Too many families were living in poverty before COVID-19 so the challenge is two-fold; ensuring that the most vulnerable receive financial supports and access to services and ensuring that those who now face unemployment or reduced work hours receive timely assistance. This week the federal government announced a number of financial benefits and other initiatives for individuals and families. A summary of the relief package is available from Prosper Canada and Dr. Jennifer Robson at Carleton University developed this plain language guide to assist individuals with assessing which benefit plan they may be entitled to.
Here’s a link to the COVID-19 First Nations Community Guide on Accessing Additional Supports.
First Call member organizations are ramping up their advocacy efforts on behalf of those who are often overlooked.
Today, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition issued a statement calling on government “to implement a suite of emergency measures to safeguard the health and incomes of more than 421,000 at-risk, low income and homeless BC residents.”
Inclusion BC and the Developmental Disabilities Association are urging government to consider people with disabilities and their caregivers including families with children who have complex needs in Covid19 planning.
And the Tyee is shining a light on the over 800 children and youth in government care who live in group homes and asking what government is doing to keep them safe. This week, the Fostering Change Community Organizers led by Campaign Organizer Susan Russell wrote a letter to the Minister of Children and Family Development, Honourable Katrine Conroy, calling for urgent support for youth who have aged out of care. They also compiled a list of resources that will be included in our resource release next week.
We are pleased to amplify many of our Members’ and allies’ statements and resources and will continue to do so:
- BCGEU Information Hub and Statement
- BC Aboriginal Child Care Society
- BC Council for Families
- Jewish Family Services Vancouver
- BC Federation of Labour
- BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
- Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives – BC Office
- Canadian Labour Congress
- The Federation of Community Social Services of BC
- Health Sciences Association Information and Statement
- Inclusion BC
- UFCW 1518
In the midst of this crisis we must remember to put the well being of children, youth and their families at the forefront of planning and resources. The measures we must take collectively to slow the spread of COVID-19 have made children more vulnerable. Their educations have been interrupted, adults are stressed and fearful, and predictably, there will be an increase in domestic conflict and violence. We can all help through advocacy for strategic government action and by paying attention to who is getting left behind.
In these extraordinary times First Call will be creating a list of resources, guides and calls for advocacy on our website. Please check our website next week.
In the meantime, in-person Coalition meetings, Early Childhood Roundtable meetings and Fostering Change Community Organizer meetings have been suspended until further notice, but we will be trying out virtual meetings using Zoom. Please subscribe to our newsletter and/or meeting notices to receive updates.
Our First Call staff team is mostly working from home, and can be reached via email and/or phone call. Please understand that there may be a short delay in responding to your emails and calls. A list of our staff team and contact information is available here, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions.
We’re all in this together and together we’ll pull through.
– First Call Staff Team