In 1963, “personnel” employees in a variety of municipalities met to determine the need to share information and ideas. This group of nine individuals held its initial meeting in the Walper Hotel, Kitchener, and from that discussion the Ontario Municipal Personnel Association (OMPA) was created.
Norm Mackenzie was elected the first President of OMPA. That group foresaw the need to maintain contact, share information, experiences and discuss ways to proactively deal with emerging trends and legislation in the personnel field which was very much in its infancy.
The early meetings were informal but extremely useful. Members examined common interests, shared best practices, and formulated joint positions for collective bargaining and emerging issues. Not the least important was the inclusion of other municipal personnel members who could network with their peers and discuss challenging issues of the day.
The evolution of the personnel function was dramatic over the next thirty years. What started in Ontario municipalities as a policing and processing function became a vital part of the organization where human resources was considered to be an integral part of the success of a municipality. Likewise, OMPA went from a membership of nine in 1963 to a vibrant association of one hundred and seventy-six members, representing one hundred and twenty-seven municipalities by 1993.
In 1994 two notable developments affected our organization. In recognition of the growing use of the term “Human Resources” rather than “Personnel”, the name of the association was changed to the Ontario Municipal Human Resources Association (OMHRA). As well, the first conference after the name change was again held in the Walper Hotel in Kitchener. These two events symbolized the value of the association as looking forward while remaining firmly grounded in the hard work and wisdom of those original members.
As of August 2019, we have over 500 members in almost 220 municipalities. As the rate of change continues to escalate, and our municipalities become increasingly challenged to meet their obligations – the next fifty years promise to be even more exciting!