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2009 and 2013: CHF Canada’s Government Relations (GR) efforts at the National Office
in Ottawa have been recognized on two separate occasions in the Hill Times as one of
the top 100 Lobbyists .
2009-10 and 2010-11: Millions in funding for co-ops in Canada’s Economic Action
Plan: $120.7 million over two years (for 948 federal co-op housing projects in five
July 2011: The creation of the Affordable Housing Framework – led to new
provincial/territorial reporting on federal spending outcomes.
January 2013: New credit union financing for co-op modernization and repair. This is thegovernment’s
decision to provide fairer pre-payment penalties to co-ops wishing to conduct important renovations and
Repairs. See media release: http://www.chfcanada.coop/eng/pages2007/news_2013_01.asp
November 2013: Subsidy Surplus Fund – Co-ops allowed to retain subsidy surplus
funds to use as assistance for low-income households. See media release:
Clear and concise recommendations: they need to be achievable and easy to understand.
Speak the federal government’s language and understand their priorities : CHF Canada has
used words such as “accountable” when lobbying for federal housing dollars (the Affordable Housing
Framework of July 2011 . Conservatives understand the need for Accountability when it comes to
spending (most of the time ) See this press release to welcome the Framework:
Build and maintain relationships with MPs and political staff with every major party o
On Parliament Hill.
Presence on Parliament Hill: Committee appearances, meetings with MPs, ministerial,
opposition staff and groups such as the Conservative Housing and Construction Caucus.
Alliances with key stakeholder groups such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
(FCM) and Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA): We have maintained close
working relationships with these associations. For example, CHF Canada has been sending
representatives (such as Directors) to municipal roundtables on housing (such as in November in
Halifax, February in Regina and London and April in Edmonton). FCM has a national campaign to fix the
housing crunch (action on withdrawal of federal rent suppoirt is one of their recommendations)
CHF Canada is currently leading a national campaign called You Hold The Key: Fix The
Co-op Housing Crunch.
Governments need to act now to maintain rent-geared-to-income (RGI) assistance for
200,000 low-income Canadian households in co-op and non-profit projects.
Some of our key allies on this issue are the Canadian Housing Renewal Association
(CHRA) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
The end of rent support for low-income people is the most important one that co-ops,
their members and regional co-op federations face as hundreds of agreements are
ending (a majority by 2020).
Before you meet with your MP/MLA and Ministers of Housing (Federal and Provincial),
you will need to:
Contact the constituency/legislative office to request a meeting: phone the office and
then send a request by e-mail to the scheduling assistant.
Know what to include in the request: the reason for the meeting, briefing note
that outlines what your issues is and how you want to solve it
Who is involved? Up to three people (Board member, resident(s) staff person). Don’t invite more
than three people to a meeting (not enough time for each person to speak, plus politicians like to meet
with small delegations in their offices.
How much time you are given with an MP/MLA: In Ottawa, our staff is usually given
thirty minutes for a meeting with an individual Member of Parliament. Sometimes if goes beyond that
The meeting: Focus on your “asks” – your recommendations – and explain clearly why the politician
should support them.
Follow-up: Don’t forget to send a follow-up thank you letter to the MP/MLA and reiterate the main
points you raised during the meeting (such as the recommendations).
2011 Federal Election Campaign: Our goals for the May 2011 election campaign were to seek each party’s promise to work to protect co‐op affordability for low‐income Canadians, and push for federal action to build more affordable co‐op homes.
During the 37-day campaign, CHF Canada got the word out on its key national government relations
goals through local co-ordinators were hired across the country set up meet and greets (at the co-ops) and co-op delegation visits (to candidates’ offices) in closely contested federal ridings across the country.
We also sent questionnaires to the parties and asked them to support our recommendations. We also responded to election platform commitments through issuing press releases (and applauded parties when they made favourable promises).
CHF Canada communicated our election messaging using media including a new federal election
blog. Media interviews with CHF Canada’s Executive Director Nicholas Gazzard were held with
major and medium‐sized radio markets in Vancouver, Victoria, St. Catharines and the Maritimes.
What we learned?
In addition being on the radars of candidates, we learned that it was important to put the issue of affordable housing on the national agenda (through the above-noted tactics). After all, many advocacy groups are competing for the attention of parties, candidates and the media during an election campaign.
Having an effective press release to support your campaign’s goals is critical when trying to pitch your story to local or national media.
Your organization may face challenges when it comes to local/national media outlets to cover your issue.
There are many competing interests that reporters and assignment editors are dealing with. For example, scandals involving Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford (as a national example) to local stories that grab the general public’s attention in your local area (such as murders, strikes, protests etc.).
Before writing your media release, ask yourself if your story is newsworthy.
If you’re focusing on the end of federal rent support (end of operating agreement for your non-profit), you will want to get the media to focus on how the issue affects the people (low-income individuals).
In January, we found a housing co-op member in Ottawa that was willing to tell her story to the media.
While we managed to get CHF Canada’s Director interviewed for the news segment, the co-op member’s story was pivotal in terms of getting the story on the news program.
Krystyl (the member) will lose her home if her income-tested assistance ends in 2020 (when the Section 95 co-op’s operating agreement ends).
While the Global News piece was not “sold” through a press release (David managed to pitch it to the producer without one by phoning her), we have used them to pitch similar stories in the past.
For example, in December 2012 we used one to tell the story of an urban native co-op in London, Ontario (Native Inter-Tribal Housing Co-operative). Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) and many other local media outlets in London covered a story.
PASS OUT THE PRESS RELEASE (also a version in French)
Here are some tips and tools that will help your organization to get your story covered by the media.
Read out the first paragraph of the Native Inter-Tribal Press Release:
The reader’s attention is focused right away on the issue.
“Twenty native households will be homeless in the new year unless Diane Finley, the Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), steps in to help Native Inter-Tribal Housing Co‑operative remain financially viable. The 62-unit housing co‑op is scattered throughout the Manor and Highland Park neighbourhood in South London, Ontario.”
Who: 20 native low-income households and Diane Finley, Minister Responsible for CMHC
What: people will be homeless unless CMHC steps in to help the co-op
Where: Native Inter-Tribal Co-op in Manot and Highland Park neighbourhood in London.
When: Homeless in the new year (2013)
Why: Explained in the third paragraph
The second paragraph: Includes everything else that is important
Remaining paragraphs: Adds important details (including quotes). Keep the sentences fairly short.
Quotations for spokespeople: Try to include one to three quotes (make them sound natural). Reporters usually insert them directly in their articles
The conclusion: provides the least important information (not essential info, however, it is critical for
Boilerplate description (includes standard info) and coordinates for the spokespersons
Pass out the template and give them 15 minutes to write a press release using the examples that were given (and in the press release on
Contact the news media outlet: If you cannot afford to put your press release on a news wire service such as CNW Group, you can also create a PDF version of your one-page media release and send it by e-mail to media outlets in your area.
By going to the news outlet’s website, find out who the assignment editor or news editor is. You can also send it to news reporters.
After you send release via e-mail, call the reporter and pitch the story to him/her.
Explain why you feel that he/she should cover the story.
Timeliness: The more recent the story is, the more relevant it is.
Proximity: Being physically near to a story (is the story happening close by?)
Rarity: Is it an interesting story? Is it an unusual event?
Prominence: Is the story happening to a prominent person?
Impact: Does the story have an impact on the reader/viewer’s life?
Novelty: The first and last time that the story take place
Human interest: Is it interesting (a story about a low-income member that could lose his/her home?