By CFSSC communications intern, Ben Murray
If you asked me three weeks ago what Family Service Ontario (FSO) is, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a good answer. I’m a Georgian College student just wrapping up a post-graduate diploma in Professional Writing. Three weeks ago I began my work placement at CFSSC with little knowledge of the FSO member agencies network and the amazing work they all do in the community – and not just our community, but around all of Ontario. So, when I was given the opportunity to attend Family Service Day at Queen’s Park (I have a political science background, so this got me very excited!), I jumped on the chance, and I’m sure glad I did.
The annual event at Ontario’s seat of power is organized by Family Service Ontario, which represents 47 not-for-profit member agencies from across the province. Together, they serve more than 250,000 individuals, couples and families. These agencies, including CFSSC here in Simcoe Muskoka, provide a wide range of community-based mental health, trauma and wellness service. Many of them were represented at Family Service Day, which was held Wednesday, May 8th – right in the middle of Mental Health Week.
The day started off in the steep seats of the gallery during Question Period, a time for Ontario’s Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to debate pressing issues concerning the province. It’s quite the scene, to put it bluntly, and as boring as it may sound to you, I would encourage everyone to attend it just one time in your life. Trust me, it’s more interesting and relevant to your daily life than you might think.
The rest of the day offered more direct contact with MPPs and government staff. Many MPPs stopped by the reception to touch base with their local agencies. It was great to see local MPPs come to the event: Attorney General Christine Mulroney and Andrea Khanjin (who is also Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks). And MPP Jill Dunlop, gave a shout out to FSO, CSFFC and Family Service Day from the floor of the House.
After lunch, round-table discussions were held with top ministry staff from the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care – those portfolios which currently fund several Family Services programs. The talks were formal, encouraging, and even fun. The comradery shared between all family service agencies was perfectly displayed – as was the familiarity between FSO leadership and the government reps, who called agency staff by name and referred to them as “partners.” It’s easy to tell the agencies are all on the same team rather than working against one another.
So, despite all the ohhs and ahhs I muttered to myself from just walking around the historic Legislature Building and seeing Question Period in action, there was one thing that stood out to me from the day. And that was observing first-hand the collaboration between the member agencies in Family Service Ontario. It would be so easy for each agency to show up to the conference and brag about a program they just started, or rub stats in everyone else’s face claiming they’re doing a better job than others, but none of this happens. Not even close.
Instead, it is truly a team effort–everyone working together to ensure that as a whole, Family Service Ontario is moving forward and working in the best interest of the people they represent. It’s an honour to be working among these dedicated people.
If you want more information about the FSO agency working hard in communities across Simcoe Muskoka – including our FREE walk-in clinics, visit http://cfssc.ca.