ASPECT is delighted to represent your interests at the BC Budget Lock Up. This is the time when stakeholders can gain access to the budget and hear the Minister of Finance's speech before it is delivered in the legislature. At 8:30am, we surrender our phones, sign a confidentiality agreement, and promise not to use wifi until the Minister is actually in the legislature delivering the budget. With me in the room are other stakeholders, media, and government staff. It's a perfect opportunity to undertake a lot of meetings in a very short period of time. Here are some highlights:
- This year I wanted to meet Deputy Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, David Galbraith, to introduce myself in person and find out how the answers to questions raised during the WorkBC conference call was going. He said that we can expect them soon and reiterated how the Ministry wants to work collaboratively with ASPECT and WorkBC contractors.
- I hadn't yet met the new Executive Director for Inclusion BC, Karla Verschoor, and wanted to introduce myself, talk about her appearance on the news the night before, and chat about how we can work together on some initiatives. She's only been in the job for a few months, so we made a plan to meet when she wasn't quite so busy.
- I also chatted with Executive Director, Rick FitzZaland, and Director of Programs and Services, Rebecca Lang from the Federation of Social Services of BC. We discussed the funding challenges for our members and possible actions we might take together after the Poverty Reduction Strategy is announced in the spring.
- I visited with several of my contacts who represent employer groups and discussed ASPECT's plans for an Employer-Service Provider Summit in Richmond in June.
- Finally, I sat near the front of the stakeholder group which allowed me to eavesdrop on many of the media interviews, the business stakeholder strategy sessions, and see the Vancouver Board of Trade fill out their BC Budget Report Card for all the cameras.
There's so much that's going on during the Lock Up and I use every moment on behalf of ASPECT members to promote the association, forge partnerships with others, and deepen my understanding of the provincial budget process. This year I picked up some nugget strategies that I plan to use next year. Stay tuned!