Community Living eyes merger with Kawartha Lakes
By Angelica Ingram
While plans are underway to merge Community Living Haliburton County with its partner organization in Kawartha Lakes, changes to the local organization will be minimal, says its executive director.
Last week the organization that helps adults with developmental disabilities held its annual general meeting in Haliburton, where the board brought the public up to date on shifts happening with Community Living.
“The conversation is about creating a joint agency or one agency that serves both communities,” said Teresa Jordan, executive director for both Community Living Haliburton County and Community Living Kawartha Lakes.
Jordan says plans will be worked out over the next six months, at which point it will be brought back to members of both agencies.
If everything goes according to plan, on April 1 the two corporations will wind down and a new corporation will be formed, Jordan said.
“No one will probably notice that anything has changed,” she said. “It will probably take a year before we do anything differently, if we do anything differently.”
The partnership has been hinted at for some time, said Jordan, who points to her own shared title as a prime example.
“I think most people understood that my role as a shared ED between the two agencies was kind of an initial step,” she said.
Jordan insisted there will be no cuts to frontline staff or day-to-day operations. She said the merge is about streamlining operations and ensuring there is one contract agreement with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and one reporting mechanism.
The move towards a merge is the result of government funding and increasing costs, she said.
“I don’t want to downplay the fact that the Ministry of Community and Social Services pledged an extra $810 million for our sector last year, but that money is being vetted to new and expanding services. None of it is going to prop up existing infrastructure and existing day-to-day business. Increasing costs just keeps eroding at that base budget,” she said.
Community Living Haliburton County has a staff of 20, who serve approximately 60 clients and their families. In Kawartha Lakes the agency employs about 115 people.
Jordan said she has emphasized to staff that at no point will there be mandated transfers.
“The plan right from the get go ... has never been to cut front line support and front line jobs in either communities. That won’t be part of the plan,” said Jordan.
A committee comprised of three board members from each agency, a project consultant and Jordan has been created to assist with the merge.