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I recently attended a forum called, Taking Effective Action. The forum was part of Opportunities Waterloo Region‘s Community Conversations Series. The forum gave some practical advise to develop a toolkit of steps to impact policy change. The presenter was Nancy Dubois. Nancy has been a consultant with The Health Communications Unit (THCU) since 1998. She works with groups across the province in areas of planning, evaluation, policy development, sustainability, health communication and comprehensive workplace health.Opportunities Waterloo Region, or just Opportunities for short, acts as a regional convener – a community support organization – exclusively focused on facilitating poverty prevention and reduction strategies, providing opportunities for the community to generate ideas and take action, building on existing assets and increasing community strengths. The organization is currently underway in a campaign to influence public policy at a regional level. That campaign is for the Living Wage. The Region of Waterloo is considering implementing a Living Wage Policy for its employees and contractors and Opportunities is hard at work to inform the councillors and the citizens of the region to support such a policy. Click here for a PDF of a report from the Social Services for the Living Wage. Here are some notes on the Conversation: What is Policy?
- At a macro level, policy provides more equitable access to the determinants of health; determinants such as income, housing, etc. Nancy comes from a health promotion background, so many of her speaking points make reference to health related policies, however, she did drive the message that health is very closely related to other measures of the quality of life of an individual.
“Canada is extremely progressive in terms of health promotions.” – Nancy
- Good for Canada. I was not aware of this and it made me proud. A number of times, Nancy made reference to anti-smoking campaigns in Canada and how successful they have been. I have noticed that compared to other countries, when I look around in a populated area in Canada, there is a noticeable lack of smokers. Good clean air for all!
Why take a policy approach?
- This question makes sense considering the audience in the room. Many of the participants of the conversation were coming from the non-profit sector that are actively engaged in community building projects and campaigns to influence attitudes. Other approaches that these organizations may take to influence and inform populations of people are awareness campaigns (large scale events to inform people of an issue), and educational campaigns (for example, the anti-smoking campaigns that used advertisements to inform people of the ill effects of smoking).
“Good” Policy is…
- economically feasible
- politically acceptable
- socially acceptable
- administratively and technologically possible
What kinds of policy work is the Ontario Government doing in regards to poverty reduction?
- Bill 152: Poverty Reduction Act (May, 2009)
- Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy (Dec 2008)
- Full-Time Kindergarden
Nancy provided everyone with a handout on how to do policy work. It is a short and clear step by step process to engage in policy change.
Click here to download a PDF of the full handout–it is a great resource.
Here is a really short version of it: