The prosperity of the OBAC region has long been reliant on its timber resources. However the
mountain pine beetle epidemic is expected to diminish opportunities in the traditional forest sector
for several decades. OBAC is developing a number of industrial sector strategies. These include
forestry, alternative energy, mining and mineral exploration, tourism and agriculture, which are
designed to diversify the region’s economy and create more resilient communities. As well as these
industrial strategies, it is also necessary to develop a strategy designed to improve the quality and
availability of social services and supports. Community services and supports are important at all
times. However, they are particularly important during times of transition. They are critical for the
development of stronger and more resilient communities in the region.
The Community Social Services and Supports Strategy is important to the region for a number of
- The current lumber market downturn and future mountain pine beetle impacts on timber
supply could result in increased unemployment. These workers need the social services and
supports to help them transition and continue to contribute to their communities. The region
has a relatively youthful population, but many young people leave the region because they are
not adequately connected to the region’s educational and employment opportunities;
- Many social services and support programs are designed for urban communities and don’t always
address the priority needs of the region’s small communities, First Nations, and rural settlements.
Although funding is in place for social services, the rigidity of many of the programs
prevents some high priority needs from being addressed;
- Coordination across social service programs is sometimes poor both within the provincial programs
and between provincial and federal programs. Better coordination and the development
of integrated plans is needed to improve efficiency and service quality. This is true at all times,
but particularly during times of transition which the region is facing;
- At present, social service program decisions are made without a full understanding of their
economic impact on small communities; and
- First Nations communities are a very important part of the region and better engagement across
all communities in the region is needed to develop solutions and take advantage of synergistic
OBAC has worked with specialists with a wide variety of perspectives to develop strategies. This
strategy incorporates learning from these sector strategies and a working group of economic development
officers, social service providers, educators, and others with specialized insight into the
service needs and opportunities in the region.
OBAC communities envision a future that includes robust and resilient economies that are supported
by local and regional social services which are accessible to all. This future is also characterized
by communities and First Nations in the region playing an integral role working with senior governments
and service agencies in determining social service and support priority needs and approaches
to effective delivery.
The five objectives which provide more detail on how to achieve this vision are:
The region’s communities have the responsive and professional social services
which are needed during transition times and which will support future economic
Quality social services and supports are available and accessible to meet the priority
needs of urban, small community, rural and First Nations residents.
Innovative solutions and active communication and networking are facilitated among
agencies and service providers to support the provision of high quality services.
Synergistic and cooperative opportunities for the provision of social services across
all communities in the region are realized.
The region is able to train, attract, and maintain a dynamic and skilled workforce that
can respond to current and emerging economic opportunities.
Further engagement with and between leaders of OBAC communities and First Nations, in order to
further identify regional and local interests and opportunities and make new relationships a reality,
is a very high priority for all of the strategies. Mechanisms are needed to ensure full, meaningful
and equal participation of First Nations. Although First Nations have been identified as important
participants in many of the proposed actions, discussions at the community level are a critical need
in order to further shape many of these actions, and to ensure that synergistic opportunities are
identified and that priority Aboriginal interests are addressed.
The four recommendations and proposed actions following have been developed to achieve these