Political activities and your agency

Over the past six months, The Federation has been tracking developments and informing members about changes to the Income Tax Act regarding the political activities of charities (as well as how such changes may be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency). As part of this work, The Federation also submitted feedback to the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector and encouraged members to do so as well.

Background and new developments 

In November, legislation passed that changed the rules governing the political activities charities. These changes were informed by the Senate Special Committee and were included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018.

Last month, the Canada Revenue Agency issued draft guidance explaining how the CRA would administer those changes to the Income Tax Act allowing charities to carry on unlimited public policy dialogue and development activities that advance their stated charitable purpose.

For additional background info on this issue, please check out these past updates to Federation members.

How will your organization be affected?

On March 6th, Imagine Canada is hosting a free webinar that will explain how the CRA’s draft guidance allowing unlimited public policy dialogue and development activities (P2D2As—formerly referred to as “political activities”) came to be, what the changes mean, and how your organization will be affected.

The webinar will be presented in English followed by a bilingual Q&A. Only the first 100 participants who register here will be able to join the live presentation but the recording and related materials will be sent to everyone who registers.

The webinar will be hosted by Susan Manwaring, the national lead of the Social Impact Group at Miller Thomson LLP and a member of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities and Bill Schaper, the Director of Public Policy in Imagine Canada’s Ottawa office.

A few final thoughts

Given where we were at six or seven months ago, our sector should be pleased about this outcome. Whether your organization is a charity or not, we all need to continue supporting and protecting the rights of advocates and making clear our collective commitment to social justice. And that means we need to push back when we are being silenced.

I am proud that The Federation and our members helped support and inform the Special Senate Committee. Our sector has a direct window into people’s lives and lived experiences and, as many Federation members would agree, that means we have an inherent responsibility to be advocates—both for our organizations and the people we serve.

This is a move in the right direction. These changes will help make social care more sustainable and protect the voices of advocates across the country. It also shows that real change is possible when caring and committed people band together.

For more information about the CRA changes and to register for the webinar, please visit the Imagine Canada website.

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director 

The Federation’s Award for Excellence

Taking time to recognize the work of our colleagues is important. It’s why The Federation devotes time to things like honouring retiring members, thanking outgoing board members, and sharing accreditation news. It’s also why we created the Award for Excellence all the way back in 1995.

The work we do in this sector is hard, often thankless, and people hear more bad news stories than good ones. That’s why we believe it is important to shine a light and celebrate the caring and dedicated people who do this hard, important work day after day. These are the people who lead their teams through difficult times, who build strong relationships that foster good work in the community, and who remain creative and thoughtful even though doing so keeps getting harder and harder. You know who I’m talking about.

The Award for Excellence recognizes and honours these people, the ones who don’t often get recognized; it encourages our members to hold each other up and support one another in their work. And to me, taking time to honour the work of one person in this sector also honours the work of everyone in this sector. It gives us a moment to reflect on what makes for great social care leaders and allows us to truly see the people working with us and the contributions they make.

Nominate a colleague today!

I encourage you to reach out and tell someone how their work has inspired you, how they helped you, or how they taught you something valuable. Our sector is full of exceptional and caring people and this is a time to honour them. Yes, the people in our sector are often more humble than others, but I believe that there is space for appreciation and thankfulness within that humility.

So take a moment to consider nominating someone you know for The Federation’s Award for Excellence. The application deadline is March 29th. The nomination form and more information (including past recipients) can be found here.​

Rebecca Ataya Lang
Director of Programs and Services

Research Bulletin February 2019: Social Sector Collaboration

This month’s research bulletin focuses on articles and reports about successful collaboration and improving collaborative initiatives in the social sector.

The reports below explore the interpersonal and systemic aspects of collaborative efforts as well as the factors and approaches that lend themselves to successful collaboration. They explore the concepts of social capital and whole-person care and identify barriers to collaboration and common pitfalls to avoid.

  1. Street Level Divergence in the Functioning of Social Welfare Networks
  2. Whole Person Care in Underresourced Communities
  3. Delivering Integrated Care: The Role of the Multidisciplinary Team
  4. The Need for Cross-Sector Collaboration

For more information, additional research, and/or if you have feedback about how we can make this member service more useful, please contact The Federation’s Research and Policy Coordinator, Pam Alcorn at pam@fcssbc.ca. Subscribe to get future Research Bulletins sent directly to your inbox!

1. Street Level Divergence in the Functioning of Social Welfare Networks (US 2017)

This article focuses on a study of community partnerships and interagency collaborations in the state of Virginia. The authors examined the process side of collaborative efforts in order to better understand the “divergences” that occur between the management and front-line participants and the impact these have.

The article groups the underlying process-related aspects of collaboration into two broad dimensions: the relational and systemic. The relational dimension includes factors that reinforce or produce social capital—things like trust, internal legitimacy, commitment, and knowledge flows. The systemic dimension includes factors that reinforce or shape the procedural arrangements of collaborative networks—the mode and frequency of interactions, the degrees of autonomy, and the clarity around roles.

According to the authors, collaborating includes a higher degree of risk to participants (compared to coordination or cooperation) so the linkages in a collaborative network require more formality than in those other types of working relationships. Collaboration also requires larger amounts of social capital, which takes time to develop and often requires targeted investments and activities. In other words, successful collaborations require both investments in developing social capital (relational) and efforts to establish the appropriate level of formality (systemic).

2. Whole Person Care in Under-resourced Communities (US 2018)

This article reports the findings of a study of community-wide mental health interventions in Los Angeles. The goal of the study was to better understand how collaboration occurs in under-resourced communities and how it might be improved. The study provides an illustrative example of how multi-sector collaboration among agencies may help address the complex mental health needs of individuals.

Addressing the needs of clients often requires linking them to resources offered by other agencies. And, according to the authors, the success of this crucial step is informed by the levels of understanding and coordination among a wider network of agencies addressing different needs and issues. As such, the biggest barriers to collaboration are the challenges that arise when linking clients to other services—staff shortages, lack of electronic health records, and poor staff training.

This study’s findings are consistent with the experience of BC service providers and the authors suggest that future research and initiatives must focus on improving mechanisms to effectively and efficiently provide integrated services and identify different strategies to do so. There also remains a need for much more research on community-based collaborative coalitions.

3. Delivering Integrated Care: The Role of the Multidisciplinary Team (UK 2018)

This web article from the UK’s Social Care Institute for Excellence explains the concept of multi-disciplinary teams and promotes them as one way for practitioners in health and social care sectors to collaborate more successfully.

The article suggests that, in some circumstances, such multi-disciplinary collaborative teams will result in positive outcomes for people and their families as well as improved job satisfaction for the professionals and practitioners working on and with the teams. However, this is not guaranteed; there is also evidence that, if not well organized, such teams can have no impact or even a negative impact.

The article explores both the pitfalls and opportunities of multi-disciplinary teams and offers case studies that illustrate the different ways to support groups of professionals and practitioners to collaborate successfully. It also includes key definitions, existing evidence, and a list of the “enablers” that need to be in place to ensure a team’s success: clear purpose, institutional support, clear leadership, evidence and evaluation, and role diversity.

4. The Need for Cross-Sector Collaboration (US 2018)

This short article by the Stanford Social Innovation Review explores how we can develop the capacity to lead collaboratively and some ways to more effectively work across sectors. According to the authors (and the secondary sources they refer to in the conclusion), the capacity to be an effective cross-sector leader is not merely the result of moving between sectors or a collection of traits to be hired for. Instead, collaborative leadership is the product of a series of mind-sets and skills that can be effectively developed.

According to the authors, the goal of collaboration (and the gift it offers) is the possibility of using differences as an asset—differences in resources, experience, demographics, and sector as well as differences in perspective (such as assessments of risk, time, and scale). As such, cross-sector leaders must recognize that the most robust and sustainable solutions will come from designing with (and not just for) the communities most affected. They must also be able to address power dynamics effectively, build trust, and help team members address any breaches of the shared culture they are developing (factors that echo the “relational dimension” of successful collaboration mentioned in the first article).


Altogether better: Help us tell the stories of social care in BC

As many of you know, next month with be marked as Community Social Service Awareness Month in BC. It is an opportunity to recognize and raise awareness about the value of social care and the impact our sector has on the lives of vulnerable children, youth, and families in this province.

The unfortunate truth is that many people don’t understand that government social workers are only one half of the puzzle. They don’t know about the other half—about us. Few people understand that many of the social services provided by government are actually delivered by community organizations. The fact that this isn’t widely known is a big problem when it comes to advocating for a better social care system.

It’s also the reason you won’t hear much about Community Social Service Awareness Month. All of our dedicated, hard-working staff would rather do the work than explain why it’s important. They’re too busy caring for foster children, the elderly, the homeless, and people with addictions.

Raising awareness about community social services

Most people are aware of nurses and teachers and doctors and the role they play in society. We need to make them just as aware of the youth support workers, foster parents, counsellors, outreach workers, and countless others that make our communities happy and healthy.

That’s why we’re planning something special for this year’s Community Social Service Awareness Month. We are going to partner with our member organizations (any and all Federation members that want to take part) to create an awareness campaign of editorials and social media posts that tell the story of our sector and raise awareness about social care.

Imagine community newspapers across the province running op-eds written by those very same youth support workers, foster parents, counsellors, and outreach workers all telling their story—why they do this work, what kinds of services and supports are available that people might not know about, and the impact these programs have on local communities. Our goals are to inspire people to support these community programs and to invite people to access support.

Supporting social care and accessing support

Don’t worry. Our Federation staff will do most of the heavy lifting. All you need to do is connect us with a staff member willing to share their story and talk about why they do what they do. After a short interview, our team will craft an op-ed draft for you to review and send to the press and also prepare posts for your social media platforms. Contact our Communications Coordinator at marshall@fcssbc.ca today if you or a coworker of yours want to take part.

This Federation believes that social care is a human right. And as such, people need to know that the supports you offer are available to them. The social care sector has been ignored and misunderstood for a long time and we need to change that. Let’s show the province of BC what it really means to be Altogether better. Our Federation members work in over 250 communities across BC and each community has a story that needs to be told. We hope to hear from you soon!

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director