UBCM: Advocacy Days 2021
UBCM’s Executive held its 8th annual Advocacy Days virtually this year during the May Executive meeting. Over two days, Executive members met with over 40 MLAs from all parties, including Premier John Horgan, 8 ministers, the leader of the Official Opposition, and both caucus chairs. Meetings focussed on UNDRIP, local government finance and the mental health and opioid crises.
The Executive discussed the important of engaging with local governments as an order of government and partner as the Province moves forward with the implementation of UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). UBCM called on the Province to:
- Adopt a ‘local government implementation lens’ that acknowledges areas of interest to local governments in the implementation of UNDRIP and negotiation of agreements with First Nations;
- Clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities of local governments under UNDRIP – and provide guidance to local governments seeking to implement UNDRIP;
- Build on successful consultation models in land and resource management that includes early outreach to local governments;
- Create a mechanism for notifying potentially interested local governments in geographic areas subject to agreements with First Nations; and
- Communicate the need for better engagement with local governments as an order of government across all ministries;
The Executive also raised awareness of the work of the Select Committee on Local Government Finance, which is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of Strong Fiscal Futures – UBCM’s previous local government finance report. It sought a provincial partnership on new local government revenue sources that support shared provincial-local priorities in the areas of housing, climate action and community safety.
The need for expanded community centered funding for addressing the unique mental health and substance abuse needs of communities was also tabled for discussion with MLAs. Executive members called for expanded funding to the Community Connectedness program, Community Crisis Innovation Fund, and the Community Action Initiative to support innovative projects and services sensitive to local situations. They also identified the need for additional Assertive Community Treatment teams throughout the province, as well as provincial collaboration with the federal government in declaring the overdoes crisis a national public health emergency.
UBCM will continue to engage the Province on these priorities throughout the year.