Current and Recently Completed Projects

SPR's ongoing and recently completed projects examine a diversity of issues, as described below:

  • Study of Commercial Rest Areas in Southern Ontario:  This 9-month study will aid Ontario's trucking industry by ensuring that truck drivers have sufficient places to rest when they exceed their expected hours of work and ensuring that aspects of highway infrastructure meet the needs of trucking carriers. Key study components include: a Southern Ontario Highway System Analysis (including projections of traffic to 2027 and a crash analysis); consultations in Toronto, Ottawa and London, with key stakeholders (major trucking associations and others); a Rest Stop Inventory; and a Large-Scale On-line Survey of Truck Drivers. A final report will be produced containing recommendations for improvements to accommodate commercial motor vehicles (for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, 2017-18).

  • Assessment of Financing Models for Shared Equity Housing in Canada:  The goal of this ongoing study is to provide a balanced assessment of the success, benefits and risks of shared equity housing financing models. The research focuses on shared equity programs in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario and involves an on-line survey of those involved in shared equity housing (planning/ housing officials; developers; non-profit sponsors/partners; and financial organizations). Telephone interviews will also be conducted with key informants, such as: housing developers/sponsor organizations; housing agencies; planners; financial institutions and mortgage brokers (for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2017).

  • Approaches to Applying a Gender-Based Lens to Affordable Housing:  This project will help CMHC to better understand various initiatives which will be launched under the National Housing Strategy (NHS). An environmental scan will be conducted to identify the housing needs of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ+) communities. The results will enable CMHC to ensure that NHS-funded initiatives are developed through a gender lens and address the housing needs of women and LGBTQ+ communities (for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2017).

  • Child Welfare Worker Safety Technology - Best Practice Recommendations:  This follow-up to SPR's 2014 study of worker safety in Ontario Children's Aid Societies was focused on establishing recommendations on communications technology, tools, policies & procedures for safety devices and peer support to assist CAS child protection workers. The study methodology included: a scan of literature and best practices across Canada and internationally; an on-line survey of key stakeholders, to aid initial consultations with Ontario CAS's; and consultation input from joint health and safety committees and others in Ontario's 40+ CAS's, to review new initiatives. Key outputs from the study included a report on the survey findings and recommendations regarding technology and peer support for child protection workers (for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, with funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, 2017).

  • Evaluation of the Survivors of Domestic Violence Portable Housing Benefit Pilot Program:  The goal of this 11-month project was to design and complete an evaluation of the Survivors of Domestic Violence Portable Housing Benefit (SDV-PHB) Pilot Program that provided funding from the Ministry of Housing to Service Managers in select regions of Ontario. The pilot program was delivered by four Service Managers in selected areas of Ontario where there are eligible SDV households on social housing waiting lists. The SDV-PHB provides an alternate means of providing housing assistance as a monthly subsidy so households can find their own non-rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing in their communities rather than waiting for an available RGI unit (for the Ontario Ministry of Housing, 2016-2017).

  • Understanding How the Canadian Housing System Facilitates Rental and Owner-Occupied Housing:  This recent study on Canada's housing system assessed how government policies influence both rental and ownership housing, in particular, factors affecting the supply and demand for these types of housing. The study examined the policies of all levels of government and all housing sub-sectors. Key steps included: development of a profile of the policies and impacts by tenure, based on existing information from CMHC and on-line website searches (including a scan of relevant literature); telephone interviews with key policy officials and other experts to clarify sources of information on policy impacts; development of an on-line survey of key representatives from public, non-profit and private sector housing organizations, and other experts, to obtain insights on supply and demand impacts of policies; and selection of specific policy impact areas for case studies. Case studies included on-line research and follow-up telephone interviews with key housing stakeholders (for CMHC, 2016-2017).

  • Mandate Review of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC):  This project involved a review of the mandates for three policing oversight agencies in Ontario. Main data sources for the review included: legislation; past reviews; literature on policing oversight; and data from key informants. Analysis methods included: assessments of consistency of the mandate and agency actions; and analysis of performance of the three agencies in achieving mandate goals (within a Balanced Scorecard Framework). Key program design features addressed the need for more open public scrutiny, in particular, for the SIU (for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 2015-2016).

  • An Examination of International Housing Policies and Initiatives for Home Ownership, and Policies to Encourage Movement Within the Housing Continuum:  This project reviewed and assessed international housing policies and initiatives in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Through a robust literature review, approaches and funding models were identified that are relevant to the Canadian context. A review of affordable homeownership included downpayment assistance or rent-to-own programs. Policies and approaches examined those that increase self-reliance such as asset building programs, escrow accounts or trust funds, grant or loan programs, intervention subsidies and other programs that help to increase self-sufficiency and encourage movement along the housing continuum (for CMHC, 2015-2016).

  • Assessment of Income-Mix Models for Affordable Housing:  This multi-method study involved an on-line scan of literature in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, and other jurisdictions; the completion of program summaries, case studies; and project profiles to address issues such as the financial viability and other impacts of income mixed housing. Unique research approaches included an international survey of experts regarding assessments of mixed income housing models and a multi-country survey to identify specific projects for case studies (for CMHC, 2015).

  • Renewing Ontario's Recreation-Nature Trails Strategy:  This study provided evidence of the major health and economic benefits of hiking and other trail-related activities. Types of trails examined included: footpaths with natural surfaces, bicycle routes, utility corridors or former rail lines, forestry and mining access roads designated as trails, waterways and portage routes, and seasonal trails used for snowmobiling or cross-country skiing. The main data source relied on the results from an on-line survey of over 5,000 Ontario trail users. SPR's final report, submitted in Spring 2015, was complemented by the introduction of Bill 100 - the Supporting Ontario's Trails Act, 2015 in the Ontario Legislature on May 12, 2015 (for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, 2014-2015).
  • Assessing the Capacity of Sport and Recreation in the Not-for-Profit Sector in Ontario:  This project assessed the capacity of small and rural non-profit community sport organizations -- mainly serving youth -- to meet Ontario's upcoming Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. The project also identified the service delivery capacity of not-for-profits to meet sport and recreation service standards in Ontario; explored related challenges that sport & recreation not-for-profits experience as regards standards; and identified measures to address the capacity gaps and the challenges encountered by sport and recreation not-for-profit organizations in Ontario. Key methodologies included a partially-annotated inventory of literature and a major on-line survey of community sports and recreation organizations (for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, 2014-2015).
  • Review of Shared Equity Housing Finance Models in Canada and the US:  This review involved an annotated bibliography and a scan of similar models of this housing finance tool and the potential for expansion of this funding model to better aid the goal of affordable housing in Canada, in particular, housing for seniors (for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2015).
  • Study of Worker Safety in Ontario Children's Aid Societies:  This project, for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The goal of the project was to assess the incidence of client violence experienced by CAS workers and identify ways of developing programs to reduce this type violence against workers in the future. On-line surveys of 5,800+ CAS workers (from support staff to management) and 35 Ontario CASs were conducted and a number of high-level performance indicators were developed (for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, 2013-2014).
  • Evaluation of Legal Aid Ontario's Interpretation and Translation Services:  This project was designed to aid LAO to improve its tendering and management of its contract for language services that it provides to over 300,000 clients annually, mainly new immigrants and refugees. The goal of the project was to aid design of a new contract for the 2013-2015 fiscal years. The evaluation examined costs and service levels, satisfaction of clinic staff, and community stakeholders (in particular, agencies serving refugees and new Canadians). The evaluation also addressed complaint processes and quality control over external suppliers of language services. Methods included a bilingual on-line survey of over 300 clinic staff, and a Webinar of immigrant service agencies across Ontario (for Legal Aid Ontario, 2012-2013).
  • Review of Ontario Bridge Training Programs for New Canadian Professionals:  This program development project relied mainly on web surveys to obtain data, followed by large-scale Learning Exchange Workshops to assess the results. The project assessed 'lessons learned' from programs providing training to new Canadians in over 100 professions, to aid labour markets and Ontario skills strategies. Bilingual web surveys reached thousands of stakeholders (colleges, universities, NGOs, employers, and internationally-trained individuals) involved in bridge training programs. The web surveys were highly successful -- the response from 1,770 trainees being the largest ever obtained for such a survey, with many lessons learned regarding language and factors in labour market integration (for the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, with collaboration from over 100 training agencies, 2011-2012).

  • Review of Attractions Ontario's Summer Coupon and Passport Program:  SPR reviewed this program which provides web, toll-free telephone and print information to hundreds of thousands of visitors to Ontario. One element of the study included assessing the effectiveness in aiding the marketing needs of major attractions such as African Lion Safari, CN Tower. The review also provided insights on linkages with regional tourism bodies and the broader province of Ontario tourism strategy. Interviews were conducted with key stakeholders and Ontario-wide site visits were carried out (for Attractions Ontario, 2012-2013).