An advocacy year like no other

December 22, 2020
Banner year for advocacy.
From virtual volunteer recruitment to Zoom meetings with MPs, the year of COVID-19 has been an advocacy year like no other.

Federal Retirees’ advocacy priorities are always important, and that’s perhaps even more true with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting nearly every aspect of how we live, work and play.

In mid-March, advocacy as we have usually done it — through in-person meetings — was suddenly no longer possible, making for an interesting year. With a refocus and hard work, our dedicated volunteers, members and national office staff stepped up and made sure we still had and are having a huge positive impact in 2020, even during these unprecedented times.

Our new advocacy committee chairwoman

Amidst a very busy advocacy year, Linda MacDonald took over from Brian Strongman in the role of chairwoman of the advocacy committee. MacDonald also sits on the Federal Retirees board as a director from the Ontario district and brings 40 years of advocacy experience.

What our advocacy accomplished this year

Long-term care and home care: For years, we have been calling on governments to implement policies and dedicate funding to improve our health-care system, especially when it comes to long-term and home care — the health services that are crucial in helping older Canadians remain active and engaged and living with dignity. This year, we focused our advocacy work on calling for national standards for home and long-term care — a need revealed as even more urgent than previously thought, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a big, long-term goal, making this advocacy campaign a long-term initiative. We’re creating momentum and we need to keep it going. Visit our website to get involved today by sending a letter to your member of Parliament and your provincially elected officials calling for national standards for home and long-term care. Close to 3,500 letters have been sent by members so far. Let’s keep this number growing.

You can also send a letter to the editor of your local news publications to draw attention to the need for national standards for home and long-term care with the easy-to-use tool found on our website.

Provincial elections: The second half of 2020 was an unexpectedly busy time for provincial elections, with New Brunswick, British Columbia and Saskatchewan all going to the polls. For each of these elections, Federal Retirees ran campaigns calling for action on older adult care.

Volunteers made sure all provincial election candidates were informed of Federal Retirees’ priorities. Our teams held virtual meetings and spoke to candidates, posed questions during townhalls and sent letters to candidates and media outlets alike, using our online tools and by accessing our advocacy resource library online.

Ontario seniors’ advocate: In early July, a private member’s bill was tabled to appoint a seniors’ advocate for Ontario. Bill 196, Seniors’ Advocate Act, 2020, would establish a seniors’ advocate as an independent, non-partisan officer of the Ontario legislature, with the power and responsibility to safeguard the welfare of older Ontarians, their caregivers and families. Using our online tool, 2,591 members of Federal Retirees (as of Oct. 22) had sent letters to their members of provincial Parliament voicing their support for a seniors’ advocate.

Reach 338: This year we also launched a new advocacy initiative called Reach 338, which focuses on building a nationwide network of advocates to ensure that our advocacy work reaches all 338 federal ridings and connects our members with their Federal Retirees community like never before. Whether it’s through a virtual meeting or event, a letter or simply a phone call, Reach 338 will make certain that Federal Retirees is seen and our priorities are understood by every sitting member of Parliament.

More than 2,300 Reach 338 supporters have joined our network so far. These supporters are crucial in making sure our ongoing and future advocacy campaigns have the largest possible impact.

Many hands make light work, so if you, or someone you know, is interested in joining this network, email or visit the Reach 338 sign-up page on our website.


This article appeared in the winter 2020 issue of Sage magazine as part of our “Advocacy in Action” series, which tackles current advocacy issues and answers questions we receive from members. While you’re here, why not download the full issue and peruse our back issues too?