Lobby Kit

What is Lobbying?

  • Lobbying is people talking to politicians about their issues.
  • Lobbying encourages elected politicians to do what they can to achieve best results.
  • Lobbying is one way for advocates to effect political change.
  • For our purposes, lobbying is all about advancing policies that promote the establishment of a publicly funded and publicly managed early childhood education system designed and resourced to provide high quality, inclusive, affordable, and accessible early learning and child care for all who want it.

Lobbying is a skill that anyone can learn and use

  • Throughout history, lobbying has been a key tool for achieving change.
  • As advocates, our power to effect change is strengthened by our lobbying power.
  • Lobbying is not about confrontation: it is about persuasion.

Lobbying allows us to:

  • Make the vision and views of Child Care Now known to politicians.
  • Demonstrate support for a publicly funded and managed system of high quality, inclusive, affordable and accessible early learning and child care.
  • Find and build on common ground with elected officials.
  • Provide information and educate politicians on important issues impacting the delivery of a universal child care system aligned with Child Care Now’s vision.
  • Ensure that politicians are living up to their election promises.

We influence elected politicians by:

  • Knowing how they are voting on issues because politicians will often tell us what we want to hear. Their voting record will show us where they really stand! (this guide includes information on how to search recorded votes for the federal, provincial and territorial governments here)
  • Counting up supporters, undecided numbers and opponents among politicians, and tracking any movement to determine whether our lobbying is working.

We lobby politicians who support our vision to remind them of our presence and to offer assistance. 

  • We lobby politicians who support our vision to remind them of our presence and to offer assistance. 
  • We lobby those who might support us to encourage them and provide information to help them in their decision. 
  • We lobby politicians who are not likely to support Child Care Now to encourage them to reconsider by sharing evidence in support of its position, and by reminding them that their constituents are watching how they vote. 

Elections are not enough:

  • Now more than ever, we need to build relationships with the politicians who make policy decisions that affect our work and the lives of our families.
  • Without citizen advocacy, the only voices politicians hear from would be corporate lobbyists. We already know that for-profit child care solutions do not work for caregivers and children that need it, or the workers that provide it.
  • Governments need to establish a system of early learning and child care that matches the vision of Child Care Now by anchoring it in legislation and regulations between elections to make it difficult for subsequent governments to undo.

A Lobby Day is a day set aside by advocacy groups to meet with government officials for the purposes of bringing their attention to relevant issues and raising awareness.

In the course of a Lobby Day, advocates gather in the Parliament or Assembly to meet with individual members and party leaders, make presentations to caucuses as a whole, host receptions, and hold media events. 

A friendly member of Parliament or Provincial/Territorial Assembly can act as the host for the lobby day by providing a meeting space for your lobby team to gather and touch base with each other throughout the day.

This requires a lot of advance planning and strategizing. 

(The same goes for holding a press conference on the issue in or near the assembly.)

You may want to choose a lobby day on or near a day of action on child care or related issues.

Know which day of the week is set aside for caucus meetings. (For instance, federally, caucus meetings happen on Wednesday mornings when Parliament is in session) 

It is generally easier to book individual meetings with members during caucus days because no assembly proceedings or committees are scheduled for that time; members are encouraged to attend caucus meetings in person so you are more likely to find them in town. 

Members’ offices are more likely to accept meeting requests on these days (and not only because it keeps members with time on their hands out of their hair!)

If you would like the member to sponsor a reception for you, booking and planning takes a fair amount of lead time as well, so consulting with your friendly member and staff on the logistics is essential. 

If you have the resources to fund the reception, either in part or in total, be sure to mention that to the sponsoring Member’s staff; if their office budgets are limited, they will be more likely to cooperate if they know the expenses will be covered or shared.

(Remember to be kind and courteous to members’ staff in all your interactions;  they are the gatekeepers of their employers’ time and resources)

Pro tips for successful press conferences:

  • the press conference should happen early in the lobby day so that the media and the public become aware of the issue before the actual lobbying happens. 
  • You can always do a press release at the end of the lobby day to announce any victories or gains you’ve made in the day
  • Invite friendly members from the government and opposition parties to speak at your press conference; provide them with speaking points prepared in advance
  • Send out a media advisory the day before to let reporters know the where/when and whys
  • Anticipate media questions ahead of time and have notes prepared for speakers to use in answering 

Message Box Issues:

How to use the message guide

The aim of a child care advocate is to communicate in such a way that the legislative representative is motivated to support the goals and vision of Child Care Now, by setting the stage for the representative to act, either individually or by requesting that their caucus and leadership act in support. 

This can be very effective when we tell compelling stories and then back them up with facts.  

You don’t need to know everything about the issue. Your own story will always be more powerful than a list of numbers or facts. You will find information that you can print or send electronically to the representative in this guide here. 

Connect with your audience – what should you say?

  • Who are you? 
  • Why are you doing this?  
  • Why do you care?  
  • Why should they care (it’s their file, it’s a personal interest,it will bring them electoral success etc.)? 

Tell a story

Add the facts

Fictional (but plausible) example: 

Your Story: I am a parent/family member/child care provider/worker who understands the need for a universally affordable, accessible, public and quality child care system in Canada. Explain how the first steps to building the system in Canada have impacted you in a positive way and the reasons it should continue to be funded and developed.

Provide a few Facts: compare the cost of child care prior to the program and after; recognize that the provinces and territories need to collaborate with the federal government and honour their agreements in order for the program to succeed; 

Explain the urgency – Contrast / Compare

  • What happens if they don’t act? 
  • Better yet – what happens if they do?  
  • Tell an imaginary ‘What If’ story – If you act, then this positive thing could happen. If you don’t, then things will stay bad (get worse). 

Here you are defining the choice. 

e.g. The upcoming budget includes provisions to increase wages for child care workers and educators to ensure retention of quality staffing for our children, and the increased funding to provinces and territories to ease the transition to a publicly delivered system. Your support of the budget will ensure that every child in Canada has access to quality and affordable child care and early education when they need it most.

Make the agreement – Action (what, when, who)

  • Will you help? 
  • How will you help? 
  • When will you help? 
  • How can we help you help us? 

For example:

  • Will you vote in favour of the legislative changes at 2nd reading? 
  • Will you support our request with your caucus colleagues? In committee?
  • Will you share your support on your social media channels? When will you do this? 
  • Will you attend our rally? Will you share information about our rally with your communities?

Plan your team and book your meeting

At least one member should be from the MP’s constituency (if this is not possible, have a written story or testimony from someone in the constituency to provide to the member)

A team of three is ideal – more is too many

Phone to book the meeting, confirm by email and ask for a response

Before your meeting

Confirm the week before and the day before

Do some research on the MP (see example here)

What did they do prior to being elected? 

Were they a member of a union? 

How have they voted on legislation that we care about?

What issues are they most concerned about?

Gather and review your materials – your notes, documents to send at the end of the meeting 

Determine what accessibility supports you might need – simultaneous interpretation? Captioning? Work out those logistics ahead of time

Meet with your team to plan your approach 

Who is speaking? In which order? 

Who is answering questions?

Set up and check your tech

Background uploaded

Headset charged

Quiet room

Practice your talk a few times – record it and play it back to see how it looks and sounds

Make a contingency plan for cancellations or tech problems (have an understudy!)

Confirm the week before and the day before

The day of…

Log on a few minutes early. Check your tech. Wear a headset – it’s easier for all. 

Remember to breathe! Settle in your seat and take a breath before you start your remarks.

Make eye contact with the camera from time to time (or always, if you don’t need to refer to your notes).

Pause from time to time to see if the MP has questions or comments. 

Make notes when the MP asks questions or comments.

Take time to respond. 

It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you”.

Remember to finish with an ask and a commitment 

“Will you commit to (action)? When (date)? “ 

Get a photo – screen cap! 

Thank them for the meeting.

During the meeting

Introduce yourselves – say what you do and where you’re from. Thank the MP for the meeting and confirm how long you have.

Present your position clearly and don’t be sidetracked.

Listen, but don’t let the MP talk so much that you don’t get a chance to speak.

Answer questions to the best of your ability. Make a commitment to follow-up if you don’t have immediate answers. 

Ask the MP to take specific action(s) and take very accurate notes when they explain why they will or won’t take those actions. If you aren’t sure you understood the commitment(s), re-confirm with the MP. 

Have ready online copies of the lobby document to be sent the MP and their aides.

Leave any lobby materials and your contact information with the MP. Thank them for meeting with you.

Once done

Make your notes and debrief with your team as soon as possible. Share your information with your rep.

Send the follow up documents by email, and maybe a thank you note by mail. 

In your email, repeat their commitment to you: “We look forward to hearing from you about (action)”. 

Make a note in your calendar for the day when the MP committed to action. Follow up with a thank you or a reminder depending on whether action is taken or not. 

Post the photo on your local’s social media feeds IF the meeting went well– “Thanks, MP (name), for the meeting today. We look forward to (action)” and tag them.

Report to Child Care Now

Child Care Now tracks lobbying efforts in order to know whether its campaigns are effective.

 It is important that you complete the lobby report form after each meeting with an MP. Make sure this responsibility is assigned before the meeting. 

Each report should contain the following information: 

  • when the meeting took place;
  • who was there (CCN members, staff, the MP and any of their staff);
  • what you talked about;
  • key statements by the MP (make sure you record these accurately);
  • any commitments made by the MP (again, be sure to include accurate quotes); 
  • any follow-up tasks. 

Your report should be completed as soon as possible after every meeting.

Dear                        ,

The next session of Parliament will be one of the most significant in Canada’s history because you will be deciding both how to meet the formidable challenge of the ongoing health crisis while also setting the path to repair the sweeping damage done by COVID-19.

We are writing to ask if you would be willing to meet (through virtual means) with a small group of your constituents to discuss what we think is an essential bridge to recovery: a proper system of high quality, accessible, affordable, and inclusive child care that can meet the diverse needs of parents with young children up to the age of 12. 

Millions of workers lost their jobs and income because of the pandemic. A sustainable economic recovery relies on their ability to regain their earning power. But before parents of young children can return to work, they need access to affordable early learning and child care, and also to before-and-after-school programs. This is particularly true for mothers who have suffered disproportionately through the pandemic.

We are organizing this cross-country effort to meet with Members of Parliament in collaboration with numerous national, provincial and local groups, including the Canadian Child Care Federation, the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, YWCA-Canada, the Canadian Federation of University Women and others. We are doing it so that you can learn first-hand from your constituents about the impact that the pandemic has had on parents, employers, business, and on the child care sector itself. They want to explain in their own words, on the basis of their own lived experience, why child care is so important to the way out of the crisis, and what kind of action Parliamentarians can take.

We hope that you will participate in this ambitious effort. We invite your office to respond by return email to chloe@ccnow.ca with a suggested date and time for a Zoom meeting of 30 to 45 minutes some time before mid-October. Once you inform us of your availability, we will let you know who from your constituency is able to participate.

We are eager for the discussion and forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards, 

Morna Ballantyne

Executive Director

Child Care Now

Sample MP profiles

 Historical Example I

MP Name & RidingMinister Diane Finley
PartyConservative MP
RidingHaldimand Norfolk
LanguagesEnglish, French (anglophone)
Pre-parliamentary occupationMBA, university administrator, Rolls Royce executive
Relationship to Child Care IssuesUnknown, unlikely
Other elected officesUnknown
Previous ministerial portfolios-Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development,
-Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing
-Corporation, or CMHC, and · Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Notable efforts-amended EI Act to provide benefits for military members who had to defer parental leave because of requirement to active duty
-promoted increased private-sector involvement in health services
-founder of Canada’s largest publicly funded ambulance service company, Canadian Medical Response
-been active in the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.
-anti-choice, anti-same sex marriage
Other InterestsUnknown
FamilyDoug Finley (Senator – spouse)
Sourceshttps://www.parl.ca/legisinfo/en/bills?parlsession=all&sponsor=25501& advancedview=true
https://lop.parl.ca/sites/ParlInfo/default/en_CA/People/ Profile?personId=2173
Summary-You should not expect her to be immediately labour-friendly.
-You should not expect her to value public services (considering her history on private health care and P3s)
-You may find some support for very specific issues if framed as good for families
-We can’t expect that she will be an ally – this meeting will be to get the issue on the table, frame the debate, and try to find what windows of opportunity exist

Opposition MP Profile – Historical Example II

MP Name and RidingClaude Gravelle
PartyNew Democrat MP
RidingNickel Belt
LanguagesFrench, English (francophone)
Pre-parliamentary occupationMachinist for Inco Mining in Sudbury
Union membershipYes, USW 7600, organizer, strike captain
Other elected officesRayside-Balfour municipal council
Critical portfoliosOfficial languages, natural resources, mining
Notable effortsIntroduced bill to mandate a National Dementia Strategy that failed in the House by one vote when a Liberal member admittedly accidentally voted against instead of for.
Other InterestsMinor league hockey involvement, Alzheimer’s society spokesperson
FamilyMarie-Claire Breton – spouse, from Shawinigan, QC, 2 children, 2 grandchildren
Summary-You can expect that he will be labour-friendly
-You can speak in either language, but may want to try French first
-You can chat about hockey, or about dementia issues as an icebreaker
-You cannot guarantee that he will be up to date on public sector labour issues so may want to weave that into your remarks
-We expect that he will be an ally – plan your asks accordingly.