Annual Community Forum on Ending Homelessness

Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference.  An unusual event due to its efforts to improve practice, while addressing policy and planning.


The Annual Community Forum on Ending Homelessness is the only event of its kind in Ottawa, bringing over 250 housing researchers, practitioners, front line workers, policy makers, community organizations and governments together to work collaboratively to build solutions to ending homelessness in Ottawa.

Our program provides an opportunity for local agencies to meet collectively and exchange learning, best-practices and strategies from a growing local and Canadian body of knowledge on ending homelessness, and will offer practical information, tools, research, discussion and much inspiration!

We are excited to announce the upcoming Community Forum is taking place:

Thursday January 24th, 2019 @ RA Centre – 2451 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON 


Please visit our Eventbrite page to register today.

Learn more about the conference –


Resource to think about individual anxiety and bureaucracy – in care organizations

This article by Yiannis Gabriel  thinks about anxiety and organizations – social context with a psycho-dynamic-analytical approach as researched by Isabel Menzies Lyth.

That’s a pretty rare focus for us these days in adult mental health, but worthy of its efforts to address our actual emotional feelings, whatever you think of psycho-dynamic constructs.  It looks at a health care context and while reflecting on research on nurses, can be applied to any of us, including managers/leaders.


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It brings us to think about individual and organizational responses, the unhelpful one’s and suggests more helpful approaches.  I found that it could help me out on how to manage my individual rich pool of anxiety involved with individual, family, care system… interactions that lead to: the good, the bad patient, the good, the bad clinician.

The unbearable, which in turn leads us to approaches/stances/practices that are defensive and are intricately linked to group/program/organizational contexts manifested under the heading of: bureaucracy.-

“…its rules, rota’s, task lists, checks, counterchecks, hierarchies … for defensive techniques.  By allowing for ritual task performance by depersonalizing relations with the patients, by using organizational hierarchies, nurses contain their anxiety. Thus a patient becomes “the kidney in bed 14 or “the tracheotomy in ward B”, …

Rules, task lists, checks, themselves are for sure critical to good care, it is when we pour our focus onto them, that we loose ourselves and the people we are caring for. So this article is not a threat to practice change advocates and implementors and instead helps out the process approach.

The article says a lot more, but a little silly of me if I am trying to summarize a summary of a summary.  In the current work force context where organizations are deploying campaigns for individual worker wellness and stress management, it would be great to  hear from others about resources that help us to reflect on the individual in a care organization, but beyond the usual individual approaches – of: take a break, exercise, … take a bubble bath.

Please look at the article here:

Thinking systems and collaboration in organizational use of ICT to achieve: accountability, governance and multidisciplinarity

ksenia cheinman‘s analysis of Information Communication Technology (ICT) content in organizations and government in the context of efforts towards an innovation, points to the need for a cooperative whole system approach. 

She provides useful resources on how to improve our approaches to knowledge/content sharing, no matter how basic the task. 

For most health and social involved organizations the resource capacity to manage such an approach dissuades bothering to read these ideas.  It is worth the time though if we are seeking accountability, governance and multidisciplinarity, the title of Cheinman’s article. 

… Innovation in the government can often seem like a symptom of wanting to prove that we are not years behind the private sector, an internal competition or a way to strategically launch one’s career. It is a means to the wrong ends. It operates under the guise of genuine service improvement, but if you look closely and more importantly broadly, in a sweeping gesture, across the whole organization ecosystem, more often than not every individual innovation breaks something else along the way. In fact, sometimes it creates irreparable large-scale damage and it spreads and propagates the same mentality across the organization, creating more of the same.

Gerry McGovern describes this production-first mindset very accurately:

Everyone wants to produce. Nobody wants to service and maintain. If you’re a new manager you must do something new. You must initiate new projects. You must produce. You must produce. […]

In 99 out of 100 conversations I have about digital, management only cares about volume. More. More. More. New. New. New. Innovative. Innovative. Innovative. It is so incredibly rare to find a manager who will invest time and money in helping people find stuff more easily. And, once a customer has found something, helping them understand it more easily. …

See the article here

Local elder abuse resources and knowledge sharing from SWAG

Beverlee McIntosh provides SWAG’s November meeting presentation notes which contributes to addressing interventions. It was focused primarily on the presentation by: 

Some Points of the Presentation

Stephanie Cadieux is Elder Abuse consultant for Eastern Ontario and chairs the elder abuse response committee.  They are funded through Gov’t of Ontario and some foundations and are mandated to combat elder abuse through supporting community resources, training front line staff and raising awareness about elder abuse. Stephanie reviewed the red-flags that should push social workers to look further.  Seniors lose on average $20,000 before they report financial abuse.  Victims often have a hx of abuse/trauma in childhood so therapists should take a complete history if they suspect elder abuse.

The trend to blended families and later life marriages increases vulnerability in senior who bring money into a late life relationship. Adult step-children from a second marriage may have ulterior motives in helping the step-parent with banking or re-writing a will and PoA.

As we are aware, unlike child abuse, there is no mandatory reporting of suspected elder abuse, however there is mandatory reporting of suspected abuse in LTC and in retirement facilities.

Social workers are reminded to document any interactions they have with vulnerable adults and their families when they suspect abuse is taking place. These records can later be used if a PoA is challenged by other caregivers.

See the Full Power Point Here: EATraining_SWAG_Nov22,2018 (1)

Brad Spooner presented information about the elder abuse respite care program run by the Nepean, Rideau, Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC).  He works with Visavie to find affordable beds when vulnerable seniors need to be moved out of a situation. This resource is underused and the program is anxious to ensure it is promoted in the social work community. Phone 613 596 5626 ext 230 for more information about this program and to establish eligibility for your vulnerable  clients.

Terry Black explained that Visavie  has partnered with  (NROCRC) to offer a City-Wide intervention program which provides both prevention and intervention for older persons experiencing abuse.  The Elder Abuse Response and Referral Service (EARRS), provide support to seniors who are victims of abuse.  In addition to this support, a short-term respite bed program is available for those individuals who need to be removed from an abusive situation.  Neither organization is compensated for their efforts.  NROCRC has partnered with Visavie to ensure the efficiency of securing a suitable respite bed for clients that are victims of abuse or who are experiencing caregiver burnout.  The time spent in the retirement home allows NROCRC and Visavie to determine an appropriate action plan for a safe discharge.

They get referrals from Ottawa Paramedics.  On many occasions the Paramedic will call Visavie while still in the patient’s home.  The Adviser can also meet the patient and paramedic at the hospital if necessary.

Handouts were provided for the various programs and resources and brochures may be obtained by phoning the agencies directly.

See the List of Resources, (including local) Here: KeyResourcesforIntervention_Eng_Ottawa (3)

The Persistence of Bad Welfare Policy

Reuel S. Amdur shares this article which can help us understand, or at least remind us of past misdirections and its haunting persistence when we seek to advance welfare policy in 2018.  

Persistence of Bad Welfare Policy by  Reuel S. Amdur

Image result for images of the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte(image from ISBN-13: 978-1605203591)

Karl Marx famously observed, in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, that “The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.”  This quotation came to mind when I reflected on the putrid and bizarre changes to social assistance in Ontario over the years that are carried over from government to government, coming back like that bad penny.  As has been said, the bad penny always turns up, even now that the penny is no longer with us.

While the terms Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) begin with Mike Harris, for convenience we will use them here for the municipally run program (OW) and the provincial one (ODSP).  Often the nasty regulations apply only to OW recipients, as they are seen as less worthy than those on ODSP.

In 1988, the Social Assistance Review Committee, headed by Judge George Thomson, observed and condemned the complexity of the rules.  It called for simplification.  Since then, complexity has expanded exponentially.  Much but not all the nightmares and bad pennies involve increasing complexity.

We begin with Bob Rae’s policy on car ownership.  As originally enacted, a person on or applying for OW could own a car with a value of no more than $5,000.  If he did, he had six months to get rid of it.  After six months, if the car was then still worth more than that, he had to get rid of it and live off the difference before he could again be eligible.  Hence, there are two steps to consider, an original evaluation and a follow-up six months later.  This policy, along with a book of directives the size of a Manhattan phone book, simply confused many workers.  In her book Hope and Despair Monia Mazigh recounts her experience in applying for OW in Ottawa.  Sell the car first, she was told.  Wrong, that is not what the regulation says. Subsequent governments have continued this regulation, changing only the value of the auto to $10,000.  But if the person is on or gets on ODSP, he can own a car of any value—a Rolls Royce, a Cadillac, a Lamborghini.

Some of the bad pennies have indeed fallen out of circulation, but some are still with us.  One of the most egregious is a Mike Harris monstrosity, addressing the situation where a person seeking assistance is living with one or both parents.  The regulation sets down the task of determining whether such a person is independent or dependent.  If independent he gets his own check.  If dependent and the family on OW or ODSP, his entitlement is transferred to the family and added to their check.  If the family is not on welfare and not entitled, no benefit.  But, if his room has ever been rented out, then all that doesn’t count.  In determining if a person is an independent adult, the welfare worker must establish if he has ever been self-supporting for a cumulative period of 12 months during his life.  Put on our Sherlock Holmes hat, brave welfare worker!  This bizarre regulation is still with us.  But, again, it doesn’t apply to the worthy poor on ODSP.

There are other Mike Harris contributions to this Social Assistance Chamber of Horrors.  He instituted a $2 charge for each prescription. This applies to both OW and ODSP recipients.  Still on the books.

Harris also eliminated the automatic transfer to ODSP of people aged 60 and older.  Subsequent governments have maintained the alteration.

One of the most vicious of Harris’ acts was the 21.6% cut in OW rates.  The Liberals loved that one so much that they not only kept it but in terms of real dollars, adjusted for inflation, OW recipients are getting even less now than under Harris.

The Ontario Liberal governments looked Mike Harris in the eye and saw a wise statesman.  They followed in his footsteps.

“What plans to change the ODSP definition would mean to people with disabilities in Ontario” – ISAC provides analysis

The Income Security Advocacy Centre shares it’s analysis of the proposed ODSP admission criteria changes based on the federal CPP.  This post builds from an earlier post I made.

This work by by ISAC can be utilized by us all as individuals and organizations to support further dialogue and perhaps advocacy with the Ontario government to maintain the gains and policy directions we had already established in mental health reform. For example, when we consider the Mental Health Commission’s foundational principle to implement reform, – the need for a whole system – inter-ministry – up and down the system of care of support for an integrated approach to ensure we address the Social Determinants of Health.

… On November 22, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services announced proposed changes to the social assistance system in Ontario. One change would make the ODSP definition of disability more like definitions used in federal government benefit programs.

This proposed change would result in many low-income people with disabilities in Ontario who would qualify for ODSP today not being eligible. They would instead have to rely on the Ontario Works program, which provides a lot less money in benefits. They will also be subject to Ontario Works rules, which are much stricter around work requirements and other expectations, and it is unclear whether they would have access to critically important disability-related health benefits. …

CPP-D definition ODSP definition
Level of disability Severe Substantial – more moderate than severe, and provides assistance to those with “significant” but not “severe” functional barriers
How long the disability has to last Prolonged – i.e., long continued and indefinite Recurrent or continuous and expected to last at least one year
The impacts of the disability In employment only – person must be incapable of regularly pursuing any substantial gainful occupation In any of three activities of daily living – personal care, community and workplace

Please go to the ISAC background document here

Thinking and planning about the front line worker… in the future – a useful Policy Options article

While I find management articles on organizations often miss the relevance of implementation, the nitty gritty of the context; this article by:  Zabeen Hirji, Stephen Harrington provides analysis and values that can help to benchmark a focus on the front line.

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The “future of work” is here, so businesses, governments and educational institutions must lay the foundation for Canada’s future workforce.

… There needs to be a shift in businesses’ organizational structures and cultures, and in their talent strategies. They need to change their approach to learning to one that values employees’ individual capabilities and fosters their capacity to broaden their expertise beyond today’s rigid job definitions and functions.

Businesses have to partner with their employees so they can build new skills. And employees will need to invest in themselves and become lifelong learners to thrive.

Businesses also need to be transparent with their employees, and to partner with them so they can build new skills. And employees must recognize that the future of work requires a different approach to personal growth, meaning they will need to invest in themselves and become lifelong learners to thrive. …

Here is the article from Policy Options