First Call Monthly Updates

April 2017 Monthly Update

Party responses to our questions – New Living Wage – Cindy Blackstock fights on – and more!

April 2017

Welcome to our monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work and key developments in child and youth policy in BC.

Highlights this month include:

  • Provincial election activity
  • 2017 Living Wage announced
  • Cindy Blackstock’s visit
  • New As Word Spreads podcast episode
  • First Call out and about
  • First Call correspondence and publications
  • First Call in the news
  • Upcoming meetings

Read on to learn more!

Yours for children and youth,
John, Adrienne, Julie and Deanna




Just in time for everyone to GO VOTE, the three parties in BC’s 2017 provincial election responded to our questions covering the issues of concern to First Call coalition members, and we’ve summarized those answers here. Inform your vote!

See also First Call’s toolkit for this election, as well as toolkits from First Call coalition members, and the all-candidates forums and debates members are holding throughout BC.

The Vancouver Sun and CBC consulted First Call when fact-checking Christy Clark’s claims about her government’s record on reducing child poverty.


New living wage calculations were released last week, finding two parents working full-time, full-year in Metro Vancouver, with two young children, must earn $20.62 per hour to cover basic expenses. For comparison, the capital region and northeast BC now have respective hourly living wages of $20.01 and $18.29 per hour, with $16.75 and $16.90 per hour needed in Powell River and Kamloops for families to make ends meet.

The Canada Child Benefit, a tax-free monthly payment introduced by the federal government in July 2016 to help families with the rising cost of raising children, has been substantial enough to offset significant cost increases for families.


More than a year ago, Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal found racial discrimination guides Canadian government fiscal policy in funding programs for Indigenous children across the country. Canada’s failure to comply with the Tribunal’s order to stop discriminating and the ongoing fight for implementation of Jordan’s Principle was Cindy Blackstock’s subject in her talk at our March coalition meeting. First Call will have more on how the coalition and member organizations can join in supporting this campaign for equality soon!

Cindy was in town to receive a well-deserved award from the Janusz Korczak Medal for Child Rights Advocacy. Congratulations, Cindy!


As Word Spreads, First Call’s podcast hosted by former BC youth in care, is back with guest Rachel Malek, who speaks about her recent project with the University Women’s Club of Vancouver to raise awareness and support throughout BC for youth who age out of care at 19—far too often directly into poverty. Read more about Rachel’s project here.


On April 1, John Kennedy and VCC practicum students Daniel and Nicole had a table at The Post March, where First Call had 100 letters sent to local MLAs and MPs regarding BC’s child labour standards and child poverty in BC, and the need for greater investments in early childhood development. That same day, Adrienne Montani spoke to an audience at the Columbia Institute High Ground civic leadership conference as part of a panel on emerging issues, where Deanna Ogle also moderated a panel discussion on the living wage.

On April 3, Deanna spoke about the living wage campaign to Unifor workers, and joined Adrienne and Trish Garner from the Poverty Reduction Coalition on April 5 to present a webinar on poverty reduction as part of their election work leading up to May 9, 2017.

Copies of the First Call 2017 Provincial Election Toolkit were on our table at this year’s Health Sciences Association convention in Vancouver on April 8, and in-hand with Adrienne and John at a rally the previous week at which Ministry of Child and Family Development social workers demanded action be taken to address inadequate pay and chronic understaffing within the Ministry.

Adrienne also spoke to a class of VCC nursing students on April 20 about First Call’s work on child poverty and income inequality.


March 21: ECD Roundtable Backgrounder to MCFD on Federal Child Care Funding
April 26: Deanna Ogle: Living Wage — fill a prescription or fill the gas tank?
April 28: Election 2017 party responses to First Call coalition questions
May 2: Open Letter Regarding Access Barriers to Applying for Income Assistance


Times Colonist: B.C.’s working poor: Reducing poverty expensive, but possible
Global News: MCFD staff rally in Downtown Vancouver to demand change
CBC – On the Coast: Political panel for start of 2017 prov election
Times Colonist: Trevor Hancock: Child poverty is outrageous and unhealthy
Times Colonist: Victoria’s living wage for young families eases — to $71,315
My Prince George Now: North Central BC’s Living Wage eclipses $16.39 in 2017
Abbotsford News: Fraser Valley living wage drops by 38 cents
Metro Vancouver: Living wage in Metro Vancouver pegged at $20.62: report
The Province: Living Wage – fill a prescription or fill a gas tank?
CBC Early Edition: Softwood lumber and child poverty: Were Clark’s debate claims accurate?