First Call Monthly Updates

February 2016 Monthly Update


A gala, a budget and social policy – a full February!

February, 2016

Welcome to our monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work and key actions you can take to support children and youth in BC.

Highlights this month include:

  • We had a fabulously successful fundraising gala with Trevor Linden and youth leaders!
  • We responded to BC’s irresponsible budget
  • We endorsed the Ottawa Principles as part of the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition
  • We sent a letter and recommendations to MCFD Minister Cadieux in advance of a national meeting of social service ministers, urging her to “ensure the goal of reducing and preventing poverty informs all policy decisions”
  • As part of Campaign 2000, we corresponded with the federal finance minister, urging him to stipulate as part of the Canadian Social transfer that there are no clawbacks from those on social and disability assistance
  • A friendly reminder of the great resources on our BC Child Poverty Report Card website www.still1in5.ca
  • Want to know what we have been up to out in the community? Check out our new “Out and About” section

Read on to learn more!
Yours for children and youth,
Julie, Sarena, Adrienne, and Deanna

2015 First Call Staff Website

THE FIRST CALL FUNDRAISING GALA WAS A FABULOUS SUCCESS!

First Call’s 2016 fundraising gala with Trevor Linden and youth leaders on February 11 was an FirstCallGala_Feb122016_bySarahRace_0366overwhelming success!

A heartfelt thank you to the more than 600 coalition members and supporters who attended, and, in between visits to the delectable Indian buffet, generously drove up prices in the silent auction, kept the raffle ticket sellers busy and made additional donations to First Call.

We were honoured by the inspiring and courageous voices of Meredith, Ashley, Cheyenne and Trevor Linden. It was a unique pleasure to partner with the Trevor Linden Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation’s Fostering Change Initiative and highlight their important public policy advocacy.

A special thank you to our presenting sponsor the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518, our living wage sponsor the Hospital Employees’ Union, our coalition ally sponsors the Centre for Child Honouring and Vancity, and our beer sponsor Granville Island Brewing. Our deep appreciation to our raffle and silent auction donors and to all the volunteers who contributed to this stellar evening.

Check out the great photos from the evening and watch the keynote presentations.

You can show your support for the Fostering Change Initiative here.

Read Fred Lee’s summary of the evening in Fred UnLEEshed, Fostering a better future, Feb. 17, 2016, in the Vancouver Courier.

 

FIRST CALL URGED NATIONAL MEETING OF SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTERS TO FOCUS ON POVERTY

Ahead of the February 4-5, 2016, meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial social service ministers, First Call, as part of the Campaign 2000 network, wrote a letter to Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, urging her to “ensure the goal of reducing and preventing poverty informs all policy decisions.”

Moreover we explained that “with over 1.33 million Canadian children and families living in poverty today, and the Federal Government committed to collaboratively developing a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, ending poverty must be a central focus of your discussions.”

Among First Call’s recommendations:

  • Adopt a poverty reduction lens on all social policy decisions and discussions to ensure that people in poverty benefit from programs meant to alleviate poverty and provide dignity to individuals and families.
  • Apply a poverty reduction and human rights lens to the roll out of the new, bolstered and income tested Canada Child Benefit (CCB), including agreements between the provincial/territorial and the federal governments that ensure no clawbacks or deductions are permitted on any portion of the CCB from social assistance/income support benefits.
  • Ensure the planned Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy contains targets and timelines to guide key investments and hold government accountable for progress.
  • Proactively participate in the development of the long awaited National Early Learning and Child Care Framework.
  • Work collaboratively with all levels of government, including First Nations, and Indigenous organizations and people, to enable the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
  • Develop a comprehensive national housing strategy reflecting the needs of local communities and First Nations.

Read the full letter and recommendations

 

BC’S IRRESPONSIBLE BUDGET

As noted in many recent newspaper articles and editorials, and social media posts, BC’s 2016 budget reflected the short-sighted and unnecessary priority of the current government to pay down debt and “balance” the budget over meeting the pressing needs of British Columbians, particularly those with developmental, financial and social vulnerabilities.

This year’s budget once again ignored the repeated recommendations in the report of the Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, and in submissions from First Call and other groups, about the need to address a long list of urgent issues facing BC children, youth and families.

Read our whole response to the budget on PolicyNote.ca

 

FIRST CALL ENDORSES THE STOP MARKETING TO KIDS COALITION

First Call is proud to endorse the Ottawa Principles as part of the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition calling on the federal government to restrict the commercial marketing of food and beverages to children. The coalition launched this week in Toronto, co-led by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Childhood Obesity Foundation.

In Canada, as much as 90% of the food marketed to children and youth on TV is unhealthy. The coalition has developed the Ottawa Principles, which outline the policy recommendation of restricting commercial marketing of all food and beverages to children and youth 16 and under.

Unhealthy eating choices are closely linked with childhood overweight and obesity. Regulations limiting marketing to children have been effective and cost efficient. Furthermore, restricting TV food advertising to children would be one of the most cost-effective population-based interventions available to governments today.

Visit stopmarketingtokids.ca to learn more about the problem and the solution, and to take action by showing your support and sending a letter to your MP.

 

FIRST CALL URGES NATIONAL MEETING OF SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTERS TO FOCUS ON POVERTY

Ahead of the February 4-5, 2016, meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial social service ministers, First Call, as part of the Campaign 2000 network, wrote a letter to Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, urging her to “ensure the goal of reducing and preventing poverty informs all policy decisions.”

Moreover we explained that “with over 1.33 million Canadian children and families living in poverty today, and the Federal Government committed to collaboratively developing a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, ending poverty must be a central focus of your discussions.”

Among First Call’s recommendations:

  • Adopt a poverty reduction lens on all social policy decisions and discussions to ensure that people in poverty benefit from programs meant to alleviate poverty and provide dignity to individuals and families.
  • Apply a poverty reduction and human rights lens to the roll out of the new, bolstered and income tested Canada Child Benefit (CCB), including agreements between the provincial/territorial and the federal governments that ensure no clawbacks or deductions are permitted on any portion of the CCB from social assistance/income support benefits.
  • Ensure the planned Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy contains targets and timelines to guide key investments and hold government accountable for progress.
  • Proactively participate in the development of the long awaited National Early Learning and Child Care Framework.
  • Work collaboratively with all levels of government, including First Nations, and Indigenous organizations and people, to enable the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
  • Develop a comprehensive national housing strategy reflecting the needs of local communities and First Nations.

Read the full letter and recommendations

 

CAMPAIGN 2000 LETTER TO FINANCE MINISTERS RE: WELFARE CLAWBACKS

The issue of child poverty was also among the agenda items for the meeting of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers on December 20-21, 2015, including:

“Lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty through the introduction of the new Canada Child Benefit, and providing more support for 9 out of 10 Canadian families.”

Ahead of the meeting, Campaign 2000 Steering Committee members and coalition partners, including First Call, sent a letter reminding them:

“The consistent position of Campaign 2000 and its partners is that all children and families in poverty must see a direct benefit in their incomes from any improvements in child benefits. All children should be treated equally regardless of the source of their parents’ income. Therefore, we urge the federal government to take the lead on entering into agreements with the provinces and territories to ensure that no clawbacks or deductions are permitted on any portion of the Canada Child Benefit from social assistance/income support benefits. Of course, this could be accomplished by adding this as a condition for receiving the Canada Social Transfer.”

Federal finance minister Bill Morneau has since responded to the letter, explaining that he discussed the Canada Child Benefit with his provincial and territorial counterparts and that he “emphasized the importance of low-income families being able to benefit from enhanced child benefits.”

He further explained that “we acknowledge that collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments will be important to ensure an orderly transition from the existing benefit system.”

 

2015 CHILD POVERTY REPORT CARD – WEBINAR AND VIDEOS AVAILABLE ONLINE

We continue to hear from members and allies that the BC Child Poverty Report Card is an important tool in their advocacy work.

Visit still1in5.ca to download a copy of the report card as well as individual fact sheets.

You can also find families’ stories, maps with regional and local data, social media tools, as well as a selection of media stories and other 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card documents using the tabs at the top of the still1in5.ca website.

You can take action by sending a letter to Premier Clark endorsing the recommendations in the report here.

For those of you who missed the launch and the webinar, you can find videos of the press conference and webinar here.

We also received a wealth of news coverage. Find them here.

 

FIRST CALL OUT AND ABOUT

We had a busy start to the year out in the community, including:

  • Presenting to the BCTF social justice committee about child poverty
  • Presenting to BCIT nursing students about child poverty and inequality
  • Presenting at the UBC Early Years Conference about our early years call to action
  • Presenting to VCC nursing students about coalition building and advocacy
  • Presenting to ECE BC board and staff about child poverty and inequality
  • Participating in a federal pre-budget consultation with MP and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould

 

FIRST CALL IN THE NEWS

Powell River Peak: Panel experts call for action on child poverty
Rabble.ca: The business of the living wage
Times Colonist: Comment: Families could use some help on Family Day
Surrey Now: Breakfast program at Surrey schools changing lives in vulnerable areas
Vancouver Sun: Opinion: B.C. Liberals must ensure economic growth is widely shared
CBC Daybreak North: BC budget commentary
The Tyee: BC best province for low taxes? Uh, not for poor families
Kelowna Capital News: Kelowna poverty simulation aims to show first hand how tough it is for some

 

FIRST CALL CORRESPONDENCE & PUBLICATIONS

February 2016: Federal Finance Minister Responds to Campaign 2000 Letter Re: Canada Child Benefit

February 2016: Letter to MCFD Minister Cadieux Re: National Meeting of Social Services Ministers

February 2016: Comment: Families could use some help on Family Day