Community Safety and Well-Being Plan

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About

In 2021, City Council approved Ottawa’s Community Safety and Well-Being [ 1 MB ] Plan. The plan sets out how the City works with community partners to improve the safety, health and well-being of Ottawa residents.

[Donna Gray] Ottawa’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan is a way to create the city we all want.

[Donna Gray] A place where we can access the services we need, and where we can all feel like we belong.

[Donna Gray] The plan’s six priority areas were identified through consultations with residents and community partners.

[Paul Lavigne] The plan is helping us make real progress on housing. We’ve built new units, created new housing subsidies to improve affordability, and invested in repairs to make community housing more sustainable.

[Sahada Alolo] The Community Safety and Well-Being Plan is about doing better to take care of each other— including people who are in mental-health or substance-use crises in Ottawa.

[Liz Wigfull] Ottawa needs a better crisis response system. The Guiding Council recognizes the need for diverse partnerships in building that system.

[Donna Gray] Collaboration between the City and the community is inspiring progress in all six priority areas. But there is still much to do.

[Donna Gray] We invite you to learn more—and get involved.

The goal of the plan is to create a sustainable community where everyone:

  • Is safe
  • Has a sense of belonging
  • Has access to services
  • Can meet their needs for education, health care, food, housing, income, and social and cultural expression

Priorities

The plan addresses local risks to safety and well-being at the community level in six areas. These were identified by Ottawa residents as being the most pressing issues during the engagement process:

  • Discrimination, marginalization and racism
  • Financial security and poverty reduction
  • Gender-based violence and violence against women
  • Housing
  • Mental well-being
  • Integrated and simpler systems
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News and achievements

During the June 2023 Community Services Committee meeting, staff provided an update on the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan's progress. The City advanced ongoing work in its six priority areas and the Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) Office built a strong foundation by putting in place the resources, processes and tools needed for the plan’s sustained success.

Priority area updates

Financial Security and poverty reduction

The CSWB Office is currently supporting community partners in the development of a strategy to reduce poverty in Ottawa. In 2023, staff brought diverse stakeholders and sectors together, fostering momentum to advance the poverty reduction strategy and its roadmap. The first Poverty Reduction Strategy Stakeholder Roundtable was held in June 2023 to discuss priority areas and develop a common agenda for the strategy. The second roundtable was held in November 2023 to discuss initial action planning on the identified priorities (economic development, financial security, employment, food security and system level change). In total 87 organizations participated in the discussions. Work is underway to develop work plans for emerging actions and set up a governance framework.

Gender-based violence and violence against women (GBV & VAW)

In 2022, the Community Safety and Well-Being Office partnered with a small local consulting agency with GBV expertise, the Women and Gender Equity Secretariat, Unsafe at Home Ottawa, and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women for a sector asset mapping to look closely at the resources available for the survivors and victims of gender-based violence and violence against women. Together, we identified what was missing and the actions that can be taken. The study also collected information about culturally appropriate preventive and response services, key challenges in the sector, and organizations’ capacity to collect, analyze, and share data. The CSWB Office is currently working with sector leaders and community partners on a follow-up action plan to prevent and decrease gender-based violence and violence against women, including intimate partner violence.  This plan will be based on what we learned about what is working well and what is missing in our current approach. The first step is organizing a GBV-VAW sector gathering to present the asset mapping study and begin action planning.

Mental well-being

In July 2023, Council approved a plan for the first phase of a safer way to respond to mental health and substance use crises. The Guiding Council for Mental Health and Addictions (the Guiding Council) did a lot of research to develop this plan. They sought input from key sector leaders and community members to ensure the voices of people affected by mental health and substance use issues were heard.

Next steps will involve the project launch in Centretown, the location chosen for the project to begin. Centertown was selected due to the high needs as it relates to current police calls related to mental health support. Residents will have access to response services for mental health and substance use crises that are safe and tailored to their needs. 

Under this plan, community members in Centretown will be able to call 2-1-1, instead of 9-1-1, if they or someone else is experiencing a mental health and substance use crisis. The calls will be answered by trained professionals who will assess the situation and send the appropriate support. They will connect residents with civilian professionals who will offer compassionate and culturally appropriate help, available 24/7. They will focus on individual needs and provide ongoing support by connecting clients to additional services.

During the past few months, the Guiding Council, with the support of the CSWB Office, has been working on the implementation of this important initiative. A request for proposals was launched in the Fall to select an organization to lead the Response Service Delivery and Call Diversion function for the first phase of the project.

Upon completion of the request for proposal, a community-led committee, which also included City staff, selected Centertown Community Health Centre and Somerset West Community Health Centre as the organizations that will lead the team of civilian professionals who will offer 24/7/365 compassionate and culturally appropriate help. In addition, following a separate procurement process, the committee chose Community Navigation of Eastern Ontario (CNEO/211 East) to lead in the Call Diversion (non-911 number) service. We look forward to sharing more updates in 2024.

Merger of Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) with the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan

In July 2023, Council approved the merger of Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) with the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan for a more cohesive, integrated approach to crime prevention. The City of Ottawa’s CSWB Plan and CPO are closely related as they work to address the root cause of social issues while promoting community safety and well-being. Their efforts prioritize collaboration, social development, crime prevention, and community engagement through capacity building as vital strategies for promoting and improving safety and well-being in all communities for all residents.

The CSWB Office is now working with an external consultant to develop a comprehensive transition strategy for embedding crime prevention activities within the CSWB Plan. Staff are currently engaging with community stakeholders and will use the collected feedback to evaluate the current model and decide which elements should be maintained, enhanced or eliminated. This work is instrumental in identifying the most effective approaches for maximum impact. Staff will report back on the transition strategy in 2024.

Caring for Community

The Community Safety and Well-Being Office, in partnership with the Ottawa Public Library, presents “Caring for Community”, a travelling photo exhibit.  

The subjects of the exhibit are twenty individuals dedicated to making Ottawa’s communities healthy, safe and inclusive. The exhibit will be featured at select Ottawa Public Library (OPL) branches and community centres between May and December 2023. 

Exhibit calendar:
Location – OPL Branch  Month 
St-Laurent   From June 1 to June 21  
Richelieu-Vanier   From June 22 to July 19  
Greenboro   From July 20 to August 16 
Carlingwood  From August 17 to September 12 
Main Branch From September 13 to October 9 
Nepean Centrepointe  From October 10 to November 8 
Ruth E. Dickinson  From November 9 to December 6 
 

We encourage you to visit the exhibit at your nearest branch. You can also read the stories below: Caring for Community

For more information visit the Engage Ottawa page.

Data for a Healthy and Safe City for Everyone

Over the next 10 years, the City of Ottawa along with community partners, agencies and institutions will work across sectors to improve the safety, health and well-being of Ottawa residents. The Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) Plan will guide these efforts.  

Data and research are central to the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. The Community Safety and Well-Being Office has developed a way to measure success and guide actions based on data through the Performance Measurement Framework - Community Safety and Well-Being. The Framework helps understand where the plan is making positive change and where more work is needed. It identified three pillars to measure progress:   

Pillar 1: Ottawa population-level indicators look at key information about safety and well-being in Ottawa. These indicators are important to understand how the entire population of Ottawa is doing but are areas where the municipal government is not solely responsible for the outcome. Rather, the purpose of this level of measurement is to provide a centralized source of publicly available information. The population indicators also provide a frame of reference for the actions taken under the CSWB Plan.  

Pillar 2: CSWB Plan stakeholder-level indicators keep track of the Community Safety and Well-Being Office’s operations related to stakeholder partnership and community engagement, such as meetings, funding contributions and partnerships, and evaluate their effectiveness. This pillar also involves collecting common indicators from agencies funded by the City of Ottawa under the Community Funding Framework.  

Pillar 3: Program-intervention level indicators are used to evaluate Community Safety and Well-Being programs and projects.  

The data and the dashboard pages serve as a tool to help people understand data, empowering them to make informed contributions towards community change and enhance overall community well-being. The pages are a work in progress, and we welcome your feedback as we continue to develop them. 

Data Equity

Collecting and analyzing sociodemographic data can help to remove barriers to health and social services, identify needed community supports, and work toward equity. While data provides valuable insight, it is important to recognize its limits, such as under-representation of groups and communities due to barriers and lack of data/data gaps.

Our history of systemic racism, sexism and colonization has resulted in deep social inequities. It is time to harness and reposition the potential of data to shed light on these deepening inequalities and enable solutions and change for an equitable community.

We recognize we need quality person-level gender and socio-demographic (age, sex, race, ethnicity, Indigenous identity, etc.) data to properly understand and gauge if we are meeting the needs of all residents. Without gender and socio-demographic data, we risk taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and implement programs and services that do not consider the specific needs and barriers experienced by Indigenous and Black communities, women and gender diverse people, and equity-deserving groups in Ottawa.

The Community Safety and Well-Being Office is committed to enhancing the collection of socio-demographic information through the performance measurement framework, with the aim of bridging existing data gaps and ensuring a more comprehensive and inclusive representation of all communities.

Collecting socio-demographic data and utilizing disaggregated data*** is complex, requires significant time and resources, and presents challenges for effective and lasting implementation. We commit to a careful and thorough approach to ensure that the process of data collection, reporting and use does not create problems like limiting access to services, causing harm or reinforcing stereotypes.

The dashboard pages are tools to help people understand data, empowering them to make informed contributions towards community change and enhance overall community well-being. The pages are a work in progress, and we welcome your feedback as we continue to develop them.

***Disaggregated data is the term for breaking down data into specific populations. This is important to understand how different groups in the city experience inequity.

Data and Reporting Tools

Dashboards under Pillar 1: Ottawa Population-Level Indicators  

Reporting information about how Ottawa residents feel about their safety and well-being is a crucial part of the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan to make informed decisions and provide better services. In addition to routine reports on safety and well-being, staff also produce thematic reports to cover specific topics in more detail. 

Canadian Housing Survey Dashboard 

The Canadian Housing Survey Dashboard presents results from the Canadian Housing Survey (CHS). The CHS is conducted by Statistics Canada every two to three years to collect information about housing needs, economic hardship, neighborhood satisfaction, trust and perceived safety. The CHS is a cross-sectional survey with new households randomly selected to participate at the time of a new survey cycle. To date, data from two survey cycles are available (2018 and 2021). The most recent data collection period ran from October 2022 to March 2023. 

Temporary Emergency Accommodations Dashboard  

The Temporary Emergency Accommodations Dashboard provides information about people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa. It includes people who have stayed in a City of Ottawa funded shelter, transitional housing program, and overflow sites which include hotels/motels and post-secondary institutions. The data also includes physical distancing centres that have been set up to facilitate physical distancing within City-funded shelter programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Housing data analysis (September 2021)
Analysis of factors related to housing and homelessness during COVID-19  - Public health and economic measures to control the spread of COVID-19 infections created unique housing market conditions in 2020. In Ottawa, some policies and programs introduced during the pandemic offered temporary financial relief to low-income residents while other conditions intensified housing challenges that were present before COVID-19.

Point-in-Time (PiT) Count Dashboard 

A Point-in-Time (PiT) Count is a one-day snapshot of homelessness in the community.  

City staff and community partners work together to survey people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa. So far, the City has led two counts: 

The data collected helps the City better understand the scope of homelessness in the community and the needs of those experiencing homelessness. The goal of this work is to guide new approaches to address homelessness at a local level and help provide better services. 

Dashboards under Pillar 3: Program-Intervention Level Indicators Evaluation 

Staff conduct evaluations for program-level initiatives related to the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan priorities. These initiatives are funded by the City or through grants and funding agreements where the City was the main or co-applicant. 

Community Safety and Well-Being Fund Evaluation 

 The Community Safety and Well-Being Fund is a 3-year grant that began in July 2022 with the disbursement of a 2.1 million dollars fund to enhance existing community-based programs that have previously demonstrated their success in one or more of the following areas:  

  • Delivering culturally appropriate programs to racialized youth with the aim of increasing employment, mentorship opportunities, and skill sets  

  • Promoting mental health, offer crisis support and outreach services in ways that are culturally appropriate to clients  

  • Providing culturally safe programs that focus on mental health services for the Indigenous population in Ottawa and incorporate actions to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls  

19 applications from 18 agencies were approved. Refer to 2022 Community Safety and Well-Being Approved Projects.

    The purpose of the Community Safety and Well-Being Fund evaluation was to document how the funding contributed to:

    • Increasing the capacity of funded organizations to reach target groups in priority areas
    • Building and strengthening community resources
    • Creating positive impacts for clients
    • Fostering social development through diverse partnerships and
    • Reducing the risks of harm.

    Methodology

    The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach, combining the following qualitative and quantitative research methods:

    • Participant Survey: the survey contained Community Safety and Well-Being Fund indicators that reflect the priorities of the funding stream, impact area Key Performance Indicators, and demographic questions
    • Key Informant Interviews (KIIs): a semi-structured interview was held with each of the 18 funded agencies.

    The three impact stories below are examples of the impact of the funding on the programs, individuals and communities it supports. 

    Results

    What we heard from the funded agencies (through interviews):

    The Community Safety and Well-Being Fund increased capacity of organizations to reach target populations (including racialized and Indigenous youth, women and girls) in priority areas by: (a) expanding services to target groups in priority neighbourhoods through increased staffing, and hours of operation, and reduced waiting times, and (b) expanding reach to diverse target groups through culturally relevant programming, targeted mental health and wraparound supports and resources, and enhanced community partnerships.

    What we heard from residents who participated in funded programs (through the survey):

    • Residents who participated in funded programs stated that the program improved their emotional well-being and provided stress management and skills for improved mental health

    • They reported feeling better connected to their community because of the program, and that it provided a safe, encouraging space to learn, grow, express themselves culturally
    • When asked about the impact of the funded program on their life, respondents shared that the program provided a non-judgmental safe space, support and opportunities for both them and their families, and an opportunity to acquire new skills or gain valuable information.

    Safer Alternate Response for Mental Health and Substance Use Crises - closed

    The Ottawa Guiding Council on Mental Health and Addictions and the City of Ottawa invites local not-for-profit health and/or social service organizations to apply to lead the Response Service Delivery pillar of the Safer Alternate Response for Mental Health and Substance Use Crises Prototype. 

    Consult the Safer Alternate Response for Mental Health and Substance Use Crises Prototype - Response Service Delivery guidelines for more information.  

    Advisory committee

    Chair

    • Clara Freire- General Manager, Community and Social Services Department, City of Ottawa

    Members

    • Brianna Dusome- Director of Programs and Community Partnerships, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa
    • Claire Kendall- Associate Dean, Social Accountability, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa
    • Isabelle Jasmin- Deputy City Treasurer, Corporate Finance, City of Ottawa
    • Karen Green- Director, Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition
    • Krista Ferraro- Executive Director, Ottawa Police Services Board
    • Leslie Wells- Director, Ottawa Health Team
    • Meseret Haileyesus- Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment
    • Michelle Groulx- Executive Director, Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas
    • Eric Stubbs- Chief, Ottawa Police Service
    • Tom D’Amico- Director of Education, Ottawa Catholic School Board
    • Dr. Vera Etches- Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa Public Health
    • Wendy White- Director of Service, Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa

    Get involved

    Stay engaged with us as we move into the next phases:

    • Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive the latest information on the plan!
    • Visit our Engage Ottawa page for new engagement and consultation opportunities!