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Dufferin County Staff: Pay Volunteers on Committees


Members of the community who volunteer their time on Dufferin County committees may soon be getting paid for their contributions.

In the June 24, 2021 agenda for the General Government Services Committee, a Dufferin County staff report recommends remunerating public members of committees and advisory groups with honorariums of $100 per meeting. Among others, this would include the recently approved Tourism Advisory Group and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Community Advisory Committee. If both the current number of members and scheduled meetings are maintained, staff expect the total cost to be $36,900 per year. $24,000, approximately 65%, of these funds would go to members of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Community Advisory Committee. Holding an annual Public Member Appreciation Night is also suggested.

Based on the table contained in the Compensation for Public Members on Committees/Advisory Groups Report in the June 24, 2021 GENERAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE AGENDA

“Committee members are sometimes asked to share their lived experiences, other times their professional expertise,” the report reads. “Members often invest a great deal of time and emotional energy in their committee work. This has great value for the committees which should be recognized.”

Staff state how honorariums to public members were stopped in 2015 as the Dufferin County council considered volunteering on committees as part of civic duty and a way to give back to the community. Now, in 2021, staff say it is essential to appreciate the contributions of volunteers and show they are valued. It is acknowledged that honorariums are just one way to express gratitude. Others mentioned include awards, appreciation events, covering of associated expenses incurred to participate.

“It is also important to view committee participation through an equity and inclusion lens,” the staff report dictates. “For some citizens, there are multiple barriers to volunteerism that need to be acknowledged.”

The document specifies how committees improve when those involved come from a cross-section of residents who bring diverse perspectives and experiences. That said, not all residents can participate and give back to their community on an equal basis without additional supports.

“An honorarium can support ‘levelling the playing field’ encouraging a diversity of volunteer involvement which is of benefit to all,” the report asserts.

The paper outlines all of the groups included if Dufferin councilmembers vote to pay public members of committees. Furthermore, the document shows the number of public members in each group and the number of meetings per year.

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Community Advisory Committee was formed in late 2020. Its current stated mandate is to advise County Council, make recommendations, and provide a monitoring and measuring role to help ensure that the County applies a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to its policies, services, and programs. The planned schedule is twelve meetings per year for its ten public members, plus another twelve sub-committee meetings for each member. Following staff’s proposal would result in a total of $24,000 going to the committee’s ten public members.

In partnership with Orangeville, the County’s joint accessibility advisory committee is responsible for directing councils about the requirements and implementation of accessibility standards and preparing accessibility reports. It is also responsible for reviewing site plans and drawings as described in the Planning Act. The committee includes five members of the public and holds ten meetings per year. The expenses related to paying these members $100 per meeting would cost $5,000 annually.

The Agricultural Advisory Group coordinates and communicates between organizations providing agricultural functions. It acts as the voice of the Dufferin County farm community and provides comments from an agricultural lens on new policy or existing issues related to agriculture. The group consists of nine public members and holds two meetings a year. To pay public members of the Agricultural Advisory Group $100 per meeting would cost $1,800 a year. 

The Dufferin County Forest Advisory Team has five public members and has one meeting a year, which would cost $500 under the submitted program. The stated objective of the Forest Advisory Team is to work with county staff to implement recommendations resulting from the recreational use policy.

The Tourism Advisory Group will cost an additional $5,600 per year if Dufferin councillors accept staff’s recommendation. The tourism advisory group is expected to hold eight meetings annually and include seven community members. The mandate of Dufferin’s soon-to-be-formed Tourism Advisory Group, as shown in the June 24 Community Development and Tourism Committee Agenda, is to offer unique perspectives and recommendations that will guide the implementation of Dufferin’s Tourism Strategy and Action Plan. Additionally, the group must provide views and considerations to ensure a holistic approach to tourism development and identify opportunities for product development, brand promotion, and marketing.  

None of the above costs include staff time or other expenses associated with processing and distributing payments to public members of Dufferin County Committees. Moreover, although the report does not have these costs, staff mention compensating members of other groups such as those belonging to the Agricultural and Restaurant Round Tables. 

Given that the 2021 budget did not include the proposed honorarium program, Dufferin County staff are recommending the funds to cover meetings for the rest of the year come from the rate stabilization reserve meant to smooth tax rate impacts. The annual recurring expense would be added to all annual budgets moving forward while the practice is continued.

Do you think committee volunteers should be paid? If so, does $100 per meeting make sense? Is it too much? Too little? Is there a better structure than a flat rate per meeting? Let Dufferin News know through its social media feeds!

One can submit questions to Dufferin County’s General Government Services Committee for their June 24, 2021, meeting up until 4:30 pm on June 23, 2021, to info@dufferincounty.ca or 519-941-2816 ext.2500. 

References – Dufferin County Staff: Pay Volunteers on Committees

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