Projects and Issues Update

For the past several months, we have focused our attention on supporting you and your organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other important issues and projects we are working on. We understand very well that many of the issues Federation members were struggling with before the public health crisis continue to have a significant impact. And we know that some of these systemic, underlying issues have also contributed to the stress and difficulty of responding to COVID-19.

Rest assured that The entire Federation team is focused on both sides of that coin—both the immediate COVID-related issues like pandemic pay and support to consistent practice and PPE as well as important and ongoing long-term efforts to improve recruitment and retention, funding, and compensation.

As always, we encourage you to get in touch with your questions, comments, and ideas. Investing your membership, your time, and your expertise as community leaders helps us in everything that we do. Together, we are making BC’s community social services sector stronger and more sustainable. Thank you for continuing to be a part of this Federation.

Rebecca Ataya Lang
Associate Executive Director

Social Service Sector Labour Market Research Project

For the past 2 years, The Federation has been working with SparcBC and CSSEA on a research study of the community social services sector labour market. Funding for this project was provided through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement’s Sector Labour Market Partnerships (SLMP) Program administered by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

Last week, we submitted the final draft of the Social Service Labour Market Research Project (SSLMRP—known affectionately as “Slurp” around The Federation office) to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training! We are confident that this project will provide valuable insight into the recruitment and retention challenges faced by BC’s social services and will pave the way for the sector to collectively address them. (Both of which will be aided by the work of the Social Service Sector Roundtable and the increased focus on the importance of community-based social services as a result of this pandemic.)

Many, many thanks to those of you who took the time to participate in our SSLMRP surveys, interviews, and focus groups last year. Once the final report is approved, we will be working through the necessary government communications processes to have the report made public and will share it broadly as soon as possible. It will be a valuable resource for many of you and we are looking forward to the changes it will help inform.

Compensation and Wages

We know that many of you have questions about low wage redress funding, the funding to address wage challenges in non-union positions (announced as part of BC Budget 2020), and the temporary pandemic pay. We are anticipating more information about temporary pandemic pay later this month. We have also invited MCFD’s ADM of Finance and Corporate Services, Rob Byers, to join our bi-weekly COVID-19 call on Thursday, August 20. Please send any questions you have for ADM Rob Byers to by Friday, August 14.

We know that ongoing uncertainty about wages and funding is a huge stress for you and your organizations and we are continuing to make sure that this message is heard and understood at all of the tables and meetings we are a part of. This is a very frustrating situation. But know that these frustrations are being heard by the decision-makers in government. Clear and consistent communication about these issues is a priority—your questions and feedback help us to advocate on your behalf. So please keep us informed as we continue to press these issues.

Social Service Sector Roundtable

From March until June, the Social Service Sector Roundtable was meeting weekly and exclusively focused on COVID-19. Since June, the group has gone back to monthly meetings (with a break in August). While there is still a focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, attention has also turned back to the serious matters that led to the formation of the roundtable over a year ago.

Working groups have been created to focus on procurement and on human resources within the sector. Each of these groups has representatives both from the community sector and from government. The roundtable is also working to finalize the charter that will guide all of its work—with a particular focus on how it will apply a reconciliation lens to all of its initiatives.

Funding for Training

As you may recall, there was recruitment and retention funding announced as part of BC Budget 2020. The different organizations that hold those funds (including The Federation) are now able to focus on what those training opportunities will look like. More details will be available in the fall and updates will be communicated to the sector over the coming months.

Pandemic-Inspired Innovation

On our Thursday calls with members about responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve heard some beautiful examples of how the community social services sector has stepped up to meet new and unforeseen challenges created by the public health emergency. Our friends at the Board Voice Society have gathered and shared a collection of these stories and we encourage you to give them a read.

Like you, your colleagues have done some amazing things in unprecedented circumstances. Not only will these stories inspire you and fill you with pride, but they also serve as an excellent example of the value of social care and do a wonderful job of telling the story of this sector.