The Federation’s focus on advocacy takes different forms at different times. But a big part of this work involves closely monitoring legislative changes and policy developments that affect the well-being of British Columbians.
That’s why we’re providing summaries of some of the changes that will affect our sector and the people we serve the most. A full listing of legislation introduced and enacted over the past year can be found here.
The changes detailed below are the result of years of advocacy by an array of different organizations, people, and partners. These are some of the areas we are seeing tangible policy changes as a result of tireless collaboration and advocacy by many, many people over many, many years.
Thank you for your playing your part in this important, ongoing work.
Federation Executive Director
Poverty Reduction Strategy Act (Bill 39)
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act commits the provincial government to reducing BC’s overall poverty rate by 25% and BC’s child poverty rate by 50% over the next five years.
This new Act defines the scope of the BC Poverty Reduction Strategy and includes a few high-level targets and timelines. It also sets a deadline for the strategy’s completion (March 2019) and mandates the establishment of an independent advisory committee.
The Act requires both accountability (through annual progress reports) and a focus on key issues faced by people living in poverty (including housing, education, employment, income supports, and social inclusion).
- You can access the full Act here.
- Read the government news release.
- The Federation’s latest update to members on this work.
Child, Family, and Community Service Amendment Act (Bill 26)
Amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) are intended to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child-welfare system by increasing the involvement of Indigenous communities in child welfare decisions.
If approved by the legislature, the proposed changes will allow MCFD to share more information with Indigenous communities sooner in order to keep children from coming into care in the first place. It will also give the ministry more opportunities to work collaboratively on planning and caring for Indigenous children by:
- Enabling greater information-sharing between MCFD and Indigenous communities.
- Enabling MCFD to refer child-protection reports to an Indigenous government that has child protection laws.
- Ensuring Indigenous communities receive ongoing notification of legal proceedings affecting their children.
The amendments also replace the term “Aboriginal” with “Indigenous” so as to include children and families who identify as First Nations, Inuit or Métis.
Employer Health Tax Act [Budget Measures Implementation Act] (Bill 44)
This Act, tabled in October 2018, creates a new health tax to be paid by employers which will replace the current Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums which are often paid directly by individuals.
The Employer Health Tax (EHT) will come into effect January 1 2020 and provides some temporary exemptions for small business and charities and non-profits. The Federation and our partners are continuing to advocate with the government about the implementation and exemptions related to the EHT.
- You can access the full Act here.
- Our most recent update to members on EHT advocacy can be found here.
- Additional details about the EHT can be found here.
Employment Standards Act (Bill 6)
Changes to the Employment Standards Act will protect workers who are facing family tragedies and give parents access to extended and more flexible maternity and parental leaves.
New parents will have the option to take a longer unpaid parental leave to care for their new child (up to 18 months of leave for birth parents) without worrying about losing their jobs. These changes will also allow a mother to start their pregnancy leave, also known as maternity leave, as early as 13 weeks before the expected birth date, up from the current 11 weeks.
Additional changes address ensure job-protected leave in cases where children go missing, when children die, or when a family member requires lengthy compassionate care.
Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act (Bill 5)
The Community Care and Assisted Living Act regulates the licensing of community-care facilities, including child-care and residential-care facilities, which offer assistance for seniors, those with developmental disabilities, mental-health and substance-use disorders, and brain injuries.
These legislative changes will create transparency for individuals and facility operators and make sure consistent information is available so families can easily check to see if a facility or residence is operated legally—and whether there have been any substantiated complaints about the care they provide.
Human Rights Code Amendment Act (Bill 50)
This Act will allow the return of an independent human rights commission for BC (eliminated in 2002 leaving us the only province without one). The commissioner will have the key functions of educating British Columbians on human rights as well as examining and addressing issues of discrimination and will have the mandate to develop educational tools, policies and guidelines to promote human rights and combat widespread patterns of inequality and discrimination in society.
Once the legislation has passed, an all-party committee will be formed to unanimously recommend a commissioner who will then be subject to approval by the legislative assembly.