Making Ends Meet Research Project


First Call is conducting a three-year research project to better understand the experiences of those doing low-wage work, in partnership with Dr. Kendra Strauss, Director of the SFU Labour Studies Program and the SFU Morgan Centre for Labour Research. This project is possible due to financial support from the Vancouver Foundation.

11.6% of all people who work in Metro Vancouver live in poverty. Almost half of those people are living with children who depend on them. Child poverty and family poverty are connected, and in British Columbia one in five children live in poverty. Some groups of people experience working poverty at a higher rate include:

  • BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Colour) communities
  • immigrant, refugee, and migrant communities
  • people with disabilities
  • single mothers
  • single senior women
  • queer and trans folks, particularly youth

This research aims to provide a better understanding to policymakers of possible responses to the issue of working poverty. The project will explore how working poverty impacts the health and well-being of families and communities in Metro Vancouver. This project will also provide training and support for the working poor to advocate for themselves.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is an approach to research – a set of principles and practices for designing, conducting, analyzing and acting on research.

The Making Ends Meet PAR is a way of learning and doing work in community, that…

  • is community driven and puts the perspective of those experiencing working poverty at the centre of the research;
  • seeks understanding about communities and issues identified by participants;
  • recognizes participants as experts on their experiences;
  • uses findings to take action on issues identified as important to participants; and
  • allows participants to take action within their communities and beyond their communities.

The Making Ends Meet Research Coordinator is Bonnie Koehn (she/her)

Bonnie is passionate about child and youth advocacy and social justice in both her personal and professional life. She believes that social and community support, secure housing, quality childcare, access to healthy food, and socioeconomic opportunity are imperative to the well-being of families. Bonnie has an experiential understanding of the challenges many families face in navigating medical, mental health, legal, and social systems, and this fuels her motivation to create positive change. Bonnie’s background is in library services, family childcare, and freelance writing. She is currently completing her Masters’ degree in Clinical Counselling, with a focus on trauma and resilience.

The Making Ends Meet Project Advisory Committee is made up of individuals who represent agencies, organizations, initiatives, communities, and families impacted by working poverty in Vancouver.

Iulia Sincraian – Hospital Employees Union (HEU) – covering Nicole Molinari’s leave
Dr. Kendra Strauss, Director of the Labour Studies Program at Simon Fraser University and an Associate Professor in the Program
Lamin Kassama, Community Connections Programs – Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House
Leona Brown – Gitxsan mother of three children who is motivated by the knowledge that her children are learning from every part of her journey.
Dr. Mohammed Hanif Bariman – Social research projects aimed to adjust the organizational policies and action plans for community development and poverty reduction
Shannon Daub, BC Director – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-BC) – covering Iglika Ivanova’s leave
Sherman Chan, Director of Family and Settlement Services – MOSAIC
Vicky Li, Community Connections and Literacy Outreach Coordinator – Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House
Adrienne Montani, Executive Director – First Call Child & Youth Advocacy Society

This project is made possible with funding from the Vancouver Foundation and partnership with the SFU Labour Studies Program.