What is a mutual company? What is mutuality? We often start by telling people it’s a sharing ideal or concept of togetherness. We are member owned and put people over profits in every action taken. This idea drives our community and people focus. But what does mutuality really mean? What does it mean to us as a company? What does it mean to our members?
The concept of mutuality has always been at the heart of our business. The focus on our members means we are accountable to them & their communities in everything we do. From the insurance packages we create, to the claims and risk services provided, we pride ourselves in taking care of our members! Over the years we have developed many different ways to support them not only in the worst of cases, but sometimes in the best of cases. We developed a process that immediately reacts to our members needs and provides meaningful assistance that has a lasting impact. This approach was designed to support the continued development of rural Ontario, not just maintain the status quo. So, in 2014, ROOTS was established.
ROOTS, standing for Recognizing Our Opportunity To Support, focuses on five main areas: Agriculture, Mental Wellness, Emergency Response, Environment & Sustainability and Healthcare. The fund allows us to contribute to the success of the organizations requesting funds and the community they support. Since it’s inception, ROOTS has supported over 290 organizations each playing a significant role in their community.
Commitment to Our Mental Health
The stigma surrounding mental health and access to resources, is getting better, but needs to be addressed by everyone. Farmers especially, work in a very volatile environment with limited control over many factors that contribute to the success or failure of their operation. With long work hours, uncertain weather conditions, machinery problems and financial hardships all working against them.
CMHA – In The Know Program
In 2021, ROOTS supported the Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario (CMHA) with the roll out of the “In the Know” program. This program focuses on directly improving mental health literacy across Ontario. Camille Quenneville, CEO Of CMHA said, “Trillium’s generous contribution of $50,000 was the catalyst for us to support the agricultural community with mental health awareness and suicide prevention training”. “In The Know” is an evaluated mental health literacy training program for farmers and people who work with farmers. Which increases participants’ mental health knowledge and confidence in recognizing mental health struggles. The program also addresses speaking about mental health and helping others who are struggling.
AgScape – Teacher Ambassador Program
Most recently, ROOTS supported AgScape, an Ontario based organization that empowers youth across Ontario to understand their roles in our food system. The $20,000 donation went towards expanding their educator resources and Teacher Ambassador Program. These tools inspire Ontario students to look at the future and see themselves as playing different roles in the agriculture industry. This also provided us the opportunity to speak with one of their recent Teaching Excellence in Agriculture & Food Education winners, Nigel Carlisle, who uses hands on learning, over tests & books, to inform and educate his students about their food. We were able to bring his story to our members and the ag community through our rural focused podcast “The Back 40”.
Women’s House Serving Bruce-Grey
Another organization, that plays a huge role in our community, is the Women’s House Serving Bruce-Grey, which provides a haven for victims and/or survivors of violence. Being free and not having to worry about abuse are basic human rights. However, especially in rural areas these services and programs are often not as readily available. The Women’s House provides a supportive environment in which those in need can access shelter services, community counselling, next step support and many other educational & assistance services. Here is what Mary Smith, Property Manager, had to say about the impact of the ROOTS donation on their organization and the community:
- “Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey (WHSBG) will now be able to renovate their backyard to allow an area for women & their children to relax, plant vegetables, and safely play. Our shelter facilities have added security features that public places don’t have, to help to make the women & children who have left abusive homes to feel safer while they stay with us. Leaving the facility to go to for a walk or to the park may not be safe for some. Having a safe and secure site is very important to their well-being. The safety factor is of utmost importance, but having a chance to get outside, breathe fresh air and socialize can be very healing. This can mean a huge difference to their overall well-being and will be an extremely welcomed addition.”
Through the Emergency Response and Healthcare categories ROOTS supports several Hospitals, Fire Stations and other organizations that provide vital services. Not having access to these services would be detrimental to the well-being & sustainability of rural communities. Hospitals are often looking to expand, increase service offerings or purchase new equipment. Fire Stations need training resources, extrication, water, and other pieces of rescue equipment. Towns, Libraries and other public buildings are sometimes in need of defibrillators and other safety tools.
Commitment to the Environment
Being in the insurance industry we are keenly aware of the risks posed by climate change. We recognize how we can play a role to protect and preserve our natural environment. Through ROOTS we have provided support for research initiatives, education & restoration programs. Each playing a different role in helping preserve our natural environment.
A few organizations that have received funding through ROOTS to continue their work include:
- Peninsula Bruce Trail Club (construction of a staircase to replace an unsafe hand cable)
- Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (help replace part of the boardwalk to improve access)
- Pine Rive Watershed Initiative (supported their Seedling Program to provide youth an opportunity to plant & learn about the watershed)
- Guelph to Goderich Trail (supported a bridge restoration along the trail to encourage more use)
- Maitland Conservation (funds to purchase equipment needed to complete a research study)
ROOTS is just one way we work towards further reducing our emissions and educating ourselves about reducing our impact on the environment. Through energy efficient lighting, furniture made from recyclable materials, the ability to harvest rain water, along with multiple other design features our office building achieved the Gold Standard from Canada’s Green Building Council (the highest standard possible in a rural area). Our fleet vehicles are hybrid and we continue working towards a paperless office. We believe that by understanding our role we can align our actions to support positive change, ultimately benefiting everyone!
The Mutual Way
The concept of mutuality drives the decisions we make. We understand the challenges of the community and its members better than anyone else. How? We work, live, our kids play sports, we shop, support and know the communities we work in. For more than a century, we have built relationships, developed roots and had our finger on the pulse of change. This is what makes a mutual different. We have grown with the communities we protect and can respond quickly to support them.
Insurance provides us the means to act and recognize quickly when change is needed. Mutual Insurance in its most basic form is “people helping people”. Whether through tailored products, educational resources, philanthropy and more, everything we do is to benefit our members and their community. Without them, we couldn’t have continued for over 135 years, and maintained our promise to protect & enhance farm and community lifestyles across Ontario.