First Call Monthly Updates

September 2016 Monthly Update

BC cancels family clawbacks – First Call backs foster youth supports – Best wishes to Lin Ruitong– and more!

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:

  • BC ends maternity and parental and EI clawbacks
  • First Call advocates tuition waivers for foster youth
  • Deadline extended on early years services survey
  • Thank you to practicum student Lin Ruitong
  • Adrienne and Deanna were out and about
  • We were in the news
  • First Call correspondence and publications

Read on to learn more!

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



BC will no longer claw back maternity and parental benefits, or EI benefits for those caring for terminally ill children, from families on income and disability assistance. This is a big win for our coalition, which has long argued clawback policies effectively discriminate against low-income women with children, and benefits an estimated 200 parents in BC.

Recognition on getting us here must go to the Community Legal Assistance Society for taking the gender discrimination in Jessica Alford’s case (profiled in the 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card) to the BC Human Rights Tribunal, as well as Samantha Hilliard who has led a similar battle in Chilliwack.



Only 32% of youth in foster care finish high school at the same time as their peers, according to statistics in a new Fostering Change report, and are half as likely to go on to post-secondary education. With 700 youth aging out of foster care each year, BC can not only afford to waive their tuition fees, but would benefit hugely from this and other added support.

Other First Call work on this issue includes preparation for an upcoming skills-training workshop for youth in or from government care hosted by the Society for Children and Youth in BC, and pairing, earlier this summer, with the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women to hire two youth for a province-wide study circle project to facilitate dialogue, relationship-building, and sustainable community action to support young people aging out of foster care.



Responses continue to trickle in for a SHORT survey First Call’s Early Childhood Development Roundtable is conducting, and will be collected through to October 28, 2016. Our thanks to Vancouver Coastal Health and the United Way of the Lower Mainland for their financial support of this project.



Lin Ruitong has been with First Call since early August, and wraps up her time with us this week. Rui plans to attend the October 12 coalition meeting, and the work she has done for First Call includes preparation for the 2017 election toolkit, translation of that and other First Call materials that allow us to reach new parts of BC, pre-analysis work on the early years services survey data, and social media programming. Please let John know if you’d like to contact Rui.

Rui has also translated into Chinese a poster regarding public forums the BC Employment Standards Coalition will hold around Vancouver in October, also available with John.



On September 6, Adrienne Montani spoke about First Call during an orientation session for 100 fourth-year students in BCIT’s nursing program.

On September 20, Adrienne joined Viveca Ellis of the Single Mothers’ Alliance of BC and others in Where Ends Don’t Meet, a roundtable discussion of family and child poverty in BC hosted by the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House.

The following day, the Living Wage for Families campaign had one of its biggest wins this year with certification of the City of Vancouver as a living wage employer. Catherine Ludgate, Manager of Community Investment at Vancity, congratulated the city for taking this progressive step toward solving family and child poverty. In early September, Quesnel became the second municipality in Canada to implement a living wage policy.

Catherine and the Living Wage for Families campaign’s Deanna Ogle also co-presented last week on the campaign at Vancouver’s Healthy City for All Leadership Table.

In addition, Deanna spoke throughout the day at the Broadbent Institute’s Progress Summit BC on September 23, and can be seen here, here, here and here.



Vancouver Sun: Vancouver city council shows leadership on living wages

Vancouver Metro News: ‘Ends don’t meet’ as housing crisis worsens B.C. child poverty: panel

Tyee: BC’s Profound Moral Failure on Disability Rates

Vancouver Sun: Prohibit the hitting of children

Vancouver Sun: Is B.C. ready for a $15-per-hour minimum wage?

Vancouver Sun: City of Quesnel implements living wage policy

Blog: City of Quesnel now “Living Wage” Employer

CBC Radio Canada (French): Le salaire vital officiellement adopté à Quesnel

Vancouver Metro News: B.C.’s minimum wage earners get a raise, backed by many businesses

Tri-City News: Port Moody to consider living wage policy

CKNW 980 AM: Groups campaign for Vancouver living wage to reach all city workers

CBC News: Fair pay or playing politics? Vancouver city council debates living wage

CBC Early Edition: Geoff Meggs on living wage

CBC BC Almanac: UBC Sauder School’s Mark Thompson on #LivingWage

CTV News: Vancouver approves $20.64 ‘living wage’ for all staff

Vancouver Sun: What’s a living wage, anyway?



August 2016: First Call urges Minister of Advanced Education to waive post-secondary tuition for foster youth

September 2016: Letter to MSDSI Minister Stilwell on EI Maternity Benefit Clawback

September 2016: Response from Minister of Health Jane Philpott Re: Congratulations



Each week we strive to bring more attention to the work and wins of our amazing coalition members, and one way we do this is to regularly place member shout-outs on the First Call Twitter account @firstcallbc. Here are August and September’s pick of our many valued members:

The Canadian Association for Young Children

Progressive Intercultural Community Services

Mary Manning Centre

Pacific Association of First Nation’s Women

Breakfast for Learning

Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC

Public Health Association of BC

Early Childhood Educators of BC

Helping Spirit Lodge Society

Pacific Community Resources Society

Penticton Community Resource Society

BC Crime Prevention Association

Family Services Greater Vancouver