Project finish line in sight

Progress Plan

Proponents of the Progress Plan have been making the rounds at local government meetings this month to update politicians on what’s been done to date with nearly $300,000 in funding from the federal government.

The three-year funding commitment from Status of Women Canada was granted in March of 2012 to the Sunshine Coast Community Resource Centre in order to develop a community plan to improve the economic well-being of women on the Coast.

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“We’re now in the third year of the project and are rapidly approaching the finish line, March 31, 2015,” resource centre board member Pat Hunt told Sechelt council on July 16. “The Progress Plan has had three distinct phases. Year one was outreach, year two, program, planning and action, and year three will be the completion of the action phase (my favourite part) and the delivery of the final recommendations.”

Project manager Michelle Morton told council that work on the plan to date has uncovered four interconnected priority areas that need to be addressed.

“The first one, of course, is access to adequate income. Second is access to care for children and for the adults who rely on women. This is really important because you can’t really go out and earn an income if you know that your children and the adults who rely on you aren’t going to be properly cared for,” Morton said.

“Transportation, of course, is a critical priority issue here in our rural, spread-out Sunshine Coast community. And belonging — this is an interesting one. When it comes to women, community connection and belonging is not something that’s just nice to have, it’s something that’s essential to economic well-being.”

After identifying the problems in year one, six action groups were set up to “work on the priority areas,” Morton said.

Examples of action coming from the groups include involvement in the regional transportation advisory committee, help with the local establishment of BC211 (a 24-hour information and help line), the hosting of a Self-Employed Women’s Network event to foster connections and a Seniors’ Planning Together event to help kick-start seniors’ planning on the Coast.

“One of the things we learned is that there is an early years council on the Coast to deal with early childhood issues, there’s a youth action committee, and there’s Voice on the Coast working for young adults, but there’s nothing to coordinate seniors’ issues in the community,” Morton said. “When it comes to adult care, this is very, very critical because we learned there’s not a good connection between private health care, public health care, families, social services and other supports available to elders in our community. So without that opportunity to get together and talk and coordinate services, there are some serious gaps.”

The Progress Plan is now moving into its final stage, Morton said, which will include another outreach to the community to ensure the priority areas haven’t changed since 2012, and then a final community plan will be created.

Once completed, Morton will revisit local governments to present the plan and see how governments might be able to help meet some of the needs identified.

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