May Update from the Chair

chairMay2015Hello all,

We have been a bit quiet on our updates because much of our work has been planning and preparing. Even so, there is a lot going on.

Our membership sign-up is underway. We need your support if we are to continue to hold open this space where board members can come together and think about province-wide issues and better outcomes for the sector and our communities.

Please support this important work by renewing your membership and bringing another member to our table.

Our board held our annual Strategy planning session on April 10 and 11, coming away charged with new ideas and renewed energy.


We celebrated a fairly large victory at the end of March when we found out that ominous changes to Society Act has been removed. Section 99 of the new Societies Act would have allowed any ‘interested party’ to petition the courts to have the activities of a society declared “not in the public interest”. On March 25 we were informed that, because of large outcry from various community benefit organizations, the section was removed.

We are less pleased with the government’s response to our proposal to begin a province-wide discussion leading to a Social Policy Framework for BC and the passage of a UBCM resolution calling on the Premier to begin that conversation:

PROVINCIAL RESPONSE?Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Government is interested in supporting municipalities to better address complex social challenges faced by communities in BC.

Government recently undertook a comprehensive three-month consultation with British Columbians to better understand what we, as a society, can do to decrease barriers and increase accessibility for people living with disabilities in BC. This consultation, led by government together with representatives from the disability and business communities, resulted in Accessibility 2024, a 10-year action plan focused on making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people living with disabilities by 2024.

While there are no plans to initiate a consultation on the development of a social policy framework, government will continue to work collaboratively between ministries and with community partners to build a strong British Columbia where we find the right balance between providing supports and encouraging independence.

We are not deterred by this lack of action. I have personally met with several people active in the delivery of social services or concerned about the development of social policy of the first six months of the year.

Dr. John Millar is the Vice President of the Public Health Association of BC and Chairs their Policy Advocacy and Research Committee. He is speaking to the board about having us present the case for a SPF to their board.

Julia Payson, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of BC expressed interest in the concept and we will continue working with them to move it forward.

Jody Wilson Raybould is the outgoing Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations BC (she is a candidate in the upcoming federal election). Jody helped explain some of the complexities of the sector in that community and made some introductions.

Hereditary Chief Maureen Chapman of the Skawahlook First Nation, board member of the BC Assembly of First Nations, member of the First Nations Health Council also provided knowledge and contacts to continue our discussions.

My meeting with the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Children and Family Development Mark Sieben was refreshingly straightforward. I came to realize that the ministry is under considerable pressure as well, with no increase in funding since 2008 and all the rising pressures of inflation, complexity and sheer numbers that many of our agencies are facing.

We have found many supporters to the idea of a Social Policy Framework and believe our conversations are having an impact on the thinking within government, even if they are unwilling to take up the challenge quite yet. We have decided to apply for funding to support the development of a province-wide conversation at the community level around the social policy. We believe this would strengthen networks within the sector, generate new ideas for a more cohesive and effective approach to social policy and provide groundwork for government action on the concept.

 Skills and Board Connectivity

We took the initiative—and some of the information—from a presentation from Imagine Canada to create a simple one page guide to the rules around ‘political activity’, as defined by the Canadian Revenue Service and Lobbying according to the BC Lobbyist Registry.

This is important because many directors are feeling skittish about expressing any public voice and we feel the advocacy and public voice of community benefit organizations is critical to the development of Canadian Civil Society.

Don’t stop speaking out! But learn the rules to keep your organization safe.

Our Board Voice Conference committee is in the early staged of planning for our annual conference in November. Stay tuned for date and details.

As always, thank you for the work you do and supporting the ideas Board Voice stands for.