Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 29, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Ottawa Community Housing Corporation was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
- Ottawa Community Housing maintains a Bright Ideas suggestions program to capture employee feedback on ideas to improve staff health and wellness, tenant services, tenant engagement and community development, revenue generation or productivity and cost reduction
- Ottawa Community Housing supports employees who are new parents (including adoptive) with maternity and parental leave top-up payments of up to 95% of salary for 25 weeks -- and offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- Ottawa Community Housing encourages ongoing employee development with subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation and a variety of in-house and online training programs
Ottawa Community Housing shows its culture of caring
When the tornados struck Ottawa late on a Friday afternoon last September, tearing off roofs and leaving thousands without power, the phones at Ottawa Community Housing Corp. (OCH) started ringing off the hook. Staff were calling in, asking where they should go to help. OCH provides housing for some 32,000 people, and many were without electricity after the tornadoes passed.
Leading the assistance effort was OCH Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Giguère. "We went door to door in our highrises over the weekend and the days after that, handing out flashlights, running to the supermarket and working with partners such as the Ottawa Food Bank to replenish what was being spoiled in fridges," Giguère said. "There was no question that we would volunteer to help out — it's ingrained in our culture of caring and respect."
He added: "We are truly integrated into our community. The level of engagement here is hard to find elsewhere."
Among those most engaged is Aida El-Hawz, who not only grew up as an Ottawa Community Housing tenant but also benefited from OCH support in other ways. An OCH Foundation scholarship helped her get through university and a student placement program provided her with summer jobs at OCH between academic years. After graduation last year, she joined OCH as a housing administrator. Now, she is the one helping tenants in a variety of ways.
"Growing up, I got so much from OCH," El-Hawz said. "I want to ensure our tenants get the same help and encouragement that I received."
For his part, Giguère is proud that OCH attracts professionals from a variety of fields, stimulating continuous learning as people interact. "Where else," he asked, "would you find an engineer from Detroit's auto industry working with a chief financial officer from corporate finance in London?"
They join OCH, he said, for "an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people's lives," and added: "They also make an impact internally.
"At OCH, you are sure to be heard. We have a created an environment where it's safe to challenge existing policies if you can make them better."
One such challenge came recently from El-Hawz. Asked to join the committee that awards the scholarship she once received, El-Hawz was not shy. Her initiative led to the scholarship amount being increased, among other changes to make it more accessible.
"It shows OCH listens," she said. "It shows they care."