The BC Election: Putting social issues on the agenda

Those of you who have been following The Federation’s election strategy efforts will know that our organization is focusing on two main goals:

  1. We want social issues to make it onto the agendas of a greater number of candidates and politicians across the province.
  2. We also want a greater number of eligible voters across the province to better understand the breadth and impact of the social issues facing BC.

One of the ways we are doing this is by trying to counter the narrative that BC is actually doing great. In fact, we’ve been trying to challenge this prosperity narrative for over a year (and have had a number of editorials picked up by news outlets over the past 12 months).

The attitude that B.C. is strong and prosperous continues to be harmful to the social care sector and the people it serves. Such language places more value on some lives (those who are doing OK) than others (those who are struggling) and it lowers the bar for what people consider a healthy, functioning society.

The notion that we can only afford to help people in prosperous times is just as harmful. Any good parent would starve before they let their children go hungry, and by that same principle, we should be challenging any government that says it can’t afford to take care of its most vulnerable.

I know it can be tricky to push back against such posturing—especially for charities and especially during an election. However, increasing awareness about social issues can be done in a non-partisan way.

The tools we have created over the recent months support this awareness-raising strategy. To be clear, we aren’t picking sides. The only outcome we are working towards is one in which the next government—whoever it is—strives to do better.

The resources we have created are varied; we know very well that there are different tools for different tasks.

We have created an updated series of ‘Snapshot’ fact sheets to share information on key issues. We have created social media messages to leverage those channels that have a broad reach. We have empowered members to speak with local candidates because we understand the power of real relationships between citizens and their elected officials.

We are also working with our allies to develop materials to inspire the broader community serving sector to get out the vote (check out the posters in the sidebar of this email) and have teamed up with a half-dozen member agencies to produce op-eds by frontline staff about the importance of social care.

I hope you take advantage of these resources. And be sure to let The Federation know what you are doing in your communities. We will share these stories in the coming weeks so our members can inspire and motivate each other in the lead up to May 9.

Later this months, The Federation will also be formally asking each major party a series of questions about their stance on social care issues in order to clarify (on the record) each party’s position.

Whoever forms the next government will only care about these issues as much as we make them care; they will only know as much as we are willing to tell them. Let’s make sure every single candidate knows what’s at stake.