October Projects and Issues Update

As always, The Federation has been focused on a number of ongoing projects and issues on behalf of our members. Your board members, Rebecca, and I have been advocating and bringing forward issues and concerns (as well as ideas, approaches, and solutions) in meetings and on calls. And behind the scenes, our staff team has been just as busy researching, monitoring, and connecting with members, allies, and stakeholders.

This email will update you on a number of issues and initiatives we have been focused on over the past months.

  1. Staffed Residential Care
  2. Re-visioning Inclusion
  3. Recruitment and Retention
  4. Employer Health Tax

If you have any questions about these issues or any other Federation projects or initiatives, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Staffed Residential Care

Since December 2014, The Federation has been working with MCFD’s child welfare policy team to inform the development and implementation of a new caregiver screening policy.

As many of you know, we have made some important progress over the past three years. The initial draft policy was amended taking sector feedback into account and the sector gained access to the consolidated criminal record check process that was previously only available within government.

However, there has since been significant delays in completing the new checks according to the new process. And this has created additional challenges for our members who are already dealing with a tough labour market.

We are continuing to meet with decision-makers within the ministry to raise these (and other) concerns. We have also scheduled two informational webinars about the new criminal record check process for Federation members that will be taking place on October 30 and November 1.

You can contact our Member Services Coordinator at kathy@fcssbc.ca for more information and/or to participate in the upcoming webinars.

Re-visioning Inclusion

The Federation was recently invited to be part of an advisory group hosted by the Ministry for Social Development and Poverty Reduction to re-imagine and explore what community inclusion in BC might look like ten years from now.

The first session took place last week and was both productive and inspiring. People showed up with some clear and insightful ideas about how far we have come and how far we have to go when it comes to thinking about including and supporting community members with disabilities.

At least five more sessions will take place before Minister Simpson is presented with the group’s findings. There will also be a series of community sessions for self-advocates and other community members throughout October and November. Preliminary dates and locations are listed below. We will share more information about these events as it becomes available.

October 30 – Castlegar
November 1 – Vernon
November 6 – Nanaimo
November 7 – Burnaby/Tri-Cities
TBD – Prince George
TBD – Smithers
TBD – Fort St. John

Recruitment and Retention

After the recent (long-awaited and much-needed) increases to wages in the sector, many organizations are turning their attention to a new and related issue—wage compression. As non-management wages rise, a number of agencies have been reporting their staff are now hesitant to take on management-level positions with wages that have not kept pace with increases elsewhere.

The Federation is working with PARCA, the CEO Network and other sector allies to gather data and information that will support our advocacy efforts around this issue. Please contact our Member Services Coordinator at kathy@fcssbc.ca if you want more information (or have information to share with us).

In the meantime, we have also begun work on the Social Services Labour Market Research Project in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and SPARC BC. While we are still in the early stages of this initiative, everyone understands the value of this work and I am confident that our efforts will help to address some of the other recruitment and retention challenges our sector is facing.

In addition to the efforts above, The Federation has also begun building a case for a funded and sector-wide pension program. The Federation will be sending members a short survey in the coming weeks that will help us with the first phase of this new initiative.

Employer Health Tax

We know you are anxiously awaiting more information about the implementation of the Employer Health Tax. Earlier today, the government updated the EHT website with further information about the location calculation and the dates the first installments are due. Additionally, the portal to register is now open.

Unfortunately, we have no other details to share at this time. That said, our submission to Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services included a firm call to expand the current exemptions to include all community social service providers and to adjust the location calculation to account for hub and campus models. Our advocacy work on this issue continues and we will share with members any new developments as they happen.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact The Federation office if you have questions or need more information.