Streamline and Modernize Government Funding and Strengthen the Funding Relationship
The Open for Business Funding Reform Agenda (5 meetings in 8 weeks) is to identify some immediate changes that will help the sector get on with its work while developing the structure and terms of reference for a longer-term cross-ministry task force redesigning the funding-investment relationship between the government and sector.
ONN has put together a sector team that bring with them a mix of perspectives, sectors and experiences: Carolyn Davis, Catholic Crosscultural Services; Jose Di Zio, President, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI); Maureen Fair, St Christopher House; Marie Lalonde, Ontario Museum Association; Amanuel Melles United Way Toronto; and, Margaret Stanowski Operation Spring Board.
The Government Sector working group will scope out:
• Principles to guide the modernization of the government/sector funding/investment relationship.
• Opportunities for streamlining and modernizing government’s funding/investment practices and processes, including where short and longer-term gains for tangible improvements exist. Areas for possible reforms include:
- Stabilizing funding and reducing administrative burden through evergreen and multi-year contracts;
- Standardizing basic reporting information between Ministries and across programs; and
- Addressing budget restrictions that hamper NFP efficiency and self-reliance (e.g. rules on end of fiscal year carry over, and transfers within budget categories).
- The structure and terms of reference for a longer-term Funding/Investment Task Force to address the systemic ways in which government and the public benefit sector work together to strengthen the quality of life and well-being for Ontarians.
Revise the Current Policies on Police Record Checks
The Open for Business Police Checks Agenda aims to strengthen organizational procedures for conducing police-record checks based upon “bona fide” occupational requirements. As such it involves the clarification of government regulatory and legislative requirements related to the acquisition of police checks for sector staff and volunteers.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services will take a lead on this issue with support from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. The ONN sector team includes: Jennifer Holmes-Weir, YMCA Toronto; Lorrie Hathaway, Volunteer Toronto and Erin Spink, PAVR-O.
The Government Sector working group will work together on the following sector recommendations:
Create a single authoritative statement on the provincial legislative and regulatory requirements as a basic guideline for nonprofit organizations in developing and managing appropriate and effective screening practices. To support the sector in ensuring compliance:
1. Highlight requirements, both legislated and regulatory, by the provincial government that relate to police records checks. This would clarify compliance expectations and minimize inconsistencies in interpretation. Provide links to requirements for use by the nonprofit sector and police services.
2. Create a clear language guideline related to these requirements. This will be of use to the nonprofit sector and the policing community, and of assistance to ensure that all provincial ministry/government employees are aware of how to apply requirements.
3. Provide references to key relevant resources. Post Volunteer Canada’s 10 Steps of Screening and provide links to additional web sites for resources and information on effective screening practices.
Expand the Ministry of Infrastructure Ontario’s Loan Program to the Ontario Nonprofit Sector
Expanding the mandate of the IOLP to allow access to all charitable, nonprofit and cooperative organizations providing public benefit will help communities throughout Ontario access the capital they need for the facilites used by public-benefit organizations in their areas. Access to long-term, affordable, fixed-rate loans for the sector will assist in building community wealth and undertaking work more effectively in communities.
Update: We are waiting for the Ministry to contact us to schedule discussions on opening up access to the loans program. We have pulled together the organizations who have been working on this issues and have been involved in previous meetings with Infrastructure Ontario to discuss this issue. The members are Lois Fine, YWCA, Matt Zipchen, TREC Renewable energy Co-operative, Adam Fair, Mid Toronto Community Services, Jini Stolk, Creative Trust.
Currently only selected groups have access to Infrastructure Ontario loans. We believe that expanding the mandate of the IOLP to allow access to all charitable, nonprofit and cooperative organizations providing public benefit will help communities throughout Ontario access the capital they need for the facilities used by public benefit organizations in their area. This new mandate can be implemented without increasing loan risk as the IOLP will still assess and utilize stringent credit and risk criteria for all applicants.
Recently the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (Drummond Report) noted the significant social- economic value of the nfp sector and its wealth generating public benefit contribution to the province’s prosperity. It is likely improving and expanding both the quality and quantity of the sector’s infrastructure will be an important part of the government’s response to the role of the sector in helping it reform and build a world class public benefit delivery system in Ontario.
The full expansion of the IOLP will help augment the likely reduction in capital grants given the fiscally challenged environment the provincial government faces over the next 5-7 years. It will provide leverage for private fundraising campaigns; create jobs and further community economic development. In addition, it will also provide a meaningful financing alternative to private lenders and the administrative and interest off sets they charge. These savings should be used instead for public benefit programs and services, critical to the province’s civil society.
We are asking the Ministry of Infrastructure to:
1. Expand the mandate of IOLP to allow applications from all qualified non-profit organizations (using Ontario Trillium Foundation’s criteria for defining potentially eligible organizations) through policy and regulatory changes within the Government of Ontario.
2. Identify and support key sectoral organizations to act as loan facilitators:
- this would provide badly needed capital project expertise, business planning and capacity building in the areas of governance, financial management and technical training; and
- assist in loan pre-qualification.
The above represents a means of addressing critical challenges by the majority of sector organizations who lack the technical and financial expertise to apply for the IOLP given the complexity of the application/eligibility and the business planning processes.
3. Establish an advisory committee comprised of senior government officials from relevant Ministries and a cross section of both Executive Directors and appropriate technical/financial experts from the nfp sector (i.e. arts and cultural organizations; social enterprise, others) to develop policy, program and service delivery opportunities related to the proposed full IOLP expansion.
Maximize Public Investment Returns from Government Surplus Lands
If government lands can be purchased by nonprofit organizations providing public benefit in communities, it will achieve a double return: market and social return, and the building of community wealth for future generations. These public assets will be kept in the public domain for the public good.
The redevelopment of surplus sites for public purpose will benefit communities and is consistent with the intensification and community strengthening objectives of the Places to Grow Act (June 13, 2005). A process that considers both the market price and future public benefit (social and financial) or redevelopment of public assets is in the best, long term interest of Ontarians.
One of ONN’s members, Home Ownership Alternatives Non-Profit Corporation with the support of the other not-for-profit affordable housing organizations has been in discussions with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation regarding access to surplus lands for affordable housing. The structure being proposed by the affordable housing sector for access to surplus lands could be easily modified to also provide access to other organizations in the not-for-profit sector needing land.
This is what we seek to achieve:
1. The Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation (OILC) and appropriate Ministry partners develop and maintain a database of eligible public benefit organizations and key criteria for land and building acquisition. Information in the database could include geographic area and size. OILC would notify eligible (pre-qualified) organizations when potentially suitable lands were becoming available. This database could also include affordable housing providers.
2. Organizations providing public benefit typically do not have access to ready capital funds and have a more extensive approval process internally and with the Ministries that invest in them for services. Moreover, depending on the site, service providers may need to partner with others such as affordable housing providers, performing arts groups, sport and recreation groups to craft a viable financial plan. For this reason OILC should provide public benefit organizations with an interest in a site, six months advance notice of the issuance of a request for proposals (RFP) for the site.
Allow Broader Public Sector Access to Provincial Vendor of Records
The Open for Business Vendor of Records Agenda builds upon the government’s commitment to increased efficiencies and maximized impact of resources leveraged for sector benefit. Increased sector access to provincially negotiated group purchasing rates, sector knowledge of this opportunity and savings to be had are key to this ask.
The Ministry of Government Services will take a lead on this issue in collaboration with the Ontario Nonprofit Network. The sector team includes: Margaret Emin, Sport4Ontario; Mwarigha Muliwa, Peel Housing; Sharon Filger, Macauley Child Development Centre and Colin Dart, Turning Point Youth Services.
The Government Sector working group will work together on the following sector recommendations:
- Develop a clear and consistent definition of what it means to be a Major Transfer Payment Recipient. This definition should be developed in collaboration with the sector and comprehensive enough to cover groups who have already received this status and recognize the broad budget range and scope of the thirteen (13) Ministries.
- All provincial Ministries who enter into contribution agreements with the nonprofit sector need to be made aware of this opportunity and should consistently provide designation of status both within and between Ministries.
- Provide information about this opportunity and preapproval to eligible transfer payment recipients as part of annual contribution agreements. This would eliminate the need for Major Transfer Payment Recipients to discover this possibility and would reduce the administrative burden required of them to seek designation.
- Establish an advisory group of nonprofit sector provincial vendor of record users to provide feedback on procurement experiences, suggest improvements and further develop group purchasing opportunities for the nonprofit sector.
- Offer seminars and other forms of training and promotion to help both the broader public sector and provincial Ministries understand the opportunity.
 Not all not-for-profit or cooperative corporations have a public benefit mission. Some serve only their members (e.g. trade associations, private clubs). Preferred access to public lands would be limited to organizations with a public benefit purpose.
 OILC would assess the capacity and financing plans of the organization to ensure they were a serious prospect for loans and land purchase.