Highlights this month include:
- BC’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy Release
- Welcoming SOS Children’s Villages Canada to First Call Coalition
- Thank you to Pam Preston, Outgoing Steering Committee Member
- April Fostering Change Events
- Submissions On Basic Income Consultation
- Submissions On Employment Standards Consultation
- First Call Fundraising Gala Videos Posted
Read on to learn more!
Yours for children and youth,
Adrienne, Helesia, Dylan, Halena, Leila, Violet-Rose, and Emily
BC’S FIRST POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY RELEASE
This month, the government released BC’s first ever poverty reduction strategy TogetherBC setting out a number of strategies and initiatives aimed at meeting legislated poverty reduction targets including a 50% reduction in the child poverty rate by 2024. First Call is pleased to see several significant initiatives restated in this plan, including the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit which will take effect in October 2020.
We recognize BC’s new Poverty Reduction Strategy, with its legislated goals and timelines, is an important and historic first step towards building a more equitable province with fewer families and children living in poverty. At the same time, as government acknowledges, there are important areas missing from the Strategy, including affordable public transportation (specifically free transit for minors and low-income individuals), measures that would alleviate food insecurity and adequate assistance rates to address deep poverty.
Provincial Coordinator Adrienne Montani was appointed to the Minister’s Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee which will contribute to guiding implementation and monitoring progress on the Strategy’s goals.
WELCOMING SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGES CANADA TO FIRST CALL COALITION
SOS Children’s Village BC is the newest member of our coalition. They provide foster care and supportive programs in a community setting in Surrey. First Call warmly welcomes them to our growing list of coalition members. Is your organization interested in becoming a member of First Call? Learn more about joining our coalition.
THANK YOU TO PAM PRESTON, OUTGOING STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBER
We want to recognize Pam Preston, Executive Director at Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre, for her wonderful contributions to First Call as a dedicated and long-time Steering Committee member. Pam has brought a thoughtful perspective to the Committee and has made many positive impacts on our advocacy work. Westcoast recently received $2.7 million from government to help enhance supports and professional development for early childhood educators and other child care providers. Pam is stepping away from the Steering Committee to focus her energy on this new chapter. Congratulations, and thank you Pam!
APRIL FOSTERING CHANGE EVENTS
The Fostering Change Community Organizers (FCCOs) are organizing Aging Out of Care – Listening to Understand to hear from former youth in care about their journeys through the system. In coming weeks, they will announce five panelists. Until then, secure your spot for what will be a powerful panel and meaningful stories – with a call to action that includes fixing our broken system. The event takes place on Wednesday, April 24 from 7-9 pm at 312 Main Street.
On Sunday April 28 from 10-4pm, the FCCOs are organizing 2019 Policy Slam’N Jam. They’re gathering advocates from care around BC to brainstorm and share solutions to the problems in the child welfare system that break down barriers and construct new paths for youth success. They’re very excited to announce that Kris Archie, a talented facilitator with deep roots in the Fostering Change movement and the youth in care community, will facilitate this session.
SUBMISSIONS ON BASIC INCOME CONSULTATION
First Call and Living Wage for Families Campaign both submitted responses to the BC Government’s call for feedback on the potential for a basic income approach to reducing poverty.
While the First Call Coalition does not have an official position on a basic income, we believe all families should have enough income, in combination with universal social programs, to provide for the basic needs of their children. The Living Wage for Families Campaign’s 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.
SUBMISSIONS ON EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS CONSULTATION
Both First Call and the Living Wage for Families Campaign participated in the BC Government’s consultation on employment standards. The Ministry of Labour held a public consultation on its new proposal paper seeking input into six areas identified for modernization.
First Call submitted a letter to Minister of Labour Harry Bains in response to his Ministry’s call for submissions to the Employment Standards Act – Consultation Paper. It responds to Theme 1 – Increasing protection of child workers. The submission reiterated our call for government to modernize the legislative and regulatory framework to raise BC’s general work start age to 16, prohibit tasks that are leading to injuries, and prohibit those under eighteen from working on potentially hazardous work sites.
The Living Wage Campaign’s submission responded to all six areas and highlighted the work of First Call, the BC Employment Standards Coalition, and their labour allies to advocate for greater worker protections.
Read First Call’s submission to the Employment Standards Consultation.
Read First Call’s open letter to Minister Bains on Child Employment Standards.
Read Living Wage for Families Campaign’s submission to Employment Standards Consultation.
FIRST CALL FUNDRAISING GALA VIDEOS POSTED
We are pleased that all the speeches from our February 28, 2019 First Call Fundraising Gala are now posted on our YouTube channel. Videos include Michael Redhead Champagne’s Keynote Speech, Traditional Welcome from Musqueam Elder Debra Sparrow, First Call presentation from Adrienne Montani, and the presentation of the 2019 Champion of Child and Youth Rights Award to journalist Katie Hyslop.
Thank you to Brenna Goodwin-McCabe, videographer, for filming and editing the films.
FIRST CALL OUT AND ABOUT
Last weekend, Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator, and Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer, both presented at the High Ground Conference. Adrienne presented with Iglika Ivanova from CCPA-BC on Poverty Reduction and Income Inequality in BC, and Halena presented a pecha kucha on the Living Wage Campaign.
Adrienne also made numerous presentations in March. She presented to two groups of high school students at Fraser Heights Secondary School in Surrey on child poverty and inequality, to SFU’s UNICEF club and its supporters as their gala’s keynote speaker, and to Vancouver Community College’s nursing students. She was also a respondent among with Lissa Smith, Sarah Brownlee, and Maria Blanchard, on the public launch of the BC Poverty Reduction Strategy by Minister Simpson.
FIRST CALL CORRESPONDENCE AND PUBLICATIONS
FIRST CALL IN THE NEWS
Press Progress: Children Forced to Claim $5 million Per Year in Injury Payouts, Thanks to Old BC Liberal Labour Laws
The Tyee: Want Justice? Then Let the Youth Lead
Langara Voice: Langara Faculty Association now a living wage employer
BCTF Social Justice Newsletter: 1 in 5 Poor Children in BC Call Out for Bold Government Action
BCTF Social Justice Newsletter: Poverty at the School Level: What Can Teachers Do?
Times Colonist: Comment: Basic income must be only one part of poverty-reduction plans
Vancouver Sun: B.C. unveils first poverty reduction plan
My Coast Now: Together B.C. is our poverty reduction plan
The Tyee: BC’s Poverty Reduction Plan Includes Few New Measures
Times Colonist: Les Leyne: Ambitious goals for ending poverty in B.C.
Vancouver Courier: B.C.’s $4-billion poverty plan ‘money well spent’
Burnaby Now: B.C.’s $4-billion poverty plan ‘money well spent’
The Tyee: ‘We Need To Be Better’: A Rallying Cry From First Call Keynote
CBC: The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn
CBC: Is 12 too young to work? Youth advocates slam B.C.’s lax child-labour laws