It’s all about people

There is little doubt as this latest miserable chapter of the pandemic comes to a close that the need for society to do a bit of soul searching is growing stronger. The system has some glitches.

Before musings in Davos about the great reset hit the internet, it was a term often used over the years to describe a necessary rethinking of how services are delivered and how communities might achieve optimal function.

The great reset or reboot, however you want to term it, cannot come quick enough. Forget about Davos and assorted conspiracies – think about what would make our communities better and higher functioning. How can we put the focus back on people and the delivery of effective services?

Take for example last fall’s announcement that Community Living day programs were being eliminated. Since then, the greater community of Guelph-Wellington, and more particularly the people who rely on those programs, made enough noise that programs will resume once the pandemic is over. Finally, after great encouragement, the directors and the bureaucracy did an about-face on the plan to cancel. What happened?

There was a change of leadership at Community Living Guelph Wellington and we suspect a reset in thinking. Rather than viewing problems through a bureaucratic lens, it would appear the focus changed to consideration for the clients and their families – the very people who access services and rely on day programs to get through the day. The resumption of service is very much a good news story brought about by passionate people concerned for others.

Approaching problems from the perspective of clients or users is a necessity if we are to improve communities and quality of life. It stands to reason that those most impacted should have a say. That is easier said than done.

For Toronto, with its concentrated population, Mayor John Tory proposed looking into 24-hour service for those seeking vaccinations. While the public seemed to embrace the idea in interviews, we saw, the managers of the system were less enthusiastic. Sure, there might be difficulty staffing stations, but if that would aid in the roll-out and inconvenience the public less than taking time off work is that not a solution worth considering?

We see this as an issue going forward – encouraging local leaders to take a step back from the tired line that “we have always done it this way,” to engaging in a discussion of how to best deliver services to meet needs. It is all about people.