Walter Burt, Manager, Social Assistance, Prince Edward Lennox & Addington Social Services

Walter is well known within the municipal sector for his support and promotion of the prior learning assessments (PLA) for OW clients. He recognized the benefits of formal qualifications and supported clients in leveraging their valuable life experience to make a case for their equivalency. Major partnerships were developed with the educational sector to support implementation. The result was meaningful differences for clients that increased access to employment, salary and benefits, improved family resources and outcomes and increased individual self-confidence and self-worth. Walter provided provincial training for staff to conduct PLAs within their home communities. He also supported many staff in conducting their own PLA so they could increase their career opportunities within the social service sector.

Walter was a member of the OMSSA Homelessness Prevention Network until 2016. He participated in the OMSAA Employment and Income Issues Network and the Ontario Works managers network within the Southeast Region for several years. Demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning and has been extremely supportive of OMSSA learning events. He was trained in SAIL in 2009 and first SAIL captain at PELASS.  He participated in the trainer the trainer session for advanced case management and development (2004) and then coordinated the training for staff in PELASS. He contributed his learning and experiences at the OMSSA policy conference as moderator for a session on "Lessons Learned: Integrating Municipal Human Services from a Smaller Service Managers’ Perspective" and as Moderator at OMSSA's Housing and Homelessness Forum (2015) Session 1.1 - Mental Health and Addictions and Housing: Keys to Collaboration.

In speaking to managers and staff across service managers there is a consistent view of Walter: he is kind, helpful, soft spoken and always willing to develop a relationship for what may not currently exist in communities. There is pervasive recognition of excellent advice from Walter. He has encouraged many staff that our role is to seek eligibility within social services programs and to always err on the side of the client. He was ahead of his time in where the province is now directing us with client-focused services and risk-based eligibility. He has also been applying the principles of SAIL in his work before it was called SAIL! And he's a survivor - he's made it through many iterations of software and policy changes in social services over the past three decades. Walter is a valued member of his community. He not only leveraged his skills for social services in his paid employment but also in his off time as a community volunteer. He has worked with community-based social service agencies to support programs for youth and other vulnerable groups in the communities he has worked professionally to serve for more than 30 years.