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Submission to The Select Standing Committee on Finance and

Government Services
Budget 2016 Consultations
Respectfully Submitted By: Rick FitzZaland, Executive Director On Tuesday
September 15, 2015
Good afternoon, and thank you for your time today.
The Federation of Community Social Services of BC is a group of communitybased social services organizations that seeks to influence decision-making
to improve the wellbeing of communities.
We represent 140 member agencies offering 685 programs in 160
communities throughout BC. Our members employ more than 6,000 British
Columbians and represent almost $450 million of community investment in
the social services sector.
Our members support communities through a wide spectrum of services
such as support for those with disabilities, employment programs, early
childhood education, homeless outreach and family programs.
For years we have said that 1 in 5 British Columbians will use a social
service in their lifetime. And then we realized that this meant that whenever
we said this everyone in the room tried to figure out who it was...and this
isnt really the point. The point is, its all of us.
Community social services includes programs like childcare and drop in
programs for families with young children. And it also includes programs for
older adults, activity programs for young people with special needs,
programs that help people find jobs, help people find affordable homes, or
deal with an addiction or mental health challenge.
Think about you and your family, your neighbors, your co-workers and know
that you are impacted by the fact that skilled professionals, supported by
caring volunteers, make your community and your own family healthier.
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600 620 View Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1J6
TEL 250.480.7387
FAX 250.480.7396

www.fcssbc.ca

For the past several years we have spoken to this committee about the
importance of community social services and the need for government to
wisely invest in services for community members. We have noted the ways
in which spending in social services is a wise investment for the economy
and for the impact such services have on our health and education systems.
All these things are still important and still true, but I am going to speak to
you today about another impact that is facing our sector. Workplace
violence in the Community Social Services Sector.
The impacts of workplace violence have been garnering much attention
recently. We believe there is a relationship between this health and safety
problem and three factors:
1. The flat lined funding of our sector since 2009
2. The increased complexity and volume of people needing our services,
and
3. The difficult labour market in which we operate.
We have obtained data from WorkSafe BC on workplace violence in our
sector. Workplace violence makes up 2.7% of all claims in BC. For the subsector that includes health and social services the rate is 10 11%. But for
Residential Social Services, workplace violence represents over 25% of all
claims. And this rate is increasing year after year for the past several years.
No other classification unit has such a high claim rate. i
1. Flat Lined Funding
The flat lined funding is a matter of record. While there have been some
slight increases to account for case load growth in CLBC and income support,
the fact is that funding for services for children and youth, families, and
families dealing with domestic violence have not seen any real change in
over a decade. Coupled with the increase in the cost of doing business, this
essentially amounts to a cut in funding levels.
2. Increased Complexity and Volume
The increased complexity and volume of people needing our services is also
a matter of record.
Last week, The Federation put out a series of snapshots that pulled together
some of the current knowledge about how well British Columbians are doing.
In that we note concerning trends such as intimate partner violence being on
the increaseii, that our track record on child poverty has not improvediii, and
that food bank use is on the riseiv.

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Income assistance and disability benefits have not kept pace with the
increased cost of living. For example, disability benefit rates have only
increased $120/month since 2001, but the cost of basic essentials has
increased by 17.2%.v A recent report by the Auditor General noted that the
Ministry,
would benefit from an enhanced understanding of its clients
circumstances to better inform decisions about the amount and type of
assistance it provides, as well as the impact that the program should
have on peoples lives and their standard of living.vi
We hear increasingly about the high rate of police involvement for our
citizens with mental health challengesvii, and the high rate of
hospitalization.viii
Our members report seeing an increased demand for their services, an
increased demand for services that fall outside of their mandate, and
increased complexity related to mental health and substance use, poverty
and arriving for help after experiencing situations in which others are unable
to help them.
3. Labour Market Challenges
The labour market challenges I refer to are:
Of the six public sectors the compensation package for social services
sector is the lowest.
Recruitment and retention in our sector is the worst of all sectors, due to
a combination of low wages and challenging work place conditions.ixxxi
This results in significant turn over and thus the need for more frequent
and costly training which is difficult to provide given the flat lined funding
and the required qualifications of entry level workers.xii
The sector is working collectively to deal with this problem and reduce claims
and duration of claims, make our workplaces safer for our workers, and
improve conditions for our clients because of better training.
But many of the factors listed above contributing to this problem require
support from government. We are requesting a partnership with
government to address this issue. We will do our part, government can do
theirs by addressing the flat lined funding, the compensation gap, and the
issues that are contributing to the increased complexity and volume of
people needing our services.
This is a good investment, not just for our sector and the people and
communities we serve, but for everyone. Healthy supported communities
make good economic sense.
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And this investment is especially important for the children and youth that
the government has taken into its care.
Industry leaders are recognizing this. The Conference Board of Canada, in
their report, Success for All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in
Care, make the following statements about the value of investing in children
aging out of foster care:
"Investing in the education and mental health of children in foster care is
costly, but the long-term economic and financial returns on such an
investment are considerable. With better education and mental health,
young adults are more likely to find employment and earn higher
wages".xiii
This is true, but current practice identifies around age 16 as the point to
begin preparing children for aging out of care. As a parent, I know that we
begin preparing our children for a happy, healthy and successful life when
they are toddlers. If we wait until they are 16, we have waited too long. As
a grandparent, I know that we do not stop caring about our children when
they turn 19.
We applaud, support and await with baited breath MCFDs recent efforts to
implement the recommendations out of our joint report on the system of
care for children living outside of the parental home (more commonly known
as Residential Care). Efforts to improve permanency for young people in
care, especially through the recruitment and retention of skilled foster
parents is work we wholeheartedly support. The final report was released in
2012, and MCFD and their partners are working hard to implement these
recommendations; however they are doing so with nominal funds.
Help us help you to build stronger, healthier, more economically diverse and
sustainable communities: The Fed will help you understand alternative
strategies that will achieve your broader policy goals while meeting the
needs of your constituents.
We live in a wonderful place. Compared to many places in the world, we are
free from war and oppression, we have an abundance of food, clean water
and a largely compassionate and tolerant society. But not everyone shares
in this abundance. We have whole communities who live in third world
conditions with inadequate housing or access to clean drinking water. A
growing number of people, including children live in poverty and are
dependent upon food banks to have access to healthy and safe food, and
sectors of our population experience violence on a regular basis.
We can do better, and we should. Thank you.
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Personal correspondence between R. FitzZaland and S. Symons, WSBC,September


11, 2015.
ii
Ending Violence Association (EVA) Statistics. (2014) Retrieved from
http://endingviolence.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/4_Statistics_forSept3_vF.pdf.
iii
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. (2014) British Columbia Child
Poverty Report Card. Retrieved from http://still1in5.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2014/11/First-Call-Coalition-Report-Card-2014-FINAL-WEB.pdf.
iv
Food banks Canada. (2014) Hunger count 2014, A comprehensive report on
hunger and food bank use in Canada and recommendations for change. Retrieved
from http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/getmedia/76907192-263c-4022-856173a16c06dd2f/HungerCount_2014_EN_HR.pdf.aspx.
v
Overdue: The case for increasing the persons with disabilities benefit in BC.
Retrieved from http://www.cmha.bc.ca/files/overdueincreasepwd_1.pdf
vi
Auditor General British Columbia. May 2014. Media Release, Disability
Assistance: An Audit of Program Access, Integrity and Results. Retrieved from:
https://www.bcauditor.com/sites/default/files/publications/2014/report_18/newsrelease/NR_Disability_Assistance_FINAL.pdf
vii
Boyce, J, Rotenberg, C, and Karam, M (2015) Mental health and contact with
police in Canada, 2012. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics
retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2015001/article/14176eng.pdf
viii
Conference Board of Canada. (2015) Self-Reported Mental Health, Provincial and
Territorial Ranking. Retrieved from:
http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/provincial/health/mental.aspx.
ix
Siggner, R. (2008) Exploring Recruitment and Retention BCs Community Social
Sector Employers. SPARC BC.
x
FCSSBC Member Survey, June 2015.
xi
Characteristics of the Labour Market in British Columbias Non-Profit Sector.
(2014). StepUpBC. Retrieved from:
http://stepupbc.ca/sites/default/files/StepUp%20BC%20Non%20profit%20Sector%
20Report%20March%2024%202013.pdf
xii
FCSSBC Member Survey, June 2015.
xiii
The Conference Board of Canada. April, 2014. Success for All: Investing in the
Future of Canadian Children in Care (Briefing), P. 2.

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