Housing on the Hill Day 2022: Advocacy tips
25 Aug 2022
Leah Blunden, CHRA Communications Manager
Housing on the Hill Day is right around the corner! On September 27, we’ll gather with CHRA members from communities across Canada to meet with their Members of Parliament (MPs) with the goal of addressing the biggest issues facing Canada’s community housing sector.
We’re looking forward to seeing our members for the first major in-person CHRA event since before the pandemic! This is your opportunity to hear directly from senior national housing leaders and officials and engage in discussions with federal elected officials on the issues that matter to you and the community housing sector at large. New to federal advocacy? Read on to learn more about how to make the most of your time with MPs during Housing on the Hill Day and get tips for your future advocacy efforts.
How does Housing on the Hill Day work?
In our recent blog post Housing on the Hill Day 2022, we gave a brief rundown of how the event works, and what attendees can expect:
If you’re new to federal advocacy, you’ll have the support of a team, “organized by similarities in the regions and/or communities [you] serve, the type of housing/services [you] provide, areas of advocacy interests, etc. The teams will meet to get acquainted and will be provided with ideas for speaking points at the beginning of Housing on the Hill Day. The teams will discuss what they’d like to say during their MP meetings and how they’d like to address their issues of concern.”
Housing on the Hill attendees will review the documents CHRA has provided prior to September 27. These resources will outline the recommendations for this year’s Housing on the Hill Day created based on CHRA’s Fall 2021 Blueprint for Housing consultation process.
Generally when meeting with government officials, it is best to go in with no more than three “asks”. MPs attend many meetings and the best way to have your voice heard is to keep your messages clear and focused, so they are not lost in a wall of content. CHRA’s resources will break down three main messages for members to focus on in their meetings. These will be pulled from the soon-to-be-released “Blueprint for Housing” document, informed by CHRA members and stakeholders, which will act as a roadmap for CHRA advocacy in the years to come.
Prior to your MP meetings during Housing on the Hill Day and going forward, it’s a good idea to research the MPs you’re meeting with to discover their interests and history and how they relate to your cause. This may help you decide how you’d like to approach your meeting.
We also recommend that you review the most recent Federal Budget and the most recent Minister Mandate Letters so you have a fulsome understanding of the latest government commitments to housing and they’re fresh in your mind.
During your meetings
Finding your way around Ottawa’s Parliamentary Precinct can be tricky. Give yourself more time than you need to find your meeting location; showing up a little early will give you a chance to refocus your thoughts once you’ve arrived. During Housing on the Hill Day, CHRA staff will provide you with directions and assistance when needed.
Be professional and organized when conveying your thoughts but be yourself! It goes without saying that communicating your talking points in a methodical manner is very important in advocacy meetings – we recommend practicing with your team ahead of time – but it’s almost as important to be personable and relatable. Don’t be afraid to share your experiences in backing up your talking points. This will make you and your points memorable.
Be sure to set the stage for a follow-up. Ask to be added to the MP’s mailing list and leave your business card along with a document outlining your advocacy points; CHRA will provide Housing on the Hill Day attendees with a document they can leave with MPs following their meetings. Be prepared to provide any information about your organization and your community during or following your initial meeting.
After your meetings
Jot down your thoughts about how the meeting went, what you think you did well, and where there might be room for improvement in your approach. Reach out a few days after your meeting to thank the MP for their time and attention.
Are you interested in becoming more active in advocacy for the community housing sector? Register for Housing on the Hill Day 2022 to gain invaluable experience and support from CHRA staff to start your advocacy journey!