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Performance excellence. Continuous improvement. Customer service. These terms are likely more familiar to you now than they were just a year ago. But they’re much more than just topics to discuss at team meetings. They’re at the core of our journey to becoming a public-sector organization that strives for excellence in all that we do.
Of course, performance excellence is not new. Teams of dedicated employees across our organization have been demonstrating it in their daily activities long before we formalized it as a corporate priority. Performance excellence is now a systematic and strategic way for us all to deliver on our municipal priorities of Service Delivery and Service Excellence, by providing efficient, effective and sustainable delivery of services that respond to our customers’ needs, while simultaneously lowering delivery costs.
From the roads and rides we share, to the public spaces and culture we enjoy, and the essential services we access – municipal programs and services impact the lives of our customers, arguably more than any other level of government.
For this reason, municipalities must strive for continuous improvement with a goal of excellence and we must recognize providing exceptional customer service as both a priority and a personal responsibility.
A team of staff from across the organization have developed a Corporate Customer Service Strategy (CCSS) – our roadmap to understanding and meeting customers’ needs, and to building a performance excellence culture within our organization. It focuses on providing easy, convenient service to citizens whether they choose to interact with us online, in person, by phone, or by correspondence.
To help bring the CCSS to life, we have developed Customer Service Guidelines, which highlight some of the tools available when interacting with our diverse customer base.
These documents underscore the importance of providing our customers with the service they need, when they need it. We must ensure that our customers are informed about the programs and services we offer, and we must measure the quality of their customer experience, so we can take appropriate steps to improve it as necessary.
In today’s environment, citizens and stakeholders expect quick, accurate and consistent answers from government agencies. No matter who your customer is, or what service you are providing, I encourage you to consider how you will use these resources to deliver high-value results for citizens and colleagues.
Today, Mayor Savage raised the Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag on behalf of the municipality to mark Treaty Day and the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month. Treaty Day commemorations reaffirm the historic presence of the Mi’kmaw who have occupied the land for thousands of years.
Each year, our rich Mi’kmaq history and culture is celebrated through story, song, dance and more, all highlighting the foundational contributions of the Mi’kmaq people to Nova Scotia. It is also a time to reflect on our relationship with Mi’kmaq communities and come together in shared dialogue, reconciliation and celebration.
In October 2015, Halifax Regional Council passed a Statement of Reconciliation to support the municipality’s work with Mi’kmaq and Urban Indigenous communities. Since then, the municipality has established Urban Indigenous Services, part of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, which serves as a collaborative partner for business units on municipal programs, policies and service delivery for Urban Indigenous Peoples.
As well, the municipality will soon officially launch our new passenger ferry named in honour of Rita Joe, a Mi’kmaq poet and songwriter from Whycocomagh on Cape Breton Island. She is often referred to as the “poet laureate” of the Mi’kmaq people.
Legacy Spaces are designated spaces dedicated to providing accurate information regarding Indigenous history and our journey of reconciliation. Ours will serve as a symbol and reminder for employees and visitors of the important work each of us needs to do for the promises of our country to be fulfilled.
The establishment of this space and related initiatives help renew the municipality’s commitment to reconciliation and being an equitable workplace for Indigenous peoples.
Please join me in celebrating Mi’kmaq History Month as part of our efforts to strengthen our relationship with the Mi’kmaq people.
View select videos below created by the Mi'kmaq History Month Committee in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Mi'kmaq History Month.
United Way Halifax (UWH) is changing lives and supporting local programs and services that help people in our community live their best lives. Whether that is by providing safe and supportive housing, creating possibilities for connection and belonging, or ensuring kids and youth have access to educational and leadership opportunities – UWH ensures that help is available when people need it most.
Year after year, municipal employees demonstrate their generosity and compassion for community through their support of the United Way Halifax.
This year’s United Way Halifax campaign kicked off with a splash, as our 14-person team of HRM Harbour Heroes jumped in and swam the 1500-meter distance across the Harbour, raising over $7,000 in support of our overall goal for United Way Halifax.
It’s great to see employees taking such initiative to organize activities in support of UWH, including the annual Softball Tournament happening this Saturday, October 6, on the Halifax Common. Special events like these will be happening throughout the year and are a terrific way to raise awareness, fill our workplace with energy and build excitement about our United Way Halifax campaign.
Maggie MacDonald, Managing Director, Government Relations and External Affairs, and Jerry Blackwood, Acting Director of Finance and Asset Management/CFO, recently stepped up to be our UWH campaign co-chairs. They are committing their time and talents to help us reach our fundraising goal that’s inspired by the difference it will make in the lives of people who depend on UWH’s help the most. However, this target won’t be realized without the support of all of you.
As our fundraising efforts ramp up over the next few months, there will be lots of opportunities to participate and to donate. One of the simplest ways to take part is through our annual employee payroll contribution campaign. Look for details on how you can donate to the United Way Halifax through payroll deduction in the coming weeks.
Together, let’s keep up the great work and continue to show our local love.
The role of the municipality’s Auditor General (AG) is critical to upholding the integrity and accountability of our public service, and our efforts to continuously improve.
I recently met with our current AG, Evangeline Colman-Sadd. Since taking over leadership in 2016, the AG’s Office has released five audit reports with a total of 60 recommendations. The municipality has provided management responses agreeing to address all of these recommendations with associated action plans to realize successful outcomes.
According to a recent staff report to the Audit and Finance Standing Committee, the municipality has successfully implemented 26 of the 28 recommendations provided in the May 2018 AG report on Procurement. This is a significant accomplishment for our Procurement group and these improvements will be felt across the organization.
While we are making progress, we recognize that there are still AG recommendations yet to be addressed, and so we must remain diligent to ensure any outstanding concerns identified by the AG’s Office are resolved.
Relying on the objective, fact-based information and expert advice from Evangeline and her team will help the municipality improve our services, programs and offerings, with an eye to better efficiency and effectiveness. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the AG’s team on matters that will benefit all of our customers.