Sustainability inSight

Our Approach

Developing the Sustainability Strategy

MTO has been working on making the province's transportation system more sustainable for a number of years, through a variety of activities. These were mainly "one-off" initiatives and ad hoc actions initiated in our branches and regional offices. However, staff throughout the ministry recognized the need to take a more strategic, coordinated and consistent approach to sustainability. In 2008, under the leadership of the newly created Sustainable Transportation Policy Office (STPO) in the Transportation Policy Branch, Policy and Planning Division and with the endorsement of the ministry's Senior Management Team, we began a ministry-wide, collaborative process to develop a sustainability strategy - a strategy created by MTO staff, for MTO staff.

Establishing MTO's Sustainability Enabler Network (SEN) was critical to the sustainability strategy's successful development. With representatives from every MTO region and division, the SEN's members brought a diverse array of skills and expertise and an enormous amount of transportation experience. This collaborative approach will ensure that the sustainability strategy reflects the realities of the work that our ministry does, addresses employees' needs and supports our vision for our ministry and the provincial transportation system.

In addition to the SEN, we consulted extensively with staff across the ministry. We talked with other Ontario government ministries and we looked at how other governments and large organizations have approached sustainability.

The Strategy's Two Purposes

A formal, public sustainability strategy for MTO will help us to systematically integrate sustainability into the work we do - and into the way we do work. The strategy has two purposes:

  • to ingrain sustainability into the internal business practices and behaviour of the ministry
  • to influence the ministry's policies and programs that affect the external provincial transportation system

Adopting a two-pronged approach is a large, complex, long-term undertaking, but is necessary, given how intertwined MTO's internal operations are with the external transportation system. Behind the many public-facing services the ministry provides are internal standards and formal decision-making processes to guide the ministry's work. If we want to encourage Ontarians to make more sustainable transportation choices, MTO must show leadership, starting with our own organization. This sustainability strategy sets out how we propose to do this. However, stating our intentions in a sustainability strategy will not be enough to make sure that there is lasting, meaningful change. We have also defined a process and will put mechanisms in place to ensure continual progress is made towards our goals (see Figure 2).

In developing the approach to the sustainability strategy, we arrived at four guiding principles. They, in turn, shaped the development of seven strategic goals. The goals will be reached over time by completing specific actions. These actions will be articulated in three-year Sustainability Implementation Plans (SIPs). Each action will have a target completion date and will indicate the area of MTO responsible for delivering on it. Developing the SIPs will be an ongoing process at MTO. We will release a new SIP publicly every three years. Each time a SIP is released, it will introduce new actions, report on earlier actions and indicate our progression towards the seven goals.

Achieving sustainability is a continuous process - one that must evolve in response to new knowledge, technological advances and emerging global trends. It is also designed to be transparent, evolutionary and cumulative. Implementation Plans will include short-, medium- and long-term actions, reflecting our awareness that becoming a more sustainable organization will be an ongoing, collaborative process.

MTO's Sustainability Planning Cycle
Figure 2 - MTO's Sustainability Planning Cycle

A Closer Look at Future Demographics in Ontario

By 2031, it is projected that:

  • Ontario’s population will increase by 28 per cent, a gain of almost 3.7 million people.
  • The number of seniors will more than double, increasing from 1.8 million to 3.7 million.
  • The population of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will increase by almost 38 per cent and will comprise 46.7 per cent of Ontario’s total population.
  • Northern Ontario’s population is projected to grow by 0.8 per cent. It is expected that this growth will be concentrated in the northeast, while the northwest experiences slow population decline.
Ontario’s Long-Term Report on the Economy (2010)