About Touchstone Institute
Touchstone Institute is a non-profit corporation that offers expertise in evaluation and curriculum development to promote public confidence in professional competence in the Canadian workforce. We excel in providing competency-based services in support of successful transitions to training and practice that meet professional and societal needs.
Touchstone Institute fosters strong relationships with key stakeholders to share knowledge, promote dialogue, and implement programs with cross-sectoral impacts. Supported by expertise in simulation, innovation in exam technology, and robust research-based quality assurance, we are expertly prepared to meet the diverse needs of our clients, stakeholders, and partners. We specialize in creating valid and authentic competency-based experiences for internationally educated health professionals.
Public confidence in
To excel in providing competency assessment and education services that meet professional and societal needs.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAIR
Looking Back and Looking Forward
Chair of the Board
It has been a privilege to serve as Chair of the Board for Touchstone Institute during this past year of reflection, looking back and looking forward, as Strategic Planning was the Board’s priority. We focused on how to maximize the exceptional organizational leadership, internal talent, and expertise to find new and innovative ways to ensure that our services are redesigned, using state-of-the-art technology to meet our mission; “to excel in providing competency assessment and education services that meet professional and societal needs.”
The COVID Pandemic has put enormous strain on Ontario’s healthcare system. Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHPs) are part of the solution to achieving a high quality and effective healthcare system. Having the adequate number of skilled and competent professionals to meet the healthcare needs of all Ontarians is essential. Touchstone Institute’s commitment to supporting IEHPs on their journey to practice safely in Ontario continues, despite the unprecedented challenges of the COVID Pandemic.
The COVID Pandemic has seen most of us working from home and isolated, however, facing a common threat can also bring people together. The Board came together with the organization’s leadership team in the fall of 2021 to set our strategic priorities for the next three years.
Considerable time was spent at this year’s Board meetings and at the Strategic Planning Retreats discussing staff challenges, wellness, development opportunities, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA). These discussions came together as our first strategic priority – Engage and Empower Staff.
The second and third most discussed topics that informed strategic priorities two and three, were how to Build and Enhance Strategic Relationships and to Evolve Touchstone Institute’s Business as a Key Contributor to the Provision of Health Human Resources. These priorities focus on business development and affirm the Board’s belief that this is an organization that is worth investing in and has a significant role in supporting Ontario’s healthcare system.
The fourth most discussed topic was technology and informed decision making. Transitioning from in-person only to a suite of virtual programs demanded a technological infrastructure that did not exist pre-pandemic. In April of 2021, a restructuring created a Technology Unit, and a successful search began for a manager to further a technology strategy for the organization. At the same time the Research and Analysis capacity was enhanced. The Board endorsed these investments, leading to our fourth strategic priority, Ensure Technology and Analytics Drive Informed Decision Making and Program Delivery.
The Strategic Plan 2022-2025 is further described in this report and on our website.
In closing, on behalf of the Board, I wish to acknowledge and thank Sten Ardal, CEO and the hard working and dedicated staff at Touchstone Institute who never wavered in their commitment to excellence as they continued to achieve the organization’s mission.
Ella Ferris, Board Chair
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO
Chief Executive Officer
We had to shut down most of our services in 2020-21, focusing that year on re-imagining our services and developing solutions that could be implemented in a pandemic environment. I am proud to say that in this past year we have been able to administer comprehensive interactive learning programs and a full slate of exams. We did this by going virtual, with all our programs transitioned to being either partially or totally online. The response has been extremely positive as virtual programming lessens anxieties about viral exposure and can be experienced anywhere - reducing travel and costs to participants. This transition has been challenging and has required new methodologies, policies, and procedures.
We are very proud to have created live platforms where standardized clients and examiners can interact with our internationally educated learners and examinees. Unique solutions were developed and implemented for pre-residency programs, our communicative competence exam, and for our registered nurse competency evaluation. We have also demonstrated the equivalence of our virtual exams to traditional in-person Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs). Our ability to deliver OSCEs virtually is a significant achievement as other exam administrators have struggled to achieve this. Virtual administration is, however, more complicated and costly.
The widespread adoption of COVID-19 vaccines gave confidence that we could return to in-person examination for OSCE components of exams with the addition of strict safety measures. “Safe OSCEs” require mandatory full vaccination for everybody at our site. Other requirements include masking, barriers, distancing, testing, and modifications or technical enhancements for some interactions.
In 2021-22 we recovered from the brunt of the pandemic, but not all of its profound impacts. Staff mostly worked remotely, we remained below pre-pandemic service volumes, and technology costs had grown. We are seeing these impacts in financial statements that show our first ever deficit. Fortunately, our reserves give us a cushion as we continue to adapt and position ourselves for the future.
Sten Ardal, CEO
Board of Directors
Dr. Hanika Pinto
CONDENSED STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS 2022 Financial Performance
|YEAR END MARCH 31|
|Funding from Ministry of Health||6,407,346||6,458,647|
|Funding from Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development||-||343,706|
|Funding from Employment and Social Development Canada||308,961||-|
|Exam fees, development and application fees||2,685,530||733,907|
|Amortization of deferred capital funding||118,903||190,006|
|Examiners and support staff||2,320,954||730,564|
|Employees salaries and benefits||4,249,649||3,817,101|
|Facility rental and occupancy||1,927,426||1,891,899|
|Bursaries paid out||280,500||279,000|
|Clinical funding transfers||472,175||477,470|
|Other operating expenses||875,884||859,195|
|Excess of Revenues over Expenses||(559,279)||268,382|
|Receivable (Repayable) to Ministry of Health||(193,778)||-|
|Net Excess of Revenue over Expenses||(753,057)||268,382|