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February 2016 Risk Management Workshop
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Risk Management Work Shop


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hotel Novotel Toronto Centre, 45 The Esplanade, Toronto




Welcome and Introductions- Linda Stewart – Executive Director, alPHa





Linda Stewart welcomed a sold-out room filled with alPHa members to the Risk Management Work Shop, a follow-up to the successful Managing Uncertainty: Risk Management for Boards of Health workshop that was held on November 5 2015.


Today’s session included some recap of that one, but most of the material was new, building upon the earlier foundations.


She welcomed Graham Scott back to introduce the foundational concepts.




Risk and Governance - Graham Scott - Chair, Institute For Research in Public Policy, Canada Health Infoway



Graham Scott referred to his slide deck, opening with definitions for both governance and risk, warning that ignorance of the former magnifies the latter. This can be considerable, especially if consideration of risk is not part of the thinking behind even the most routine tasks related to governance best practices. .


Board members face particular risks, and he promised to summarize fundamental considerations for good governance and the risks of ignoring them. For our members, the basis for governance is found in the Ontario Public Health Standards, which include obligations for board members to keep up on effective practices . He also summarized the unique aspects of Boards of Health under the HPPA (as opposed to the Corporations Act, though there are similarities). He also mentioned the looming not-for-profit corporations Act, which will likely add new responsibilities.


He emphasized the importance of having a Governance Model against which to measure board roles and responsibilities, each of which involve policy formulation, decision making and oversight. He went on to define each of these. As he did so, he emphasized the importance of not only having a strategic plan, but also ensuring that it is dynamic and does not impede responsiveness to unforeseen circumstances. Written policies are also valuable for making responsibilities and how they are carried out absolutely clear.


He then outlined the duties and responsibilities of individual board members, noting that above all, their primary responsibility is to serve the best interests of the “shareholders” and not a particular constituency. He acknowledged that this can be difficult given the inherent conflicts (i.e. elected councillors serving as BOH members).


He gave strong advice to ask questions, as stupid as they sound, as they may elicit answers that can be extremely valuable to other board members as they go about policy formulation, decision making and oversight. He also emphasized that absence must be taken seriously, rare and if it is absolutely necessary, the missing member should make every effort to stay informed. A “Prudent Director’s Checklist” is included in the linked presentation, which covers these among other points.


Responding to a question about the role of the Chair of a board, Mr. Scott characterized this position as a first amongst equals, whose primary responsibility is to ensure that the board is working as a team. He or she needs to deal with individuals to help them address particular concerns / objections as governors. In the case of Ontario’s Boards of Health, the Chair also serves as the day-to-day liaison with the Medical Officer of Health, who is responsible for the operations. He or she ensures that the resources of the board are supporting the MOH in his / her responsibilities to the board and the community.


He also acknowledged the difficulty in separating an elected member’s obligations to his or her constituency from the sole-purpose duties of a board member. He agreed that constituents’ interests may form part of such a member’s approach, but care must be taken in defining those interests and assessing their appropriateness in a given situation. For example, if a member of council ran on a platform of tight budgets and lower taxes, and is obliged to consider a significant increase to PHU budget, he or she needs to carefully consider the fact that opposing the latter simply because of the former is not acceptable.The board member is required to examine the reasons for the budget increase and object or approve based on them.

Slide Deck: Risk and Governance



Risk Management 101 - The Basics: Corinne Berinstein, Senior Audit Manager, Treasury Board Secretariat



Corinne Berinstein rejoined alPHa members for a refresher on the materials that she presented last November. Her slide decks are very detailed and reflective of her talk, but she did warn that she is presenting the equivalent of a three-day course in one hour. All of her materials are available on the alPHa Website, and the alPHa Risk Management Working Group is already active to make this an evergreen process.


The presentation was split into three parts, and the central message was that risk management must be an element in all levels of decision making, should be a part of the organizational “culture” and should be a basic competency. It should be included on all agendas and should follow this five-step process: State Objectives > Identify Risks > Assess Risks > Plan & Take Action > Monitor & Report > Repeat. Each of these steps is outlined in more detail in the presentation.


Slide Deck: Managing Uncertainty: Risk Management for Boards of Health PART 1



Healthy Risk Management Culture - How to Build it Corinne Berinstein, Cynthia St. John & The RMWG Improv Troupe



In this session, volunteers from the alPHa Risk Management Work Group were invited to the stage for a dramatization of a dysfunctional board meeting to demonstrate the traits of an unhealthy culture in a fun way.


Following the scripted meeting, Corinne commented on some of the elements of what made this unhealthy and referred to her second slide deck entitled “How Healthy is Your Risk Culture?”


Building a healthy risk management culture starts with its recognition as a component of organizational culture, which embodies an interactive system of values and behaviours, which influences decisions in such a way that the weighing of risks becomes an automatic and in some cases unconscious factor.In such a culture, risk is respected, flexibility and responsiveness are displayed, risk awareness is actionable and information flows freely.


Detailed strategies are outlined in the presentation for building healthy risk management culture.


Slide Deck: How Healthy is Your Risk Culture?




Risk Assessment: Privacy - Tracey Dal Bianco, Manager, Information Management Services, Toronto Public Health



Tracey Dal Bianco gave an overview of risks related to privacy, including what they are, how to identify them, how to quantify them and how to mitigate them. In so doing, she emphasized that where privacy is concerned, the process is complex and must be comprehensive.


The overarching theme in was the constant tension between transparency and privacy, especially where access-to-information requests are made and Information and Privacy Commission machinations are in play. Legislative change is another factor that can and often does present challenges. The importance of privacy was emphasized here given the complex legal requirements and serious consequences of breaches. Recognizing the particular risks related to all of this, she echoed the importance of embedding risk management into the organizational culture, as its absence will weaken all of the other controls put in place.


As part of a table-top exercise delegates were invited to participate in a risk assessment exercise focused on privacy. They were instructed to run through framework to identify privacy risks, while keeping board and management perspectives in mind, including consideration of what both the board and senior management need to know about privacy. They were asked to look at five common risks and assess the level of impact in each of 14 categories. These are outlined in detail at the end of the slide deck.


Slide Deck: Risk Assessment and Management - Privacy




Risk Assessment Practice Table Top Exercise



For the remainder of the session, participants were invited to take part in an exercise that would put what they have learned so far into practice. Each table was assigned one of the risk categories itemized on the Integrated Risk Management Framework, and asked to devise a scenario under which they would identify three risks, assess likelihood and impact of each and develop specific mitigation and monitoring strategies.


 Each table then reported back on its work, and a wide range of scenarios was presented, each with its own variety of risk assessments and factors. Creative strategies to prevent, detect and recover were devised to move the various risks down to an acceptable level.


The alPHa Risk Management Working Group will examine and summarize the flip charts that were used to record the afternoon’s reports.



Wrap Up -Linda Stewart


Linda Stewart reiterated some of what alPHa members can expect from the RMWG, and suggested some next steps as an outcome of today’s discussions. She also invited members to record what resources they can share and identify needs that must be met, and reminded them of Corinne’s offer to provide face-to-face training sessions to alPHa’s members.




Conference Proceedings

More InfoHide Info ]
Posted here are archived files from alPHa's past conferences, including fall and winter semi-annual meetings, our Annual Conference, as well as special-purpose and events that we have held in partnership with other organizations. In most cases, these are downloadable .pdf files that include summaries and presentations or links to external Web sites.
Item Name Posted By Date Posted
2015 PH Executive & Administrative Asst Conference PDF (144.71 KB)  more ] Administration 2015-02-17
2015 PH Exec & Admin Asst Conference Photos PDF (2.61 MB)  more ] Administration 2015-02-17
Proceedings from 2015 BOH Orientation Session Link  more ] Administration 2015-02-20
2008 Public Health Summit Link  more ] Administration 2012-07-31
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