First Call Monthly Updates

June 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, Emily and Kaleb



Building on our work monitoring child poverty levels in BC, First Call has hosted the Living Wage for Families Campaign since 2009 to address the high proportion of children who live with parents/caregivers in the paid workforce whose wages are insufficient to lift their families out of poverty. The Campaign Organizer is responsible for overall leadership and coordination of the campaign, developing and managing campaign resources, overseeing research projects, and supervising the Campaign Assistant position. The posting is available here and the deadline for applications is Friday July 13, 2018.



In our 2017 child poverty report card, we made a recommendation to enhance BC’s current early childhood benefit to more effectively reach poor, children-supporting households. In April, we met with senior staff at the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction about First Call’s recommendations for policy changes to reduce child, youth and family poverty. To follow up on that conversation, we submitted the Comparison of Provincial and Territorial Child Benefits and Recommendations for British Columbia earlier this month.

Our two recommendations were:

  1. Redesign the BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit into a BC Child Benefit that covers children under 18, increase the maximum benefit to $1,320 per child per year and index it annually to the cost of living.
  2. Ensure that households with an annual net income of up to $80,000 receive the full, increased child benefit and phase out the benefit for households with annual net incomes above $100,000.

Also, this spring the Government of Canada invited responses to a proposed new framework for a human rights-based approach to housing.

First Call’s submission recommended the federal government focus on four areas of action:

  1. ensure access to safe and affordable housing for children and youth who live in households struggling with poverty;
  2. ensure access to safe and affordable housing and support services for youth in or aging out of government care;
  3. include the voices of children, youth, their families and communities in government-led processes undertaken to assist them; and
  4. ensure CMHC is properly mandated and resourced to successfully develop housing to better meet the needs of low-income families, children and youth.



At the beginning of June, the Living Wage for Families Campaign held a breakfast at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster for Living Wage Employers. It was an energizing event for employers to meet one another, share resources, and discuss how to expand the campaign to certify more employers as Living Wage Employers.

In the last month, we have certified five new Living Wage Employers! You can learn more about how to become a Living Wage Employer here.



We are excited to welcome three new coalition members to First Call. If your organization is interested in learning more about joining our coalition of 105 members, click here for more information.

Aunt Leah’s Place helps prevent children in foster care from becoming homeless and mothers in need from losing custody of their children. To support them on their journey to self-sufficiency, Aunt Leah’s Place provides supported housing, job training, and coaching on essential life skills.

New Westminster Family Place is a family resource centre and a community hub where families access support, opportunities for engagement, and community resources. Their service is necessary to the community for many reasons, including providing support services to isolated families with young children.

BC Council of the Canadian Federation of University Women is a voluntary, self-funded, non-profit organization with 22 clubs across the province. Their mandate is to promote education and life-long learning, to encourage the participation of members in their communities and to enhance the status of women and girls.



We held our Appreciation Reception on June 20th to recognize and appreciate all of our member organizations, volunteers, sponsors and donors who help put children and youth first in BC. We enjoyed listening to tunes from Silk Road Music and nibbled on delicious treats.

Those in attendance heard from Adrienne Montani about the work of First Call and the Living Wage for Families Campaign over the past year, from Dylan Cohen about his work with Fostering Change, and Derek Gent about the Vancity Community Foundation’s support of First Call. We presented Derek with Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith as a thank you as he leaves his role as Executive Director of the Vancity Community Foundation.



The date is set for our Fall Public Education Forum – Saturday September 22, 2018. We are excited that Annie Kidder from People for Education in Ontario will be speaking. We have heard three key issues from the feedback we have collected over the past months: support for children with special needs in elementary schools, changing graduation requirements, and support for kids living in poverty. We invite you to expand upon these issues or suggest additional topics by filling in this quick survey.



Helesia Luke, Communications and Development Coordinator, hosted a table at the Gathering Festival hosted at Emery Barnes Park to share resources and information about First Call and the Living Wage for Families Campaign. She met many members of the South Granville community and connected with other tabling organizations.

Dylan Cohen, Youth Organizer, is working with the Fostering Change Community Organizers on some major campaign actions over the summer. Today, the team is creating a large banner to paint and drop in Mid July. They’re preparing to get registrations for youth lobby day in the fall, and asking for public input on the Agreements with Young Adults consultation process in the near future. Sign up for emails and sign the petition here.



June: New First Call Research and Recommendations on Enhancing BC’s Child Tax Benefit
June: First Call Submission to National Consultation on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Housing
June: Mayor Derek Corrigan and Lorraine Cunningham – Response to Joint Public Meeting on Transit



The Tyee: Lessons from care: ‘We’ll be triumphant in our battle to make this system great’



Next First Call Coalition Meeting

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
9:15-11:30 am
BC Teachers’ Federation
550 West 6th Avenue (at Ash), Vancouver

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
9:30 am-12:00 pm
United Way of the Lower Mainland
4543 Canada Way, Burnaby

Please RSVP by emailing

More information and previous meeting minutes can be found here