Building a better economy through partnerships
Executive Vice President
Government & Community Affairs
RBC Financial Group
Cowichan Valley United Way -
Prominent Canadian Speakers Series
Travelodge Silver Bridge Inn
Duncan, British Columbia
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Thanks very much for the warm introduction
Mayor Jon Lefebure, ladies and gentlemen:
Some of you may be aware that I met the
marvelous Rhoda Taylor at the AGM of the BC Association
of Family Resource Programs last December in Vancouver.
She sent an e-mail shortly after the event and invited me
to return to BC - the Cowichan Valley's United Way speaker
series in particular - to chat with all of you about "Building
a Better Economy through Partnerships", with a focus
on investing in early childhood development and care. Rhoda
also helped orchestrate my presentation in Victoria yesterday
afternoon, where I met with members of the Early Childhood
Community Coalition and Success By 6 Council of Partners.
Over and above Rhoda's connection to United Way, Healthy
Beginnings and other community projects, we can also learn
something about her via e-mail, as she obviously subscribes
to the credo: "I am only one, but still I am one. I
cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will
not refuse to do the something I can do." (Edward Everett
Hale) Rhoda, you're a community pacesetter and a partnership
builder - thank you for the invitation to join this impressive
group this morning.
One of our country's communications pioneers,
the late Marshall McLuhan, often shared his thoughts about
children. You may recognize his remark about changing infant
diapers that goes like this: "Diaper backwards spells
repaid. Think about it." Many interpretations have
followed over the years - I prefer the one that suggests
there are short/long-term "benefits" for taking
care of children early on.
Before we get started, I want to share
a couple of experiences in this beautiful province. I attended
a First Nations Business Forum in Tofino on April 22nd.
RBC was proud to present this "working together to
build a prosperous future" event. It was gratifying
to sit in on workshops and see aboriginal and non-aboriginal
delegates catching the spirit of community partnership.
I couldn't help but reflect on the importance of private
sector involvement - RBC's involvement in catching the
spirit too. I was also reminded of futurologist Don
Tapscott's comment about children: "for the first time
in human history, (children) are becoming a massive force
for the transformation of every institution in society."
That's a pretty powerful and telling statement
no doubt in my mind that the First Nations Business Forum
was an investment in building a better economy through partnerships
investment in shaping our children's futures!
I returned to BC a week later for a Spirit
of 2010 Business Summit in Vancouver (co-presented by the
Government of British Columbia and RBC Financial Group),
the purpose of which was to give businesses information,
tools and insights about Olympic development strategies
and opportunities. In many ways, RBC's investment here speaks
to our investment in children and youth. We believe the
Games will benefit all of Canada (especially young Canadians),
from the perspective of economics, sustainability, cultural
activity, tourism and legacy. The Olympic Games are a part
of my heritage, they're a part of your heritage and part
of our history. RBC has been with the Canadian Olympic Committee
(COC) since 1947 and we expect to be a major supporter for
Vancouver 2010 and beyond. RBC is also there for children
and youth. It's simply who we are. Catching the spirit
of community building and making the connection to the early
years is nothing less than an investment in building a better
economy through partnerships
an investment in shaping
our children's futures!
By the way, please know that I want to
hear your questions/comments in a few minutes as interacting
with all of you is my favourite part of our time together
- this is definitely a two-pronged presentation.
So where do I begin? With the answer to
one of the most often asked questions I get - Charlie, why
are you (a banker) involved with early childhood development
I'm involved in supporting early childhood
development (ECD) and care because it's an economic investment
that requires more government action. Through our work at
RBC Financial Group, the senior executive team can help
influence public policy. After all, the development of human
capital at an early age is key to a successful economy.
I'm involved because it's an economic
investment that requires more corporate action. As a business
leader, I have a responsibility to push the envelope on
high priority issues - and what's more important than children?
I'm also involved because it's an economic investment that
requires more community action - kids are everybody's business.
Integrated early years programming is one of the smartest
investments communities can make. As a children's advocate
(and parent), the only way to make a difference is to get
involved and get others involved.
The bottom line is that corporations around
the world are increasingly conscious of the benefit and
the necessity of being, and being seen as, good corporate
citizens. In addition, corporations are becoming more strategically
and actively engaged - we're contributing resources and
knowledge, as well as dollars in order to help build a healthier
society. Supporting early childhood development initiatives
is a great means to weave building partnerships with building
a civil society - to create a win/win!
Overall, I'm confident that the resources
and expertise of the private sector will continue to converge
with the not-for-profit sector, including resurgence in
government support and partnerships at all levels, which
is already manifesting itself. It's clear that the federal
government has made a solid financial commitment to early
childhood development and care. It's also clear that children's
issues "will be the underlying theme in Prime Minister
Paul Martin's top social priorities" and a significant
factor in the pending federal election.
Partners and partnerships come together
for many reasons and in many different ways. Congratulations
to all of you here who represent business, government, labour
and community interests - you're all children's champions.
The quality of care our children receive
in their early years is a critical component to their success
in school, in relationships and in the workplace. I'm impressed
with the cross-government strategy for children from zero
to six years of age in BC. I'm also impressed with the partnership
building activity in this province and on the Island
- here are some highlights worth repeating:
- Last May, the Province, United Way and Credit Union Central
of BC launched a new Success By 6 early childhood development
partnership to enhance support for parents and improve early
learning for young children. This partnership provides the
required experience and infrastructure to make real, positive
differences in the lives of our children and families. Talk
about partnership building at work.
- The Hiiye'yu Lelum (House of Friendship) Society "provides
health, social, recreational and cultural services to promote
individual, family and community self-reliance. These services
address the needs and aspirations of aboriginal people and
focus on well-being within a cross-cultural context."
Healthiest Babies Possible provides holistic, culturally-based
prevention services for youth and their families including
after school programs, recreational summer projects, family
workshops and a parenting program. Talk about partnership
building opportunities in the making
- The Vancouver Board of Trade and its Early Childhood
Development Task Force is monitoring developments in early
childhood development, identifying and gathering information
on ECD and working with other organizations to help shape
public/private sector policy relating to early childhood
development. Talk about partnership building at work.
- The BC Association of Family Resource Programs has been
instrumental in building positive ministerial relations
to support ECD initiatives across the province. I'm pleased
to hear about the partnership with the BC Ministry of Children
and Family Development (MCFD) - including regional financial
support for Family Resource Programs, the creation and distribution
of FRP-driven ECD educational materials and the hosting
of EDC training events, such as "Invest In Kids."
Get the private sector involved and you'll see more partnerships
- The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), a pioneer,
interdisciplinary research partnership that's directing
a global leadership contribution to new ECD understandings
and approaches, is a tremendous model for partnership
building with the academic community - the network
of faculty, researchers and graduate students from British
Columbia's four major universities. I can't emphasize
get the private sector involved and you'll
partnership building at work.
- The January 2004 Report and Research: Building Together
- A model for a collaborative, coordinated community-based
system of early childhood supports and services that promotes
and protects the healthy development of children and families,
is a Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD),
Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and School Districts
within the Vancouver Island region partnership. I perused
the report and research with much curiosity - talk about
partnership building at work.
- Then there's the amazing dynamic fundraising duo of
Rick Doman, the Honourary Campaign Chair of the United
Way and Douglas Tucker, Campaign Chair, who's here today.
I heard about the raffling off of a "$3,000 hockey-lover's
dream to raise money for the United Way", including
a helicopter ride to and from the game and a hotel room.
I know of Rick's and Doug's big hearts and the contributions
of former Doman Industries Ltd. and Overwaitea Foods,
not to mention the enormous amount of time devoted to
United Way efforts. Talk about partnerships at work
Up to this point, I've outlined examples
of successful community building in this province and on
the Island, which tells me the obvious: United Way and other
organizations know a few things about what it takes to make
partnerships happen and work well. You know of ways to get
in the door at executive levels - to get the ear of Ministers
Christy Clark and Linda Reid and members of their team -
to get the ear of your Mayor and local officials. You know
that having a connection usually helps - that targeting
circles of influence makes sense.
You also know that developing a strategy
is key, i.e., determining objectives, research, funding
priorities, goals/activities, a budget, communications plan,
projected results and outcomes - in other words, creating
the "investing in children is healthy business"
case. And you know that cultivating national collaborations,
sharing best practices, generating letters of support and
joining forces with similar interest groups can make a difference.
What else do you likely know? You know that branding and
board governance are hot buttons in corporate Canada - that
talking our language can ultimately secure corporate support.
The underlying goal of RBC Financial Group's
corporate citizenship programs is prosperity for Canada/Canadians.
To achieve this, we must support education/learning and
health, as prosperity depends on well-developed minds -
intelligence, imagination, ingenuity and innovation. We
continue to foster relationships with business, government,
communities and our own employees to help meet our goals.
Making a community difference is a shared responsibility.
Partnerships encourage business to be catalysts for change
- to show their heart. What a great way to build a civil
society and promote social development. More times than
not, best practices are almost always about partnerships.
For example, the RBC Foundation announced
$1.3 million in funding for our 2003/2004 after-school grants
program. This community partnership is part of our ongoing
investment in children and education. To be chosen for a
grant, recipients must offer structured, supervised activities
in what we refer to as the "3 Ss": safety, social
skills and self-esteem. Activities include: computer instruction,
sports, literacy tutoring, music and art lessons, nutrition
guidance, and homework-help. British Columbia continues
to be well represented in our program.
The Cowichan Valley United Way and each
organization represented here, has a unique contribution
to make in the community. From Jean Crowder, Allison Cutler,
Julie Douglas, Don McKendrick, Chief Cyril Livingstone Ruth
Hartman, Jim Parker and Fran Kirby, to Liza Baggio, Tracey
Hamilton, Mary Hill, Dave Quist, Terry Shepherd, Debbie
Williams, Joanna Winter and Candace Spilsbury (just to name
a few), this room is filled with partnerships in action
or in the making.
I'm pleased to see Linda Grey from Duncan
Mall in the audience - I understand the Merchants Association
is involved in a reading program for children and hope you'll
update us on this project. Also, Cam Drew is with us today
- Cam's dad (Dick Drew) and I did some work together with
Chief Alphonse a few years ago and later on with Native
Wellness. Cam, please say hello to your father for me. And
it's great to see a few of my RBC colleagues among the group
- I'm sure many of you know our own Marc Germain (who's
also on your United Way board), Trish McMaster, Bill Myers,
Jack Scott and Ed Watson.
I urge all of you to think about partnership
building - about "stirring the pot" - about
raising issues (and raising our minds) within the context
of early childhood development and care and building a better
economy. This is what we'll be doing in Ottawa next month
when Success By 6/United Way partners gather business leaders
together to learn more about opportunities that revolve
around investing in children - the early years.
The time is now to convince corporate
Canada to take a more active interest and leadership role
in supporting early childhood development and care - and
to attract more business people to forums like this one.
The private sector needs to understand that investing in
children is good business. Partnerships are all about promoting
inclusion, sharing ideas and strategies, building bridges,
enhancing understanding and making connections. There's
always a place for business in the community as business
is an intrinsic part of the community - of your community.
Once again, I want to thank the United
Way/Vern White and Rhoda in particular, for coordinating
this event. If I can be a sounding board of support, please
don't hesitate to touch base by phone or e-mail - I'll leave
a few business cards behind. And if you're interested in
more information about the business case for supporting
early childhood development and care (and building a better
economy), you may find the Voices for Children link,
A somewhat hot off the press footnote: On Monday, the Government
of Canada announced the release of "A Canada Fit for
Children", its response to the commitments made on
May 10, 2002, at the United Nations General Assembly Special
Session on Children. "A Canada Fit for Children re-affirms
the importance that all sectors of Canadian society - governments,
organizations and individuals - place on children. In particular,
A Canada Fit for Children re-affirms the Government's commitment
to making children and families a national priority and
to continue to work with governments, stakeholders and the
public. Senator Landon Pearson, was instrumental in developing
which is the result of input from thousands
of Canadians, including young people, who have a common
interest in the rights and well-being of children."
I also urge you to check out http://sen.parl.gc.ca/lpearson/specialsession/index.htm
and review the document. This is one more tool to help push
the envelope for supporting early childhood development
and care - to help build a stronger business case for private
sector participation and partnerships.
In closing, I can only echo the tag line of Success By 6
- let's make sure we're "helping all children succeed
for life" and the words of Jennifer Harvey, a graduate
student at the University of Victoria: "(We) should
make early childhood development a priority because, like
the slogan says, the early years last a lifetime."
now it's your turn - let's
hear from you!