Board Voice was delighted to see budget recommendations from the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Governance that came out Nov. 14.
The all-party committee held online consultations and hearings around the province this fall to gather input for Budget 2019. Board Voice participated, and we were definitely heard based on committee comments in the report.
Board Voice executive director Jody Paterson presented to the committee when it was in Esquimalt, and Board Voice submitted a written brief as well.
And we were heard.
“In their presentation, the Board Voice Society of BC recommended a provincial social policy planning framework to guide, measure and sustain the province’s social health system,” the committee reported. “According to the Society, successful programs are cut because funding is precarious, uneven and incomplete.”
And its recommendations to Finance Minister Carole James included a call to “recognize the contribution of the community social services sector in delivering social services, and addressing complex social and health issues by increasing funding and adopting a flexible, outcomes-based approach in contract deliverables.”
Board Voice’s concerns about the implementation of the new Employer Health Tax were also noted by the committee.
“The Board Voice Society of BC asked for the tax to be waived for the community social service sector as the sector relies on fundraising, and does not have the ability to cover additional costs; alternatively, they suggested that the tax be funded in their contracts,” the report said.
The committee couldn’t reach agreement on a recommendation, but our concerns are on the record. We expect that a number of our members also provided submissions, as this annual consultation is so valuable as a means of giving feedback to government around spending priorities.
It was also heartening to see in the report that the committee’s online survey found respondents said investment in social services was the best way to improve their lives.
Advocacy is challenging, and it’s hard to know when something we’re doing is making a difference. But the finance committee’s report cited submissions by the BC Business Council – representing the province’s largest corporations – four times, and Board Voice twice. We’re taking that as meaningful!
It’s important that we seize every chance to be heard. These mentions underline that we are getting noticed – let’s build on that. We will be preparing a letter to government asking for a seat on the advisory board for the Poverty Reduction Strategy as representatives of the non-profit sector addressing social health.