Durham Catholic board named among Canada’s best employers

  • February 3, 2024

The Durham Catholic District School Board has been recognized by Forbes as one of Canada’s best employers in 2024. 

Forbes’ magazine’s annual employee review was unveiled in late January to aid job candidates in finding employers that are offering essential benefits as well as to assist companies in meeting ever-evolving employee expectations. 

The list is compiled in collaboration with the market research firm Statista, where independent surveys from a vast sample of over 40,000 Canada-based employees were conducted. The Durham board ranked 118th, the highest of any school board in Ontario. 

Director of education Tracy Barill said that the recognition was not something the school board had applied for and was honoured to be represented. 

“I’ve always been really proud of the work that we do here at Durham Catholic,” Barill said. “It’s just been so nice to receive this kind of accolade from an organization that is looking so diligently at employers across all of Canada.” 

The final score consisted of two separate evaluations, the first looking at current and former employee’s opinions of their employer. The second and arguably tougher evaluation is public, allowing participants to evaluate other employers in their respective industries. 

Barill believes its commitment to local communities played a big part in the board’s final score. 

“We are very fortunate to be a board with a size that is large enough to allow us to have good financial grounding and to be able to do lots of programs, but we’re also small enough to be able to form direct personal relationships with a large majority of our staff,” Barill said. “I think that contributes to the sense of belonging and community that makes (DCDSB) such a nice place for people to work.” 

Board chair Monique Forster touted the urgency with which the board operates to ensure staff are supported.

“It’s also a very welcoming place for newcomers, people that join the board as employees find that we try to do everything we can to embrace everyone that comes into our system,” said Forster. 

The DCDSB serves approximately 22,500 students in Durham Region east of Toronto. The board prides itself on its commitment to integrating the teachings of the Gospel with educational programs that guide students in their journeys to meeting the Catholic Graduate Expectations. 

Forster spoke to the importance of the school’s Catholic standing and the pride it takes in being a representative of Catholic values on this year’s Forbes’ list. 

“We make faith formation an important pillar of the work we do here. Our success is due in no small part to our faith, we’re looking at everything through the lens of our faith and that helps us every day,” Forster said.

That sentiment is echoed by employees, students from the 46 schools under its jurisdiction and parents. Andrea Jones, mother of a student in his final year at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Ajax, says the board continues to make good on its motto of learning and living in faith.

“I’ve had two children go through the Durham Catholic school system and, as a parent, it has been a positive experience. From Grade 12 art shows to Honour Roll celebrations, it is so nice to see how involved school staff is with students,” Jones said. 

Not content with the honour, Barill says the board will continue to work towards making the DCDSB even more diverse, welcoming and supportive. The board has been drawing from the words and letters of Pope Francis, with last year’s spiritual theme being “listening with the ear of the heart” and 2024’s being “speaking with the heart.” 

“When it comes to thinking about employment relationships, we’re again trying to listen carefully and openly to the experiences of others and then trying to make sure that when we speak, we speak in the manner of God with compassion,” Barill said. “This is going to ensure that our Catholic learning community continues to be a place where everyone feels supported and has a strong sense of belonging.” 

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