Who's afraid of advocacy?

Wednesday, July 28 2010

September 10, 2007 - WHO'S AFRAID OF ADVOCACY?

Some New Brunswick community groups are calling on the provincial government to support the advocacy side of organizations in its plan for the non-profit sector because those voices for change are part of building a better New Brunswick. The Premier's Task Force on the Community Non-Profit Sector headed by Claudette Bradshaw is expected to release its final report September 13.

"Advocacy work almost never qualifies for funding and these groups have difficulty establishing a relationship with governments," says Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, the Chairperson of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. "Many inequities remain in this province - poverty being high on the list but also violence against women, pay inequity, lack of female participation in public life - things that will never change without advocacy. Groups that represent the interests of society's most marginalized populations must have a voice in New Brunswick."

Jody Dallaire, Coordinator with the New Brunswick Child Care Coalition called on Claudette Bradshaw as head of the Premier's Task Force on the Community Non-Profit Sector "to make separate recommendations in her report to sustain the work of advocacy groups".

"The government strategy for the non-profit sector is an opportunity to change the working relationship between government and non-profit advocacy groups."

"Other provinces, such as Quebec and Newfoundland, provide on-going financial support to advocacy groups and New Brunswick needs to do the same," added Anne-Marie Gammon of the Coalition for Pay Equity.

"The provincial government needs to recognize the important role that non-profit advocacy groups play in making changes possible in government policies," said Karen Dunnett, Regional Director for the Canadian Federation of University Women. "While the provision of direct services such as food banks and health and educational programs is obviously important, it is critical to address the root causes of such problems as poverty and hunger. It is important that groups are able to devote a portion or all of their resources to advocacy work, and crucial that those whose work involves advocacy have a voice."

According to Jackie Matthews of the N.B. Coalition of Transition Houses, "Advocacy groups usually work for the rights of those among us who are the object of discrimination. When groups do not have the time, resources and freedom to speak up about the needs and reality of their community, society as a whole loses. Advocacy is part of democracy - it's a catalyst for change for the better."

The groups also called for a civic engagement fund to help community groups participate in government consultation activities, including conducting research and preparing resource materials.

"A civic engagement fund would recognize the expertise community groups bring to government consultations," said Sue Calhoun of the New Brunswick Business & Professional Women's Clubs. "They have the trust of the population they represent. That is very valuable in a democratic society and the role they play must be recognized".

Signing groups:
New Brunswick Child Care Coalition - Jody Dallaire.
New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity - Anne-Marie Gammon.
Urban Core Support Network - Brenda Murphy.
Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne - Paulette Sonier-Rioux.
YWCA of Moncton - Christina Guthrie.
New Brunswick Business & Professional Women's Clubs - Sue Calhoun.
Canadian Federation of University Women (NB) - Karen Dunnett.
Common Front for Social Justice.
Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick.

With the support of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Rosella Melanson, 444-4101, 1-800-332-3087.

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