• New Language Line makes City phone services more accessible to all residents

    Ottawa – The City of Ottawa has officially launched Language Line, a service that allows callers to participate in a three-way call with a translator and a City staff member. Now, residents can call one of the City’s dedicated phone lines and receive service in the language they are most comfortable speaking.

    “The new Language Line service ensures that City phone services such as 3-1-1 are more accessible than ever before,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “This is an important way of removing barriers between City services and the residents we serve.”

    When someone calls a City phone line, they now have the option to be placed into a three-way call with a translator and a City staff member. The translator will facilitate the conversation between the caller and City staff, allowing the caller to receive answers to their questions, or more information about City services in the language of their choice.

    City phone lines that are using the new service include the 3-1-1 Contact Centre, the Ottawa Public Health Information Line, OC Transpo Information Lines, Tax and Water Customer Service Line, Social Services Intake Line, and the offices of the Mayor and City Councillors

    According to research data, the most common languages in Ottawa spoken after English and French are Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Somali, Vietnamese, Spanish and Amharic. Language Line can provide simultaneous translation services in over 170 different languages.

    To raise awareness of this new service, the City will be working with local immigrant serving agencies, community health and resource centres, and representatives from various faith communities.

    To access this translation service, please call 3-1-1 or any of the call centres listed above, and the answering agent will activate this service on your behalf.

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  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Ruweida Shire

    Mayor Jim Watson, with Rideau-Vanier Ward Councillor Mathieu Fleury, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Ruweida Shire for her volunteer activities and selfless contributions in Ottawa.

    Ms. Shire founded the Strathcona Heights Homework Club with only two participants and through the years has achieved major success with the number of students increasing to more than 150.

    Operating at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, the Strathcona Heights Homework Club provides students from Grade 1 to Grade 12 with an educational after-school program throughout the year and a day program during the summer. It provides an essential service to youths in the community by providing participants with free educational assistance, tutoring and mentoring.

    The majority of participants live in Strathcona Heights, home to one of the largest Ottawa Community Housing developments. The program strives to educate and provide safe and fun activities to combat negative societal influences by creating a safe haven for youths to interact with peers and role models. The program is completely volunteer-led and the students rely on the generous support of volunteers like Ms. Shire.

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  • Ottawa Board of Health invites comments on 2012 Draft Budget

    Ottawa – The Draft 2012 Budget for the Ottawa Board of Health was tabled at the Sept. 19 meeting of the Board. The Board invites comments on the draft budget, which can be found online at ottawa.ca. The budget is scheduled to be approved at a special meeting of the Board on Oct. 17.

    “We want to hear from residents, community groups and businesses across the city about this budget and the strategic direction of Ottawa Public Health (OPH),” said Councillor Diane Holmes, Chair of the Board. “I encourage residents to have their say by emailing, calling or presenting us with their feedback.”

    The Draft 2012 Budget projects a $52.7 million balanced budget in line with the City of Ottawa’s Long Range Financial Plan, including a 2.5 % increase on the City portion. About $11.5 million is funded through the City of Ottawa, the remainder is funded by the Province of Ontario.

    The budget maintains public health services from vaccine clinics to restaurant inspections to breastfeeding support and also provides for the identification of $517,000 in reinvested efficiencies. Those efficiencies will allow OPH to undertake programs that address new health needs:

    – Outbreak Management & Public Health Inspection – Increases the number of inspections of establishments where invasive body modification procedures such as piercings, tongue-splitting, subcutaneous implants, and tattoos are performed. ($200,000)

    – New Baby Express & Social Determinants of Health – In partnership with the Ottawa Public Library, a program focused on supporting new parents in the areas of breastfeeding, newborn growth and development and parenting skills. ($145,000)

    –  Support to Seniors & Caregivers – Increases awareness and access to information and supports forinformal caregivers in Ottawa. ($147,000)

    “I’m proud of the work that was performed by staff at OPH on this budget,” says Dr. Isra Levy, Medical Officer of Health. “We met the challenge of finding savings and following the strategic direction of both the Board of Health and City Council.”

    OPH staff are also exploring new funding opportunities through sponsorship, community partnerships, a review of fees for service and increasing one-time grants.

    Residents wishing to address the Board are encouraged to register in advance by contacting Jane Dare at 613-580-2424 x12799 or e-mailing: ottawaboardofhealth@ottawa.ca.

    The Board will be approving the budget on October 17 at 6 p.m., in the Champlain Room at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West.

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  • Zero per cent fare hike as taxi union withdraws increase request

    Ottawa – The Community and Protective Services Committee is recommending a zero per cent increase in taxi fares this year to Council, following the withdrawal of a request from CAW Local 1688 Ontario Taxi Union for a 10 per cent meter increase.

    Recognizing the economic impact of a fare increase on taxi users, CAW Local 1688 Ontario Taxi Union rescinded its request at the Community and Protective Services Committee Thursday. A staff report recommended a 2.5 per cent increase in taxi fares.

    “CAW Local 1688 Ontario Taxi Union has demonstrated they are excellent corporate citizens by withdrawing their request for a fare increase,” said Councillor Mark Taylor, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “I want to commend them for understanding the economic realities of today and their continued work with the City.”

    “We wanted to show clearly that we are working with Council, in this restrained economy, to make travel in Ottawa as affordable as possible,” said Amrik Singh, president of CAW Local 1688 Ontario Taxi Union. “We look forward to continuing to providing excellent service to Ottawa taxi users.”

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  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Maurice Bilodeau

    Mayor Jim Watson, with Alta Vista Ward Councillor Peter Hume, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Maurice Bilodeau for his volunteer activities and selfless contributions in Ottawa.

    Now 85, and a veteran of Second World War combat duty in Europe, Maurice returned to Holland in 1995 to commemorate the thousands of young Canadian soldiers who never returned home. He was surprised by the avid interest that many young Dutch students expressed in the Second World War and after speaking of life in 1944, they provided him with a big “Thank You” poster.

    This planted the seed of an idea and once back in Ottawa, Maurice contacted a few teachers at area schools and offered to visit classrooms to help students understand the hardships of a soldier and the horrors of war. He has since visited many schools and informed students with his honest, first-person account of life at the front.

    Maurice also spends two days a week volunteering at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre on Russell Road in Alta Vista Ward where he spends time with and assists residents and patiently shares experiences with them. He received the 2006 Caring Canadian Award presented by then Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

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  • Mayor Watson welcomes annual AG report

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson today welcomed the release of the 2010 Annual Report from the Office of the Auditor General.

    “Transparency and accountability are key priorities for me and Council, as reflected in our creation of a separate Audit Sub-Committee,” said Mayor Watson. “Alain Lalonde and his staff perform a valuable service each year for taxpayers and I look forward to a high level of cooperation between management, the Auditor General and the Audit Sub-Committee as we implement recommendations from this Annual Report.”

    The 2010 AG Report consisted of 18 new audit projects, as well as a follow up of 22 previously completed audits from the years 2005 – 2008. Also included is the sixth annual report on the fraud and Waste Hotline.

    The Report will be reviewed by Committees and full Council in the coming weeks.

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  • Mayor Watson welcomes annual AG report

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson today welcomed the release of the 2010 Annual Report from the Office of the Auditor General.

    “Transparency and accountability are key priorities for me and Council, as reflected in our creation of a separate Audit Sub-Committee,” said Mayor Watson. “Alain Lalonde and his staff perform a valuable service each year for taxpayers and I look forward to a high level of cooperation between management, the Auditor General and the Audit Sub-Committee as we implement recommendations from this Annual Report.”

    The 2010 AG Report consisted of 18 new audit projects, as well as a follow up of 22 previously completed audits from the years 2005 – 2008. Also included is the sixth annual report on the fraud and Waste Hotline.

    The Report will be reviewed by Committees and full Council in the coming weeks.

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