For many across Canada who are newly working from home, the only thing more dizzying than how quickly the days seem to flow into one another is the pace of governmental activity.
Government is moving extremely fast, creating legislation and programs to help Canadians get through the pandemic. (A reminder that we are tracking all announcements implicating the sector). So you might be asking yourself: is my voice relevant right now? Is it even possible to be heard?
It is more than possible - in fact, the only way the government can continue to take action so quickly is by maintaining a dialogue with stakeholders, including nonprofits and charities. The line between dialogue, consultation and policy action has been shortened dramatically, and organizations have the ability to influence policy development.
This is an incredibly opportune moment to help affect change and to connect with policymakers.
Don’t be shy - reach out!
So, how can you make sure your voice is heard? Your best connection to the federal government is through your local MP. Their primary function is to represent your interests in Parliament. By reaching out and telling them about your experience and the challenges you are facing, you will actually help them do their job!
But what if my MP is in the opposition?
Whether your MP is in the governing party or not, reaching out to them does have an impact. One of the ways in which MPs exercise their influence is within Parliamentary committees. Parliamentary committees always include representation from multiple parties—and in a minority government, more opposition MPs often hold the balance of power. Some opposition MPs, such as those sitting on the Finance committee, are even more well-placed to influence key policy decisions than government backbenchers. Many of the parliamentary committees are currently undertaking studies on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means they’re asking organisations, companies, and citizens to share their expertise with the committee, and using that information to create reports and make recommendations to the government. Take a look at the committees your MP sits on, and you may be surprised to see the issues upon which they have significant influence.
And remember - YOU are at the center of the democratic process
In times of crisis, governments are usually more prone to consult, reach out, listen and engage with their constituents. Throughout the pandemic, the federal government has been extremely keen to collaborate with Canadians and a wide variety of sectors, including ours. It’s likely that this culture of increased consultation is going to stick around. Ministers are consulting broadly, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has redesigned their processes into a People First Approach, that aims to put citizens at the centre of the design process. Ted Gallivan, Assistant Commissioner of the CRA’s Compliance Programs Branch, testified to the Finance Committee (FINA) that CRA began testing this process before COVID, relied upon it during the implementation of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and “will certainly continue afterward.”
Why not start now?
Only time will tell if these commitments to consultation will hold up over time, but our sector has a clear opportunity to share insights and experiences with the federal government. Why not start now?
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