At a recent strategic planning session in Vancouver, our board elected me as the new Chair of Board Voice replacing Michael Davis who is off to Ottawa and an exciting new job. I was honoured to accept. Our great good wishes to Michael, whose work on behalf of this organization has been outstanding.
Many of you will know that I have been with Board Voice since its conception, as one of the founders and as Executive Coordinator for it’s first five years. That we continue to exist and pursue relevant change on behalf of our communities and agencies is a testament to the strength of the original ideas behind Board Voice.
We believed then and now that an organized network of volunteer boards would be valuable asset in speaking to politicians and the public about and on behalf of our communities and the people served by our organizations. Would it be possible to create enough synergy at the local level to power a grass roots movement dedicated to making the province a better place to live, learn, work and play?
Over the years, we’ve championed an array of issues with ministers and bureaucrats. We’ve brought boards together in communities and provincially to learn, plan and take action together. We’ve been committed to seeing the social determinants of health become a key driver of social policy decision-making. More recently, we’ve promoted the idea of developing an overarching framework of values, goals and ideas to provide direction to all social ministries, organizations and communities – a ‘made in BC’ social policy framework.
Thorny social issues and successful broad government responses rarely fall within the mandate of one government ministry. Board Voice believes that an organizational strategy that assumes this, such as a social framework, would make a big difference. How can we enable a more effective and efficient service system without clarity about the social goals we are all trying to reach?
This work has been recognized by funders and we have been commissioned to hold conversations in 15 communities across BC about what people value and their aspirations for improving their communities. The project, called There is a Better Way: A BC Framework for Wellbeing is still in the early stages. We are currently consulting with different groups and individuals and will be out to communities early in 2017. The fruits of these conversations will become part of a report on ideas related to a BC social framework for wellbeing.
We expect to partner with several provincial organizations in this project, including the Federation of Community Social Services and the BC Association of Social Workers to assist us in making this a valuable contribution to policy development in BC.
Board Voice will be soon releasing a study done on our behalf by graduate students at SFU School of Public Policy, examining the letters of direction from the Premier to the social ministers in her cabinet. Also examined were each social ministry’s annual plan. The purpose was to discern whether threads of coherent overarching social goals and directions ran through and across these. This was found not to be the case. There was, however, clear evidence of an economic framework threaded through all of the social plans. We think a companion to an economic framework is required and hope to convince the government of this. These are two sides of the same coin.
At our recent meeting, amongst many other things, the board committed to improving our communications with and between the membership to ensure that we are all up to speed on Board Voice activities and on the issues affecting our communities. As we approach the tasks outlined above, we will be in contact with you to get your support in this effort. We will want to hear from you. Stay tuned!
In the months leading up to the election in May 2017, I hope that your board will participate in bringing our voice to the ears of our provincial politicians. We are a non-partisan organization that believes we can effect positive change in this province and are dedicated to making this happen.
I want to thank you for continuing to support Board Voice in its efforts and look forward to working with you and hearing from you over this next year.
Chair, Board Voice Society of BC