Projects & Issues Update: Vaccine, COVID Tests, SHSS, WorkSafeBC, Professional Development

There have been a lot of changes around The Federation of late—both in terms of the work we are doing and the people doing that work. And there are a number of important issues and items that we wanted to update you about as we get ready to close out the year.

There are many projects and advocacy items that we are working on and tracking on behalf of you, our members. Some things are moving incredibly quickly after a lot of inaction and if it seems like a lot is happening all at once, it is. But rest assured that your Board of Directors and the entire Federation staff team are working on both the pressing, pandemic-related needs like vaccine mandates and the ongoing issues that you were struggling with before the public health crisis like recruitment and retention.

This update contains a few important announcements and updates that we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss—vaccine information for MCFD service providers, free COVID tests, residential services transformation, subsidized training opportunities, labour market development work, and more.

As always, please reach out and contact us if you have any questions, comments, or ideas about any of the work The Federation is undertaking or the issues you are dealing with.

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director

Catherine Rana
Director of Programs and Services

Service Provider Vaccination Information

The Ministry of Children and Family Development has sent out new vaccination information for service providers relevant to MCFD contractors and subcontractors. It provides clarification on the November 18th Provincial Health Officer’s Order and the BC Public Service’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy (effective December 13th) and details how they affect MCFD’s contracted service providers.

Free COVID Tests

The Canadian Red Cross is helping to keep organizations and communities safer through the Stop the Spread and Stay Safe! program: COVID-19 Screening for Community Organizations. Non-profits, charities, and Indigenous community organizations with frontline workers in British Columbia (and select other provinces) may be eligible to receive free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and support to implement a screening program for staff and clients. You can learn more and apply for the program here.

Specialized Homes and Supports Services

On December 15th, The Federation of Community Social Services of BC and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) are hosting a joint engagement session on the implementation of MCFD’s Specialized Homes and Support Services transformation. Participation info has been sent to Federation members; contact to request the information be resent.

This session will build on joint conversations over the last several months and years and continue our commitment to work in partnership in areas that impact us all—discussing the change and how we might implement planned changes with the least disruption to the sector. As we move forward, everyone (including non-members) that delivers contracted residential services is invited to participate and will work with the ministry on the roll-out of these changes; those with existing services will work together with MCFD on the transformation of the services they deliver.

This process is being co-managed and co-hosted by MCFD and The Federation and the goal of this approach is to establish a collaborative model of working together and both sides are committed to this work and this approach.

Support to Practice

Registration is still open for The Federation’s Support to Practice Supervision training that is taking place from January to March. This training, offered in partnership with CAI and CityU, helps supervisors and managers understand the full range of supervisory responsibilities and teaches specific supervisory skills that enhance direct services—ensuring your organizations are supporting your staff and meeting the unique needs, preferences, and circumstances of your clients and communities. Learn more and register to participate today—spaces are limited.

Subsidized Professional Development

In addition to the Support for Certification/Education Individual Grant and the Support for Organizational Training Grant funding streams, The Federation is also coordinating a series of subsidized training workshops and webinars as part of the Community Social Services Training Fund.

The newest offerings will focus on reconciliation for non-profit organizations, risk management during COVID-19, and creating culturally welcoming and inclusive volunteer programs. There is a combination of free webinars and more in-depth multi-session workshops. You can learn more, register for the free webinars, and apply for a spot in the workshops on The Federation website. Please note: the workshops have limited space.

WorkSafeBC Advocacy

Earlier this month, The Federation and our partners at the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres wrote a joint letter to Premier Horgan and Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, about the need for social services sector representation on the WorkSafeBC Board of Directors.

The board of directors serves as the steward of WorkSafeBC and the workers’ compensation system and is responsible for approving compensation, rehabilitation and assessment policies, and occupational health and safety regulations. However, it currently lacks anyone who can bring the perspective of our broad and complex sector or anyone who could bring an Indigenous or decolonizing lens to the way things like compensation or mental health leave are governed and administered.

We will keep you, our members, informed about any responses and/or updates as this piece of work progresses.

Labour Market Development

Earlier this year, The Federation released the Final Report and Aggregated Data of the Social Services Labour Market Research Project. We are now in the next phase of this ongoing project—working with the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres to develop a 2–to–3 year Labour Market Development Plan.

The plan will identify relevant recommendations from the Final Report and design projects, proposals, and frameworks for implementation with the guidance of a project advisory committee. We are currently finalizing the contract for the plan and expect work to be underway in the new year.

Indigenous Child Welfare Guidebook

This month, the ShchEma-mee.tkt Project (an initiative of the Nlaka’pamus Nation Tribal Council) released an updated and expanded version of Wrapping Our Ways: Indigenous Peoples and Child Welfare Guidebook. The excellent, in-depth resource provides guidance for Indigenous communities and individuals, the legal community, and social work teams.

The book is also a guide for Indigenous communities and parents on how they can work within the Child, Family and Community Service Act to protect Indigenous children. It explains how Indigenous communities and parents can be involved in child welfare decisions outside of court and at court, outlines the child welfare process, and defines child and their human rights, including ways of protecting cultural identity. You can view and download the guidebook here.

MMHA Research Guidance

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is undertaking a research project to identify a research agenda around mental health and substance use in BC. They are inviting representatives from the community organizations to share their opinion on gaps in knowledge and themes for future mental health and substance use research that will benefit them the most.

Ministry staff have identified four engagement areas that they would like feedback on: current gaps in knowledge, research to help close those gaps, populations that would benefit from new knowledge and resulting practice change, and outcomes of actions inspired by the new knowledge. Anyone who would like to participate can email Mikhail Torban ( at the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction. Put “Mental Health and Addictions Research Agenda” and identify yourself as a member organization of The Federation.