First Call Monthly Updates

June 2015 Monthly Update

Welcome to the June monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work putting children and youth first.

We were proud to participate in the friendship walk on June 21st for National Aboriginal Day and had a great time picnicking with our donors at Trout Lake Park.

This month we have a number of actions that you can take to support children and youth as well as an exciting breakthrough for the Living Wage for Families Campaign.

We won’t be sharing monthly updates in July and August but look forward to getting back in touch when things ramp back up in September. In the meantime we will be taking time to relax and enjoy this beautiful weather and also work through all of the tasks on our to-do list that we have been saving for “when things slow down!”

Thanks for your support and please keep in touch.

Yours for children and youth,
Adrienne, Sarena and Julie


First Call Campaigns & Urgent Actions


City of Vancouver’s living wage motion passes unanimously

June 29, Mayor Gregor Robertson announced he would bring forward a motion to city council calling on the city to become a certified Living Wage Employer. The motion was debated July 8 and passed unanimously with support from all parties. Thanks to the Metro Vancouver Alliance and all of our allies who helped make this a reality! Read more.

Earlier that morning, hundreds rallied on the steps of City Hall to show their support for the living wage. People were inspired to tell us what the living wage meant to them. Find news and photos on this Facebook page and in this photo album.

You can still tell the Mayor and Council you approve! Send them a letter to tell them you support the City of Vancouver becoming a Living Wage Employer. Sign and send the letter now.

Since 2009 First Call has hosted the Living Wage for Families Campaign to address the high proportion of children who live with working parents whose wages are insufficient to lift them out of poverty. In 2015, nine new organizations were certified as Living Wage Employers, bringing the total to 46 across the region.


Fostering Change Community Conversations

Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Homelessness initiative partnered with First Call, the Representative for Children and Youth Office, McCreary Centre Society, Public Guardian and Trustee, and the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks to host five community conversations about what local supports are in place (or not!) for youth transitioning out of care at age 19. See some preliminary reports here.


Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play

First Call has signed on as a supporter of the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play, part of the Participaction Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. It was developed by 14 organizations and supported by 1,600 stakeholders. The position paper also provides extensive research documenting evidence of the benefits of outdoor play.

The position statement highlights that “Access to active play in nature and outdoors—with its risks—is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings—at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.”

You can read the full statement here.


Take action to reverse devastating cuts to adult education

On December 4, 2014, the provincial government announced a $6.9 million cut to adult basic education (ABE) programming in BC and removed the tuition-free ABE mandate. This means that doors of opportunity are closing for thousands of British Columbians who are working hard to gain the knowledge and skills they need to get better jobs, support the economy, and create better lives for themselves and their families.

First Call is supporting the Canadian Federation of Students’ campaign, Don’t Close the Doors on Adult Education!, which calls on Premier Clark to reverse these devastating cuts.

You can find out more and take action on the campaign website:

First Call partner the BC Teachers’ Federation published Adult education in BC’s public schools, based on a survey of adult educators teaching for the public school system. Download the full report and the key findings.


Why do we pay so much for prescription drugs? Take action for national drug coverage

More and more people are calling for national drug coverage, or pharmacare, including doctors, nurses, economists and people who don’t have drug coverage.

These calls reflect a growing problem that affects everyone in Canada: we are paying too much for prescription drugs. Prescription medications cost on average 30% more in Canada than in other industrialized countries.

First Call has long called for a national pharma plan in our BC child poverty report cards.

We encourage you to take action by signing the petition from the Campaign for National Drug Coverage.


Meet your BC MLA and ask them to support a poverty reduction plan

BC has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada and remains the only province without a poverty reduction plan.

We still have an opportunity to make real change happen, as Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall has re-introduced Bill M218: The Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act.

It’s time to ask your MLA to support this bill while all MLAs are back in their communities until the next session at BC’s legislature on July 13. Check out the resources the Poverty Reduction Coalition has prepared at their Meet your MLA page, or get in touch with them for help to get ready.


Raise the Rates banner campaign going strong

First Call is a member of the Raise the Rates Coalition. Join Raise the Rates’ banner campaign and help raise awareness about the need for the provincial government to increase social assistance rates to livable levels.

There are banners hanging from homes and offices all over BC, and you could have one, too. If you would like a banner to put on your house, balcony or office for two or three weeks, get in touch with Jean.


bc211 a great resource for families and professionals

At the May First Call coalition meeting we had a great presentation by Bob Prenovost and Ruth Marzetti from bc211. We got such positive feedback that we wanted to share information about bc211 with our partners and supporters.

bc211 is a free, multilingual, confidential service accessible 24/7, connecting individuals, families and professionals to community, social and government services. Calling or texting 211 provides information and referrals to over 8,000 resources and programs. 211 is currently available in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Sunshine Coast and Squamish Lillooet regional districts.

You might also be interested in bc211’s Red Book Online, a comprehensive and up-to-date online directory of community resources.


Children whose parents are in conflict with the law

At the June First Call coalition meeting, Hayli Millar and Yvon Dandurand, University of the Fraser Valley researchers from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, shared their work on the issues of children’s right to protection from violence and the impacts of having a parent in conflict with the law, including imprisonment.

One overarching conclusion from their research is that the concept of the best interests of the child is poorly understood and rarely acted upon within the justice system in Canada. Children’s rights and needs for support in these situations are still largely invisible, partly due to stigma and a host of other reasons.

Read In the Best Interests of the Child: Strategies for Recognizing and Supporting Canada’s At-Risk Population of Children with Incarcerated Parents

Yvon was involved in developing the new UN Model Strategies on the Elimination of Violence Against Children. The introductory booklet and the checklist can be found respectively at:

First Call is exploring ways we can assist in raising awareness and policy advocacy on these complex issues.


First Call in the News

Vancouver Sun: Gregor Robertson calls for Vancouver to become a living wage employer

Georgia Straight: Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson puts forward living-wage motion

Vancouver Metro News: Vancouver mayor wants city to become living wage employer

Vancouver Courier: Mayor wants to ‘make ends meet’ in Vancouver

Province: Vancouver mayor commits to living-wage thrust

CKNW News Talk 980: Mayor Gregor Robertson wants City of Vancouver to be living wage employer

News 1130: Vancouver’s mayor wants to make City Hall a living wage employer

AM 730: UPDATED (with video interviews): Mayor Gregor Robertson wants City of Vancouver to be living wage employer

Human Resource Management Online: Calls for west coast city to become living wage employer

Vancity Buzz: Mayor Robertson want City of Vancouver to become a ‘living wage’ employer

Huffington Post: Mayor Gregor Robertson wants City of Vancouver to be living wage city

Vancouver Sun: Douglas Todd: Metro Vancouver Alliance builds bridges and makes things happen

Parksville-Qualicum Beach News: Living wage in Parksville Qualicum Beach hits $17.66


First Call Meetings and Events

Next First Call Coalition Meeting

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
9:15 – 11:30 am
BC Teachers’ Federation, 550 W. 6th Ave., Vancouver
Refreshments served at 9 am

Meetings are open to the public and phone participation is available. Please RSVP by emailing

More information, a copy of the agenda and previous meeting minutes can be found here.

Next Early Childhood Development Roundtable Meeting

Wednesday, September 16
9:30 am – 12:00 pm
United Way of the Lower Mainland, 4543 Canada Way, Burnaby

If you are interested in participating, please RSVP by emailing

More information and previous meeting minutes can be found here.