Peel Counts

Partnering for Population Priorities

In this blog, we had the opportunity to talk to Aamna Ashraf, Director of Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (PNSG) and Peel Counts partner. 

PNSG launched under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) in 2008. In 2010, PNSG became the Peel LIP (Local Immigration Partnership). LIPs operate under a best practice models of local immigrant settlement and integration planning services driven by four distinct objectives:

• Improve access to and the coordination of services that facilitate newcomer settlement and integration

• Improve access to the labour market for newcomers

• Strengthen local and regional awareness and capacity to attract, receive, integrate and retain newcomers

• Enhance partnerships and participation of multiple stakeholders in the planning, delivery and coordination of integration services. 

For Ashraf, the partnership is a natural fit with both having strong alignment around system navigation and access to services, and supporting newcomers in Peel. “For PNSG, Peel Counts supports our efforts to ensure that the work we do is not in isolation of planning and service delivery at a system level. It incorporates the newcomer perspective into Peel Counts’ top priorities,” says Ashraf. 

Peel Counts’ top three priorities - Educating the Future, Better Quality of Life, and Healthy Communities – each have several indicators attached to it that measure its progress. And while we have baseline data for many of the indicators under each priority, we do not have data at disaggregated levels of variables such as ethnicity, age, gender, race and newcomer status. Peel Counts has moved forward with a working group to address the gap in baseline data for these areas of equity.

As the Co-Chair for the Racialized Data Strategy, this gives PNSG another opportunity to draw out disaggregated data that tells the full picture of population-based data. Peel Counts’ Racialized Data Strategy collects equity-based disaggregated data on variables such as race, sexual orientation, gender, age, newcomer status from its community agencies. “Collecting disaggregated data is critical to helping us understand the issues newcomers face so that we can identify and put in place appropriate solutions,” says Ashraf. For PNSG, this work will be a key part in helping to deliver on the organizations four strategic priorities:

• Ensuring accessible, people-centred services for all newcomers

• Creating a continuum of effective employment strategies

• Enhancing the receptivity of the host community

• Strengthening service coordination and planning across Peel Region

For more about PNSG visit:

Posted 119 weeks ago

Peel Counts’ Racialized Data Strategy

If we don’t name it, nothing is going to happen

At Peel Counts, there is one question that partners around the table consistently ask when discussing priority areas for investment in resources and planning, “Are we missing any blind spots? What is the data not revealing?” 

The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t measure, which means we are likely missing some significant blind spots beneath the data surface. Which is why a racialized data strategy that collects equity-based disaggregated data on variables such as race, sexual orientation, gender, age, newcomer status from its community agencies is a key priority the Data Collection Community Partners (DCCP) of which Peel Counts is co-lead. When we started this work, several years ago, with the publication of the RBA report, we realized that we didn’t have a lot of data that was local.  We need this to create our own story, name our own issues and identify solutions that are meaningful to our context. As a community, we can’t tell a coherent story that is population and program based if we don’t have disaggregated data that allows us to get to the root problem for vulnerable residents. 

Now, this is not a new approach to data collection and analysis. Others have done it and it has already taken traction in many sectors. The Local Health Integrated Networks are now collecting disaggregated data to better understand how they co-relate to health care needs. And Children’s Aid Societies are looking at the importance of racialized data to support foster care and adoption of children in care. The Peel District School Board released the “We Rise Together Report” that demonstrated a better analysis of their student population because they can now zero in on vulnerable groups that are not graduating.

 The United Way of Peel Region (UWPR), a key founding partner of Peel Counts, has been working with agencies to help facilitate the collection of racialized data for 4 years. More recently, the UWPR has also included the collection of gender identity and sexual orientation data. “While we’ve had some success in agencies reporting the data, some service providers are uncomfortable asking race or sexuality questions that seem unrelated to their intake process, while others just don’t have the resources (e.g., database system) to efficiently collect, analyze and report on the data,” says Andre Lyn, Senior Manager, Community Investment at UWPR. “We also need to acknowledge that such data collection requires more time spent with clients and can take away from direct service delivery, especially for example, telephone crisis supports. It’s important to explore meaningful and efficient ways to get at this information, including taking a common sense approach by having clients self-identify or report.” Lyn also says disaggregated population data help inform program data; “If population data is not aligned with program data, then we may not be serving people who need our resources most,” he says. Aligning the two ensures program goals are informed by the right data. 

The importance of disaggregated data can also help us move the needle on systemic issues. The FACES report (prepared for UWPR and key community partners) has helped to start an important community dialogue on inequality and inequity faced by some population groups in Peel.  “The first step was engaging the community and starting a dialogue with the right people. Without the dialogue, we cannot improve outcomes for those being impacted,” says Lyn.   

While systemic change won’t happen overnight, it does require collaboration, dialogue and the right data. Peel Counts’ racialized data strategy gives us a starting point to pull these together with a system level collection, analysis and measurement of data to improve community outcomes. Stay tuned in the coming months for updates on Peel Counts’ racialized data strategy.

Posted 125 weeks ago

An Interview with Peel Counts Partner: Peel Elder Abuse Prevention Network

We recently chatted with Atif M. Siddiqui, Program Assistant with Peel Elder Abuse Prevention Network (PEAPN) and asked him how his organization utilizes data from Peel Counts to support their mandate? Here’s what he told us…

Tell us about your organization:

The Peel Elder Abuse Prevention Network (PEAPN) is an organization focused on the prevention of elder abuse, it was founded in 2003. PEAPN doesn’t work directly with seniors, we work with organizations that have direct interaction with seniors. We are an advocacy and education network with a membership of about 40 agencies. PEAPN is funded by the Region of Peel and the Ontario Trillium Foundation who are also Peel Counts stakeholders. The network of agencies meets once a month to discuss their vision for seniors in peel and also share some of the challenges they are seeing with their clients.

Why is data important to PEAPN?

As an organization we rely on our 40 member agencies to submit monthly reports on elder abuse. We in turn, use these statistics to advocate for additional funding for senior’s programming. We work closely with the Peel Regional Police to compare our data. At the end of the day, the data is used to validate what we are hearing anecdotally. We want to look at patterns and trends – is elder abuse increasing in our region, for example? People like to contribute to the bigger picture, the data provides the evidence to build our case for support.

What gaps do you have in your data?

Without data it is very difficult to move the needle on any issue so it’s a constant struggle for PEAPN. We are fortunate to partner with over 40 organizations, but a gap we face is that our network while mighty does not have region wide data that will help us build our case for support. Without a regional initiative like Peel Counts it’s difficult to identify the needs of Peel as we just don’t have the capacity.

How does Peel Counts support your work?

PEAPN is looking to Peel Counts to provide baseline data on seniors to our network of 40 agencies, we will use the data to identify advocacy priorities. Peel Counts is a verified source of information that organizations like ours can go to. It provides population data that will inform our work. We know that data is important to create social change, it helps us build capacity.  It’s critical that we consider the senior’s perspective, we want to be able to work closely with them and be their voice. We are confident that the data will legitimize the need for additional funding for senior’s programs. Peel Counts is trying to create a better quality of life for everyone in our community and we are proud to be partners in the work.

Posted 136 weeks ago

A Holistic Approach to Systemic Change

By Shari Lynn Ladanchuk, President and CEO, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Peel, & Co-Chair, Peel Counts

As a leader running a social service organization, it is easy to get bogged down by the sheer magnitude of what we are aiming to accomplish in trying to make a positive impact in the lives of those we serve. On any given day, we get outpaced by the needs and limitations of the resources available to us. But sometimes there’s a signal in that– one that challenges us to take a step back and think about how we can change our thinking and work together to break through the same issues we aim to address collectively.

Many of my colleagues would agree (I think!) that it is easy to get entrenched in the “how it could, would or used to be” in the sector. Once you’ve been in this sector for a while, you start to see many of the same ideas reimagined or reinvented in different ways…and as we attempt to advance them, nothing really improves. And while we have accomplished much in our rich history of collaboration in Peel, we also know that we can do better. Systemically, we have to take a more holistic approach to tackle some of these big, bold issues… whether it be poverty, violence, or hunger.

As a mentoring organization for young individuals, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Peel cannot solve these issues directly. Mentoring is often viewed as a soft service that is not critical or lifesaving. However, when we take a step back and think about it from a mental health perspective in the context of achieving a better quality of life and creating healthy communities, our services do attempt to address an individual’s primary needs. These issues are entrenched in the lives of those we serve. And while mentoring will not hit some of these issues on the head, it can be a part of the toolbox to help solve the problem at a systemic level. It’s about seeing beyond the broad organizational statements and making the connection at the individual level for community impact…it’s about Doing What Counts.

Our three priorities or “bold few” – Better Quality of Life, Healthier Communities and Educating the Future, were chosen by our community partners for that very reason. Collectively, they can tackle the big issues holistically in a way that can have the greatest impact and lasting change for the residents of Peel. Within each of our priorities, we have many indicators (and we like them all!), but there’s no way we can touch them all. We have to start somewhere and use them as launching pads to help navigate and identify the gaps in a collective way.

For our partners, indicator data provides a benchmark, breaks down silos and streamlines reporting to funders. When we do this, funders get a big picture and systemic view of the issues and outcomes we collectively aim to move the dial on. This approach also helps our understanding of how our sector and service structure makes up our community. For our organization, Peel Counts helps us understand the resident and community lens…. where people congregate and who they are, so that we can be as comprehensive as possible when we are reaching out.

There’s great work that comes together in our community, and Peel Counts is a part of that.
We need to continue this important work. But to do so, we must maintain a centralized approach, communicate and share our learnings and outcomes, and most importantly be on the same track philosophically. Sometimes, we may not always agree on everything, but as long as we stay on this path we can make an impact on our community, make your organization more successful, and maybe help a few leaders sleep a little easier at night.

Posted 137 weeks ago


Guest Blogger: Lianne Picot, Executive Director, Peel Leadership Centre and Member of Peel Counts

I have always been a bit of a data nerd when it came to evaluation. I think it’s because of one of my early volunteering roles as the Statistics Lead for a volunteer helpline in university. The helpline was mostly run by second and third year psychology students who had just discovered statistics and loved using them wherever they could! The work I did there gave me a good foundational understanding of the importance of data in running services. I could see why collecting data was important to service provision, identifying gaps and being able to demonstrate effectiveness both at organizational and community level.
Even now, having been a non-profit Executive Director for many years, I still get excited about seeing the numbers…or worried when I see the numbers because the data we collect is important. It says something about how many people we’ve served, how much reach we’ve had and whether we’ve done a good job of retention. However, the data does not on its own demonstrate and illustrate our impact. We need to interpret the data and develop insights about it for it to be of use in showing where we are at and what needs to change.

For that we need story. We need to find stories and we need to develop a big story.

Finding the Data Story

It is the narratives behind the data that help us to determine how and whether we are making a difference. Stories help us to gain insights into why the data looks the way it does, but it can also bring to light the story we may be missing. For example, diversity is not seen directly in data. Therefore, collecting personal stories of lived experience in a diverse population like Peel Region can help us better understand cultural differences in the information we have gathered. These stories also help us to identify gaps in services or in our understanding of key issues. To demonstrate, we may collect data about graduation rates for Black and South Asian youth overall. But the stories will give us more information about the difference between the two groups and could help lead us to developing services specifically targeted for their needs.  Data collection often focuses upon what is already there. The stories lead us to want to know more about what we don’t know.

Telling the Data Story

Once we have collected our data and developed our insights based on client or community stories, we need to then develop a narrative for the data and what change we are wanting to make based upon the information we have collected. We will need to share our ‘data story’ in order to leverage the numbers to create action or demonstrate impact. The data and the stories we have collected say ‘this’ overall.

A helpful formula that I created to help me in sharing impact is this:  

Data + Story = Evidence

The two elements work side by side. They are not mutually exclusive and we must be careful about separating them out. For data to be useful, we need to make an interpretation of the numbers. That interpretation and what we say about the data is in fact, a narrative.

Story is a very powerful communication tool. Humans have been using it for thousands of years to convey ideas, share histories and instigate change. We are able to influence with story in a way that facts or numbers can’t. However, it’s very important that the data backs up a story so that we have a basis for telling it. Developing the ‘right’ story to move ourselves or others toward the ‘right’ action and make the ‘right’ change is crucial for our organizations and communities.

When we use story and data together to create a compelling narrative for sharing impact or to create action, it enables us to increase engagement and develop a more powerful collective approach to social change. And that’s a story we can all tell with pride!

Learn more

Senior Leaders of Social Change in Peel Region and beyond can also find out more about storytelling in person at Peel Leadership Centre’s Leadership Forum – TIME OUT – on September 20th where I’ll be offering a storytelling workshop on how and why story is important at the sector and organizational level, as well as developing skills in story listening and crafting. Find out more and register HERE

Thanks for reading!


Lianne Picot is the Executive Director of Peel Leadership Centre, an organization growing leadership and organizational capacity in the non-profit sector. Lianne is passionate about great leadership, storytelling and creating opportunities for transformational learning. Connect with Lianne at Learn more or sign-up for PLC’s newsletter at:

Posted 140 weeks ago

The Bold Few: Building on Peel Counts' Legacy for Collective Impact

Peel has a legacy. Its legacy is and will continue to be its not for profit sector. The sector works tirelessly to make the quality of life for its residents better – for its children, youth, families and seniors. It fills the gaps, advocates for equity, champions for our fair share, builds organizations’ capacities - all to enhance the lives of residents.

The Peel Counts initiative hopes to see this legacy continue and wants to help it grow. The initiative is developing processes in which providers can assess if the changes they would like to see in their communities is occurring and how well it is occurring. Good work is happening – parents, seniors and youth are being supported and lives enriched, however, we, as a service sector do not have a mechanism that tells us how well programs, initiatives, and supports are working.

Peel is proud of its ability to create home-based solutions that draw upon our strengths and resources and address the needs of our community. Through building on our innovation, sharing best practices, collaborating on strategies with other communities, and acknowledging what is working for residents, we can see incremental, localized impacts – however, it is only through a collaborative approach that we can make strides and great accomplishments in improving the standard of living and care of our most vulnerable populations across the region with significant impacts.

 As a region, we have identified multiple priorities that are significant in improving the quality of life for residents. There are multiple priorities as identified by a variety of organizations and funders that measure the activities of programs and supports, however, to have large scale impact, we need to move towards having measurable change at a population level. Each organization is reporting on their own defined population level priorities; however, there is no broad or overarching mechanism that is in place to measure changes and successes over time. Community organizations and collaboratives are in need of a data system that shares this data but they also need an interactive tool that allows them to focus and enhance, via data, their local planning.

Peel Counts has identified a handful of priorities and corresponding indicators that will become our bold few – these areas will be our focus to improve collectively over the next few years. We will identify indicators that allow us to pull in one direction and assess our progress together. Having data that shows us the changes in our indicators at disaggregated levels will allow some conversations to strengthen and other new ones to begin. The richness in Peel is in its diversity – the data must reflect this story as well.

Without the ‘bold few’ identified, it is nearly impossible to identify the community’s optimum well-being. If all are using different measures, different indicators of success, future policy advancements will be challenged with a lack of focused, local data to make significant changes. Without population level priorities, the ability to align, leverage, avoid duplications becomes trying and tiring.  Most importantly, without a ‘bold few,’ organizations and programs are challenged in finding their relationship to each other and are unable to recognize their unique and powerful contribution to the collective impact work across the region.

Posted 163 weeks ago