stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
CMHC's head charts course for agency as it steers housing affordability program
space
space
By JANET MCFARLAND
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Monday, June 24, 2019 – Page B1

Canada's national housing agency looks nothing like it did when Evan Siddall was appointed five years ago.

The chief executive of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) has overseen a transformation of the Crown corporation since 2014, shifting CMHC's focus from its long-time role as Canada's largest mortgage insurer to a new role as the front-line administrator of the Liberal government's National Housing Strategy, a program of loans and grants to fund housing for vulnerable groups.

CMHC has been tapped as the agency to oversee $55-billion in spending on new housing initiatives over 10 years, a mandate that has sparked a top-to-bottom restructuring of the agency's work force, management roles, technology and even office space. The retooling has cost more than $300-million and has had an impact on virtually every internal job.

Now with the clock ticking down on Mr. Siddall's current term as CEO, his focus is shifting to a new task: making the public understand what CMHC stands for today.

Mr. Siddall is planning a rebranding of CMHC as it shifts further from its traditional role as a provider of mortgage insurance for home buyers who do not have 20-per-cent down payments.

In a recent interview, Mr. Siddall said he wants to focus on the agency's mandate to provide affordable housing for vulnerable groups such as the homeless, women fleeing violence and Indigenous people.

"We are all about housing affordability in this country for everybody," he said.

The National Housing Strategy mandate returns CMHC to a role it hasn't played for decades, directly overseeing funding decisions for assisted-housing projects and apartment construction by developers and social-service groups.

Earlier this year, CMHC unveiled its new "aspirational goal" to ensure everyone in Canada has a home they can afford by 2030.

Mr. Siddall said the goal creates a central vision for a changing organization, even if there is no guarantee that Canada's housing issues can be solved in the next 11 years.

"Maybe we don't get there, but we'll get closer to it because we're thinking about things that way," he said.

Mr. Siddall said several waves of reorganization have made the agency less bureaucratic and more business-focused. And he added that the internal restructuring is his proudest accomplishment since moving into the CEO job.

The first round in 2014 saw CMHC cut 200 of about 2,000 jobs as it reorganized business units.

More than 500 other people changed roles in the process.

In the next wave, CMHC spent $140-million on changing all of the agency's technology systems, many of which are now outsourced to a third-party provider.

The agency spent a further $130-million transforming its Ottawa headquarters, which included vacating three of four office buildings and consolidating in a single, remodelled building.

The greatest internal shift was caused by a major staff restructuring as CMHC moved employees into new housing programs. Mr.

Siddall said the agency divided all of the organization's jobs into an operations business, where programs such as the traditional mortgage-insurance business are run and a client-facing group that helps developers and social agencies navigate the new housing programs.

CMHC developed a new organizational chart for management positions and, in early 2019, asked employees to apply for jobs they were interested in filling, giving priority to people who were "displaced" in the restructuring.

About one-third of the work force - 657 employees - expressed interest in a new job, including 75 per cent of those displaced in the restructuring, according to a case study on CMHC's transformation published in May by the Harvard Business Review.

CMHC also introduced a "results-only work environment," which is a structure that allows people to work from home and set their own hours as long as they meet targets and get work done.

Mr. Siddall said CMHC's new structure allows the agency to make decisions more quickly and be more responsive to client needs.

"What I really want to be remembered for is unleashing the effectiveness of 1,900 people who work at that place," he said.

The downside of the agency's dramatic changes is that CMHC has faced several years of internal disruption. There was a "palpable sense of anxiety and stress" throughout the restructuring process, according to an employee quoted in the Harvard Business Review case study.

Mr. Siddall, meanwhile, said there is no plan for CMHC to abandon its mortgage-insurance business, which has seen its volumes decline because of several new mortgage-borrowing restrictions introduced in the past five years.

While the agency now has slightly less than half the Canadian market for mortgage insurance - with two private-sector companies also competing in the sector - he said the business is needed in times of crisis.

In 2008, for example, privatesector mortgage lenders virtually withdrew from the market as the U.S. housing sector crashed, and CMHC played a key role in providing liquidity to keep mortgage lending flowing in Canada, he said.

Tom Davidoff, a business professor at the University of British Columbia, said it makes sense for CMHC to retain an ability to play a stabilizing role in the housing market in times of crisis, even as it shifts direction in the rest of its business.

He added that CMHC's new role as a direct lender under the Trudeau government's National Housing Strategy is not as much of a mandate stretch as it might appear.

"They are already in the mortgage business one way or the other, so I don't think it's necessarily problematic mission-creep," he said.

Mr. Siddall's appointment as CEO was initially for a five-year term, expiring at the end of 2018, but the term was extended last year and now expires at the end of 2020.

Mr. Siddall said he has not had discussions about whether he will stay longer.

"We'll have a conversation at some point, late this year or beginning of next year. There's going to be an election and that's got to happen first, so I know who I'm speaking to and then we'll see," he said.

While Mr. Siddall is not closing the door on staying longer, the Harvard Business Review article on CMHC said the agency has already launched a search for a new CEO to replace him.

But a CMHC spokesman said no CEO search has actually been launched.

"I can confirm that no search has started," Jonathan Rotondo said in an e-mailed statement.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Eric_Reguly Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page