It’s time for change

The B.C. government’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services will begin its annual province-wide public consultations next week. These consultations give citizens, groups, and organizations the opportunity to provide input on the priorities for our next provincial budget. Each fall, The Federation develops a submission for the committee and makes a presentation. This year is no exception.

Over the past few years, we have also encouraged our members to make presentations in their own communities. We have supported these efforts by creating and providing toolkits containing statistics, quotes, and key messages. However, many members have let us know that, while you value the opportunity to put the needs of your communities in front of decision makers, in many cases you simply don’t have the capacity to prepare and present your own submissions.

As we considered The Federation’s approach to this year’s consultations, we felt it was important to acknowledge this context. We want to support, inform, and empower our membership. But we don’t want to unnecessarily add to the already long to-do lists that our members face.

When Al Etmanski spoke at our Social Policy Forum in February, he spoke about our “paralyzed” government—a government paralyzed by a short attention span, an aversion to risk, and limited policy and research capacity. And he reminded us that if a friend of ours was paralyzed, we would make accommodations that help them perform at their peak.

A new breed of advocate is emerging that follows this principle. Advocates that work towards possibilities, opportunities, and progress. He calls these solution-based advocates.

This has been the common theme of our presentations to the Select Standing Committee over the past few years and we will continue with this approach. We will help the committee understand the complexity of the social issues we are trying to address and explain that simple solutions will not be enough to solve these complex problems. We will explain the need for better problem solving and the rationale for increased investment in community social services across B.C.

Yes, money is being spent. But while a funding announcement here and a new program there definitely help the people in those particular communities, this piecemeal approach only treats the symptoms of the problem showing a lack of overarching vision for addressing the root causes.

Our team is currently hard at work updating our media tracking database, our provincial snapshots, and other research. The picture they portray is one where British Columbians are no better off than they were a year ago:
1. B.C. continues to have one of the highest poverty rates in the country.
2. 1 in 5 children in B.C. lives in poverty.
3. Senior families incomes dropped by 5.7% and B.C. single seniors income dropped by 6.3% drop since 2013.

We are deeply concerned about the continual lack of investment in social care and are equally concerned about the manner in which our government is attempting to solve these problems. It is our responsibility to raise these issues and we will continue to do so until we see real and substantial change. It’s long overdue.

Contact us to learn more

If you want to know more about The Federation’s approach to these consultations, please contact me at The Federation office. If you plan to present in your community and would like resources (key messages, statistics, quotes) from The Federation to aid you in this work, just let us know.

You can learn how to register to present in your community, view the schedule of consultation locations, and learn more about the Select Standing Committee here.