Friday November 28, 2014

EDITORIAL - Single voice for social issues


There are ideas out there which make so much sense when they are finally brought forward you are surprised they have not been undertaken earlier.

That is the case with the concept undertaken Monday bringing human services groups in Yorkton together with the idea of creating a common vision and set of goals to get the groups speaking with a united voice on key social issues in the city.

“We know that there are a number of forums where human services meet on a regular basis and there are networks that support good working relationships. We also know that there are other efforts around mobilizing community and building partnerships to find solutions to common issues. We would like to build on the existing efforts and strengths in our community,” explained Andrew Sedley in his opening remarks to the gathering of some 35 government, and non-government groups working in the human services sector.

The idea originated with a small group within the city; John Denysek with the Saskatchewan Abilities Council, Terri Pederson with Parkland College, Betty Metzler with Sunrise Health Region Public Health, JoAnne Rieger with Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration, Lois Okrainec and Bernice Puritch with Kids First, Paula Walker Spieler from the Ministry of Social Services, and Sedley with SIGN.

The group deserves to be commended for not just having the foresight associated with the idea, but also taking the initiative to take their idea the next step.

“This group has put in an amazing effort into organizing what I believe will be one of the most integral opportunities for our agencies to connect and work together on future initiatives in the community,” said Sedley.

As those at the forefront of dealing with social issues the groups attending Monday’s meeting have an understanding of what social issues exist today in the city, and those which are likely to develop moving forward.

Yorkton and area are in a period of economic expansion, which is easy to see with the arrival of two canola crush plants, numerous business construction projects planned for the city this summer, and the expansion of the potash sector regionally.

While economic growth is generally positive, it can have a social impact as well. We have seen that locally already with the cost of housing jumping to the level it is a burden for many low and fixed income people. The City has moved to create a Housing Committee to look into the issue, but having a unified voice from the human services sector would only strengthen the municipal committee’s work.

Sedley said he hopes a ‘Chamber of Commerce-style’ organization may be the result of Monday’s efforts, giving human services group a forum for a united voice of issues.

“Today, we have an opportunity to be proactive. As our community grows, so do many of the issues that affect our community. There is an integral need for our human services to have both formal and informal relationships to ensure strong partnerships. Today’s conversation café will provide an opportunity for us as human services to re-establish relationships. We will develop principles to guide us in working together and we will work on identifying how to sustain our working relationships and human service connection,” he said.

It is a vision which makes perfect sense, and something which can only benefit the local community by helping the city recognize developing issues and create programs to address such issues before they become major problems.

There is little doubt Yorkton will be stronger as a result of whatever emerges from the process started Monday.



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