1. To set up ways to best manage the organization
It’s important for People First of Ontario to be well managed because this means that other people and other organizations will recognize People First of Ontario as an organization that they can work with and count on to advocate for people who are labelled.
How do we manage our organization well?
Financial Management: This is important because we need to be able to keep track of the money that we spend. This helps others to trust that we are spending money properly and keeping track of the money that is given to us to do advocacy work.
Membership Database Development: We need to make sure we know where local People First chapters are, and who their members are, and how to get in contact with them. This helps us to do our work in a way that makes the most sense, and to communicate with each other about important issues.
Website Development: We need to create a website that explains who we are, what we do, and how to get in touch with us.
2. To get new members and set up new chapters
It’s important to get new members because this helps to make sure that People First of Ontario will grow and stay focused on the issues that are important to people who are labelled.
How do we get new members and set up new chapters?
New Chapter Visits: By visiting different local People First chapters, the People First of Ontario board is able to keep track of what is important to these groups. Visiting local chapters also allows for different chapters to learn more about People First as an organization, and what issues are important at the provincial level.
Annual Conference: The annual conference is a time for People First members from around the province to get together and learn about what is important to other members. It is also a time to learn about ways that different groups can work together. The Annual General Meeting is part of the annual conference, and this is when elections for the provincial board take place, and decisions are made about topics that are important for people who are labelled.
3. To go to meetings and be involved in committees that work to make things better for people who are labelled.
These committees help to advance our rights because people work to get us more support and change the government rules.
What issues are we on committees about right now?
No Picketing in Front of People’s Homes: People First of Ontario is against striking in front of people’s homes. Sometimes people who are labelled live in homes together and staff comes in to help them. When the staff has problems with their employer they can protest in front of these homes. These are places where we live and we think this is wrong because it makes us feel unsafe and scared in a place where we are supposed to feel comfortable and safe. It interrupts our lives, and makes it hard to go out and work or see family and friends.
Transformation of Developmental Services: The government is changing the way that people who are labelled receive services. To try and make sure that the changes will be good ones for people, People First of Ontario is on a committee called the Partnership Table with the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
ARCH-Bill 77: We are working with a group of lawyers who work at ARCH Disability law. These lawyers are working on a project about Developmental Services and Bill 77, which is the Social Inclusion Act. Their concern is that the new law does not include rights for people who receive developmental services. They worry that there is no way to make complaints if they have problems within the act.
Upper Canada District School Board and segregated school: There is a segregated school in the Upper Canada District School Board that People First of Ontario is trying to have closed as soon as possible.
Working with People First of Canada: We work with the national organization when there are projects we can help each other with.
4. To learn about and advance our rights
People First of Ontario is always working to make sure that people who are labelled are able to live a good life in their community. Part of being able to live a good life is knowing about our rights, and how to use them to make our lives better. How we work depends on what is important to the board and to the membership.
How are we learning about our rights and advancing them this year?
Huronia Class Action and other class action suits: These are court cases where the provincial government is being sued because of the abuse that people who are labelled experienced while they were in big institutions in Ontario.
Annual Conference: The conference is a good place for people to learn more about their rights, and what other people are doing to make sure their rights are recognized and respected.
Speaking at Conferences or to the Media: People First of Ontario is sometimes asked to speak at conferences about what we do, or what our view is about an issue. This helps others to recognize our rights and what we are working towards.
Working with People First of Canada: This helps to make our work more powerful and to spread our message to a bigger audience.