Frontenac County team recognized for continuous improvement among employees

Left to right: AMCTO President Elana Arthurs, Frontenac County Manager of Continuous Improvement Kevin Farrell, Frontenac County Executive Assistant Brieanna McEathron, and Frontenac County Clerk Jannette Amini. Photo via Frontenac County.

Frontenac County has been recognized with an E.A. Danby Certificate of Merit, which celebrates innovative approaches in the delivery of municipal programs and services. 

Awarded at the AMCTO Gala, Frontenac County’s Continuous Improvement Team accepted the Certificate of Merit in recognition of their application of Lean Six Sigma methodology, which has established the County as an organization that demonstrates a culture of continuous improvement among its employees.

Named after AMCTO’s inaugural President, the E.A. Danby Awards recognize and honour municipalities that have demonstrated outstanding achievement through innovation with respect to municipal management activities or practices. According to a release from AMCTO, the E.A. Danby Awards focus on the three broad categories of municipal finance, municipal administration, and the implementation of legislation, across municipalities of greater than 20,000 residents, and less than 20,000 residents. Frontenac County falls under municipalities with greater than 20,000 residents.

According to the release, the County of Frontenac is an upper-tier municipality comprising four member municipalities: the Townships of North Frontenac, Central Frontenac, South Frontenac, and Frontenac Islands. It covers a geographic area of 4,000 sq/km with a population of approximately 28,000 permanent and seasonal residents (excluding residents of the City of Kingston; according to Statistics Canada 2021 Census data, the combined populations of North, Central, and South Frontenac Townships, as well as Frontenac Islands Township, is 29,295).

The County provides corporate services to the townships including finance, human resources, information technology and geographic information, planning, and economic development. It also operates a 128-bed long-term care home, administers paramedic services across Frontenac County and the City of Kingston, and operates a Ministry of Transportation Ontario-owned passenger and vehicle ferry connecting Howe Island to the mainland.

The project recognized for this certificate was the Lean Implementation Frontenac Team (LIFT) Program, which uses the Lean Six Sigma methodology. According to the release, Lean embodies the belief that there are simpler, better ways to do our day-to-day work. It is a guiding philosophy and commitment to identify and eliminate waste, inefficiency, and error. It is a deliberate and ongoing effort to make work environments more efficient and effective, so staff can strive toward the highest quality of service for customers.

“The County of Frontenac began its Lean Six Sigma journey in 2015 by establishing the Lean Implementation Frontenac Team (LIFT) program,” AMCTO noted. “This initiative was introduced by Frontenac County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Kelly Pender. Since then, the County has formally trained staff to identify waste and improve processes across the organization. The LIFT team now comprises 20 Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belts, 10 Green Belts, and two Black Belts.”

According to the release, the County of Frontenac is committed to continuous improvement and to applying the concepts of Lean Six Sigma across the entire organization. It is not a “one-and-done” approach. The training is available to staff at all levels who are encouraged to identify waste in the workplace and suggest and explore opportunities for improvement, AMCTO added. The program began with training guided by outside consultants. It has since evolved and matured to a point at which staff exclusively drive the program forward.

As a result of implementing this methodology, the County has reportedly seen vast improvements in operations including:

  • Staff onboarding and orientation
  • Records retention and archiving
  • E-waste
  • The Committee of Adjustment Planning application process
  • Expense claim processing for Frontenac Paramedics
  • Cash handling for the Howe Island Ferry service

“We’ve all worked hard over the last few years to change the narrative among our colleagues from ‘We’ve always done it that way,’ to ‘How can we do it better,” said Frontenac County Manager of Continuous Improvement Kevin Farrell. “The Lean Six Sigma approach continues to make a huge positive difference in our daily work. It’s a great honour to be recognized for that effort and I’m looking forward to sharing these techniques and benefits with people at other municipalities.”

The County’s LIFT training program is also available to member municipalities, according to the release. The success of the program has also sparked interest from several outside organizations that are looking at similar initiatives as they face the ongoing challenges of having to do more with less

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