourselves to find new ways to work smarter.

The recertification of the Order of Excellence assessment process gave our organization the opportunity to build on a strong customer service culture and a 122-year history.

Our visitors are overwhelmingly positive about their experience in provincial parks. Ontario Parks is constantly improving its products and services to meet our customer’s high expectations.

Ontario Parks was able to show Excellence Canada that it is promoting and demonstrating bold innovation and continuous improvement across the organization, developing a strategic direction to map our future, and engaging staff to improve the organization from the inside out. The process has encouraged staff to question current procedures and assured them that their ideas and opinions will be heard.

Ontario Parks’ achievement is an example of how listening to and engaging employees contributes to a culture of continuous improvement. Ontario Parks’ journey advances the Ontario Public Service’s ongoing goal to improve the way it works and to provide services to Ontarians. Excellence Canada’s Level Four certification and the Order of Excellence reflect Ontario Parks’ commitment to staff engagement and continuous improvement.

These awards are a tribute to all Ontario Parks staff, whose dedication, leadership and commitment to the parks program is the reason we were successful. Recertifying for Level Four and the Order of Excellence was based on an assessment of the work that staff across the province do on a daily basis in parks, zone offices and in main office.  Without their passion for parks, we would never have achieved this recognition.

Ontario Parks continues to embrace the philosophy of a quality organization.  Since receiving PEP Level 3 in 2006, Ontario Parks has continued on the excellence journey with constant improvement in all aspects of the business. With our efforts over the past decade, Ontario Parks is ensuring that our culture of today and tomorrow is premised on a continuing quest for greater excellence.