Longtime CAO McCormick to retire by end of year: DRRSB

Daniel McCormick, CAO at the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board (RRDSSAB), now known as the District of Rainy River Services Board (DRRSB) as of yesterday, will celebrate his retirement at the end of this year.

Starting work at DRRSB as the health services manager in 2002, McCormick was officially appointed CAO in 2012.

After many years of serving underprivileged communities, advocating with stakeholders and the government as a way to drive change and try to help improve the district, McCormick says his last official day on the job will be December 31, 2023.

“It’s been an amazing career for me. I’ve met so many people that are trying so hard to change things. And sometimes things can change very quickly but sometimes it’s a lengthy process. And it’s amazing how focused people are to keep pushing the ball forward. So I hope the district keeps going the same way,” he said.

Born and raised in Atikokan, McCormick has always been deeply committed to making a positive impact on the lives of others.

As president of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA), McCormick met with colleagues in social services across the province, building great relationships with various service deliverers.

Despite his focus on social services in the province for many decades, McCormick admitted that he never figured out what he wanted to be when he was younger.

McCormick started his career as a certified millwright, welder, and machinist who worked at Hydro for 13 years. This was back in the 1980s, he says, when ambulance services in the north were on a volunteer-basis.

“Working as a millwright gave me an appreciation for the repairs and maintenance of buildings. So that’s probably helped me most in both the housing and the paramedic field,” he said.

“We did a lot on call. If we ever got called in on an ambulance call, and it ran into our normal regular shift of Hydro, Hydro would cover us off just as good corporate citizens for the communities.”

McCormick eventually left his position at Hydro to work in Atikokan as the ambulance manager.

He also completed his paramedic diploma at Confederation College and previously served as chief of paramedic services for many years. He belonged to the Ontario Paramedics Chiefs Association and was an executive in various roles, from secretary to vice president, for almost 12 years.

When beginning work at DRRSB, he was assigned to be the health services manager but also took on paramedic chief roles.

As CAO for DRRSB, McCormick was responsible for overseeing community housing, children’s services, Ontario Works and paramedic services.

“It’s been a really big learning curve,” he said. “Luckily, I’ve been changing as everything else is changing around too.”

McCormick says he is quite proud that they’ve built six childcare centres across the district and that they have just started breaking ground with a new childcare centre in Rainy River.

“A huge accomplishment for just the childcare centres alone, I think it’s about a $17 million investment in the district,” he said.

In addition, he said he’s proud of the acquisition of St. Michael’s School in Fort Frances for seniors apartments, the transformation of a church for the Safe Bed program run by partners at the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the establishment of up to 14 warming centres that operate seasonally.

Throughout all his years, one of his biggest motivators was simply trying to make the community better.

“In ambulance, you’re always trying to do something better to help the patient survive or get better. So I think that’s sort of the underlying cause. And I guess part of the reason I went into the CAOs role was, you can complain about stuff not being done, but if you can get out there and actually start to make change — and this role has a lot of options for advocacy with our stakeholders, in our communities, with government, with other agencies — so it was a way to drive change and try to help improve the district and our outcomes.”

DRRSB received a good number of applicants interested in the new CAO role. Now that the job posting has been taken down, the board will conduct interviews shortly then a hiring decision will be made.

While McCormick is not involved in the hiring process, he says he will help the new CAO get settled in. He believes that it’s important to have a plan and good foresight about the area.

In the meantime, the next few months are “business like usual.”

McCormick says his wife, who is head of the local legal clinic, will also retire by the end of March next year.

“It’s hard to go from 100 miles an hour to zero,” he said.

With a large trailer and plans to become snowbirds that travel to escape the cold, McCormick says he looks forward to relaxing in retirement.

He adds that he sees himself staying deeply involved in the community and will find ways to volunteer in his free time.

Elisa Nguyen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times