First Call Monthly Updates

May 2017 Monthly Update

Bear Witness Day – Repeal Section 43 – Federal poverty reduction strategy – and more!

May 2017

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:

  • Bear Witness Day
  • Repeal Section 43: Letters and response
  • Poverty reduction strategy
  • First Call out and about
  • First Call correspondence and publications
  • First Call in the news
  • Upcoming meetings

Read on to learn more!

Yours for children and youth,
John, Adrienne, Julie and Deanna




With Cindy Blackstock’s encouragement, First Call took a moment at our May 10 coalition meeting to “bear witness” to Canada’s ongoing struggle to live up to Jordan’s Principle, under which all children across Canada have equal access to all public services. We’ll have our teddy bears in hand again on May 10 Bear Witness Day next year, and every year until discrimination no longer guides fiscal policy in Canada as concerns our children.


First Call has renewed its focus on Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which makes it legal to use corrective violence against children. Bill S-206 seeks to repeal that, and protect children from all forms of violence—as articulated in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child—but Senators only have until the end of June to pass Bill S-206.

We’ve written each Senator a letter asking for their support for Bill S-206, and encourage you to do the same. First Call supporters have begun to send letters of their own, with preliminary response already received from some Senators, and just this past month five First Call coalition members newly endorsed the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth: BC Aboriginal Child Care Society, BC Society of Transition Houses, PeerNetBC, Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society and the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society.


At the invitation of the North Okanagan Early Years Council and Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan’s Partners in Action Committee, Adrienne spoke about child poverty and income inequality at their Poverty Reduction Strategy Workshop in Vernon on May 25. After hearing from First Call and panel of local service providers, workshop participants came up with the key poverty reduction solutions they would like the federal government to address in their national poverty reduction strategy. High on the list, of course, were affordable housing and child care!

In the agreement signed May 30, the BC NDP and BC Green Party made a poverty reduction plan for BC one of their coalition’s policy priorities. Happening right now in parallel to that is a series of federal poverty reduction strategy consultations, and First Call will dedicate the June 14 coalition meeting for just such a discussion.

Please join us on June 14 for your chance to feed into Canada’s provincial reduction strategy.


Adrienne and First Call steering committee member Pam Preston attended the Early Childhood Educators of BC’s annual conference to a warm welcome on May 5, and on May 8 Adrienne joined a live discussion hosted by the CBC’s Stephen Quinn on the issues of greatest concern in the 2017 provincial election.

This past Victoria Day, May 22, First Call was invited to speak at Child Poverty Then and Now, a family festival in East Vancouver’s Victoria Park. Several hundred people turned for games, sun, music and food, and the chance to learn more about BC’s persistent problem of child and family poverty.

Plans are already coming together for Victoria Day next year, which promises to be even bigger than the inaugural event, so please save the date!

On May 27, Adrienne joined speakers from the Aga Khan Foundation, Vancouver Foundation and Vancity Community Foundation in a panel discussion at St. George’s School about youth poverty in the world and what’s being done about it. That same day, John attended a strategy workshop for the #supportthe700 campaign to increase supports available to youth who age out of government care.


May 10: First Call Urges Senate to Support Bill S-206 to Repeal Section 43 (End Physical Punishment)
May 23: 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card executive summary
May 23: Early Child Development Framework for Action executive summary


BC Employment Standards Coalition: New summary report: Workers’ Stories of Exploitation & Abuse
Metro News: Wage theft is most common complaint of B.C. workers: advocacy group
Vancouver Sun: Opinion: Poverty plan a prescription for tackling mental illness
National Observer: Dear grandparents voting in the B.C. election
Nanaimo News Now: Housing costs, low-paying jobs create challenging equation for Nanaimo families
My Cowichan Valley Now: Federal child tax credit helps lower living wage