Welcome to the September monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work and key actions you can take to support children and youth in BC.
With the federal election underway we have produced an election toolkit to give you the tools to ensure child and youth issues are first on the political agenda. We presented a provincial budget brief to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services highlighting what the 2016 BC Budget should include to put children and youth first. We also made a submission to the Provincial Office for the Early Years as part of their review of early years planning in BC. We took part in an interesting meeting about changes to income assistance policy as well as hosted a conversation with Ontario’s Child and Youth Advocate.
We are also really excited to announce that we have a new logo and a new website!
Read on to find out more about all these updates.
Yours for children and youth,
Julie, Sarena, Adrienne and Deanna
2015 FEDERAL ELECTION TOOLKIT – LET’S VOTE TO PUT CHILDREN AND YOUTH FIRST!
October 19, 2015 is election day in Canada and First Call has developed an election toolkit to support individuals and community groups in their advocacy for children and youth at the federal level. First Call member organizations and allies with cross-sectoral expertise contributed many of the facts, ideas and recommendations in the kit.
The toolkit is structured around the 4 Keys to Success for Children and Youth. Each section highlights some of the current issues facing children, youth and families in BC and Canada and suggests solutions government can act on, in the form of questions to candidates.
We have also included information on how to vote, the parties running in the election and where to find the money for children and youth.
You can download the toolkit on our (new!) website here.
2016 PROVINCIAL BUDGET SUBMISSION: WILL BC’S 2016 BUDGET PUT CHILDREN AND YOUTH FIRST?
First Call made a presentation and written submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services regarding the 2016 provincial budget. Each fall, the Select Standing Committee holds province-wide public consultations on the next provincial budget, then drafts recommendations for the budget based on the input given.
As this submission and many others will describe, there are urgent service gaps affecting the health, safety and development of BC’s most vulnerable children and youth that need to be addressed in BC.
The creation of additional risk to more children due to poverty, untreated mental illness and trauma, family breakdown, inadequate educational supports, unaffordable housing and child care, and the stresses facing families raising children with disabilities, are just some of the issues waiting for attention. However, many of the recommendations related to addressing these issues that were made by this committee last year have not been acted on.
You can read our brief here.
FIRST CALL RESPONSE TO THE PROVINCIAL OFFICE FOR THE EARLY YEARS’ REVIEW OF LOCAL EARLY YEARS PLANNING
In spring 2015, the Provincial Office for the Early Years launched a review of early years planning in BC to help inform how the office could refocus funding for local early years planning on a new infrastructure model. They distributed a review document and started a consultation with stakeholders.
Tessa Graham, the executive lead of the Provincial Office for the Early Years, attended the September 2015 First Call Early Childhood Development Roundtable meeting to discuss this review.
First Call has submitted a response to the early years planning review entitled When Existing Investments Are Not Enough: the Need to Aim Higher for BC’s Young Children & Families. It concludes:
“We share many of the Provincial Office for the Early Years’ goals for this review – particularly to improve the availability of and accountability for young children’s and families’ access to the supports and services they need in their local communities. We challenge the Office and the BC Government to aim higher for BC’s young children and their families by focusing on linking local early years planning capacity to the critical policy and investments supports that can only come from provincial and federal government action.”
INCOME ASSISTANCE POLICY CHANGES
First Call attended an information session July 24, 2015, where Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Michelle Stillwell announced two new changes effective September 1, 2105, to the Single Parent Employment Initiative.
These changes remove additional barriers to employment for single parents on income and disability assistance that have been advocated for by single parents, First Call and other organizations. First Call staff continued active engagement with welfare ministry staff around the implementation of the policy changes to obtaining child support orders for single parents.
CONVERSATION WITH ONTARIO’S PROVINCIAL ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
First Call members and allies had a great conversation this week with Irwin Elman, Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. We learned a lot about the work they have been doing in Ontario to ensure that children and youth’s voices are at the centre of their work.
It was also inspiring to hear about the youth leaving care hearings that Ontario youth organized and led – you can read their report that came out of the hearings, the My REAL Life Book, here.
NEW LOGO & WEBSITE
We are very excited to announce that we have a new logo, and we have launched a new website at www.firstcallbc.org!
This website will allow us to better share how the First Call coalition is putting children and youth first. It includes information about First Call’s work, history and team in the About Us section. It better highlights our members in the Our Coalition section, and we are also highlighting our ongoing advocacy efforts in our Campaigns section. We have a fully searchable Publications section highlighting all of First Call important publications from election toolkits to correspondence with government. The useful content from our weekly Child and Youth Advocate newsletter which used to be housed on our blog – is now on our website in the News section and is easily searchable by type and topic.
Last but not least, we have a Get Involved section with ways to take action as well as an email action tool! Make sure to send an email to the premier saying you support the recommendations in our Child Poverty Report Card, as well as send an email to the premier telling her you support our early years call to action.
We hope you enjoy the website and please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any feedback.
A big thank you to the hard-working team at WorkingDesign for crafting such a beautiful logo and website for us.
FIRST CALL IN THE NEWS
Vancouver Sun: Vancouver’s living wage proposal applauded
Co-op Radio – Media Mornings: Living wage motion introduced by Vancouver city council
CKNW AM (AM980): City of Vancouver paves way to become a living wage employer
Vancouver Observer: City of Vancouver to become a ‘living wage employer’
Vancouver Courier: City of Vancouver to become a living wage employer
Global News Noon News Hour BC: City of Vancouver passes motion to become living wage employer
Vancouver Courier: Catch up to reality of youth homelessness
Income Security Advocacy Centre E-news: Vancouver Council passes a motion to become Canada’s first major city to be a Living Wage employer
Nanaimo News Bulletin: Poverty coalition pegs Nanaimo living wage at $18 an hour
Abbotsford News: ‘Living wage’ employers recognized
Vernon Morning Star: Time to increase the minimum wage
Huffington Post: Top 9 Scandals of Christy Clark, B.C. Liberal Party
Lisa Pasolli: Working Mothers and the Child Care Dilemma (book)
BC government press release: Regulation changes support families on income assistance
CBC Radio 1: Early Edition segment on MCFD in crisis
Global BC1: Prime show: Live interview with Adrienne re accountability from MCFD
Star 98.3 The Valley’s Lite Rock: Mt Lehman Credit Union becomes living wage employer
Prince George Citizen: Credit union earns living wage certification
Metro News: Mandatory living wage a success in first Canadian municipality to adopt the practice
Georgia Straight: Guaranteed income not a likely Canadian election topic, says former senator
Kamloops This Week: Minimum wage rose again this week
Vernon Morning Star: Letter to the Editor: Child Poverty
UPCOMING FIRST CALL EVENTS
Wednesday, October 14, 2015. 9:15 – 11:30 am. Refreshments served at 9 am.
Meetings are open to the public and phone participation is available. Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
BC Teachers’ Federation, 550 W. 6th Ave., Vancouver.
More information, a copy of the agenda and previous meeting minutes can be found here.
Wednesday, October 28, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
If you are interested in participating, please RSVP by emailing email@example.com
United Way of the Lower Mainland, 4543 Canada Way, Burnaby.
More information and previous meeting minutes can be found here.
FIRST CALL PUBLICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE
September 2015: 2015 Federal Election Toolkit