Social issues are broad-based and impact everyone in the North Okanagan, whether it’s a family searching for child care, a victim of violence seeking assistance, seniors needing support or working individuals trying to find affordable housing.
Increasingly, municipalities and community agencies are turned to by those in need, but the reality is that social issues fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.
Currently, B.C. does not have a social policy framework although other provinces, including Alberta, do.
“We need a solid plan to deal with our more pressing social issues,” said Annette Sharkey, with the local Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan.
“Municipalities don’t have the resources or mandate to deal with complex social issues. A framework for B.C. will focus resources more effectively to us.”
Board Voice, a non-profit agency, is leading a campaign to have a social policy framework in B.C.
“We believe that a principled, well-developed social policy framework that builds common understanding, is pragmatic in delivery and is measured by outcomes can streamline delivery of critical services, improve the results for those who need it most and guide decision making into the future,” it states.
And consider what happens if social issues aren’t addressed. Individuals feel isolated, homelessness can climb, health care costs soar and crime can escalate.
“Without a plan, there will be gaping holes or overlaps and redundancies in service,” said Rob Sawatzky, Vernon’s mayor.
Municipalities across the province are calling on the government to take action. Let’s hope the officials in Victoria are listening.