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:
- First Call Fundraising Gala 2019 a Success!
- Welcoming Violet-Rose to Fostering Change
- Newest Episode of As Word Spreads Podcast Released
- Child Labour Campaign Open Letter to Minister Bains
- BC Budget 2019 Analysis
- Living Wage For Families’ Basic Income Submission
Read on to learn more!
Yours for children and youth,
Adrienne, Helesia, Dylan, Halena, Leila, Violet-Rose, and Emily
FIRST CALL FUNDRAISING GALA 2019 A SUCCESS!
A huge thank you to everyone who attended and supported our 2019 First Call Fundraising Gala on Thursday, February 28. It was wonderful to see the room so vibrant and buzzing with excitement and to be able to celebrate new provincial investments in children together. It was our pleasure to award Katie Hyslop with the 2019 Champion for Child and Youth Rights Award for her journalism work. Michael Redhead Champagne was our keynote speaker and wowed us with his positive, inspiring messages from his advocacy work in Winnipeg.
Thank you again and we look forward to seeing you next year.
WELCOMING VIOLET-ROSE TO FOSTERING CHANGE
We are so excited to formally welcome Violet-Rose Pharoah to First Call as our second Campaign Organizer with the Fostering Change Campaign. Violet-Rose’s career path has included both collaborative and self-directed projects, using creative and arts-based platforms to create dialogue and advocate for change within the child welfare system. Having personally spent 15 years in the foster care system, she offers experience-based knowledge and sensitivity to the unique social landscape navigated by youth in care.
In 2016, Violet-Rose founded The Garbage Challenge, a personal commitment to carrying a garbage bag for 365 days to raise awareness about the lack of luggage provided for children and youth in foster care as they are moved about. With the support of community businesses and others over 100 brand new suitcases were distributed in the Vancouver area.
Violet-Rose was a 2017 SFU Radius Fellow, a social innovation lab and venture incubator. She has pursued studies at Capilano University’s Community Leadership & Social Change program and at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Public Relations program.
You can reach Violet-Rose at her email address here. Welcome, Violet-Rose!
NEWEST EPISODE OF AS WORD SPREADS PODCAST RELEASED
In the newest As Word Spreads podcast episode, Dylan Cohen, Fostering Change Campaign Organizer, speaks with former youth in care Ashley and Adil with the Adoptive Families Association of BC about transitioning from the system, and some visions for a better alternative. The episode, titled “Transitions from the System with Speak-Out Youth (Adil and Ashley!)” is eye-opening and encouraging to listeners on how and why to take action. Thanks to Adoptive Families Association of BC for their support in producing this podcast episode.
CHILD LABOUR CAMPAIGN OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER BAINS
In the beginning of February, First Call sent an open letter to the Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, calling on him to table legislation at the next sitting of B.C.’s Legislative Assembly aimed at protecting children and youth from employment-related injury and exploitation.
We urge the Minister to modernize BC’s employment standards to protect children and youth.
The letter is signed by a number of organizations working provincially and federally on behalf of children’s rights. Additional organizational signatures are still welcome!
BC BUDGET 2019 ANALYSIS
First Call applauds the Provincial Government for significant improvements to the child tax benefit announced in BC Budget 2019.
Thanks to our collective advocacy, government’s new BC Child Opportunity Benefit will increase the maximum benefit amount to $1600 for the first child and extend it to families with children up to the age of 18. The total annual provincial investment once the benefit is in effect (starting October 2020) will be $380 million.
While First Call is thrilled with this significant investment in children, families will receive a reduced benefit if they make over $25,000/year, a threshold far below the poverty line. While this threshold will be indexed, we would like to see it raised to ensure the full benefit is available to more low-income families. We look forward to seeing what other measures will be included in BC’s upcoming Poverty Reduction Plan to reduce child and family poverty.
The budget included other important investments of benefit to BC’s children, youth and families, such as a share of gaming revenue for First Nations, elimination of interest on provincial student loans, and increases for foster parents.
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition also has a thorough analysis, including links to many other members’ news releases here.
LIVING WAGE FOR FAMILIES’ BASIC INCOME SUBMISSION
In February, the Living Wage for Families Campaign delivered a submission to the provincial government’s Expert Committee on Basic Income. The submission emphasizes that any potential basic income plan for BC would need to comprise only part of an accountable, bold, and comprehensive poverty reduction plan and to work in step with the province’s other work on poverty reduction, wages, and employment standards. The consultation is open to the public until March 15. Read our submission and have your say!
FIRST CALL OUT AND ABOUT
Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer, hosted a table at the Canadian Labour Congress’ Winter School Campaign Fair in the beginning of February.
Adrienne and Helesia attended the provincial budget lockup in Victoria.
FIRST CALL CORRESPONDENCE AND PUBLICATIONS
FIRST CALL IN THE NEWS
Victoria Times Colonist: B.C. children need protection from workplace exploitation
Prince George Citizen: B.C. children need protection from workplace
Daybreak South with Chris Walker (radio)
Parent Support Services: Celebrating Family Day