First Call Monthly Updates

April Monthly Update

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:

Read on to learn more!

Yours for children and youth,

Adrienne, Helesia, Dylan, Halena, Leila, Violet-Rose, and Emily



Fostering Change is hiring a second Campaign Organizer to be part of a dynamic campaign that supports a BC child welfare advocacy movement that is youth-driven and focused on improving government policies that affect youth in and from care. Experience in care is an asset, and we also value other work and experience in the care community. This is a part-time position, at $23.00/hour for 21 hours per week. Deadline for applications is Friday May 17, 2019.

We thank Violet-Rose very much for her work and advocacy with the Fostering Change campaign. She has decided to move on from Fostering Change to focus on other exciting upcoming opportunities. We look forward to continue collaborations with her campaigns as they arise!



Living wage calculations for communities across BC decreased significantly this year, according to a new report released this week from the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Even though costs are increasing steeply for rent and other basic necessities, the cost of living for families with children is lower in 2019 thanks to the provincial government’s new child care policies.

The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver is $19.50 per hour, down from $20.91 in 2018. About 30 per cent of Metro Vancouver two-parent families with two children have incomes below the 2019 living wage according to the most recent Statistics Canada data available.

Click here for the Living Wage for Families press release.
Click here for Working for a Living Wage: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver, a report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC office, First Call, and the Living Wage for Families Campaign.

In case you missed it, Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer, spoke at the Columbia Institute’s High Ground: Rising to the Challenge conference in March. Her presentation is available to watch here



On April 29th, 2019 BC’s Minister of Labour introduced Bill 8 in the legislature that will amend the Employment Standards Act to provide better protections for children and adolescents who are working.

This Bill modernizes BC’s employment laws and brings us into compliance with international standards, specifically the International Labour Organization’s Convention 138 on the minimum age of employment – an agreement the Government of Canada ratified in 2016.

Once enacted, Bill 8 will:

  • raise the age for formal employment, (this is the age that does not require government oversight), from 12 to 16;

  • prohibit hazardous work for those under 16;

  • compel government to develop a list of acceptable tasks and conditions (called “light work” in the amendment) for the employment of children aged 14 and 15 without a permit, but with parental consent;

  • allow the Director of the Employment Standards Branch to consider applications for permits to hire those under the age of 14, and

  • compel government to define “hazardous industries and work” prohibitions and regulations for 16 to 18 year olds.

While these legislative changes set a direction that will greatly improve protections for working children and adolescents, the Ministry must now engage with British Columbians (including youth with recent employment experience), as well as review workplace injury data to determine what jobs, tasks and hours are appropriate.

First Call has been calling for change for over 15 years! Year after year, WorkSafeBC data has shown that too many children – 12 to 14-yr-olds are getting injured working in construction, manufacturing, trade and service jobs.

We welcome changes that prioritize the health and safety of BC’s children and youth.

Do you know of a youth who started working at 15 years of age or under who is willing to share their story about working in BC? If you or know someone who might be interested, please contact us at 604-709-6970 or Learn more about our child labour campaign here.



We would like to welcome Parent Advocacy Network for Public Education(PAN) as our newest Coalition member. PAN is a non-partisan grassroots collective of parents and community members who share a commitment to public education. They are working to address the chronic underfunding and devaluing of public education in Vancouver and across British Columbia by creating a strong network of parents who support one another in advocacy. Welcome, PAN!

Is your organization interested in becoming a member of First Call? Click here to learn how you can become a member.


We are excited to welcome Rebecca Kelly as our practicum student for May! Rebecca is originally from the Sunshine Coast of BC, but moved to Vancouver a few years back to pursue her interest in social services. She just completed the Social Service Worker program at Langara College. Her interest is in policy advocacy with a focus on justice for women. In her free time, she enjoys baking, having sushi picnics at the beach, and dog-walking.

Rebecca is working on a variety of initiatives here for First Call, including creating regional factsheets with data from our 2018 Child Poverty Report Card. You can meet her at our upcoming Coalition Meeting on May 8!\



Dylan Cohen, Fostering Change Campaign Organizer, spoke with life skills program attendees at Strive Vancouver about the Policy Slam N’ Jam event opportunity. Dylan and Violet-Rose Pharoah, our second Fostering Change Campaign Organizer, organized two events in April. The Aging out of Care – Listening to Understand event featured the voices of former youth in care to share their journeys through the system, and the Policy Slam N’ Jam where advocates from care around BC brainstormed and shared solutions to the problems in the child welfare system.

In early April, Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator, presented an historical account of advocacy for early childhood in BC to members of the BC Healthy Childhood Development Alliance. Later in the month, Adrienne and Nadine Gagné-L’Hirondelle presented on First Call’s Early Childhood Development public awareness campaign to a group of Early Childhood Educators at the Early Childhood Educators of BC conference.

Helesia Luke, Communications and Development Coordinator, travelled to Victoria earlier this week to support the announcement of amendments to BC’s Employment Standards Acts, particularly the provisions for improved child labour standards.

UBC professor Danielle van Jaarsveld, who chairs BC’s Fair Wages Commission, visited First Call with other Commission researchers to learn about the history and activities of the Living Wage for Families Campaign. The Commission is studying the discrepancy between the minimum wage and living wages in BC.


BC Employment Standards Act Submission


BC Govt: Changes to employment standards will better protect children, support workers
The Tyee: Katie Hyslop series on Indigenous child welfare earns national CAJ nomination
Star Metro Vancouver: What’s ahead for B.C.’s labour laws? Kids at work
The Vancouver Sun: Working Families Fuel Greater Demand at Greater Vancouver Food Banks
North Shore News: New employment standards could protect B.C. youth from dangerous work
Global TV: B.C. increasing minimum work age, adding protection for workers fleeing domestic violence
The Vancouver Sun: B.C. NDP government updates labour rules, scrapping Liberal measures
IndoCanadianVoice: Changes to employment standards will better protect children, support workers
Kamloops BC Now: Employers will be banned from taking servers’ tips under proposed BC legislation