We need your support to maintain the annual grant for the core community information services from the City of Kitchener.
On Monday evening at 7 pm, December 14, Kitchener City Council will be meeting to decide City budget items for the coming year. As part of that meeting, they will be voting on a motion to cut our core grant for community information service support in 2016 and eliminate it entirely in 2017, based on the recommendation made by city staff stating that:
"The Corporation of the City of Kitchener (City staff) is able to satisfy our community information needs through a variety of avenues, including the Region's new database. ... Beyond the Corporation of the City of Kitchener, members of the community have a variety of ways they can access community information and that the accessibility of information has dramatically improved, including those who might be marginalized."
This is not the first time we have faced this situation. However, each time in the past we have succeeded in maintaining the core annual grant to support our work because we had support from the community!
Read the words of support expressed by some of the community members from agencies, university, media and community groups in their letters and testimonies and if you don't agree with the funding cut recommendation, let City Council know:
Appear as a delegation at the Council Meeting on Monday December 14th at 7pm at the Council Chambers to express your concern and share what you value about the community information work we do to support the community. You can register by sending an e-mail to Linda Korabo at firstname.lastname@example.org indicating that your want to speak to this issue.
Attend the December 14th Council Meeting to show your support - City of Kitchener Council Chambers, 7 pm.
Some points you might include in your letter to the Council or in your delegation at the December 14 Council Meeting:
- How you use the resources of the Centre and/or work with the Centre;
- Why this work and these resources are important to and valued by yourself and others;
- The importance of ensuring that all community members can get their information needs met;
- The vital role that the information experts at the Centre have in providing these services; and
- The responsibility of municipalities to support these services.
For more information about the importance of community information services, read our backgrounder Social Development Focus 2015: Access to Information.
Why we are appealing the staff recommendation to cut our funding?
1. We LISTEN to the voices of our community and they tell us our service is important. Many members of our community believe that a specialized, professional, experienced and dedicated community information service is an irreplaceable asset. Our information services extend beyond telephone HelpLine and online information and provides flexible and customized support in problem solving and service system navigation. Comments we have heard in letters of support we have received:
"Trained professionals act as intermediaries - or system navigators - who match clients with the necessary combination of human services that address the individual's needs with the social service delivery network of your city.
They effectively turn problems into solutions and information into knowledge. This process is more than just providing a telephone number or an address, but a combination of empathy, listening skills, an extensive knowledge of local resources and providing options to services."
Michele Watson, President, Inform Ontario
"I am not aware of other community groups focusing on barrier free engagement with exchanges regarding supports for newcomers, VisitAble housing, digital inclusion and much more. As an expert and world renowned speaker on inclusion and diversity, as well as employment for people with disabilities, I recognize the value of the ability to include ALL, and am grateful for SDCWR’s leadership in this regard."
Jamie Burton, Vice President, Dolphin Digital Technologies
Founder, Dolphin Disabilities Mentoring Day
"RENT has been one of the Centre’s telephone contact service clients since 2005. This is a phone answer service which has the Centre’s staff take calls for us and pass on volunteer names only to those who are appropriate. With this service we can publicize the community information line in our public material and we are listed in the phone book. Not only is this a valuable support for our volunteer run organization, we know the community can always get support and the information they need. City of Kitchener funding for the Centre’s community information service makes it possible for us to have this phone contact service."
Mary Pappert, Renters Educating and Networking Together (R.E.N.T.)
2. We ARE information service provider SPECIALISTS. Most other agencies in the community provide information to their clients and we certainly want them to continue to do this. However, they are specialist in their service area and should not have to be information specialists as well. Our staff are trained and certified information specialists. Along with our counterparts across Ontario, we have worked to build standards of practice specifically for community information service.
"As executive director of the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, I worked with the Community Information Centre to develop and maintain a Cultural Directory for this region. With their support over a period of about ten years, we were able to make available, online, in print, and as a database adaptable for undertakings such as cultural mapping, the most complete range of information related to arts, culture and heritage in our region that has ever been assembled.
With the suspension of arts council operations in 2010, that work was carried on, first by the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation, and later as part of the Creative Enterprise Initiative “Grand Social” information portal. Both organizations underestimated the complexities of doing this kind of work. As a result, the quality and integrity of the data has been severely eroded, in part because the work was done without support from the Community Information Centre."
Martin de Groot
"One particular initiative we applaud is the Centre’s goal to improve tenant conditions in vulnerable neighbourhoods. The Centre has created a useful information resource for tenants to help guide them through the formal complaint process for dealing with rental property maintenance issues."
Mary Pappert, Renters Educating and Networking Together (R.E.N.T.)
3. Our community information service is essential to the KNOWLEDGE we need to have about our community for all of our social development work. Our community development role is built on a continuous integration of community information service with social planning practice that allows us to provide service to the community in inclusive and dynamic ways.
This enables us to make unique contributions to community information service development that empowers individuals and groups to seek solutions and respond to information needs not being met in the community.
"Initially seeking only a list of women’s organizations in the region, Ruth ended up meeting with Trudy Beaulne, Executive Director of the then Social Planning Council, who was extremely enthusiastic about the idea and offered the Council’s help in organizing an initial meeting for representatives from interested organizations. ...76 local women’s groups or organizations were invited to attend; 51 women attended, representing over 40 organizations. After a number of face-to-face meetings, supported by Social Planning Council, the Network members decided that a virtual network would accomplish the goals originally set out, ...sharing on a regular basis information regarding their organizations’ activities...
This is an example of the enormous value of the information that the Social Development Centre has at the ready. Even more important, is the ability of Centre staff to use that information to not simply answer questions, but to explore these questions and their possible answers in greater depth -- and, in a case like ours, to support continued networking and connection. We need this service in Kitchener-Waterloo. Our community would be much poorer without it, and we urge you to continue your support."
Susan Vecchiarelli, President, Canadian Federation of University Women K-W
This integration also enables us to support other agencies, groups and networks to help them fill their own gaps in the information and services that are available:
"I utilize resources from the SDCWR for information, consultation and research purposes and am currently collaborating with the agency to enhance resources to better inform our community about supports for those with missing persons and of trauma informed services. This is currently a gap in information, currently not in existence for the community."
Maureen Trask, Member, Coordinating Committee and Community Awareness,
Waterloo Region Trauma Services Initiative
"The time and energy you spend gathering valuable data, assessing community needs and resources, building community cooperation, providing support to citizen participation, and encouraging the community to become active in social issues and to work together for the betterment of all who live here is, in my opinion, vital to the health and well-being of the region.
The Social Development Centre is a Community Service Hub and without the hub the wheel does not spin - it just rolls, wobbles and crashes and the spokes fly around in every direction. The SDC is the centre that pulls together and combines information making it easier for someone who is seeking assistance."
Loralie Broderick, CityWatch of WaterlooRegion
"Organizations like ours have long depended on the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and its information service for reliable, current and comprehensive information about our community. Their service cannot be duplicated by other entities or organizations, nor can the reputable, local information that they supply be simply “Googled'!"
Fran Pappert-Shannon, Director, Public Relations
Coalition of Muslim Women of KW
"Digital inclusion continues to be an issue for many and information overload makes it more important than ever to have knowledge experts who can mediate access and ensure information is packaged in ways that are meaningful and accessible to those who need it."
Gehan D. Sabry, Editor Cross Cultural Magazine
We want a sustainable community information service to support to the community and we want to be able to develop information services and resources that respond to changing needs. This includes the following and more:
- Continued functioning of the Resource Centre offering information and system navigation support to individuals, organizations and networks face to face, over the phone, with customized resources, etc.
- Capacity to update and develop the Information Resources such as The Blue Book, information leaflets, specialized lists and maps, web portals.
Tell us what is important to you. Your voice in support of this work is important.
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