The City Manager’s Awards of Excellence are the highest form of recognition for outstanding achievement by the Toronto Public Service. The Awards are presented to divisions, program areas, service providers and/or project offices that have achieved a high and measurable standard of excellence.
Customer Experience: COVID-19 Public Education Working Group
Divisions: Office of Emergency Management, Infrastructure and Development Services, Strategic Public and Employee Communications, Toronto Public Health, Social Development, Finance & Administration, Indigenous Affairs Office, Toronto Public Library, Toronto Community Housing Cooperation, Accessibility Office
The COVID-19 Public Education Working Group is an innovative, cross-division/agency project which worked to improve the accessibility of COVID-19 public education in Toronto communities with the highest rates of COVID-19.
The group sought new ways to reach people in diverse neighbourhoods, newcomers, and lower-income and vulnerable populations. The group translated key COVID-19 public education resources into 28 languages commonly spoken in neighbourhoods with the highest rates of COVID-19. It simplified and redesigned resources by using less text, simpler language and more graphics. The group identified communication gaps and designed new materials while engaging with more than 700 community agencies and stakeholders to share accessible public health information as widely as possible.
This work set a new City standard for inclusive communication for critical public health messages and City services. It was a matter of great professional pride for members of the COVID-19 Public Education Working Group to make a difference for vulnerable residents during this challenging time.
Denise Blinn, Office of Emergency Management, accepts the Customer Experience Award from City Manager Chris Murray
Employee Experience: TEAM Central
Divisions: Pension, Payroll & Employment Benefits, People & Equity, with support from Strategic Public and Employee Communications and Technology Services
TEAM Central is the City’s new staff support center – a one-stop access for employees to receive information on services such as COVID-19, pensions, payroll, benefits, vacation time, hiring, learning and redeployment.
Employees can now quickly and easily contact one central service hub to get their individualized information in a confidential, secure way from a dedicated team. Since the launch in July 2020, staff from Pension, Payroll & Employee Benefits (PPEB) and People & Equity (P&E) have handled over 55,000 inquiries from its clients through telephone and web forms channels.
For the first time, City of Toronto employees and managers are able to call or submit an online request and obtain assistance from a P&E or PPEB subject matter expert. Highlights of the services offered by TEAM Central include:
Providing support and guidance on policies and procedures
Re-directing inquiries to the appropriate contacts for additional support
Direct access to the Employee Assistance Program services
TEAM Central would not have been possible without the collaboration, partnership and extraordinary work of Technology Services and Strategic Public and Employee Communications. The masterminds in Technology Services were not only able to create the applications, they also equipped the team with all the tools and functionality, which enabled the launch of the service in a completely remote environment, and they continue to provide support for everything technical. Partners in Strategic Public and Employee Communications promoted the service and assisted with their wizard-like word-smithing skills.
Roy Tran, People and Equity, accepts the Employee Experience Award from City Manager Chris Murray
Innovation: Electronic Healthcare Record Project
Division: Seniors Services and Long-Term Care
Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) embarked on a journey to implement a new electronic healthcare record (eHCR) application to modernize the care delivery and streamline operations by replacing the existing paper-based system for the 2,600+ residents who live in the City’s 10 directly operated long-term care homes.
This was the first City division to successfully implement a cloud-based system (PointClickCare) containing highly confidential Personal Health Information.
Facilitating timely, real-time access to health information to guide clinical decision-making, communication and coordination of services which was critical during the pandemic
Enhanced resident safety with online medication administration and care using mobile devices at the point of care
Increased resident direct care time due to less time spent on duplicate documentation, manual tracking and access to trend and report data
Achieving this goal would not have been possible without the strong collaboration with divisional partners such as Technology Services, City Clerk’s Office, Legal Services and Purchasing and Materials Management.
Soo Ching Kikuta, Seniors Services and Long-Term Care, accepts the Innovation Award from City Manager Chris Murray
Leadership: Enabling Remote Work throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic
Divisions: Technology Services in collaboration with the Office of Emergency Management, People & Equity, City Clerk’s Office, COVID-19 Business Continuity Taskforce, Purchasing and Materials Management, Legal Services, Accounting Services, Strategic Public and Employee Communications, Office of the Chief Information Security Officer, all City Service Areas and Multiple City Suppliers
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the City announced unprecedented public health measures to ensure the continued delivery of critical City services and support of vulnerable communities while protecting the health of City staff and residents. As part of the pandemic response, the City directed all staff who could work remotely to begin to do so, in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Technology Services’ leadership team consistently went above and beyond to meet business needs and maintain service continuity. This allowed the City to resume 90 per cent of all its services by July 2020 and enhance remote capabilities throughout the last year. Technology Services delivered a number of accomplishments, including:
Providing City staff with appropriate technology and resources to continue their jobs remotely and enabling a 10-fold increase in telework capacity to support 10,000 users ahead of the target date
Creating 36 new mobile contact centres
Supporting close to 150 Legislated Meetings, 130 media briefings and 65 Virtual Town Hall Meetings, and enabling City Council and Committees to meet virtually for the first time in history.
Importantly, it also increased the public’s trust and confidence in our municipality’s ability to maintain a ‘well-run City’ during an unprecedented public health crisis.
Lawrence Eta, Technology Services Division, accepts the Leadership Award from City Manager Chris Murray
Partners: A Collaborative Model for Ensuring Health and Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic
Divisions: Emergency Operations Centre, Economic Development & Culture, Legal Services (Prosecutions), Municipal Licensing & Standards, Parks Forestry & Recreation, Social Development, Finance & Administration, Shelter, Support & Housing Administration, Strategic Public and Employee Communications, Toronto Building, Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Police Service, Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services
The COVID-19 Coordinated Enforcement Team (CCET) was established to ensure a consistent, collaborative and City-wide response to enforcement of City bylaws and Provincial Orders during the pandemic.
The CCET provided a forum for divisions and agencies to discuss emerging issues, solve problems, continuously evaluate approaches and pivot to respond to the evolving needs of Toronto residents. The CCET brought together 13 City divisions and agencies, responded to 700 varied and complex items, and implemented and enforced over 70 changes to provincial legislation. The CCET has advanced the City’s corporate and strategic priorities by ensuring a well-run and resilient City, and investing in people and neighborhoods.
The initiative resulted in successfully reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting residents, while continuing to deliver City services and supporting businesses wherever possible. The collaborative approach ensured that the City’s response was efficient, but also supportive and understanding of the unique experiences of Toronto’s most vulnerable communities.
This model can be applied across the City of Toronto and beyond as a best practice in leadership and governance.
Carleton Grant, Municipal Licensing and Standards, accepts the Partners Award from City Manager Chris Murray
Process Improvement: Supply Chain Transformation – City Stores Warehouse Management Modernization
Divisions: Purchasing and Materials Management, Accounting Services, Technology Services, and other supporting City divisions and Agencies, Boards and Commissions including Corporate Real Estate Management and Toronto Police Services
Purchasing and Materials Management (PMMD) Stores serves 44 City Divisions by purchasing, storing and delivering 8,000+ materials used for divisional needs, and providing citizen services. Supply Chain Transformation (SCT) Warehouse Management (WM) modernization goals were to automate manual, labor intensive, and technology deficient processes and create efficiencies in ordering, storing, and delivering goods and materials to City Divisions.
PMMD can now receive/process orders faster as material inventory levels are more accurate, order tracking is easier, and delivery is more frequent. Benefits include an improved customer experience, enhanced inventory management, increased staff efficiency while reducing physical load, and enhancing financial sustainability via lower operating costs now possible from larger material orders and faster delivery.
WM modernization, enabled just before the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, helped PMMD to distribute approximately 1.4 million vaccines and 20,000+ COVID-19 related material orders on-time to multiple City divisions, and capably support the City’s pandemic emergency operations center in providing prompt healthcare and citizen services.
Priya Prabhu, Technology Services Division, accepts the Process Improvement Award from City Manager Chris Murray
Leadership: Supporting Seniors with Dementia Transition from Community to Long-Term Care
Division: Seniors Services and Long-Term Care
Wesburn Manor, one of the City’s 10 long-term care homes, set out to establish an equitable system where all seniors applying for long-term care have a viable and safe housing option. Understanding that the move into long-term care can be stressful for many, but particularly for those with dementia, Wesburn Manor’s team created the Transition Project. Its goal was to improve the success rate for seniors moving into the home, particularly for those with dementia or complex mental health issues.
The inter-professional care team collaborated with family members to redesign processes, environments and the care model to support the well-being of these residents. The long-term care home’s leadership supported the initiative by enabling various methodologies and tools. These included a streamlined admission process that provided emotional and psychological support to both residents and their loved ones; environmental changes and decorations; Montessori methods; behavioural assessment tools; quality-improvement methodologies; and increased family involvement.
The Transition Project clearly demonstrates that changing the physical environment and delivery of service for seniors living with dementia and mental health issues has a positive impact on their quality of life. There were fewer resident-to-resident incidents, improved emotional well-being scores and reduced usage of anti-psychotic medication. The Project also created a highly skilled and knowledgeable team that is able to manage complex behaviours and provide access to care for seniors who are challenging to place.
Wesburn Manor’s Transition Project has established an equitable, supportive and seamless transition for residents with dementia and is a leader in providing excellence and ground-breaking services for seniors.
Divisions: 311 Toronto, Information & Technology and Toronto Water
The Enterprise Customer Relationship Management project, once complete, will transition all existing 311 services, channels and business processes from the current case management system to a cloud based technology solution that will help the City mange all of its customer relationships and interactions. The first phase focused on using the new technology to improve the customer experience for select Toronto Water services.
Previously, when contacting the City about water services, customers would have to call multiple times to turn a service off and then back on again; wait for a call back from the division for a service appointment; accept an eight hour service window; and often wait lengthy times on the phone to understand the status of their case.
To assess current pain points and gain insights into common concerns, the project team developed customer journey maps that considered the full end-to-end customer experience. They also created customer personas to better define the customer’s needs and provide realistic representations of various customers.
Now, Toronto Water customers can:
call or click only once for appointments, reducing the number of calls they have to make to book an appointment
schedule appointments online, whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them
select a 4 hour appointment window that suits their schedule, allowing them more flexibility
Staff could more easily communicate between divisions which resulted in a 26% decrease in call time, meaning customers received their status updates quicker!
This initiative was an opportunity to put in place a technology that will help the City stay connected to customers, streamline processes and improve satisfaction.
Tracey Cook, Karthi Bala, Chris Murray, Gary Yorke, Roopy Chhina, Lou Di Gironimo, Josie Scioli
With the phasing out of the City’s existing Time and Reporting Tool, Pension, Payroll & Employee Benefits took the opportunity to investigate how they could better server their clients and enhance overall employee experience. The Client Experience Enhancement Project set out to understand how services were being delivered, how employees felt about the customer service being provided and any technologies that could be adopted to improve service delivery.
Based on feedback received through focus groups, stakeholder meetings and conversations with experts, PPEB introduced several new initiatives. eTime, which allows employees to self-report attendance and have time requests approved online, saw improvements in the Employee Self-Service (ESS) offering. Employees are now able to review past statements and T4s and to see their paystub two days prior to their pay date. Off-cycle adjustment payments move to direct deposit and employment letters are now delivered more efficiently through email instead of Canada Post.
Since the PPEB Client Experience Enhancement Project, Registration for Employee Self Service has increased by 20%. Toronto Fire Services staff, who used to receive their pay statements after they were paid, are now receiving their statements on time. More than 400 employees who received paper cheques have switched over to direct deposit. And more than 20% of employment letters are now being delivered by email rather than regular mail.
Heather Taylor, Chris Murray, Dave Otter, Cindy Chow, Hatem Belhi
Division: Shelter, Support & Housing Administration
Tasked with developing a comprehensive eviction prevention strategy, the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division explored how to proactively help people who are at risk of eviction. The result was the innovative, and creatively designed, Eviction Prevention in the Community program. Or as it’s better known, EPIC.
The EPIC program focuses on providing mobile, rapid and responsive assistance to vulnerable tenants at imminent risk of eviction who experience barriers to accessing other services. EPIC staff provide wrap-around case management support including mediation, advocacy, accompaniment, and connection to community agencies to keep Toronto’s most vulnerable residents housed.
Their innovative approach of building relationships with housing providers, private sector landlords, community service partner agencies, and other City divisions that encounter vulnerable households, truly demonstrates leadership in driving forward the City’s transformation goals.
In 2018, the Division successfully prevented 225 household evictions and served 738 individuals. And they were able to do so at four times less the cost than if these same individuals had sought emergency shelter. This equates to a 390% return on investment for the City and cost savings for the taxpayer.
EPIC is concrete demonstration of a proactive and preventative approach that is successful in keeping people housed. Its innovative service approach exemplifies how stakeholder collaboration and building alliances within existing service systems can yield the best outcomes.
Divisions: Toronto Planning and Partners – Toronto Water, Transportation Services, Children’s Services, Economic Development & Culture, Employment & Social Services, Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Social Development, Finance & Administration, Toronto Public Health, Environment and Energy, Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Corporate Finance, Toronto Public Library, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto Parking Authority, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto Hydro
The TOCore plan is a 25-year vision that sets the direction for the city centre as the cultural, civic, retail and economic heart of Toronto and as a great place to live. It provides a blueprint to manage growth, sustain liveability, achieve complete communities and ensure there is space for the economy to grow.
Downtown’s rapid growth is placing pressure on existing physical and social infrastructure assets. There are fewer large sites available for redevelopment, so the challenge became how to master plan in an infill context.
The TOcore Plan is an a policy framework and a series of five infrastructure strategies that was jointly and collaboratively developed by City Planning, operational divisions and ABC’s that puts in place a more integrated approach to development in the city.
The Plan is now in force and five infrastructure strategies for Parks and Public Realm, Community Services and Facilities, Energy, Water, and Mobility, are now being used by city divisions and ABC’s not only to evaluate development applications within the Downtown, but also to provide guidance and direction on priority setting through the capital budget process.
The collaborative and strategic partnerships on this project were key in delivering a growth plan for Downtown that benefits all Torontonians today and in the future.
Process Improvement: Early Abilities Initiative: “Hear” We go to Excellence – A Family Transition Journey
Division: Toronto Public Health
The Early Abilities quality and process improvement initiatives consisted of two projects: Green Belt – Hear We Go to Excellence, a project aimed at reducing inefficiencies in the newborn hearing screening process, and IDEAS – A Family Transition Journey, focused on improving the experience of Toronto families with children with permanent hearing loss.
The Green Belt project set out to enhance the response time of frontline staff in conducting newborn hearing screens. Various inefficiencies were identified, including excess inventory, over processing of orders, and time wasted travelling between families and searching for supplies. Similarly, the IDEAS team conducted a detailed process review of the journey involved in transitioning children with permanent hearing loss to the Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch. A lack of standardization in processes and equitable access to transition services was discovered. There was a lack of role clarity regarding who would complete the transition and when the transition would take place.
The Green Belt project resulted in an increase in the volume of newborn hearing screens completed each day. Efficiencies found included a 25 per cent decrease in the physical movement of infant hearing screeners searching for equipment and supplies and a 50 per cent decrease in the precautionary ordering of screening supplies.
The IDEAS project led to an increase in the number of children successfully transitioned to the Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch – from 14 percent in June 2018 to 70 percent the following year.
Giuliana Carbone, Nicole Welch, Linda Yapoujian, Chris Murray, Joanna Nicol, Evelyn Pepe, Lesley Wai, Leinic Chung-Lee
Leadership: Criminal Justice Pathways Project
Employment & Social Services; Social Development, Finance & Administration
A criminal record or even an encounter with the criminal justice system can be a significant barrier to employment or training opportunities. These challenges are even greater for marginalized, racialized and youth populations, who are over-represented in the criminal justice system. Through the Criminal Justice Pathways Project, the City is providing opportunities to those who have lost hope in the future.
The Employment & Social Services and Social Development, Finance & Administration divisions worked together to create an interdivisional project team tasked with undertaking an extensive review of current practices and developing service pathways to support successful reintegration through access to vital employment, training and social supports.
Senior leadership put emphasis on creating a culture that values diversity and encourages innovation and helped to ensure that this project was embedded in organizational values. Over 200 management staff were provided with coaching to lead and facilitate conversations with staff, and a comprehensive peer-led training plan was delivered to over 2,000 staff in 2017. This project enabled the City to undertake a leadership role by addressing participants’ immediate needs, by creating pathways to prosperity and driving systemic change by advocating for changes to the criminal justice system.
So far, 90% of participants have declared an increase in confidence and motivation, and 90% have transitioned into employment, internships or further training.
Customer Experience: Toronto’s APS – Simple, Fair and Fast Dispute Resolutions
Legal Services; Revenue Services; Court Services
The Administrative Penalty System for Parking Violations is known at the City by its short name “APS.” Through the APS, the City now offers an easier, faster and more efficient resolution process for dealing with parking violations.
Prior to developing this new system, parking violations were governed under the Provincial Offences Act and involved a process that was quite lengthy for customers. A working group, led by Legal Services, Revenue Services and Court Services, with support from Information & Technology, Strategic Communications and Toronto Police Parking Enforcement, worked together to review, assess and determine the best solution for dealing with each aspect of the process, including customer service, the back-end technical needs, the legal aspects and operations and staffing.
The City modelled the program with customers in mind and also ensured that customer feedback was incorporated into the program design. To better serve customers, the City now offers service 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a self-service portal or in person at a service counter during regular working hours.
Parking violation disputes are now generally resolved in under 90 days as opposed to 12 months under the previous system. The City of Toronto was the first municipality to move to an online system for the resolution of parking disputes in Ontario and other municipalities across Canada are now looking to the City’s APS as a benchmark for service delivery.
Employee Experience: HIGH FIVE Project
Parks, Forestry & Recreation
Parks, Forestry & Recreation’s (PFR) Community Recreation Branch provides high-quality recreation programs to Torontonians. In June of 2016, the Branch launched a project to implement HIGH FIVE, which is Parks and Recreation Ontario’s quality standard for recreation and sport programs for children. The HIGH FIVE Project’s ultimate goal was to help Community Recreation strengthen the quality of children’s recreation programming and deliver positive recreation experiences that support healthy child development.
The HIGH FIVE Project raised the bar in terms of employee engagement and collaboration, program quality and participant experience. A strong consultative and collaborative approach was taken so that staff would inform all new initiatives, as well as take ownership of them, celebrate successes and champion the values. Staff were engaged in a variety of ways, including newsletters, an internal website, regular project updates, staff spotlights and recognition events, a HIGH FIVE Innovation Fun Team and training.
Management consulted with staff in the development of 12 new operating standards and processes, and team meetings were held to engage employees branch-wide and enhance consultation. Staff are now trained in the HIGH FIVE Principles of Healthy Child Development and on new processes for the evaluation of recreation programs. PFR’s approach to HIVE FIVE accreditation successfully considered employee engagement and resulted in a shift in the culture of Community Recreation.
Innovation: Fleet Modernization & Automated Fuel System Integration
In 2017, the Fleet Services Division explored how to achieve an automated, real-time integration between their maintenance information system and a fuel management solution to improve their service and realize savings.
Fleet Services released an automated solution at 23 of the City’s vehicle fuel sites that integrated their fleet and fuel management system with specialized software to provide access to fuel tank information remotely. Through the new integrated system, the fuel operation team can now remotely maintain, monitor and resolve fueling issues in real-time. The new system also delivers vehicle information to the Fleet Operation team, allowing them to access the automated information from anywhere to manage and efficiently perform vehicle analysis and maintenance.
By providing improved vehicle management solutions to City Divisions such as Fire Services, Paramedic Services and Parks Forestry & Recreation, the system allows Toronto Public Service staff to focus on performing their core duties, instead of spending valuable time fueling and servicing vehicles.
Through the time savings achieved in the efficiencies delivered by the new system, Fleet Services estimates $1 million in cost avoidance every year. City of Toronto’s Fleet Services is now recognized as an innovative leader in fuel management in North America.
Partners: Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle
Toronto Public Health
The Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle was established with the recognition of “Indigenous Health in Indigenous Hands.”
Toronto is home to the largest and most diverse urban Indigenous population in Ontario. Yet, Indigenous people in Toronto face a disproportionate number of challenges in accessing culturally safe health services, as well as other health risks.
To address these issues, Toronto Public Health engaged with over 15 Toronto-based Indigenous organizations, with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, other local health organizations, as well as other orders of government, to develop the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle. The Circle and the partnership that it represents is the first of its kind at the City of Toronto.
In 2016, the Circle released the Toronto Indigenous Health Strategy, which presented a vision of a thriving and healthy Indigenous community in Toronto and provided Toronto Public Health and partner organizations with directions to honour the principles of reconciliation and self-determination. Strong relationships and trust between a Circle of eight Indigenous leaders, Toronto Public Health and their partners are vital to the success of this partnership.
The Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle provides the City of Toronto with a model of partnership that reflects the value of self-determination espoused in the Aboriginal Statement of Commitment.
The Gender Inclusive Washroom Policy and Campaign creates a safe space for people to use the washroom that matches their gender identity and/or expression, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. This initiative is the first of its kind at the City of Toronto and responds to concerns raised by the trans community with regards to safe washroom access.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) developed the policy through extensive research, consultation and collaboration, and implemented it through comprehensive training for staff and awareness campaigns. Toronto Public Health managers trained their staff during team meetings. They were given a comprehensive policy orientation guide and could access a specially trained TPH Positive Space Ambassador for support.
TPH Senior Management regularly followed up with their managers to ensure all teams were trained before the end of 2016. Additionally, a campaign poster was placed on every washroom door where TPH is the sole tenant. This signals to trans clients that: we see you, we serve you and we want to ensure your safety.
The success of this initiative was a collaborative effort, built upon strong employee engagement, with key leadership from Toronto Public Health Senior Management, their Positive Space Champion, the Gender Diversity Work Group, and Positive Space Ambassadors.
Customer Experience: Making Registration Better
Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Information & Technology
Working together as a cross-divisional team, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR) and Information and Technology divisions embarked on a strategy to “Make Registration Better“. This included improvements to the customer service model, the parks programming registration webpage, and technical support systems. They collaborated to establish new ways of working together, creating a business transformation that would impact how they deliver services in the future.
Using feedback from the public and staff, the project team mapped the customer experience and identified pain points. Based on internal and external feedback the team knew that they needed to provide residents with better access to the system and to the call center, provide clearer communications and information, and in-person support.
To deliver an excellent customer service experience, the team ensured that the public were engaged throughout the process to ensure their needs and voices were heard. The team not only focused on improving the online customer experience, but all access points to recreation services. PFR also increased customer service hours leading up to peak registration periods. Telephone and in-person translation services were also boosted to provide greater access to customers who required communications in languages other than English.
The improvements have been noticed and the public has been sending in their compliments. The time to complete 20,000 registrations was reduced from 3 hours to just 15 minutes, and customer satisfaction rates have increased.
Employee Experience: Service Delivery Model (SDM) Renewal
Toronto Employment & Social Services
Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) provides employment supports, financial benefits and social supports to Toronto residents on a daily basis. In February 2015, with the objective to improve client experience, TESS conducted a thorough review of its Service Delivery Model which is how services and supports are delivered to its clients.
TESS took a user-centred approach to create the new divisional Access Model. They engaged and empowered front-line staff to not only champion change, but also to own and drive it. The best elements of the prototype designs were refined to develop a standardized service access model, which was piloted at other locations. But most importantly, this new model was created by the people who use and deliver social assistance: City of Toronto frontline staff and their clients. Using a co-design approach, a cross-section of over 70 frontline staff including caseworkers, family support workers, support assistants and technical experts drew from their years of experience delivering Ontario Works to redesign the division’s new front end service access model.
As a result, allowing TESS staff to take an active role in designing this new model created a shared sense of purpose, empathy for each group’s experience, greater trust in the model itself and a strong focus on pragmatic outcomes. The project has had a profound impact on how the division approaches organizational change and staff engagement.
Innovation: Embracing Disruptive Technology and the Sharing Economy: Implementation of new Vehicle-for-Hire Legislation and Technology
Municipal Licensing & Standards, Information & Technology
The City of Toronto’s new Vehicle-for-Hire legislation was approved by City Council in May 2016 through the adoption of over a hundred recommendations, concluding a two-year Ground Transportation Review undertaken by the Municipal Licensing & Standards (ML&S) Division. This represented a landmark policy change for the City’s ground transportation industry, establishing a new business model that reflects technological innovations that have disrupted the existing taxi industry and regulates the new private transportation industry.
With the launch of UberX in the City of Toronto and the emergence of the sharing economy globally, ML&S was faced with the challenge of regulating a new entrant in the taxicab market and at the same time reframing the way the taxicab industry was regulated. ML&S, in collaboration with I&T, set out to automate all private transportation company drivers’ licenses and renewal, which would in turn create significant efficiencies. The innovative Vehicle-for-Hire legislation was the catalyst for significant regulatory and business transformation and represents the first 100% digital process for business license registration. Furthermore, this initiative has modernized the City’s ability to cope with new emerging technologies that enhance the quality of life for citizens, businesses and visitors in the City of Toronto.
Partners: Specialized Program for Interdivisional Enhanced Response to Vulnerability (SPIDER)
Social Development, Finance & Administration (SDFA); Municipal Licensing & Services (MLS) and Toronto Public Health (TPH)
The Specialized Program for Interdivisional Enhanced Response to Vulnerability – known as “SPIDER” – was launched in 2014. This first-of-its-kind program in Canada is modelled on international and Canadian best practices.
The purpose of SPIDER is to enhance partnerships that improve the effectiveness of City Divisions and Agencies in working together to reduce acutely elevated health and safety risks affecting vulnerable Torontonians who are facing issues such as poverty and isolation, and are often experiencing challenges related to the social determinants of health. SPIDER has provided an accountable mechanism that enhances how City divisions, as well as community organizations, communicate with one another to better understand the situation, the risks involved and the resources required to solve the issue.
The initiative was collaborative in its design from the outset. Through the partnership model, SPIDER has responded to over 100 complex situations of elevated health and safety risk. Referral relationships are now formalized between City divisions and partner agency staff. The collaborative tools that SPIDER developed are now available to all staff in all participating divisions and agencies. Common terminology, reporting approaches, and information-sharing protocols are now in place to ensure quality and consistency of services in risk situations.
This collaboration has clearly improved outcomes for residents and better serves the public. SPIDER has been praised for its “bold, imaginative, and courageous ways of cutting across silos and putting the right expertise in the right place.”
Equity, Diversity & Human Rights Winner: City of Toronto Refugee Resettlement Program
The Refugee Resettlement Program, approved by Council in October 2015, aims to reduce barriers facing Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto by mobilizing existing supports within and outside of City structures, and facilitating enhancements where needed. The Toronto Newcomer Office led the implementation of the Program by facilitating a coordinated municipal response that included nince City divisions, the federal and provincial governments and over 25 community agencies.
Since November 2015 more than 29,713 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. Almost half have come to Ontario, with approximately 4,613 Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto. Through the Refugee Resettlement Program, the City of Toronto was able to quickly and efficiently implement targeted services and supports to meet the urgent needs of Syrian refugees and private sponsors. The Program sought to remove barriers for successful settlement by addressing emerging issues and gaps in service provision, highlighting the important role municipalities play in advancing the successful settlement and integration of newcomer communities.
By facilitating a timely and coordinated municipal response, the Refugee Resettlement Program maximized use of existing municipal and other resources, while ensuring that any emerging gaps in settlement support systems were addressed quickly and efficiently. With contributions from other City divisions including Children’s Services, Parks, Forestry and Recreation and Toronto Public Health as well as TDSB/TCDSB, WoodGreen Community Services, private landlords and sponsors, the Refugee Resettlement Program is a true embodiment of the City of Toronto’s motto Diversity Our Strength.
The program effectively used Council-directed resources to support the economic and social settlement needs of Syrian newcomers, building a foundation for their long-term success in our community.
Divisional Project Winner: Water Treatment and Supply’s Transmission Operations Optimizer
This innovative initiative automatically determines pumping schedules for the Water Transmission System in the most efficient and cost effective manner. In simple terms, it reduces greenhouse gases, keeps all our customers satisfied while being cost effective. Based on an algorithm combining real time weather data, real time hydro rates, real time operational data and historical demand data, the next 26 hours optimum pumping strategy is projected – a very complex task. Over the first six months of operation, Toronto Hydro has verified savings of 16,285,948 kilowatt-hours per year.
After careful planning and testing so as to not affect service delivery levels for water pressure and quality, TOO’s results speak for themselves. It reduced our environmental footprint by reducing greenhouse gases through optimized energy consumption.
At a savings of $1M per year this represents a 3% cost decrease to provide the same level of service, water pressure and volumes. It also reduces the GHG emissions and helps protect the environment.
As one of the first programs of its kind, the hardware and database control methods can be mapped to analogous situations in other divisions such as Transportation Signals and Traffic Management, Facilities & Real Estate Building Automation Systems, TTC Operations and private enterprises such as the District Energy Systems.
Cross Corporate Winner: Tenant Relocation Support Services
The “Tenant Relocation Support Services Project” (TRSSP) is an innovative partnership between Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) and City Planning, that emerged as a response to a redevelopment application in the downtown east. The redevelopment had the effect of removing a 45 bed rooming house – home to extremely vulnerable tenants. With an increasing number of rooming houses in Toronto being purchased for redevelopment, tenants, many of whom are long-term and with low incomes, are forced to relocate. Priced out of the housing market, displaced tenants often find themselves at imminent risk of homelessness. The TRSSP was designed to respond to this critical issue by creating a best practice in identifying at-risk tenants and developing strategies to keep them housed.
The project’s success is the result of a tripartite effort between the City, a private developer and a non-profit community agency who worked together with the support of the local City Councillor. This partnership resulted in the development and delivery of a highly successful, customized, wrap-around service that was fully funded by the developer, and included access to practical and financial supports such as landlord outreach and intensive housing search, housing allowances, and long-term follow-up support.
By taking a holistic approach to a complex problem, within a strong legislative and policy framework, TRSSP has balanced the needs of diverse stakeholders and leveraged opportunities provided by private investment, for the public good.
Equity, Diversity & Human Rights Winner: Respect@TPH Campaign
The Respect@TPH campaign is an upstream approach to reduce incidents of harassment and discrimination by promoting a healthy workplace culture based on mutual respect. In 2014 the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy was amended to include expectations for respect and civility. Respect@TPH was launched on October 1st, 2014 to highlight this policy change. Our series of seven posters is part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen a climate of civility, inclusion and human rights at Toronto Public Health. Staff voices and images are central to this campaign. Through an online survey staff expressed how respect comes alive at TPH. Responses were developed into campaign messages, along with practical tips for modelling respect. A discussion guide accompanied the campaign to help teams develop group norms for positive dynamics. In-service training and group facilitation was part of the campaign roll out.Campaign messages promote workplace equity. For example:
Building bridges across difference rather than erecting barriers;
Showing compassion and resisting stereotypes;
Creating safety for people’s diverse social identities;
Being an ally by speaking up against harassment and discrimination.
Through this campaign the Access & Equity unit has enhanced its service delivery to TPH teams (our internal clients) by:
Providing tailored and engaging team-based civility and human rights workshops; and,
Facilitating team discussions to establish group norms which promote compliance with the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy.
Divisional Project Winner: Welcome to Parenting – Online Prenatal Program
Welcome to Parenting (WTP) is Toronto Public Health’s (TPH) free online prenatal program available to all pregnant families living in the city. The program offers in-depth information to prepare parents-to-be for parenthood in a fun, interactive and diverse manner. WTP enhances client accessibility to prenatal education as it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any location with computer and internet access, with the additional benefit of no waiting lists or travel required. By offering an online prenatal program TPH has tripled its client reach in 2014 versus the former in-person evening prenatal classes. Program reach has also been successful, based on registration postal code mapping as clients are participating from the entire city, including the Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. Participants are satisfied with the online prenatal program as the majority would recommend WTP.WTP is client-focussed, convenient, and meets diverse learning styles with the flexibility for clients to learn at their own pace, from any location, with computer and internet access. There are opportunities for clients to connect with experts in the field who respond their questions via the Parent Zone or e-chat.
Cross Corporate Winner: Online Lookups for Property Tax, Utility and Parking Tickets
Revenue Services, with the help of Corporate Information & Technology Division and the Web Revitalization Project, has created online account lookups for property tax, utility and parking tickets. The lookups provide residents a fast, easy and secure way of getting information about utility and property tax accounts as well as the status of parking tickets. Residents and property owners can view details of their account, including account balances, upcoming billings and due dates, information on previous payments, as well as the status of parking tickets, outstanding fine amounts, scheduled court dates for parking ticket trials, etc.
The lookups can be accessed anywhere, anytime from a computer or any web-enabled mobile device. By putting up-to-date account information in the hands of our customers, and making this information easily available on a 24/7 basis, residents will no longer have to call or visit the City to confirm important account details. This will improve customer service by allowing City staff to better accommodate more complex requests for information or assistance. The new lookups fulfill the City’s goals of enhancing online service delivery and improving customer service and support the City of Toronto’s eService Strategic Plan and Strategic Actions 2013-2018. The Utility lookup was launched in December 2014, the Parking Ticket lookup on April 10, 2015, and the Property Tax lookup went live on May 21, 2015.