One-year progress update on Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan
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A Personal Message from the Premier
On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I am delighted to extend my sincere congratulations and gratitude to the local champions and partners who work tirelessly to innovate and serve their communities.
This progress report showcases many of the dedicated local service providers who have found unique ways to meet community needs. But it highlights just a fraction of the excellent community building they have done over the years, as many of the community hubs featured in this report predate our government’s appointment of the Advisory Group. These providers have overcome challenges and brought partners together in the interest of improving the lives of people in their communities, and we continue to learn from them.
Last year, when I received recommendations from the Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group, I said that our government had an opportunity to take meaningful action to make real improvements. I believe the province needs to remove barriers to community hubs and provide support to build strong communities.
Today, I am proud to say that we are doing just that. We are making provincial funding relationships more flexible and streamlined, and are making it easier to use schools as community hubs. We are also looking at how we consider community needs in the way we manage public property. And we are developing a resource network that will allow service providers to connect and tap into the wealth of knowledge that has accumulated across the community hubs sector.
This report marks a year of progress in communities across our province that is worth celebrating. I want to thank the Advisory Group and all of our partners for giving their time and expertise. I look forward to continuing our work together as we build strong communities in every corner of Ontario.
Message from the Minister of Infrastructure
I would like to thank Karen Pitre and the members of the Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group for continuing to guide the Province’s work on community hubs.
Community hubs are certainly not a new concept. For decades, local champions and partners have been coming together to establish hubs in response to community needs. Today, community hubs across the province offer a wide range of services through a variety of models, reflecting the diversity of Ontario.
While communities are doing amazing work, our government acknowledges that we need to remove provincial barriers, and provide the tools and information they need to innovate and meet evolving community needs.
That’s why Premier Wynne appointed the Advisory Group and Karen Pitre as the Premier’s Special Advisor on Community Hubs. That is also why our government has accepted all of the recommendations in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan.
I am very encouraged by the significant progress made to date, and excited to further develop community hubs initiatives in my new role as the Minister of Infrastructure. I am confident that we will use this unique opportunity to look at how we can make better use of public properties, encourage the creation of multi-use spaces, and help communities establish financially sustainable hub models.
Again, I would like to thank the Advisory Group for their ongoing advice, and I applaud the work taking place provincially and locally. I look forward to working with all partners to make it easier to develop successful community hubs in Ontario.
Minister of Infrastructure
Message from the Special Advisor
Community hubs are vibrant centres of community life that generate economic and social benefits while improving the efficiency of local services. By bringing services together under one roof, hubs make it easier for people to access the services they need. While each hub is unique, we know that making good use of public space and bringing services together in a central location is beneficial to everyone. The Province has acknowledged that it can do more to create policies that allow hubs to flourish and grow. Recognizing the importance of community hubs and the need to remove provincial barriers, Premier Wynne appointed me as her Special Advisor and Chair of the Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group (Advisory Group) in 2015.
In August 2015, after extensive consultations across Ontario, the Advisory Group released Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan (Framework and Action Plan). The Framework and Action Plan included specific recommendations on how Ontario could make it easier to develop and operate community hubs.
I am pleased that the government has accepted all of the recommendations and is moving forward with implementation. To help ensure the best possible outcomes for communities, the Province has renewed the mandate of the Advisory Group and extended my appointment to March 2017. As part of its role in advising the government on the implementation of the Framework and Action Plan, a key area of focus for the Advisory Group will be to further the foundational recommendation – strong provincial leadership on community hubs.
While community hubs are locally driven, the Province has an important role to play. I am encouraged by the high level of engagement and commitment to collaboration that the government has shown over the last year. Much has been accomplished, although challenges remain. I look forward to continuing this important work with support from the Community Hubs Secretariat within the government, while collaborating with the Minister of Infrastructure and other key stakeholders.
This report gives us an opportunity to reflect on the meaningful progress that has been made at both the provincial and the local level. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners – both inside and outside government – for their ongoing support. Together we can continue to make a real difference in the lives of Ontarians.
Special Advisor to the Premier on Community Hubs
- Karen Pitre, Chair
- Michelle Baldwin
- Michelle DiEmanuele
- James Harbell
- Richard Joy
- Annie Kidder
- Lois Mahon
- Sevaun Palvetzian
- Doug Reycraft
- Enid Slack
August 10, 2016, marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan (Framework and Action Plan) by the Premier’s Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group. Over the last year, the Government of Ontario and its partners, with the guidance of the Advisory Group, have made significant progress on the implementation of the Framework and Action Plan. Further insight has also been gained into the unique challenges faced by communities.
Engagements across sectors and communities throughout Ontario
- Private sector
- Social enterprises
- Persons with disabilities
This report describes the progress made on the 27 recommendations presented to the Government of Ontario in the Framework and Action Plan (see appendix) and areas of focus moving forward. The report also details the feedback that the Advisory Group and government continue to receive from communities.
The report also highlights local examples of established and emerging community hubs. Beyond providing inspiration, these stories depict a variety of community hub models and best practices from which communities can gain insight. In many cases, these community hubs predate the release of the Framework and Action Plan and reflect the determination of local champions to overcome barriers while focusing on local needs.
The report describes significant progress in three key areas:
- Making better use of public properties
- To make it easier to use surplus schools as community hubs, regulation changes include doubling the current surplus school circulation period from 90 to 180 days and expanding the list of organizations that can place an offer before surplus school property is placed on the open market.
- Other improvements will include creating an inventory of properties, offering property data through the government’s Open Data initiative, and exploring options for creating a one-window portal for surplus public properties. The government will also develop a framework which could be used to help decide when a sale at fair market value may not align best with public interests and whether an investment on the part of the government is warranted.
- Removing barriers and enabling community hub development
- Through the Transfer Payment Administration Modernization initiative, the government will implement a common registration process for all transfer payment recipients, resulting in less time spent on administration and more time spent on delivering services.
- The redesigned Community Health Capital Program (CHCP) policy streamlines funding applications and expands funding eligibility to support the co-location and integration of multiple health and social services under one roof.
- Funding will be doubled under the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) initiative. The IAH funding will be targeted to provincial priority areas, including affordable housing projects that support community hubs.
- The Province has recently announced significant increases in capital funding for schools, which includes some funding specifically targeted to support the use of schools as community hubs. Eligibility for funding has also been expanded in ways that will support replacement space for community hubs when schools are closed or sold.
- Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres and Elderly Persons Centres are examples of integrated and coordinated local services.
- The Collective Impact for Disconnected Youth initiative and Situation Tables demonstrate service providers working together to better respond to client needs.
- Building community capacity and strengthening local planning
- The 2016 Ontario Budget announced that the government will be investing in a resource network. The design and development of the resource network will be informed by engagement with community partners. Consideration is also being given to holding a community hubs conference and improving access to local facilitation supports.
- Work is continuing with partners to explore financial sustainability for community hubs. For example, Ontario’s recently announced Social Enterprise Strategy has the potential to help community hubs that operate with a social enterprise model.
- To encourage coordinated local planning, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs hosted forums across the province.
- Proposed changes through the coordinated review of the four provincial land use plans support collaboration among service providers to facilitate up-front planning for pre-planned broadly accessible community hubs.
Overall, government and its community partners are embracing the Framework and Action Plan. However, some barriers and challenges remain. The release of the one-year progress report presents a chance to reflect on how Ontario can continue to transform challenges into exciting opportunities to improve the lives of the people of Ontario.
Making better use of public properties
What we’ve heard
A key principle of the Framework and Action Plan is to maximize the use of public property for community benefit. This means that when the Province and communities are making decisions about how to use property, including whether to buy, sell, lease, build, or renovate, more consideration should be given to community needs. The Province can do more to ensure that processes and planning better reflect the value of public properties to communities, particularly if the properties are underutilized or no longer needed for their original use. Moving forward with the newly created Ministry of Infrastructure, there is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the potential of public properties for both social and economic benefit.
In particular, communities have expressed that schools serve as natural community hubs. However, local partners have stated that they need to be made aware of, and allowed more time to consider, opportunities to purchase or lease surplus school space.
There is also a clear need for a publicly available inventory of public properties, including surplus or underutilized space that could be used to deliver needed services. This inventory is needed as a foundation for better coordinated planning and decision making at both the local and the provincial level.
Stakeholders continue to express the concern that by focusing on the sale of surplus public properties at market value, opportunities to repurpose a space and fully recognize its local economic or community value may be lost.
Changing the circulation process for the disposition of school properties
The Province is laying the groundwork for a broader long-term transformation of provincial processes and planning for public properties. This transformation would include changes to the way the Province assesses, circulates, and disposes of surplus properties. This will build on changes put in place in 2015 that expanded the circulation of surplus provincial properties to include school boards and eligible not-for-profit organizations.
In May 2016, the Ministry of Education announced changes to Ontario Regulation 444/98 – Disposition of Surplus Real Property, which will take effect September 1, 2016. The changes, which set out requirements for school boards, include:
- doubling the current surplus school circulation period from 90 to 180 days. This provides listed entities with 90 days to express interest in the property and an additional 90 days to submit an offer
- increasing access to surplus school circulation by expanding the list of entities that can place an offer to purchase before a surplus school property is placed on the open market
As of September 1, 2016, the surplus school circulation period will be doubled, from 90 to 180 days, and school boards will be required to circulate surplus school property to the following expanded list of organizations before placing property on the open market:
- coterminous school boards (i.e., with the same boundaries)
- agencies providing accommodation for school-age children and youth in government approved care or treatment, custody, and correctional facilities*
- district social services administration boards/consolidated municipal service managers*
- public colleges and universities
- lead agencies for child and youth mental health*
- Local Health Integration Networks*
- Public Health Boards*
- the Province of Ontario
- local service boards
- Indigenous organizations*
- the Government of Canada
*added to the list as of September 1, 2016
These changes are significant. Together, they will provide greater opportunities for community organizations to plan and explore options to purchase or lease surplus school properties for continued community use.
For many of these organizations, these changes present a new kind of opportunity. The Community Hubs Secretariat will work with the Ministry of Education and other partners to help organizations identify community needs and connect with partners to take advantage of these new prospects.
These are the first of several steps toward improving the processes and planning for the use of public properties. Other improvements will include the creation of an inventory of properties and development of a framework which could be used to help decide when a sale at fair market value may not align best with public interests and whether an investment on the part of the government is warranted.
Affordable housing in Parry Sound
Partnering to repurpose school property
When the Parry Sound District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) conducted a homelessness study, it found a significant need for affordable housing in its service area.
The Parry Sound Non-Profit Housing Corporation then worked with the DSSAB to purchase the surplus William Beatty School from the Near North District School Board.
The school closed after the 2014-15 school year and is now being converted into 10 affordable housing units, 35 market housing units, and space for three community organizations.
Timmins Native Friendship Centre
Repurposing school property for a Friendship Centre and affordable housing
The Timmins Native Friendship Centre, a member of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, is an example of partners identifying unique community needs and coming together to purchase the former Flora MacDonald Public School. The Friendship Centre now uses the space to offer a host of wellness, family, career, and education programs for the Indigenous community in Timmins and the broader community as well. Ten affordable housing units are also being built in the Friendship Centre.
One goal of the Timmins Native Friendship Centre is to improve living conditions and health outcomes for members of the community and to address poverty and homelessness while providing culturally appropriate solutions. The Friendship Centre’s Under One Roof Project facilitates the housing of all of the Centre’s programs in one location.
Improving provincial processes and planning for public properties
The Province is considering options to improve provincial property planning to support local community hub development. Specifically, the Ministry of Infrastructure is exploring improvements to the government’s process for circulating surplus provincial properties. Improvements will allow for cross-ministry planning and review of surplus provincial properties. This approach will help ensure that provincial interests are assessed and consideration is given to economic and local community impacts before decisions are made.
Expanding access to property information and building an inventory of public property
Through the government’s Open Data initiative, which seeks to improve public access to government data, information on surplus provincial properties will be made available. The first stage will include properties currently for sale. The Province is also assembling an inventory of buildings and other assets owned and in use by the Province and other sectors, including schools, postsecondary institutions, and hospitals.
Taken together, these steps represent important progress toward the goals articulated in the Framework and Action Plan and have the potential to significantly improve government and community planning.
This work will also provide an opportunity to explore options for establishing a one-window portal for surplus public properties, including surplus school properties. A one-window portal would be publicly accessible and include information on surplus or underutilized properties across the broader public sector, as well as tools to improve planning capacity.
Sale of property and fair market value
In consideration of the broader economic and community benefits, the Framework and Action Plan recommends a review of the government mandate that currently requires provincial properties to be sold at fair market value. Work is underway to determine the best approach to addressing this recommendation. This work includes the development of a framework to evaluate the socioeconomic value of community-focused use of public properties. This framework could be used to help decide when a sale at fair market value may not align best with public interests and whether the economic and community benefits warrant an investment on the part of the government to make it possible for properties to be acquired for community use.
The Framework and Action Plan also recommends that the Province provide a limited exemption to the requirement that surplus schools be sold at fair market value. However, the Framework and Action Plan recognizes that this should not come at the expense of school boards since they depend on the revenue generated from sales to improve the condition of existing schools. This will be considered in the development of the framework that is now underway.
Removing barriers & enabling community hub development
What we’ve heard
Well-intended policies, including funding criteria and privacy legislation, can act as barriers to community hubs. Partners have expressed that the Province can do more to stimulate the creation of community hubs through streamlined funding relationships, flexible capital funding criteria, and provincial policies that enable integrated service delivery.
Over the last year, ministries have been working together and collaborating with partners to remove barriers and create policies that are more locally responsive and better support the integration of services. These changes have been supported by collaborative discussions both within and outside government.
Streamlining program funding relationships
Transfer payments from the Province are essential for many local service providers. However, service providers often receive program funding through transfer payments from multiple ministries. This creates an administrative burden.
The Province is modernizing the processes and rules for administering transfer payments so that delivery partners can spend more time planning, coordinating, and enabling the outcomes they have committed to delivering. Government policy for managing transfer payment funding relationships, as set out in the Transfer Payment Accountability Directive, is currently being updated. Public comment was welcomed on a draft Directive posted on Ontario.ca.
Priorities to be addressed in the draft updated Directive were established through engagement with the not-for-profit sector. The draft of the updated Directive encourages greater use of agreement templates, which improve transparency for recipient organizations. The use of familiar text makes it simpler to identify changes, updates, or unique contractual requirements. The Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services are currently pilot testing a form of agreement that can be used to structure funding relationships with multiple programs.
Most significantly, the updated Directive paves the way for an online portal that will streamline the way recipients submit and access information about their transfer payments. Rather than having to submit the same information multiple times to multiple ministries, recipients will be able to log in with a unique identifier and see all of their transfer payment information in one place. This initiative supports and enables the provision of multiple services, including through community hubs.
A collaborative problem-solving journey
The Treasury Board Secretariat recently hosted an innovative ChangeLab designed to spark creative ideas on how the government can change funding relationships with community hubs to make service innovation and integration easier. This initiative challenged public servants from across government and community hub organizations, such as the Common Roof, the Ontario Non-profit Network, Rexdale Community Hub, and the United Way Toronto & York Region, to apply open government principles to problem solving. The ChangeLab included opportunities for participants to hear directly from provincial funding recipients, to leverage co-designed principles for administrative modernization, and to develop creative ideas that will contribute to the achievement of better public outcomes.
Flexible capital funding
The government has made changes to capital funding programs to make them more flexible and give greater consideration to the unique capital needs that support community hubs.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), working closely with the Community Hubs Secretariat and community partners, has released a redesigned Community Health Capital Program (CHCP) policy that streamlines and standardizes funding applications and expands funding eligibility for community health centres (CHCs).
Prior to the changes, MOHLTC only funded capital for health services. The redesigned CHCP now allows a CHC to include the social services needed to meet the needs of the community. The redesigned CHCP policy expands MOHLTC ’s ability to provide funding for space to a wider range of health and related social service partner organizations that co-locate or integrate within a specific physical location.
Since implementation in December 2015, the policy has been applied to new capital projects approved for planning and to those currently in progress, creating new opportunities for CHCs to co-locate with social services.
The CHCP policy and operational framework are the results of stakeholder feedback from multiple health service provider organizations, as well as government ministries.
Progress has been made in recognizing the importance of community hubs in housing projects. In June 2016, the governments of Ontario and Canada together announced measures to give Ontarians greater access to more affordable housing, including the doubling of current funding under the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) initiative. This supports affordable housing for seniors, as well as the building and renovating of shelters and transition houses for victims of family violence. The initiative also addresses issues in existing social housing, including repairs, energy improvement, and water efficiency.
The IAH funding will be targeted to provincial priority areas, including affordable housing projects that support community hubs. Creating affordable housing as part of community hubs will allow people to have greater access to supports, including education, social, and health care services.
The IAH investment will also support the government’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, poverty-reduction agenda, and the goal of ending chronic homelessness.
The Province has recently announced significant increases in capital funding for schools, which includes some funding specifically targeted to support the use of schools as community hubs. Eligibility for funding has also been expanded in ways that will support replacement space for community hubs when schools are closed or sold. Specific elements include:
- $20 million to create space for new child care and child and family support programs through Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in schools
- $18 million to retrofit existing child care space within a school to open up more spaces for children under 4 years old
- $50 million to renovate surplus school space to make it available for use by community partners and the public. Eligible renovations could include the conversion of space to suit the needs of a community partner. It could also include the installation of ramps or automatic doors for accessibility
- Expanding eligibility for school capital funding to include building replacement space for eligible community partners in new schools or additions in the event their original school location is closed or sold. For example, if a children’s rehabilitation service provider uses space in a school that is about to close, it could work with the school board to apply for funding for replacement space in another school
Integrating service delivery
Community hubs that offer co-located or integrated services are often an effective way to meet the needs of Ontarians. Programs and policies that have been announced or are under development reflect the importance of removing barriers and offering integrated services to meet community needs.
Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres
The government has announced its intentions to create Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres. These hubs will offer parents and their children a suite of high-quality early years programs, as well as local services tailored to their communities.
The Province currently funds four programs that offer a variety of services at different locations:
- Better Beginnings, Better Futures
- Child Care Resource Centres
- Ontario Early Years Centres
- Parenting and Family Literacy Centres
Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will integrate these four existing programs to offer services including:
- drop-in programs for children ages 0 to 6 and their families
- customized programs and workshops
- specialized community programs as needed
Core services must be designed and delivered in ways that align local needs and are responsive to diverse populations (e.g., children of varying abilities, various family structures, diverse cultures and languages, and newcomers to Ontario). This includes providing French-language and culturally responsive programs and services for Indigenous children and families. Requirements will be identified through the needs assessment process and ongoing early years community planning. The centres will be in place by 2018 to create a more seamless and integrated system of services and supports for Ontario’s children and families.
Peterborough Family Resource Centre
A community hub in a school
The Peterborough Family Resource Centre is an Early Years Centre that delivers its programs through four family hubs in school locations, as well as a head office. A fifth school-based hub is a special wrap-around program for pregnant teens and young mothers seeking to achieve their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
Programs include parent education, parent-child drop-ins, well-baby and lactation clinics, toy and book lending libraries, and other supports to expectant parents, families with young children, and child care providers.
The partnership with the local school board ensures that families receive services throughout the county at locations convenient to them.
Elderly Persons Centres
Many Elderly Persons Centres (EPCs) serve as local community hubs for Ontario’s seniors. EPCs offer a range of social, cultural, educational, and recreational programs for seniors. Each centre offers programming unique to its local community, which could include fitness programs, computer lessons, arts and cooking classes, and drop-in programming. All centres are focused on promoting seniors’ health, well-being, and involvement in the community.
The government has introduced legislation that, if passed, would give EPCs more flexibility to be responsive to the needs of local seniors. Bill 209: the Seniors Active Living Centres Act was introduced on June 1, 2016, to modernize the Elderly Persons Centres program and to help ensure seniors continue to have ready access to centres and programs in their communities that promote healthy, active aging and wellness. If the act is passed, the Seniors Active Living Centres Program would be established and reflect the new requirements under the act.
The proposed legislation would also help profile and encourage the role of EPCs in serving as community hubs that provide a central access point for a range of health, social, and cultural services for seniors. It would also reaffirm the valuable partnerships that EPCs currently have with local municipalities and the development of future partnerships with other local community organizations and Indigenous communities.
Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa (RAFO)
Francophone Elderly Persons Centre
Founded in 2001, the Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa (RAFO) is now celebrating its 15th anniversary. In 2005, the RAFO purchased the former Notre-Dame-des-Champs elementary school. Today, it is a fully operational centre for Francophone seniors, with more than 700 members and 200 volunteers. It has a diversified revenue base that includes income from renting out its spaces and cost recovery for the wide variety of programs it offers Francophones aged 50 and over. It has set up a kitchen where volunteers prepare meals that in summer feature produce from its large vegetable garden. Meal service is provided to members twice a week, and the RAFO even has a catering service with an established clientele. The organization also has an outdoor exercise yard and lawn bowling green that is popular with its members.
Service integration across sectors has been identified as a major challenge for community hubs. One way to address this is through a Collective Impact approach. Collective Impact is an innovative, outcomes-driven approach to making collaboration work between people, government, business, philanthropic, and not-for-profit sectors to achieve significant and lasting social change. It is also a transformative service delivery approach that emphasizes integrated and longer-term local planning.
In the 2016 Ontario Budget, the government directed the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to work with partners from the private, public, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors to select communities to better align efforts for helping youth ages 15 to 24 who are neither employed nor in education/training programs.
A cross-sectoral leadership council has been established to support these communities by increasing local capacity and working with communities to change policies and programs to make collaboration and service delivery at the local level more effective.
This work is an example of a provincial integrated service delivery project with opportunities to inform community hub development.
While community hubs often seek to provide integrated service delivery, efforts to protect privacy can prevent the effective sharing of information that is needed to meet client needs. Ontario has an opportunity to learn from the way client information is shared between multiple service providers who participate in Situation Tables.
Situation Tables are one of the risk intervention models that align with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ work on Community Safety and Well-Being. These types of models encourage multi-sector partnerships in order to reduce the demand for reactive, resource-intensive emergency response through a proactive approach where community partners share information and collaborate to establish and address local priority risks to safety and well-being. This helps prevent crime and improve outcomes for community residents by making sure they are receiving the right response, at the right time, and by the right responders.
Streamlining transfer payment administration
Through the Transfer Payment Administration Modernization initiative, work is underway to launch a common registration portal for transfer payment recipients in fall 2016. The common registration portal will allow recipients to submit and update standard registration information. The information has to be submitted only once to be made available to all Ontario government funders.
Through the common registration portal, recipients will use their Canada Revenue Business Number as a unique identifier. The same portal will also allow government to display registration and funding information to recipients. Focus group discussions with not-for-profit representatives are underway to help plan for the development of an enhanced common registration portal, called My TP – an individualized transfer payment account with additional functionality, including the sharing of complete and accurate financial information.
The Transfer Payment Administration Modernization initiative is currently gathering insights from demonstration projects involving multiple funders and recipient organizations. This will help develop simpler, more consistent business processes to address the interests of community hubs. This includes operating budget flexibility. Consistent practices will streamline administrative processes for both government and recipient organizations.
The common registration portal and subsequent My TP accounts will be major milestones that will reduce administrative burdens for service providers, including those who offer multiple services through community hubs.
Supporting integrated service delivery
Community hubs are about bringing together multiple services to meet local needs. Ministries have made significant progress when it comes to incorporating the ideas of integration and community hubs into their policy-making processes. Ministries and the government as a whole need to continually evaluate whether changes to processes, outcome indicators, funding models, and community engagement can be leveraged to support sustainable community hubs and service integration.
Ontario will need to continue to engage with stakeholders and improve funding and operational flexibility for community-based providers who are responding to the complex, multi-faceted needs of a growing and diverse population.
In its 2015 annual report released in June 2016, the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) recommended that the government amend privacy legislation to address, among other things, the need for collaborative service delivery models and data sharing to support research and analysis. The IPC has recognized the need to improve the way the government shares information internally. Work is continuing in this regard.
Building community capacity & strengthening local planning
What we’ve heard
Community hubs are not new. Overall, communities across Ontario are working hard to lead local community hub initiatives. There are many examples of successful community hubs in Ontario, some of which have been operating for decades. Many experienced groups and individuals are willing to share their lessons learned and support other communities seeking to launch similar initiatives. However, the Province can do more to support information sharing across sectors and build local capacity. Specifically, many communities and organizations have expressed the need for a centralized source for information about developing partnerships, operating sustainable hubs, how to measure outcomes, skills training and professional development, as well as data and tools to inform community planning.
The Province can also do more to encourage coordinated local planning. Where multi-sector, coordinated community planning is lacking, this continues to be a significant barrier. Local planning must take into consideration the experience, services and interests of municipalities, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), social service providers, social planning councils, school boards, not-for-profits, and others in order to fully understand and address community needs. This is further complicated when it is not clear who should lead a local community hub initiative.
At both the provincial and the local levels, efforts are underway to bring together various sectors and determine how multiple stakeholders with different mandates can work together to build a cohesive plan to meet the needs of local communities. To address this ongoing challenge, work will continue with provincial and local partners.
Communities helping communities
Across Ontario, communities are sharing lessons learned, best practices, and expertise.
Langs in Cambridge has had close to 50 cities representing over 100 different groups visit their hub. As a response to requests from across Ontario, Langs hosted a community hub learning event to share information about how the Langs hub was established. Highlights included information about securing land and financing, managing a construction project, and using community engagement in the tenant selection process.
The United Way Toronto & York Region has participated extensively in efforts to promote community hubs, including providing an information session for the Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group, participating in the ChangeLab, and reaching out to others to offer its advice and expertise on how to create and sustain a community hub.
The Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network hosted Peterborough Community Hub Day at The Mount Community Centre. The event brought together local agencies, groups, and government representatives to share information and celebrate local success stories.
The Common Roof in Barrie is a community-based social enterprise providing sustainable and professional work space for human-service non-profit agencies. The Common Roof regularly hosts events and education seminars in its community hub to improve capacity and collaboration between its various non-profit partners.
Building local capacity
In response to the Framework and Action Plan and extensive stakeholder input, the 2016 Ontario Budget announced that the government is moving forward with strengthening local capacity by investing in a resource network for community partners.
A strong network of service providers, supported by an online element, will be fundamental to strengthening local capacity. The network will connect people and enable information sharing to help ensure community partners can tap into the wealth of knowledge that has accumulated across the sector. For example, the network will provide access to best practices, template agreements, and data and tools to support community planning. The network will also provide access to professional development and training.
To further the objectives of the resource network, options are being considered to bring together service providers and partners from across sectors for a conference in 2017. The conference would be an opportunity for networking and focused face-to-face discussions on enabling community hubs.
Since the release of the Framework and Action Plan, many positive examples of similar networks have been identified in Ontario and in other jurisdictions. The Province will be looking to build on these resources and establish connections to best support community hub providers.
The design and development of the resource network will be informed by continued collaboration with stakeholders to ensure that the final solution best meets their needs.
Recognizing that community hubs can be in physical or virtual spaces, the Community Hubs Secretariat partnered with Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone to host a brainstorming session. The session was attended by digital service providers from both inside and outside government and explored options for the development of virtual community hubs.
Supporting sustainable hubs
To help build local capacity, Ontario is working with partners to explore how community hubs can be operated in a financially sustainable way. For example, a social enterprise business model could allow a community hub to generate revenue and positive community outcomes. The Province is continuing to engage with stakeholders to explore financial models and tools for sustainable hubs.
Social enterprises use business strategies to achieve a social or an environmental impact. While generating revenues from the sale of goods and services, social enterprises create positive measurable outcomes. As their businesses grow, the social impact grows. Operating community hubs as social enterprises can improve financial stability. The same can be said for locating social enterprises within the hub itself.
In June 2016, the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth launched a new five-year social enterprise strategy. Ontario’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2021 details significant commitments in three key areas:
- equipping social enterprises with solid business fundamentals
- connecting social enterprises to markets and capital to grow
- demonstrating the value of social enterprise and social finance to investors, government, and communities
Ontario will invest more than $6 million in the first year of this renewed strategy. Key initiatives that community hubs could benefit from include:
- integrating specialized social entrepreneurship supports (e.g., impact measurement) into mainstream entrepreneurship programs, such as those offered through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs
- establishing an Impact Measurement Task Force to help identify standards for measuring and assessing the impact of social enterprises
- establishing a Centre of Excellence in Social Enterprise and Social Finance to help government leverage social enterprises and social finance as tools to achieve policy objectives
Examples of successful and emerging social enterprises
Private sector partnerships
The Advisory Group and the Community Hubs Secretariat have hosted collaborative roundtable conversations with the private sector (including developers and investors), service providers, social enterprises, and government. These conversations have explored how the private sector can play a partnership role in creating sustainable community hubs, including social financing, which leverages private investment to generate financial return and positive social impact.
Discussions have also explored the challenges and opportunities facing community hubs with respect to real estate. This included the identification of opportunities for social enterprises to act as anchor tenants in hubs. The Province will continue to participate in collaborative idea-generating discussions between community hub providers and other partners to enhance local community hub development.
Encouraging coordinated local planning
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has demonstrated leadership in collaborating with stakeholders and exploring options to encourage and support coordinated local planning for community hubs.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs hosted a series of information forums across the province on integrated service planning. Between November 30 and December 18, 2015, forums were held in Toronto, London, Barrie, Kingston, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay. The ministry engaged a range of experts and leaders from various sectors – non-profit, health, social services, school boards, municipal, and others – about how the Province and its local and regional partners can better support the integrated and long-term planning of community-based services. The forums provided opportunities for stakeholders to meet and collaborate, in many cases for the first time. A report summarizing the feedback provided by stakeholders during the forums is available.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has been taking steps to identify policy changes that remove barriers to integrated service delivery planning while promoting collaboration with local, regional, and provincial partners.
Land use planning changes
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is undertaking a coordinated review of the four provincial land use plans:
- the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
- the Greenbelt Plan
- the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
- the Niagara Escarpment Plan
These plans work together to manage growth, build complete communities, control sprawl, and protect the natural environment. To support the coordinated review, Ontario appointed a panel, chaired by David Crombie, to develop recommendations on amending and improving the plans. In its final report, the panel made recommendations on how to better support the development of complete communities, including community hubs.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is now seeking feedback on proposed changes to the plans. As a response to the panel recommendations and the Framework and Action Plan, the proposed changes support collaboration among service providers to facilitate up-front planning for broadly accessible community hubs. The plans also encourage public services to be located together, with priority placed on locating hubs in existing facilities, near strategic growth areas, and in locations that are accessible by active transportation and transit.
Building local capacity
The resource network will be rolled out in phases, beginning in 2017. Engagement with stakeholders will be essential to ensure the resource network meets the needs of service providers and communities. In fall 2016, the Province will lead engagements with experts and local practitioners to design the resources, tools, and supports that will be made available. The Secretariat will also work with partners to explore virtual hubs.
All organizations and individuals interested in informing the development of the resource network will have an opportunity to provide input. Updates will be posted on Ontario.ca/communityhubs.
Access to data sets and tools
Data affordability, quality, and availability – and the limited capacity of many small organizations to interpret data – have been identified as barriers to local planning for community hubs.
To address these challenges, the resource network will provide access to data sets, including those provided through the government’s Open Data initiative. Under the initiative, the Province is working to release a public inventory that lists all data created, collected, or managed by the government. The data inventory will help ministries prioritize data for release and enable the identification of data useful for community planning. As the resource network is developed, consideration will be given to how it could be established in conjunction and integrated with a one-window portal for surplus public properties.
As part of the resource network, data analysis and visualization tools, particularly GIS technology, will help local partners interpret and visualize data, such as population demographics, the locations of services, and other neighbourhood-level data through a single web-based system. These types of tools and data sets will help communities identify community needs and service gaps to inform the early planning stages for local hub initiatives.
The resource network will seek to provide consistent high-quality data to inform decisions like which services are most needed and where they should be located. Better access to data will help ensure local partners can rely on a common source of information, rather than using different data sets from different sources with varying accuracy.
Kingston, Frontenac, And Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health
Integrating data to identify and respond to community needs
Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health is using GIS data to make decisions about where services should be offered. For example, the team mapped public health data against grocery store locations along with demographic information to determine the areas of the local community with the highest food insecurity.
The Community Hubs Secretariat has been working with KFL&A to better understand how existing data maps could be leveraged to better support communities and help them identify service gaps and locate community services.
Developing evaluation tools
The Province and local communities need to strive toward measuring evidence-based outcomes – a task that is complicated by the variety and uniqueness of community hubs across Ontario. Through the resource network, the Province will be looking to support the capacity to measure success by making additional tools and supports available. Community providers and governments can then better measure the effectiveness of community hubs. The tools that will be made available as part of the resource network will build upon existing work, including the partnership between Langs and Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region, which pilots measurement of the collective impact of their community hub models in the Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo communities.
Supporting sustainable hubs
Work is continuing on the Framework and Action Plan’s recommendation to support financially sustainable hubs. This includes a review of financing options, such as:
- social finance
- social enterprises
- public-private partnerships
- eligibility for provincial loans
- municipal tools
- provincial service providers to act as anchor tenants
The Advisory Group and the Community Hubs Secretariat will continue to participate in conversations across government and with partners, including the private sector and social enterprises, to explore how community hubs can establish financial sustainability. Work will also continue to examine the potential for government service offices to play the role of anchor tenants in buildings and spaces that could offer multiple community services.
Strengthening local planning
Coordinating local planning is difficult. Each community has different needs, resources, service providers, and leaders. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to determining who should lead the development or operation of a community hub. That’s why the Province will continue to work with local partners, like municipalities, social planning councils, and others, to identify and remove barriers to ensure integrated local planning.
Local facilitation supports
In some communities, there is a need for dedicated resources and expertise to help overcome the challenge of aligning the interests of multiple local partners at various stages of the hub development process. Depending on community needs, these resources could include individuals who act as local integrators, facilitators, or mediators.
The government can play a role in supporting these communities to reach resolution and consensus through improving access to these types of services. This would help local partners build strong and constructive relationships and derive solutions to ongoing challenges to the creation of community hubs.
Finding a common vision
Students from Bloor Collegiate Institute and Alpha II Alternative School at Bloor and Dufferin Streets in Toronto will be moving to a renovated school at the adjacent Brockton High School site. The former Kent Senior Public School and Bloor Collegiate Institute properties present a unique opportunity for the Toronto Lands Corporation and the Toronto District School Board to redevelop the 7.3-acre site and, in partnership with the City of Toronto, meet community needs in the heart of the city.
The Community Hubs Secretariat has played a central role in convening these key partners, all of which have different mandates, to work together.
The one-year anniversary of Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan is a significant milestone in the journey to making it easier to create successful and sustainable local community hubs across the province.
While the Government of Ontario has indeed played a pivotal role in changing policies and processes to remove some of the barriers to community hub development and growth, this hasn’t been a journey taken alone. It is the combined efforts of hundreds of community stakeholders and leaders, including municipalities, school boards, health centres, libraries, cultural centres, community services, Indigenous partners, not-for-profit organizations, and others. It is the tireless efforts and dedication of everyone involved that have allowed Ontario and its communities to reach this stage. This report is just one of many milestones to come.
The Province has made great strides in making better use of public properties, removing barriers to enable community hubs, building community capacity, and strengthening local planning. The government, with guidance from the Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group, will continue to implement exciting new initiatives that will expand upon and improve efforts to make Ontario a better place to live for everyone.
There is still much work to do, and the Framework and Action Plan will continue to serve as a guide to ensure Ontario and its communities remain on the path to success.
Community hubs spotlight
Repurposing space for creative and cultural community use
Artscape is a not-for-profit urban development organization that transforms communities through creativity. Its work involves clustering creative people together in real estate projects that serve the needs of the arts and cultural community. It also advances multiple public policy objectives, private development interests, community and neighbourhood aspirations, and philanthropic missions.
Artscape’s Wychwood Barns is a century-old former streetcar repair facility. It is a community cultural hub where a dynamic mix of arts, culture, food security, urban agriculture, and environmental and other community activities and initiatives come together.
Artscape’s Youngplace is a former school. It nurtures creation, learning, and collaboration through innovative programs, experiences, and events in an inspiring social environment in order to strengthen and grow the community.
Carlington Community Health Centre
Community health centre with housing for seniors
The Ottawa Community Housing Corporation (OCHC) and the Carlington Community Health Centre (CHC) are collaborating on the development of a new four-storey building. This will be used to co-locate Carlington CHC's primary care clinic and OCHC’s senior housing units. This will improve client experience and access through efficiencies and design, specifically:
- a ground-floor expansion of the existing CHC facility
- a ground-floor lobby for a community housing apartment complex to be constructed above the expanded clinic
- development of a 42-unit community housing apartment complex on the second floor and above
- exterior parking
Community Hub 33 in Leamington
Bringing together government and non-profit service providers
The Community Hub 33 is an example of health and social services coming together. The hub is conveniently located in the uptown core of Leamington, bringing together like-minded agencies to serve the needs of residents in one location.
The Hub 33 consists of:
- the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society
- the City of Windsor’s Employment & Social Services/Ontario Works team
- the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
- Community Living Essex (services for people with intellectual disabilities)
- Children First (services for families with preschool children at risk for or experiencing mental health or developmental concerns)
- Youth Diversion (community-based programming for youth experiencing difficulties at home or school or with the law)
This innovative concept is the result of planning and consultation with the goal of bringing community programs together to enhance the quality of service delivery for children and families of Essex County.
The Link in Georgina
Innovation in a community-creative hub
A former school site, The Link is a community-creative hub that invites participation in arts and culture, programming, training, and unique events. Recent renovations sponsored by the Town, Federal Government, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and others are enabling a more client-focused, holistic approach to services and community engagement.
Learning is just around the corner
Mohawk College has shown leadership in the establishment of education hubs as a way to fight poverty in the community.
Mohawk opened the first City School location in Hamilton’s Keith neighbourhood in October 2015 at the Eva Rothwell Centre. City School is co-located with other services in the building, including an emergency food pantry and clothing donation room, youth programming, Pathways to Education Hamilton, and St. Matthew’s House of Hamilton. A team of college faculty and staff rotate through the centre to reach students who otherwise would have greater difficulty accessing education and employment services. City School recently opened its second location in Hamilton’s Jamesville neighbourhood, co-located with the Learning Annex in the Hamilton Public Library.
The ultimate vision is to bring community learning hubs to priority neighbourhoods identified by the City of Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Action Strategy, with services decided in consultation with the residents who will use them.
Neighbourhood Centres in Toronto
Over 100 years of community hubs
Community hubs are not a new concept. For over 100 years, Neighbourhood Centres in Toronto have served as hubs and anchors for social participation. Neighbourhood Centres develop and deliver community services, including:
- seniors, youth, and family programs
- employment and skills training
- settlement services
- community development initiatives
- literacy and ESL programs
- housing and food access
- social recreation activities
Neighbourhood Centres have continued to evolve with the communities they serve, becoming more inclusive in their mandate, service offerings, and religious/secular affiliations.
Pilot by the Ministry Of Community and Social Services
Piloting hubs to improve services for women and children experiencing violence
The Ministry of Community and Social Services has committed to enhancing the use of the hub service model to reduce barriers faced by women and dependants in accessing services and to improve the coordination and integration of Violence Against Women (VAW) services. The hubs pilot is part of the ministry’s work under the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan
The purpose of the pilot project is to support four pilot hubs in the development of procedures, outreach, and performance measurements to potentially inform the overall development of a provincial hub model for the VAW sector.
The four hubs under the pilot are:
- Safe Centre of Peel (SCoP)
- York Region Centre for Community Safety (YRCCS)
- Support Team for Abuse Response Today (START)
- Durham Region’s Intimate-relationship Violence Empowerment Network (DRIVEN)
Community hubs in the IPC sector offer a range of programs and services provided by partner agencies (e.g., community services, legal, health care, and education) that are housed in a common space or facility. Each hub is unique and reflects its community’s local needs. They serve as a central access point for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to access a range of services, some of which include Sexual Assault Centres, counselling, Legal Aid, Victim Services, police services, safety planning, supports for children, Court Support Workers, shelters, Ontario Works, and housing.
Partnering in the North to meet community needs
In Thessalon, PHARA (Physically Handicapped Adults Rehabilitation Association) has established Westwinds shores by repurposing and adapting the former location of Algoma Manor. The former site was set to be demolished and has since been converted into 33 modified affordable housing units and works with the Northeast Community Care Access Centre to provide assisted living for seniors.
This facility also provides:
- space for an adult learning centre
- dedicated community hub rooms/coffee clubs
- common rooms for activities and events
The lower level of the building houses both Thessalon Hospital and the North Channel Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic and is connected to the long-term care facility.
Appendix: progress toward recommendations in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan
- Formalize a structure to be responsible and accountable within government for overseeing the implementation of the Community Hubs Framework and Action Plan
Progress and moving forward
- The 2016 Budget announced that to guide the implementation of key initiatives of the Framework and Action Plan, the Province is extending the mandate of the Special Advisor, Karen Pitre, and the Premier’s Community Hubs Framework Advisory Group to March 2017.
- As part of its role advising the government on the implementation of the Framework and Action Plan, a key area of focus for the Advisory Group will be to further the foundational recommendation – strong provincial leadership on community hubs.
Integrated service delivery
- Establish incentives for agencies/ organizations that demonstrate integrated service delivery.
- Simplify transfer payment accountability requirements to increase funding flexibility and reduce administrative burden for service providers.
- Work with the Information and Privacy Commissioner to leverage existing work to establish protocols that protect privacy while allowing appropriate sharing of client information.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of current and planned provincial integrated service delivery projects to examine opportunities as they might apply to community hubs.
Progress and moving forward
- The Treasury Board Secretariat recently hosted an innovative ChangeLab designed to spark fresh and creative ideas on how the government can change funding relationships with community hubs to make service innovation and integration easier. This initiative challenged public servants from across government and community hub organizations, such as the Common Roof, the Ontario Non-profit Network, Rexdale Community Hub, and the United Way Toronto & York Region, to apply open government principles to problem solving. The ChangeLab included opportunities for participants to hear directly from provincial funding recipients, to leverage co-designed principles for administrative modernization, and to develop creative ideas that will contribute to achievement of better public outcomes.
- Through the Transfer Payment Administration Modernization initiative, the government will implement a common registration process for all transfer payment recipients, resulting in less time spent on administration and more time spent on delivering services.
- The multi-ministry Benefits Transformation initiative, led by the Ministry of Finance, is looking at ways to improve the way people access income-based benefit programs while making administration more efficient. As a foundational step to this work, new framework legislation to enable integrated administration and delivery of income-based programs received Royal Assent in spring 2016.
- In its 2015 annual report, released in June 2016, the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) recommended the government amend privacy legislation to address (among other things) the need for collaborative service delivery models and data sharing to support research and analysis. The IPC has recognized the need to improve the way the government shares information internally. Work is continuing in this regard.
- In July 2016, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services hosted an Ontario Public Service Summit on Data Integration. The Summit brought together ministries from across government to discuss data-sharing challenges and opportunities. The ministry continues to collaborate with other ministries to explore appropriate data-sharing opportunities in the Ontario Public Service with a view to enabling service integration and better meeting community needs.
- The Community Hubs Secretariat has been reaching out and will continue to work on Ontario government integrated service delivery projects, including Benefits Transformation, Children and Youth Services’ Collective Impact for Disconnected Youth, Early Years Centres, Elderly Persons Centres, and a Strategy for a Safer Ontario.
Develop a provincial strategy for public properties
- Assemble a comprehensive inventory of provincial and provincially supported public property, including those owned by the broader public sector (e.g., Community Health Centres, child care/early learning centres, libraries, Elderly Persons Centres, affordable housing, schools, hospitals, colleges, universities, etc.).
- Use this inventory to conduct analysis on opportunities for service delivery integration and co-location.
- Change the disposition process for surplus public properties to review public needs and explore the feasibility of potential partnerships before a final decision is made.
- Review the government mandate to require disposition of public properties at fair market value, including those owned by the broader public sector, and develop methodologies for conducting cost-benefit analysis of surplus properties that consider broader social and economic benefits to the communities.
- Build a broader and more complete realty circulation list and ensure sufficient time to review surplus properties before disposition.
- Develop measures to analyze the community use of provincially supported properties to better inform decision making on surplus space.
- Implement a short term strategy for schools.
Progress and moving forward
- The Ministry of Infrastructure is exploring improvements to the government’s process for circulating surplus provincial properties. Improvements will allow for cross-ministry planning and review of surplus provincial properties. This approach will help ensure that provincial interests are assessed and consideration is given to economic and local community impacts before decisions are made.
- Through the government’s Open Data initiative, which seeks to improve public access to government data, information on surplus provincial properties will be made available. The first stage will include properties currently for sale. The Province is also assembling an inventory of buildings and other assets owned and in use by the Province and other sectors, including schools, postsecondary institutions, and hospitals. This work will provide an opportunity to explore options for establishing a one-window portal for surplus public properties, including surplus school properties. A one-window portal would be publicly accessible and include information on surplus or underutilized properties across the broader public sector, as well as tools to improve planning capacity.
- To make it easier to use surplus school properties as community hubs, the Ministry of Education has made changes to Ontario Regulation 444/98 – Disposition of Surplus Real Property, which will take effect September 1, 2016. The changes include:
- Doubling the current surplus school circulation period from 90 to 180 days, providing listed entities with 90 days to express interest in the property and an additional 90 days to submit an offer
- Increasing access to surplus school circulation by expanding the list of organizations that can place an offer before surplus school property is placed on the open market
- Work is underway on the development of a framework to evaluate the socioeconomic value of community use of public properties. This framework could be used to help decide when a sale at fair market value may not align best with public interests and whether the economic and community benefits warrant an investment on the part of the government to make it possible for properties to be acquired for community use.
Remove barriers and create incentives
- Continue to work with stakeholders to identify and find solutions to additional barriers that prevent the establishment of community hubs.
- Simplify the capital approval process for community health agencies (e.g., Community Health Centres) and offer flexibility in design, funding, and operating requirements to enable programming that reflects community needs.
- Increase Local Health Integration Networks’ capital approval authority for community health projects.
- Review the liability, security, access, and property management issues to maximize use of school space by community partners.
Progress and moving forward
- In the last year, the Community Hubs Secretariat has connected with communities across Ontario that are seeking guidance on how to overcome barriers and drive local initiatives. Work will continue with provincial and local partners to identify barriers and find potential solutions to the establishment of community hubs.
- The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care released a redesigned Community Health Capital Program (CHCP) policy that streamlines funding applications and expands funding eligibility to support the co-location and integration of multiple health and social services under one roof. Under the new policy, three projects to date have been funded, and several more are in progress.
- The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is exploring policy options to further streamline capital processes by potentially providing Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) with more capital approval authority for community health projects.
- The Province announced $50 million to renovate surplus school space to make it available for use by community partners and the public. Eligible expenses will include the conversion of surplus space to meet the needs of a new community partner and expenses related to improving accessibility of a school to contribute to its use by a community partner.
- The Province has had an initial discussion with the Ontario Association of School Business Officials and school board and trustee organizations. Further work is required to explore options on liability and security issues, as well as on school property use, to improve community use of schools.
- The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is using collective impact, an innovative, outcomes-driven approach to making collaboration work between people, government, business, and the philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors to achieve significant and lasting social change. The ministry is analyzing methods for identifying and resolving barriers to collaboration and effective service delivery locally.
Support integrated and longer-term local planning
- Require integrated planning to ensure client-focused service delivery regardless of jurisdictional boundaries (provincial, municipal, school board, health, and agency).
- Work with the municipal sector and local stakeholders to explore opportunities to use provincial policy levers and legislation (e.g. Provincial Policy Statement, Growth Plan for the Greater Horseshoe, Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, The Municipal Act, and the City of Toronto Act) to strengthen and better enable community hubs.
- Explore how public buildings can be designed and built with greater consideration for multi-use, inter-generational, and long-term requirements to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
Progress and moving forward
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs organized regional engagement sessions in November/December 2015 to obtain feedback from key stakeholders and inform the next steps in integrated planning. The ministry released a summary of findings in February 2016. The ministry is also taking steps to identify policy changes that promote integrated service delivery planning by removing barriers and promoting collaboration with local, regional, and provincial partners.
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is now seeking feedback on proposed changes to the four provincial plans. The proposed changes support the development of community hubs by encouraging up-front planning for hubs in communities and encouraging public services to be located together in existing facilities near strategic growth areas, accessible by active transportation and transit.
- A new Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 InfoSheet on Community Hubs, is now available on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ website to assist municipalities in developing local policies that support up-front coordination and planning for community hubs.
- The Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act requires the provincial government and designated broader public sector entities to consider principles when making decisions with respect to infrastructure. This includes demographic and economic trends, community benefits, supplementary social and economic benefits, and improvement of public space. Community hubs need to be a factor in these decisions.
- The Province will continue to work with local partners like municipalities, community groups, social planning councils, Indigenous partners, LHINs, school boards, and others to look at their roles and address barriers to ensure integrated local planning.
Ensure financially sustainable community hubs:
- Explore the use of innovative financing models for community hubs, including social enterprise, social finance (e.g., Social Impact Bonds), public/private partnerships, and Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP).
- Revise the Infrastructure Ontario Loan Program to expand eligibility.
- Leverage provincial programs (e.g., ServiceOntario and Employment Ontario) as ‘anchor tenants’ to support community hub establishment and long-term sustainability.
- Review options to leverage municipal financial tools, including business incubators, municipal capital facilities agreements, and development charges, to support the creation of new community spaces.
Progress and moving forward
- In June 2016, Ontario launched a new Social Enterprise Strategy that will help social enterprises grow their businesses, enter new markets, and create jobs while addressing complex social and environmental challenges. Social enterprises located in a community hub, or operating as a community hub, can help increase the financial sustainability of the community hub.
- The Community Hubs Secretariat has convened stakeholders and conducted private sector engagement to provide advice on social real estate and social capital.
- Work is continuing on the Framework and Action Plan’s recommendation to support financially sustainable hubs. This includes a review of financing options, such as social finance, social enterprises, public-private partnerships, eligibility for provincial loans, and municipal tools.
- Further work is required to determine an anchor tenant strategy, including provincial programs (e.g., ServiceOntario and Employment Ontario), and to consider public building design that meets multi-use, inter-generational, and long-term requirements.
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has developed a number of resources to help municipalities better understand the variety of financial tools available to them to support community hubs. This includes business incubators, municipal capital funding, and development charges.
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is exploring options to facilitate the use of municipal financial tools, such as small business incubators, to support municipal participation in hubs.
Increase local capacity
- Engage experts and local practitioners to develop a resource centre for service providers to support the establishment of community hubs and provide training for providers.
- To support local planning activities, and in keeping with the Province’s Open Government initiative, make government data such as demographic, GIS mapping, service planning information, and the surplus public properties inventory publicly available online.
- Explore opportunities to support virtual community hubs.
Progress and moving forward
- The 2016 Provincial Budget announced that the government will be investing in a resource network for community partners, including an interactive and online resource centre. This will provide access to information, best practices, and data for community organizations. The resource network will be rolled out in phases, beginning in 2017.
- As a requirement of its new Open Data Directive, the Province is working to release a public Data Inventory that lists all data created, collected, and/or managed by the government.
- In keeping with the ongoing release of open data sets, the inventory will indicate whether a data set is currently open or if it is in progress to become open. For those data sets that can’t be made open, an explanation will be provided. Expected completion date is October 31, 2016.
- The Community Hubs Secretariat is working to ensure tools are in place to enable community use of data for local planning purposes.
- The Province, in partnership with Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, hosted a brainstorming session among digital service providers both inside and outside government to explore options for the development of virtual community hubs.
- Ontario is considering collaboration with a community partner to look at specific opportunities to develop virtual hubs.
Evaluate and monitor the outcomes
- Work with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s new Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making to develop an outcomes-based evaluation and measurement structure.
Progress and moving forward
- It is challenging to evaluate community hubs since all hubs are different. The Province’s goal is to develop measures that are meaningful.
- A new Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making has been established to champion the strengthening of Ontario’s knowledge and research base. It is rolling out a new Evidence-Based Decision-Making Framework within the Ontario Public Service.
- The Community Hubs Secretariat is working with the Centre of Excellence on an outcomes-based evaluation framework for the overall community hubs initiative.