Cabinet mandate letters – Fostering Change consultation – First Call member appeal – and more!
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:
- BC Cabinet mandates on First Call issues
- First Call 2017 member appeal
- New podcast: Youth expectations for new MCFD head
- First Call endorses sugary drinks levy
- First Call out and about
- First Call correspondence and publications
- Upcoming meetings
Read on to learn more!
Yours for children and youth,
Adrienne, Deanna, John and Viveca
BC CABINET MANDATES ON FIRST CALL ISSUES
Mandate letters for Cabinet ministers in the new provincial government have been released, showing in more detail the areas First Call’s efforts prior to the May 9 election have had some impact.
Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark will now work to reinstate tuition-free adult basic education, further remove financial barriers to post-secondary education, and waive tuition fees for former youth in government care—a reflection of three longstanding recommendations from First Call.
Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy shares the above mandate to waive post-secondary tuition, and will now increase funding for the Agreements with Young Adults offered to youth as they age out of foster care.
Katrina Chen, our new Minister of State for Child Care, will build a universal system of affordable, accessible and high-quality child care that meets the objectives of the $10aDay campaign; Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser will implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action; and Minister of Labour Harry Bains will implement the long-sought $15-per-hour minimum wage.
Minister of Finance Carole James will also introduce tax fairness through reforms she will implement during her tenure.
Encouragingly, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson has already begun to raise income and disability assistance rates—one of First Call’s main recommendations—and will soon restore the subsidized bus pass for people on disability assistance.
Minister Simpson’s office has also been reaching out to groups working on poverty reduction, part of his mandate to design and implement a province-wide poverty reduction strategy with legislated targets and timelines. Good work and thank you, everyone!
FIRST CALL 2017 MEMBER APPEAL
Thank you again to First Call coalition members who continue to send in their annual membership fee, allowing our policy advocacy and other work on their behalf to continue for another year.
More information on how to join the First Call coalition can be found here.
NEW PODCAST: YOUTH EXPECTATIONS FOR NEW MCFD HEAD
The latest episode of As Word Spreads, the podcast hosted by youth in and from care, was recorded before Katrine Conroy was announced as the new Minister of Children and Family Development. But the expectations and hopes many youth in care have for her have not changed.
In this episode, our hosts also talk about ‘adoption Tinder’, the process many youth go through to find a new foster home, and share a story of a home placement that did not turn out well.
Interested in joining the podcast to speak about youth-in-care issues? Get in touch today.
FIRST CALL ENDORSES SUGARY DRINKS LEVY
First Call has endorsed a call put forward by Vancouver’s Childhood Obesity Foundation and others to impost a levy on sugary drink manufacturers.
New research from University of Waterloo shows that sugary drink consumption will result in more than 63,000 premature deaths over the next 25 years, and that a 20% excise levy on the manufacturers of sugary drinks over that same period will save more than 13,000 lives as well as healthcare costs of over $50 billion.
FIRST CALL OUT AND ABOUT
Introduction of the $100 increase to income and disability assistance brought a wave of media interest, giving Adrienne the chance to share First Call’s position with the Tyee website, Globe and Mail newspaper, and through broadcasts on CBC Almanac and Fairchild Radio.
On July 12, project manager for the Collective Impact-TRRUST (Transition into Resources, Relationships, and understanding Support Together) initiative, Lucie Honey-Ray, spent an afternoon at the First Call office giving us the history of the initiative and answering questions about phase 3 of the initiative which will be defined through action.
On July 24 and 27, foster youth-serving members of the First Call coalition and grantees under the Vancouver Foundation’s Fostering Change initiative came together for two separate consultations to see if First Call can play a role in new advocacy work for better policy governing our youth in government care.
Participants felt there is a gap in policy advocacy in this area, and that First Call is suited to fill it, given the amount of youth advocacy capacity that exists between the First Call and Fostering Change worlds. More details to follow.
FIRST CALL CORRESPONDENCE AND PUBLICATIONS
WE WERE IN THE NEWS
BCCIC: Where Canada Stands: A Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report
Victoria BC Today: Central Saanich municipality adopts ‘living wage’ policy for all staff and contractors
The Tyee: What Child and Youth Advocates Want from BC’s New Government
Globe and Mail: Advocates say NDP’s increase to social assistance ‘still not enough’
CBC BC Almanac: Discussion of increased social assistance rates
Fairchild Radio: Will the $100 increase in social assistance rates reduce child poverty? (Cantonese/English)