First Call Monthly Updates

May 2015 Monthly Update

Welcome to the May monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work and key actions you can take to support children and youth in BC.

This month our provincial coordinator Adrienne Montani facilitated a panel at the Early Childhood Educators of BC annual conference and spoke about our new report on the early years Call to Action. The Living Wage for Families Campaign hosted a public event as part of the Vancouver Adopt-a-Councillor campaign. We are also very excited to welcome two new partners to the First Call coalition: the Centre for Child Honouring and Check Your Head: The Global Youth Education Network.

Please read on for campaign updates and commentary on a number of key issues.

Thanks for your support and please keep in touch.

Yours for children and youth,
Adrienne, Sarena and Julie
Welcome to new First Call partners

Welcome to the Centre for Child Honouring and Check Your Head: The Global Youth Education Network. We look forward to working closely with you to improve the lives of BC’s children and youth.

The Centre for Child Honouring, based in Salt Spring Island, BC, is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to advancing child honouring as a universal ethic for building healthy communities and restoring the earth. Aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the child honouring vision is expressed in founder Raffi Cavoukian’s Covenant for Honouring Children and its nine principles.

Check Your Head (CYH) is a youth-driven not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, BC, that educates and activates young people on social issues. Founded in 1999, CYH encourages young people to understand and take action for social, economic and environmental justice. They provide education, resources, training and support for youth to live as engaged, independent and active citizens within our local and global communities.
First Call Campaigns & Urgent Actions

What’s Happening with the Living Wage in Vancouver?

As part of our work to reduce child poverty, First Call hosts the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Throughout spring 2015, members of community organizations and unions met with city councillors as part of the Living Wage for Families’ Adopt-a-Councillor campaign. They let the councillors know the importance of a living wage and encouraged the City of Vancouver to publicly announce a commitment and timeline for implementing a living wage policy.

On June 2, a very engaged group heard updates on the Adopt-a-Councillor campaign and to plan next steps. We heard report-backs from the Hospital Employees’ Union, the Metro Vancouver Alliance, the BC Retired Teachers Association, and UFCW Local 1518 about their respective meetings with councillors and the mayor. We also heard from a Vancouver Public Library employee who spoke about the challenge of making ends meet working below the living wage. The evening ended with many questions from the audience and small group discussions on next steps to keep the living wage conversation going.

Learn more at
Read more from the Georgia Straight: Vancouver city hall poised to move on living wage

Tell the Premier you support the ECD Call to Action

In March, First Call published a new early childhood development call to action: Make BC’s Young Children and Families a Priority: A Call to Action.

The Call to Action builds on the previously published Framework for Action, a framework that defines the components that are essential for an effective early years strategy and recommends ways that those components can be interwoven, strengthened, enhanced and transformed into an intentionally integrated, adequately resourced province-wide approach to ensuring healthy child development in BC. These recommendations are still valid today; the framework is still a blueprint for action, but what is now needed is the political will and commitment to build it.

We encourage you to show your support for young families by sending a letter to Premier Clark telling her that you support this call to action! If you are a parent you can sign this letter or you can sign this letter as a general member of the public.

First Call sent a copy of the Call to Action and an accompanying letter on May 6, 2015, to the Premier and also sent an email with a link to all MLAs.

Statement on child labour in BC Legislature

On May 11 Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, made a private member’s statement in the Legislature about BC’s inadequate protections for children and youth in the workforce. Read her statement and the reply from Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen here (scroll down to [1050]).

First Call’s research report, Child Labour Is No Accident: The Experience of BC’s Working Children, documented the inadequacy of BC’s employment standards for protecting children and youth who work and their experiences with workplace injuries and exploitation. Our earlier report, What’s Happening to Our Children? A Look at Work-Related Injury Claims in BC over the Past 10 Years, documented the 10-fold increase in serious work-related injuries for children 14 years and under after the Employment Standards Act was amended in 2003 to drop BC’s work start age to 12 years old.

Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act re-introduced in the BC legislature

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall has recently re-introduced the Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act. Bill M218 calls on the provincial government to develop and implement a strategy with legislated targets and timelines in order to reduce the breadth and depth of poverty. Now’s our chance to pressure our politicians to pass this great bill!

Take action: Go to the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition webpage to find more info and take action to support the bill.

Thinking Upstream: Who Keeps Chucking Our Kids in the River? – Dr. Meili’s First Call talk available online

If you missed our Fundraising Gala this past February (or you loved it so much you want to re-live it again!) you can now watch Dr. Ryan Meili’s keynote presentation.

His half-hour talk looks at upstream prescriptions to creating just, healthy outcomes for BC’s children and youth, and shares the success of the Poverty Costs campaign in convincing the Saskatchewan government to adopt a poverty reduction strategy. Watch it on Youtube.

Vancouver Unite against Austerity forum video available online

On April 28 a panel and dialogue session was held to explore the impacts of government austerity policies on various sectors, communities and populations. In case you missed the event, you can watch highlights in this short video (7:34 min.)

First Call provincial coordinator Adrienne Montani was one of the panelists, along with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Reilly Yeo of Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives, Arielle dela Cruz Yip and Cora Cadiz of the Philippine Women Centre of BC, Paul Finch of the BCGEU and Sean Devlin of Shit Harper Did.
First Call in the News

Georgia Straight: Vancouver city hall poised to move on living wage

United Way Lower Mainland: May Day! Vancouver’s living wage increases by 24% Why the Metro Vancouver living wage is not enough for single parents and how to fix it

Cowichan Valley Citizen: Food programs show troubling poverty trend

Vancouver Sun: Author Q&A: Journalist Andrew MacLeod charts B.C.’s growing income inequality

Global News: Rallies held across B.C. to advocate for $10-a-day child care

Huffington Post: Top 10 Reasons B.C. Needs a New Government

Vernon Morning Star: Investing in our children

Huffington Post: Paternity Leave: Why So Few Canadian Dads Take Time Off

Times Colonist: Geoff Johnson: Test scores are irrelevant to hungry students What’s behind BC’s Tax Gift to Private Schools?
First Call Meetings and Events

Next First Call Coalition Meeting
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
9:15 – 11:30 am
Refreshments served at 9 am
BC Teachers’ Federation
550 W. 6th Ave., 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 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.