ACDS’ Continued and Strong Advocacy for the Sector 
Message from Andrea Hesse, CEO
ACDS is proud to be trusted as the source of information, and the voice and advocate for community disability service providers in Alberta. In addition to programs and services that build capacity and support quality services, advocacy is a key membership value and has been a critical need throughout the current pandemic crisis, and as we move forward with addressing crucial systemic and program challenges in the coming months. We have prioritized this work over the past three years, by building engagement mechanisms and relationships with our members, government, and partners. These mechanisms have created platforms for informed advocacy and are allowing us to play a central role in influencing the collaborative development of policy responses.

COVID-19 challenged all of us to adapt and innovate in new and unparalleled ways. Service providers responded by demonstrating resilience and innovation, while continuing to safeguard individuals and staff and deliver quality services.  

ACDS is proud of the effective advocacy we’ve engaged in to support our sector through the pandemic crisis. Since the public health emergency was declared in March, ACDS has intensified our supports to the sectorThis comprehensive timeline details ACDS’ advocacy efforts at every stage of the crisis, to date. Through various mechanisms—including regular communication with service providers, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (CSS), and other government ministries and agencies; in addition to increased work by the Service Provider Partnership Committee (SPPC) and working groups—ACDS helped address key issues and challenges. These advocacy successes ranged from procuring PPE, to addressing issues related to health orders, funding and service delivery, and addressing the need for CSS to communicate more strongly with service providers.
 
We also continue to inform provincial initiatives to support non-profits and broader civil society with COVID-19 recovery. Most recently, we submitted a response to the Premier’s Council on Charities and Civil Society COVID-19 recovery consultation

At the same time as we support the sector through the COVID crisis, our focus has also remained on longer-term systemic challenges, and the necessary program changes to address program improvement and sustainability. We recommenced this work with the SPPC in early July, along with existing and new working groups, including a working group looking at learnings from COVID. The pandemic exposed many system-level barriers in the sector and these lessons will assist in informing the broader work on systemic change ahead.  

In addition, we have recently begun discussions with CSS to develop a process for collaborative action on key system transformation this fall. As more clarity is attained in the coming weeks about this process, we will share updates and opportunities for informing and influencing this work. While the issues arising during the pandemic will inform the conversation going forward, we are focused on influencing the direction of broader changes related to program sustainability and ACDS is pleased to have been at the table from the very beginning, as the collective and credible voice of the sector. 

We are committed to continuing to advocate on behalf of our members and the Community Disability Services sector. We encourage you to continue to bring forward issues and challenges and to engage in opportunities to address broader systemic issues. Thank you for the work you do to deliver high quality services to individuals with disabilities in Alberta, and for engaging and supporting ACDS through member engagement, committees and working groups, allowing us to advance positive program and policy changes.   

We appreciate the trust you show in ACDS and will continue to be a strong collective voice for the sector. 
ACDS COVID-19 Contact Email
Service provider input and engagement is critical to helping ACDS advocate on behalf of the sector. Service providers can report their issues, concerns and questions to our dedicated email, and a member of the ACDS Leadership team will respond:
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Alberta Council of Disability Services