Our Letter on BC's Recovery

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The Government of BC has asked for feedback on their discussion paper, BC’s Recovery from COVID-19This is a great opportunity to influence BC's recovery. We are sharing some resources for not-for-profits who would like to provide input. Vantage Point sent the letter below to provide our input on the importance of investing in not-for-profits for the recovery. The deadline to for input is Tuesday, July 21, at 4pm.
 
Ways you can provide input:


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The Honourable John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia

Office of the Premier
West Annex Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

The Honourable Minister Carole James
Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier
Room 153 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

July 10, 2020

RE: Now more than ever, is the time to invest in BC not-for-profits.

Dear Premier Horgan and Minister James:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on how best to invest the $1.5 billion Economic Recovery Fund. I am writing to you today on behalf of Vantage Point and our member organizations. We are a charity based in Vancouver, BC on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and shíshálh (Sechelt) nations. Vantage Point supports not-for-profits and charities across the province with leadership development, board training, strategic planning, and more. We represent over 545 not-for-profit members from 48 communities across the province.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the not-for-profit sector has been devastating and requires your urgent attention and action. Vantage Point’s research on COVID-19’s impact on the sector clearly confirms troubling impacts on not-for-profit organizations and the communities we serve. The research documented an increased demand for community services as well as a massive loss of income. The most worrisome estimates suggest that one in five not-for-profits will not survive this crisis.1 Closures of this scale will have irreparable impacts on BC’s economy and communities. The people who depend on these services, often some of the most vulnerable people in society, face increased risks of falling through the cracks. While our sector is innovative and resilient, our capacity to navigate COVID-19 is has reached a breaking point.

Not-for-profits are critical to the lives of people in British Columbia. As we adapt to different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, BC's not-for-profits and charities continue to provide a critical level of support to the Government of British Columbia, businesses, and the public. We provide everything from the provision of health and other essential frontline services, to supporting victims of domestic violence, to deploying volunteers safely, to providing arts and culture services. The not-for-profit sector has long been recognized as vital to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our province. We are an essential safety net for the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. From all angles, an investment in the not-for-profit sector aligns with the key values outlined in the recovery consultation discussion paper.

We acknowledge the remarkable work the BC Government has done to support our communities during the extremely challenging environment of the COVID-19 crisis. We have been encouraged by your explicit acknowledgement that “supporting… not-for-profits throughout the pandemic is vital to BC’s response to and recovery from COVID-19.”2 We have also been pleased to know that your Economic Recovery Task Force includes representation from the not-for-profit sector. We encourage you to continue deepening and expanding this engagement to ensure that the full breadth of not-for-profits expertise is adequately reflected in your consultations, advisory groups, and recovery planning efforts.

Recommendation One: Create a $500 million stabilization fund for the not-for-profit sector

Following our recommendations for the Budget 2021 consultation, we insist that a $500 million stabilization fund for the not-for-profit sector is required to ensure that organizations can survive, adapt to new circumstances, and position themselves to actively contribute to our recovery. A stabilization fund of this magnitude is critically important to sustain not-for-profits.

Current measures announced by the Federal and Provincial governments have failed to recognize:

  • the unique situation facing charities and not-for-profits
  • the efforts not-for-profits have continued to make to serve their communities in unprecedented circumstances, and
  • the distinct role that not-for-profits must play in our recovery from COVID-19.

Make funding flexible: It is critically important that stabilization funding is truly flexible and allows not-for-profits to allocate funding where they need it most. Current funding and granting systems often limit spending in our organizations solely on direct program delivery without strengthening our operational capacity. These systems also burden organizations with rigorous reporting requirements. Funding restrictions often cause not-for-profits to drift from their mandate as they often are forced to adapt to evolving funding priorities. These restrictions create precarious working conditions and stifles investments in employee benefits, stable governance, and adequate resources for efficient operations.

Commit to gender equity: We know that gender equity is a priority for the BC government. A stabilization fund will ensure women, who make up 74% of the not-for-profit sector, stay employed. Further, this will allow organizations that serve women and other populations who experience discrimination, oppression, and violence, to continue safely providing services in-person and virtually. Not-for-profits are leaders in anti-racism and social justice work, they are also providers of community-based health and wellbeing programs.

Invest in not-for-profits to stimulate the economy: We encourage you to think of stabilization funding and stimulus spending beyond customary criteria narrowly focused on business, employment, and “shovel-ready” projects.

Invest in not-for-profits to support public health: A stabilization fund of this magnitude would be equivalent to an investment in public health and prevention. These investments can help ensure British Columbians are supported to recover from the mental health effects of prolonged isolation, depression, and stress. It will also help address other healthcare crises, such as the recent increase in opioid overdoses, from worsening.

Partner with well-established and trusted funders: We recommend that a not-for-profit stabilization fund be administered through networks of funders with deeply established relationships with local not-for-profits and charities. Examples of such funders include provincial community foundations such as Victoria Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, United Way, and Vancity Community Foundation. It is particularly important to direct funding to organizations and funders that are led by and are working with Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC), and others who face systemic discrimination.

Municipal and regional governments also have well established relationships and partnerships with charities and not-for-profits within their jurisdictions. Funds distributed through municipalities and explicitly earmarked for supporting their local ecosystem of not-for-profit organizations could help strengthen local economies and reduce the load on other municipal and provincial services.

Recommendation Two: Use an equity lens to invest in province-wide internet access, connectivity, and infrastructure

We echo the views in the Building BC’s Recovery Together report of the urgent need for province-wide internet access.

We urge the BC Government to immediately invest in affordable high-speed internet in rural communities, households across BC, and not-for-profit organizations and housing providers. We encourage you to work with network service providers to create equitable access to internet. We encourage you to remove network deployment barriers and use government assets effectively to reduce costs and accelerate the expansion of connectivity in rural BC. As you develop plans for these investments, we encourage you to uphold your commitments towards a Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) framework as a way to ensure equitable access and connections for all, particularly for women, BIPOC, and other underrepresented communities.

We ask that you make funds available for not-for-profits to access reliable and adequate technology as this is one of the key impacts and barriers of COVID-19 on the sector. We encourage you to improve and update funding systems such as the rules for BC’s Community Gaming Grants to allow more flexibility for funds to be used for training and updating technology.

Work with the not-for-profit sector

Once again, we thank you for allowing us to join fellow British Columbians in sharing what is most important for our community’s wellbeing going forward. We urge you to work with the not-for-profit sector to strengthen public wellbeing and stabilize our economy. We look forward to continuing to contribute towards our province’s recovery through constructive investment and partnerships with the Government of British Columbia.

Sincerely,

Alison Brewin
Executive Director, Vantage Point
T: (604) 637-8207 E: abrewin@thevantagepoint.ca
www.thevantagepoint.ca

cc: Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, Hon. Michelle Mungall Minister of Labour, Hon. Harry Bains Mr. Spencer Chandra Herbert, Vancouver-West End Riding

 

[1] Vantage Point (2020). No Immunity Report. Retrieved from https://www.thevantagepoint.ca/blog/no-immunity-impacts-covid-19-our-sector

[2] Government of BC. (2020). Budget 2021 Consultation. Retrieved from https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/41st-parliament/5thsession/fgs/Budget2021Consultation/Budget_2021_Consultation_Paper.pdf

 

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About the Author

As Executive Director, Alison Brewin is responsible for executing the Vantage Point’s mission and vision. Alison graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Victoria in 1991 and was called to the Bar in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, she worked in non-profit management, as political assistant...
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t: 604 875 9144
f: 604 875 0710
1183 Melville Street
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