For a number of years when Board Members have met, informal discussions frequently include the topic of a national group that would support Boards in various ways. The expectations of such a group range from having one voice to communicate with DMFS on shared issues, to the standardization of Board activity on national aspects of their work. At this point the discussions have been informal and no substantive action has been undertaken to investigate the national interest or feasibility of such a group.
At the 1999 Atlantic Regional Conference in Gagetown the Board cell discussed the need for national contact in the wake of DMFS cancelling the National Conference. During the meeting the need for national consultation was identified and a national business meeting was proposed to address the growing number of issues requiring Board attention nationally, unfortunately the business meeting never took place.
At the 2000 Ontario and Quebec Regional Conference again the topic of national collaboration was discussed. When posed with questions regarding the formation of a national body Mr. Jameson Director of Military Family Services responded that in his opinion it was the responsibility of the Boards themselves to organize if they felt it was necessary. However, DMFS could not initiate nor would it interfere with the pursuit of a national group.
MFSP Working Group under the direction of ADM HR Mil reviewed the issue and the discussion prompted the inclusion of a National Association recommendation in the Dr. Clark’s final report. (Follow-Up Program Evaluation Study recommendation 9-5-3 pg 65. May 2002.) The final recommendation of the working group was as follows;
“It is recommended that:
A new Working Group be established to investigate the formation of a national association of MFRCs for the purposes of, inter alia, facilitating and promoting the exchange of knowledge among members, enhancing professionalism through training and professional development, contributing to the effectiveness of centres by developing common standards and best practices, and representing the interests of the membership in discussions, negotiations and dispute resolution with DND/CF officials at the national level (including the re-negotiation of the MOU).” Recommendation # 8 Military Family Services Review Action Plan. (MFSP Action Plan 1 Aug. 2005 pg 2.)
In response to the recommendation the following actions were taken and the issue considered complete.
“It is proposed that the new Working Group will include MFRC representatives. The FSRWG drafted the proposed terms of reference for the new Working Group. Research should be performed in the not-for-profit sector to determine the best way ahead. Obtaining legal input would be advised. This national association should not overlap with the roles and responsibilities of the MFNAB. Considerations need to be given to the C/MFRCs outside of Canada.
An FSRWG new recommended initiative. Comments
The FSRWG completed its work and handed this initiative over to a volunteer, Mrs. Tracy Douglass t.douglass @ sympatico.ca who will liaise with the C/MFRCs to continue to work this recommendation. Centres are awaiting further direction. MFRC Comox does not support National Association and feels DMFS and Field Operations Managers.” Action Taken Military Family Services Review Action Plan 31 Mar 2003. (MFSP Action Plan 1 Aug. 2005 pg 2.)
The outcome of this action is unknown at this time.
Recently the Executive Director of the Esquimalt MFRC circulated a document for discussion of this issue at the up coming national ED’s meeting which encompasses many of the same principles discussed in this document. There is no doubt from the number of efforts focused towards a national organization that the concept is appealing but the reason for the failed attempts at pursuing the issue need to be addressed.