Opinion

Board Voice seeks a social support system that gets results

The economic and social world of British Columbia has shifted. As a result, many of our neighbours are struggling.

As problems become more complex, government alone cannot provide solutions. So what to do?

Board Voice Society of B.C. is a network of almost 800 volunteer directors of community social service organizations. It is talking with boards of trade, chambers of commerce, local governments, government ministers, and opposition members about engaging citizens of B.C. in discussions to help create a social policy framework to guide decisions about social policies and programs.

Why Board Voice? As directors, we join boards to make a difference in our communities. We see the struggles faced by many British Columbians — increased food bank usage, people with disabilities without meaningful work, increased vulnerabilities of young children, homelessness, family violence, addictions, etc.

We see the need to move past piecemeal reform and on-the-fly responses to these, and other issues. We see the need for connections and networks that will support the well-being of people and that will create healthy, thriving and vibrant communities.

Individuals, families, neighbourhoods, communities, the business sector, local government, the social and environmental sector, and the provincial government are all central to the social and economic health of citizens and the province. Social and economic prosperity are intertwined.

Engaging British Columbians in conversations about the things that affect their day-to-day life most directly both individually and in their relationships and networks with friends, families, and communities will lead to a social policy framework that can guide decision making, set future direction, identify important connections and lead to better results for the health and wellbeing of children, families, individuals and communities.

All communities, whether benefiting from an approach that brings people together, or being stuck in an approach that claims turf and pushes people apart, experience social challenges.  All communities can benefit from a road map for healthy people in a thriving and vibrant province.

Government plays a leadership role in engaging citizens to create collective solutions to the complex challenges facing British Columbians. The Province of B.C. already has an internet portal and conducts community conversations to engage citizens around specific issues.

By answering a call to action to engage British Columbians in conversations about what a social system that serves not only vulnerable British Columbians but also serves all citizens, the Government of BC has an opportunity to develop a social policy that goes along with an economic policy and lays a foundation for a system that produces results.

Leslie Welin is the Duncan-based vice-chair Board Voice Society of B.C.

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