Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative


Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative’s intervention supports organizations in engaging peers as equal partners in the design, delivery, and review of services. When we say peers, we mean individuals and families with lived experience of mental health and addictions, but also those that have been pushed to the margins or experienced disproportionately negative health outcomes.


This systems change effort is a direct response to feedback from community members on the need to improve the appropriateness of services for the diverse and evolving communities that make up North York and City of York. It aims to increase appropriateness by addressing social isolation, one of the most influential determinants of mental health, through the enhanced role of peers (or people with lived experience) in services across sectors.


The Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative acknowledges that it is not enough to simply engage people with lived experience.  We also need to ensure that spaces are supportive, equitable, and responsive to their participation.

This overall change will be realized through action on three core components:

  • Critical Reflective Practice: creating the space and support for service providers to reflect on and respond to their individual and organizational position and behaviours.
  • Addressing Inequalities: using anti-oppression principles to build a foundation for equitable engagement within organizations.
  • Co-Learning (co-review, co-design, and co-delivery): engaging individuals and families with lived experience as partners in the review, design, and delivery of services.

  • A small number of model agencies from across sectors in North York and City of York who are committed to implementing ‚ÄėPeer Positive‚Äô changes over time and sharing their experience.
  • Approximately one dozen experimenting agencies that are trying out aspects of the intervention to build readiness for full implementation.
  • A crowd of individual champions, including service providers and individuals with lived experience, who are participating in the process and spreading the intervention through their own practices and networks.

The Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative is working toward the following outcomes through the ‚ÄúPeer Positive‚ÄĚ intervention:

Short Term Outcomes:

  • Staff, managers, and leaders feel that they have the space and support to reflect, learn, and adapt
  • Organizations are actively implementing policy and practice changes to address inequities
  • Individuals and families feel that their voice is valued as an equal in services
Long Term Outcomes:

  • Staff, managers and leaders feel that there is a culture of learning throughout their organization and the system
  • More forms of oppression in services are being identified and addressed, creating safer spaces for engagement
  • The community feels that the supports provided are enhancing their individual and collective capacities
These outcomes will be monitored through ongoing decision support systems that include:

  1. Digital storytelling to reveal individual perspectives and experiences related to engagement,
  2. An organization learning tool to facilitate agency goal setting and tracking; and
  3. A ‚ÄėState of the System‚Äô Report that will highlight aggregate progress and systems-level barriers.

Through a staggered roll-out, initial implementation will begin and infrastructure will be developed in late 2014 and early 2015. The implementation plan includes targeted implementation supports to initiate and sustain the intended practice and policy changes within organizations from across sectors, in partnership with individuals and families with lived experience. While implementation will begin shortly, it is acknowledged that many of these changes will take years to realize. Organizations and individuals are starting where they can to implement changes and will work toward the Collaborative’ s long-term vision over the next decade.




This starter kit is designed to help you get the Peer Positive initiative going within your organization. It is a rough prototype. It is not meant to be perfect, but something to get us started that we can improve as we go.

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Northwest Toronto Needs Validation Report NEEDS VALIDATION REPORT

Summarizes themes and priorities from discussions with the NWT Service Collaborative and community members. It has informed the focus of its systems change efforts within North York and City of York.

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Northwest Toronto Intervention Overview INTERVENTION OVERVIEW

A reference guide for the 'Peer Positive' intervention that has been developed by the NWT Service Collaborative. It outlines the intervention's core components, levels of change, and expected outcomes. It also explains implementation supports available to implementing agencies.

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Examples of the Intervention in Action EXAMPLES OF THE INTERVENTION IN ACTION

A series of short "comic strips" that show how the Peer Positive intervention might look in action at different kinds of organizations.

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Peer Positive Launch - November 13, 2014

Close to fifty service providers, youth, and family members gathered at Lawrence Heights Community Centre to launch the Peer Positive initiative. The launch was a milestone for the Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative, marking an important shift from planning to action. The main goals of the session were to: (1) build understanding about the Peer Positive initiative; and (2) enhance the capacity for members to get Peer Positive started.

Click here for report.

Intervention Town Hall (September 11, 2014)

The main goals of the Intervention Town Hall were to: (1) share and gather feedback on the refined intervention and implementation strategy, (2) build a collective vision for the system based on the intervention, and (3) identify barriers to achieving the vision and strategies to overcome these barriers.

Click here for report.

Design Jam (July 10, 2014)

The purpose of the Design Jam was to collaboratively build out ‚Äėprototypes‚Äô of the desired systems change. In small groups, Service Collaborative members and Youth Advisory Group members rolled up their sleeves to generate ideas on possible outcomes, policies, and tools that would enhance equity and engagement of individuals with lived experience at formal and informal access points. The Meeting Report [link] details the creative process that was followed and the ideas that participants developed.

Click here for report.

Sixth Meeting (May 6, 2014)

The main goals of the Sixth Meeting were: (1) to build an understanding of how the preliminary intervention might look in action in different kinds of organizations and under different circumstances, and (2) to refine and clarify the core components of an intervention model that can be used to make the desired systems changes.

Click here for report.

Fifth Meeting (March 20, 2014)

The goals of the Fifth Meeting were: (1) to review relevant models of evidence‚Äźinformed systems changes, (2) to identify promising components that could contribute to a comprehensive intervention, (3) develop ‚Äėtiny tests‚Äô that participants could conduct at the agencies to learn more about promising intervention components.

Click here for report.

Fourth Meeting (April 9, 2014)

The goals for the Fourth Meeting were: (1) to unpack the meaning of ‚Äėaccess to appropriate services,‚Äô which had been previously identified as the system gap where the Collaborative should focus its attention, (2) to build a shared understanding of what the ‚Äėlocal system‚Äô is and how it operates, and (3) to begin sorting through potential intervention ideas to narrow the focus of future action.

Click here for report.

Third Meeting (January 23, 2014)

The goals for the Third Meeting were: (1) to reach consensus on a clear system gap where the Collaborative could focus its attention and action, and (2) to come up with initial ideas about how that action could take shape.

Click here for report.

Second Meeting (November 21, 2013)

The goals for the Second Meeting were: 1) to narrow our focus within the system by understanding the common needs of children, youth and families in North York and City of York, and 2) to review the structure and process for the service collaborative.

Click here for report.

First Meeting (October 23, 2013)

The goals for the First Meeting were: (1) to share stories about patterns they have witnessed or experienced in the system which they would like to change, and (2) to identify root causes related to difficulties transitioning between different parts of the system to find potential opportunities where small changes within the system could have a large impact on problematic patterns.

Click here for report.

Inaugural Town Hall (September 18, 2013)

The goals for the Inaugural Town Hall were: (1) to introduce the community to the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives [link] initiative, including CAMH’s role as sponsor, and (2) to open a discussion around the prospective impacts of the initiative and of community needs in North York and City of York related to children and youth with mental health and addictions issues and their families.

Click here for report.



SCIT Meeting
(Tuesday, December 2nd, 1:30 - 3:30 pm @ Legion Branch 66, Vimy Room)

HEIA Training
(Friday, December 5th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm @ Legion Branch 66, Main Hall)

SCIT Meeting
(Tuesday, January 13th, 1:30 - 3:30 pm - SCIT Meeting @ Legion Branch 66, Vimy Room)

Service Collaborative Meeting
(Tuesday, January 27th from 1:30 - 4:30 pm @ Legion Branch 66, Main Hall)



The Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative is a group of service providers from across sectors, service users, and community members from North York and the former City of York who have come together to find, create, and implement an innovative solution that will improve the experience of accessing service for children, youth and families with mental health needs. To find out more on this initiative visit:

Please contact Josina Vink (Regional Implementation Coordinator) for more information about the work of the Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative and how you can get involved.