Last fall, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services held public consultations on the upcoming provincial budget. This process happens every year—and every year The Federation presents to the committee and provides input on what we believe should be the priorities for the provincial budget.
The result of those consultations was released in November. The unanimous report (which can be accessed here) contains valuable insights, significant trends, and some encouraging recommendations.
The number of social care organizations and Federation members that participated this year was encouraging. In fact, the representation of Federation members was one of the first things that stood out to me. And I want to thank all of our members who took the time to contribute to the consultation process.
Having so many passionate and informed voices saying the same thing and pushing in the same direction continues to be one of the most powerful tools we have for creating the change we want to see. And the report’s recommendations reflect that.
Social Services Recommendations
A number of community social service organizations—including The Federation and Federation members—expressed concerns about funding formulas and challenges related to financial sustainability and service delivery. As a result, the report’s recommendations related to social services included a number of investments and funding increases (see Page 68).
- Increase funding available to charities and non-profits (Recommendation 78).
- Increase investment in early childhood development—especially early intervention and services in Indigenous communities (Recommendation 79).
- Increase funding for the community social services sector and adopt a flexible, outcomes-based approach in contract deliverables (Recommendation 80).
- Urgently address compensation issues for foster parents in recognition of the valuable service and care they provide (Recommendation 82).
- Fund specialized child and youth mental health and substance use services and supports, including collaborative programs like Foundry (Recommendation 87).
Other recommendations speak to income and disability assistance rates, single parent supports, poverty reduction, and trauma-informed care. The full report is available here. The section devoted to social services is on pages 63–68.
Turning Attention into Action
Overall, the community social services sector appears to be increasingly understood as necessary, important, and in need of government investment. In fact, this was the second year that social services were identified as the top priority in the survey question asking participants to identify their top three priorities for making life better (see Appendix A).
And since the sector as a whole seems to be better understood and more valued—likely as a result of the attention around child care and the overdose crisis—we must work even harder to turn that goodwill into good outcomes.
In other words, the need for us to speak out these issues is as important as it ever has been. It is rewarding and inspiring to see our sector valued and recognized. But we also need to make sure that this attention translates into action—improved procurement practices, stronger and more collaborative relationships, increased investments.
To this end, I encourage all Federation members to learn more about our 2019 Social Policy Forum in Victoria, BC and seriously consider participating. We have designed this event to bring passionate and motivated people together, to create space for problem-solving and planning, and to facilitate collaborative learning, dialogue, and action. You can read about the event and register to participate here.
In February we will once again be attending the budget lock-up with our sector allies. We are also planning a 2019 Budget Review Webinar for members that will take place on Wednesday, February 20th from 10:00–11:30. (We will email login details to members in January.)
We will also be offering more support to help members participate in next year’s budget consultations to keep building this momentum. Next summer we will begin working with members to craft presentation scripts and key messages so that our voice is even louder next fall.
Federation Executive Director