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Volume 24, Number 45, Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Funding crisis at Families First

Too many politicians are utterly ignorant about meeting protocol and sometimes it shows.

Fort Saskatchewan City Council had just such a moment at its last meeting in October. Councillor Brian Kelly, frustrated with Roberts Rules of Order, asked his fellow members to soften the rules and, in their ignorance, the majority let it happen.

Roberts Rules were first published by U.S. Army officer Henry Martyn Robert in 1876, and revised and perfected many times since. They are the standard rules by which almost every organization conducts meetings.

Kelly had presented a motion, then tried to withdraw it after several minutes of debate, saying the motion was obviously going to be defeated anyway. Mayor Gale Katchur, as chair of the meeting, told Kelly that Council would have to vote on his request to withdraw the motion. This was because Roberts Rules say that once debate begins, the motion belongs to Council and not the original mover.

Council agreed to allow the motion to be withdrawn, but Kelly wasn't satisfied with this. He presented a new motion calling for a change in the rules of Council meetings to allow the mover of any motion to withdraw it at any time.

His change was approved four votes to three.

Had this happened at any service club I ever attended, Kelly would have been laughed at and fined. You don't question the chair and you don't question Roberts Rules.

For good reason.

Once a motion has been presented, debated and voted upon, it may only be reconsidered under strict conditions, so that it can't be brought back time and time again. This is to prevent endless and needless debate on the same subject.

Withdrawing a motion after debate, but before a vote, is another way to bring back a motion time and time again. That's why Roberts Rules doesn't allow the mover to do it.

I trust Roberts Rules, and so does anyone with experience running meetings. Perhaps we should add a new rule requiring all politicians to join service clubs before running for office.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Public supports plan principlesNEWS/Entries/2019/11/14_Public_supports_plan_principles.html

Councillors’ ignorance showing

The future is uncertain for most of the programs offered by Fort Saskatchewan’s Families First Society, the society warned its patrons this week.

The society was notified last week that all current Alberta Children’s Services funded programs will end as of March 31, 2020, to be replaced by an entirely new funding system.

The announcement effects Parent Link, Home Visitation and Early Childhood Development programs, which make up the bulk of Families First programs, says executive director Heather Boonstra.

Families First intends to apply for new funding under whatever new programs are established, she adds. Information about these new programs is also starting to become available. Some information was released late last week, and Boonstra expects to get more at a special question and answer session with Alberta Children’s Services officials this week.

Boonstra says she is optimistic that Families First will still have a role to play in the new system. “Families First is choosing to respond by soaking up all the information we can in the next few weeks, rolling up our sleeves and working with our amazing community partners to put the best proposal forward to the province that they’ve ever seen!”

She adds that she has been overwhelmed by the support from the community since these changes were first announced. She asked that those wishing to help Families First provide testimonials expressing why Families First is important to them. These testimonials can then be used in any application package.

Families First Society was founded in 1998 as an early intervention program. Its programs include the Parent Link Centres, Home Visitation, Parent-Child Mother Goose, Children's Indoor Play Space, Family Violence Prevention,  Steadfast Connector and Angel Whispers.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019