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Dufferin Diversity & Inclusion Committee May Change Focus


Dufferin’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Advisory committee may have its mandate changed to better suit the ambitions of its committee members.

On July 8, 2021, Dufferin County staff submitted a report to council regarding the diversity, equity, and inclusion community advisory committee (DEICAC). The document outlines how committee discussions have highlighted members’ desire to focus on community engagement and creating opportunities for education and programming rather than concentrating on County policy and performing an advisory role, as per its original mandate. Consequently, changing the group’s focus has staff recommending that the group be supported by Headwaters Communities in Action (HCIA), in addition to the county. The report states that HCIA’s involvement is expected to cost $10,000-$15,000 for the remainder of the year.

The draft for the updated terms of reference for Dufferin’s Diversity and Inclusion committee was included with the staff report. The revised mandate is stated as “to work collaboratively with Headwaters Communities in Action, with the support of County Council, to further diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in Dufferin County.” As shown in the July 9, 2020 agenda, the original mandate was 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.”

Dufferin County staff say that to effectively achieve the mandate delineated in the proposed Terms of Reference update, regular and timely communication with the community is required and the ability to provide opportunities for ongoing engagement. As a result, it is beyond the capacity of County staff to provide the dedicated support needed. Moreover, it is said that county policies and protocols can make it challenging to engage quickly and in a form that encourages ongoing dialogue and feedback.

The staff document explains how the change in Dufferin’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee would be more community-focused, aligning itself with other groups and organizations supported by Headwaters Communities in Action. Support from HCIA would include meeting coordination, communications, social media posts, help with organizing events, and assistance with fundraising. According to the report, HCIA is optimistic about opportunities for supporting the committee’s initiatives with grants and fundraising that are not available when operating strictly as a council committee. Staff indicate that details of the support arrangement can be detailed in a memorandum of understanding. 

Headwaters Communities in Action bills itself as a citizens group that fosters leadership and action to support a long-term vision of community well-being for the Headwaters region. The organization helps coordinate responses to shared issues by hosting community conversations with people from different sectors and municipalities. It coordinates initiatives such as DC MOVES, Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance, and Volunteer Dufferin. HCIA has been partnered with Dufferin County since January 2018, supporting the county’s strategic and community priorities. The current agreement goes from January 2021 to December 2023, with annual reviews.

The document states that the policy, services, and operations-related responsibilities listed in the original Terms of Reference for DEICAC still need to be fulfilled, in addition to the county’s need for input and advice to ensure changes are being made with a DEI lens and identify historical discrimination. If the terms of reference are updated, the development of a strategy to ensure this occurs would form part of the responsibilities of the new People and Equity Director role recently approved by the Dufferin County council.

Several county staff members support Dufferin’s diversity, equity, and inclusion community advisory committee and its sub-committees. As mentioned, HCIA costs to assist DEICAC are estimated to be $10,000 to $15,000 for the remainder of the year. Staff state that these funds are available within this year’s budget and that future costs would be bundled with the annual HCIA support payments, which will require an update to the agreement. The updated terms of reference show that county staff would still liaise with the committee and attend meetings.

At the meeting on July 8, 2021, Dufferin County Council tabled the motion recommended in the staff report regarding updating DEICAC’s terms of reference. Council did this upon the suggestion of Shelburne’s Deputy Mayor and County Councillor, Steve Anderson. He says there is an ongoing discussion within the committee on its mandate and the work it is currently charged with doing.

“I think there needs to be better clarification as to what those roles and responsibilities are before we discuss this report as a whole,” said Anderson.

The next meeting for Dufferin’s Diversity Equity, Inclusion Community Advisory Committee is scheduled for July 14, 2021. The sessions are not currently being recorded or streamed for public viewing. Members of the public wishing to observe the meetings live via Zoom can contact the Clerk’s Office at or 519-941-2816 x2500.

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