Perseverance and Public Policy: Cultivating Caring Coalitions
Executive Vice President
Government & Community Affairs
RBC Financial Group
Hospice Association of Ontario's Annual Conference
Vision, Voice, Action - Engaging the Future
Friday, September 12, 2003
Bill, thank you for the marvelous introduction.
I read the Chair's 2003 Report to the Membership and couldn't
help but note the many achievements of the Hospice Association
of Ontario under your leadership (or as Bill put it, "laying
the foundation for the future"). It's clear that Bill
regards his soon-to-be- relinquished role as "the opportunity
of a lifetime." It's also clear that you've helped at
least one other individual find her life's work
course I'm speaking of Janet Napper.
There's no better way to introduce the topic, Perseverance
and Public Policy - Cultivating Caring Coalitions then
to tell you a story about Janet. And since Janet has no idea
where I'm going with this, I'll get right to it before she
turns a deeper shade of red. As some of you may know, Janet
invited me to speak at this conference a few months ago. She
did something that distinguishes your HAO executive director
in more ways than one. Along with her invitation, she thanked
me for meeting with her and Trent Gow about building the Hospice
Association of Ontario's public policy initiative. Her e-mail
went like this: "As a result of your advice to establish
a business case, we've now developed a document - Towards
an Ontario-Wide Strategy for Quality End-of-Life Care
that contains a 10-point priority list. We presented this
information to the Hon. Dan Newman and suggested that the
next step be a government-sponsored symposium to further develop
a province-wide approach to end-of-life care."
I thought to myself - wow! She gets it! And that's not the
end of the story
A few weeks later, Janet invited me to introduce June Callwood
at the awards luncheon (which I'm delighted to do despite
the fact that June is unable to join us today). She also planted
the seed about the stakeholder consultation in October, provided
some detail and encouraged my participation.
Again, I thought to myself - wow! She really gets it! You're
right, there's still more to the story...
Just a few weeks ago, Janet touched base again - she referred
to the conference and also sent a copy of the HAO's provincial
election strategy, knowing full well that Ontario would likely
be in the midst of a campaign during this event and so we
If you're counting, I'm now up to 3 wows - Janet pushed all
the right buttons to get my attention and interest - I call
it creative perseverance in action. Equally
important, Janet was doing what she obviously does exceedingly
well - cultivating caring coalitions. Can you imagine how
many other success stories are out there - right in this room?
Working and building relationships with partners pays huge
dividends to you and your hospices/associations. When it comes
to advocacy leadership, Janet is a teacher not a student -
she knows how to employ effective steps - engage people -
to build a stronger hospice palliative support platform.
At the risk of repeating myself, all I can say is wow! And
Janet, I had to tell this story because sharing best practices
is important to the success of this conference and to making
a compelling business case for hospice palliative support.
By the way, your creative perseverance might have
something to do with your roots and early years in the great
city of Winnipeg. I'll be sure to mention your name and the
impressive work of the HAO during my visit there next week.
Before I begin my more formal remarks, I want you to know
that I paid special attention to news and activities revolving
around Palliative Care Week this year; this was an opportunity
to get up to speed on the issues relating to quality end-of-life
care for Canadians before the conference. I also checked out
the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and
HAO web sites. And speaking of web sites, Senator Sharon Carstairs'
site is an excellent source of information/updates. I learned
much more about the Senate's significant role on palliative
and end-of-life care within the federal government, especially
since Sharon Carstairs' appointment as Minister with Special
Responsibility for Palliative Care in 2001. After absorbing
much material, I have a greater appreciation for the perseverance
and work of hospice palliative care champions - for all of
We're about to focus on some strategies and action plans
- proven advocacy steps - that will help HAO members cultivate
more caring coalitions with governments and corporate/business
Canada. Then we'll open up this session to a Q/A, as I really
want to hear from you. Let's get started
Public policy advocacy is about getting information to the
right people at the right time and in the right way - marketing
and managing what you have to say to influence your targets
ultimately getting results. And when you get it right, you're
paving the way for strong coalitions or partnerships that
have immense power to push the envelope on public policy.
1. Know the plan.
Develop innovative strategies. What are your objectives in
connecting with a public/private sector contact? What are
your project goals/activities? What are the principles and
priorities for funding - for your budget? What is your communications
plan - your work plan? What are your expected results and
outcomes? What about regional and national collaboration?
Do you have a project evaluation plan and letters of support?
If you had 5 minutes to make your case or sell a particular
message, what sound bites would you use? Questions, questions
and more questions
I couldn't help but be impressed with the convincing 10-Point
Priority List that the HAO team developed as part of the provincial
strategy for quality end-of-life. The provincial election
campaign strategy is another smart move. These activities
are all part of building a business case template - a template
that changes with internal/external issues, new governments,
various business interests etc. The HAO continues to demonstrate
it's on the right track. Know the plan.
2. Know your audience.
This is the first rule of communications...members of your
team should have knowledge about key targets and players -
key elected officials/business leaders-for example, what do
they care about? What are their hot buttons? What committees/boards
are they on? What do their constituents care about? This often
means upfront and ongoing research, a robust database or someone
to manage the information. It's crucial to know what motivates
an elected official or business leader, otherwise you can't
engage in relevant communication with them. You also need
to recognize that elected officials are a unique audience.
When you're crafting messages or positions on government issues,
remember to use the language of government. Talk to their
policies, their interests.
And of course more questions
do you know your elected
provincial and federal MPPs and MPs representatives? Do they
know you? For example, in the Alliston area, there's the The
Honourable Jim Wilson, MPP Simcoe-Grey, and Paul Bonwick,
MP for Simcoe-Grey. What do they know about HAO and this conference?
Should you know your government/elected officials - should
you be in contact with them? I suggest you should.
Do you know the key federal and provincial government players
that developed a national strategy for end-of-life care? What
about the key players in the Secretariat on Palliative and
End-of-Life Care at Health Canada or the Interdepartmental
Working Group that was created to implement end-of-life care
initiatives across several federal departments? Should you
know? I suggest you should. Know your audience.
3. Know the Issues:
What's on the radar screen of the public
MPs/MPPs constituency? Stay on top of trends so you're ready
to communicate your position at a moment's notice. Keep your
eyes open and your ears tuned in. Sometimes, legislation in
an unrelated area can have an effect or necessitate a position
in yours. Make the links, as you've done with the Romanow
Report and other cases. You should also be able to assess
whether an action in an unrelated arena might become an issue
for you. And remember the lessons you've learned.
For example, are you familiar with the national public opinion
survey released in June, where a "strong majority of
Canadians who are covered by employee health benefit plans
say that a range of home care services should be provided
by government health plans - not by private benefit plans.
80% say that nursing care in the home, for the elderly and
for people who are dying, should be paid for by government
health plans." How does this issue affect HAO, your work
and your advocacy?
The Joint Institute of Cancer Research and Health Canada
Working Group recently held a conference for researchers and
health care providers in final-stage medical diseases as well
as their counterparts in the palliative care of cancer patients.
How does this collaborative event affect HAO, your work and
"This year's First Ministers' Accord on Health Care
Renewal provides $16 billion to target primary health care,
including end-of-life home care; the Health Accord also initiates
talks between the federal Minister of Health and provincial
and territorial counterparts to address end-of-life home care."
How does this development affect HAO, your work and your advocacy?
Know the issues.
4. Know how the issues and the audience
You must be able to assess the impact a single action might
have on different groups. Be aware that cultivating caring
coalitions is political: everything is connected. Consider
the consequences of your communications. Remember, there's
a fine line between perseverance and irritation.
For example, in May the CIHR Institute of Aging, announced
$400,000 for the research protocol to develop the Canadian
Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). The study will provide
knowledge about the aging process that will be used to develop
enhanced treatments and prevention methods for illnesses linked
to aging. What's the connection here for HAO?
The Canadian Nurses' Association developed a certification
program in Hospice Palliative Care. Since national standards
will advance excellence in quality end-of-life care, how does
this development affect HAO, your work and your advocacy?
One more example
in June Bill C-28 was given Royal Assent.
"While implementing the budget commitments, this bill
makes the new compassionate care leave provision
said Senator Carstairs. This legislation helps to protect
jobs and income for families that need to care for a dying
loved one, starting January 2004. How will this new reality
impact HAO's public policy advocacy? The key to employing
public advocacy steps that will help make a stronger case
for hospice palliative care support is building and managing
key relationships with influencers and constituencies, as
well as educating various stakeholders (including elected
and non-elected officials) on major aspects of your organization/hospice.
The challenge in education - understanding the dynamics -
almost always has to do with timing. Messages tend to resonate
when something significant happens in the public domain -
something that directly interests/affects governments and
their constituents (elections, budgets etc.). Given the increasing
influence and activity of grassroots leadership (from backbenchers
to special interest groups and everyday citizens) in terms
of shaping public policy, it's very important for this growth
group to also be well informed/consulted about issues.
A fundamental principle of good relationship building is
to establish a foundation of Trust, Integrity
and Credibility, as TIC is a must when higher levels
of engagement on more serious issues, is required. When possible,
framing your agenda from the perspective of the government's
agenda (and its need to satisfy multiple stakeholders) is
helpful for building trust and leveraging.
Does business have something to bring to the table on quality
end-of-life care? I believe it does. In the broadest sense,
business interests are not special interests - they are the
national interest. At a policy level, business interests are
about jobs, investment, growth, trade, prosperity and the
standard of living. We're interested in almost all of the
policies that affect the economic well being of our customers,
shareholders and employees. It's essential for HAO to continue
seeking out internal collaborative opportunities along with
public sector/community and business partners.
I can only echo the words of Sharon Carstairs: "It's
important to recognize that the key to the success of the
Canadian strategy will be collaboration among governments,
health professionals, voluntary organizations and communities.
This is a message that I will be taking to business community
members and other community leaders across the country to
increase public awareness of palliative care
it has implications
that extend far beyond the health sector. End-of-life issues
directly affect the lives of not only patients and their immediate
families; they also have a direct bearing on their employers,
friends and communities." We hear you Senator Carstairs!
Cultivating caring coalitions starts right in his room.
Incremental progress would not be possible without the tireless
work of volunteers in the HAO and throughout the province.
I see some familiar faces as I glance around the room: from
Brian Freedman, Dan Dempster (both of the Dorothy Ley Hospice),
Deborah Randall-Wood (Casey House), Carolyn Harding (Hospice
Caledon) and Mary Gaffney (Family Services Perth Huron Hospice
Services), to Mary MacDonald (Hospice Durham), Kristen Porritt
(Hospice of Waterloo Region) Marilyn Mirabelli (Hospice Association
of Ontario) and each and every one of you at this conference,
you're all champions in my mind. I applaud your unwavering
support of hospice palliative care - you bring new meaning
to vision, voice, action and engaging the future - new meaning
to perseverance and public policy
and new meaning to
cultivating caring coalitions.
RBC Financial Group continues to support hospices across
Canada, mainly through the RBC Foundation. My colleagues in
Toronto have fond memories of helping Trinity Home Hospice
reach new heights last October when we hosted a wine tasting
and auction that raised $18,000. We're also proud of the volunteer
work employees do in supporting hospices across the country.
Our own Vaughan Wilcox has been nominated for the 2003 June
Callwood Circle of Outstanding Volunteers award. Vaughan has
been a volunteer leader with CommunityCARE Home Hospice for
more than 10 years
he mentors new volunteers and guides
them through the challenges of volunteering, speaks at hospice
training sessions, works with families to support loved ones
in need and supports clients/families during the most difficult
hours. Last year, Vaughan applied for and received a donation
through the RBC Employee Volunteer Grant Program in support
of his efforts with the CommunityCARE Home Hospice Program.
We couldn't be more proud of Vaughan and other RBCers who
lead the caring way across the country.
In closing, enlightened public advocacy leads to enlightened
public policy. The Hospice Association of Ontario - and its
members - has the vision and voice to make a difference. Knowing
you plan, knowing your audience, knowing your issues and knowing
the connections is key to your ongoing success. Try new approaches
for aligning interests and support - in cultivating caring
coalitions with governments, communities and businesses. And
while you're at it, a little creative perseverance
just ask Janet - she gets it!
now let's hear from you.