Reflecting on a year like no other…

This has been a challenging and scary year for all of us. And as we head into, quite literally, the last and darkest days of 2020, it would be easy to focus on all of the negatives. Indeed, the news this week about the delay in Temporary Pandemic Pay may have been one more reason to send us down that road.

However, I want to instead challenge myself—and all of you—to look forward to the brighter days that are just around the corner and to remember the inspiring and remarkable things we have accomplished together in spite of what the past 12 months have thrown at us.

I think back to February and how excited we were to have the community social services sector recognized by BC’s Finance Minister in the budget speech. I remember the reaction I received when The Federation was named to the Premier’s Economic Recovery Taskforce. And I recall the many conversations I had back in March after BC’s Provincial Health Officer explicitly called on our sector to keep doing what we have been doing for years—showing up and caring for our clients, supporting those in need, and ensuring that vulnerable people were not made even more vulnerable.

This week was also the first meeting of the Social Services Sector Roundtable since before the provincial election and I have been re-energized by the potential of that initiative and the opportunity for that group of committed advocates to make the kind of lasting, meaningful change that we have been working toward for a long time.

And that is what I find truly remarkable about this organization. During the most chaotic, unprecedented period of time, this Federation has come together and accomplished more than I could have imagined. Last week, we had dozens of members come together for a marathon Zoom session to discuss and design changes to residential programs so that they might better support young people in care who are using substances. Members have self-organized to provide peer support around virtual accreditation visits and hosted online training and learning events facilitated by The Federation.

We also completed the Social Service Labour Market Research Project (the final report is waiting in the queue with government communications), helped to create the Social Services Health and Safety Council with our sector partners, and launched a new reconciliation-focused leadership program with a cohort of 30 participants from across the country. (It is exceptionally uplifting to see organizations commit their time, money, and energy to this important work in the midst of an ongoing crisis!)

This truly was a year like no other. Not just because of the pandemic or because of the social upheaval but because of the way this group of committed and compassionate people came together to build a stronger, more sustainable, more caring place for all of us to live. I cannot thank you enough and I wish you all the warmest and restful holiday break that is possible.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director