First Call Monthly Updates

September 2019 Monthly Update

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:

Read on to learn more!

Yours for children and youth,

Adrienne, Helesia, Dylan, Halena, Leila, Susan, Becky, and Emily


October 21, 2019 is Election Day in Canada. On that day, eligible voters exercise their right to vote for one of the candidates in their riding to represent them in the federal House of Commons.

The purpose of the 2020 Federal Election Toolkit is to support individuals and community groups in their advocacy for legislation, policy and practice that benefit children and youth and their families.

The toolkit is structured around the 4 Keys to Success. 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.

Some of the current key issues include equitable access to early learning and child care, incarceration and detention of women who are parents of minor children, child poverty and measuring poverty, and inequitable funding for Indigenous children.

Information on how to vote, how to organize an all-candidates meeting, how to contact the media, candidates and political parties is available on our child poverty website:

Additional Resources:

Unicef Canada’s Vote for Every Child Campaign
Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children’s policy priorities and fact sheets
Children First Canada’s Election Toolkit and Top 10 Threats to Childhood in Canada



Looking for easily-accessible facts specific to your federal riding to present and share with your communities? We have pulled data to create our Federal Riding Factsheets that are shareable in .pdf and .ppt files. Please feel free to use these in your advocacy work.

Page one provides information about child and family poverty.

Page two provides general information about demographics in the riding.



We are so excited to announce Dr. Melissa Lem as the keynote speaker for our First Call Fundraising Gala on February 27, 2020. She is a board member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, strategic advisor to the BC Parks Foundation, journalist for various media outlines, was a resident medical expert on the CBC TV show Steven and Chris, and is a Vancouver-based family physician.

She will speak about the scientific evidence around the health impacts of fracking and climate change on children and youth. She will also share some on-the-ground stories about how local people have been affected and are advocating for the health of their families and communities, as well as how children and youth are moving the dial of government and public opinion on climate change.



On September 20, 2019 First Call’s ECD Roundtable sent a letter to the Minister of Children and Family Development, Katrine Conroy, and the Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen. The letter was sent to reinforce a long-standing message of concern from our members about the province’s child care capital funding program, specifically with the granting of public funds to commercial, for-profit child care operators and other private property owners. It includes a sample of specific concerns we are hearing from communities around BC in relation to the capital funding model.

We urge the government to phase out the longstanding use of reactive, one-off capital grants to third parties, especially for-profit operators, to purchase, build or renovate individual, privately-owned child care facilities, and transfer capital grant funds into a new, separate child care capital budget for the purchase and development of child care assets that are publicly owned.



We are so excited to announce our newest coalition member. Serving the Surrey community since 1978, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society is not-for-profit organization that has been supporting and empowering immigrants and refugees to successfully integrate into their community through settlement services, language training and literacy programs, community programs, employment/skills training, counselling services and programs for children and youth.



This month the Living Wage for Families Campaign launched a new series of resources about the living wage for various types of employers. Check out our website to learn about the living wage for local governments, the business case for the living wage, what it means to work in a living wage municipality, the living wage for small businesses, and the living wage for non-profits. If you are a Living Wage Employer, remember that you must recertify by October 31, 2019 in order to keep your Living Wage Employer designation. Send in your employer commitment form and contact Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer, at if you have any questions.



Fostering Change Co-Campaign Organizers Dylan Cohen and Susan Russell organized a rally this month drawing media attention from CTV and the Vancouver Sun and fulfilled another step of the campaign timeline. We hear rumours of our campaign’s ask in the MCFD pipeline, and with 2 out of 3 years of the ministry’s strategic plan underway, we hope we’ll get there this fall. We’re deep into organizing Policy Solutions Day coming up on October 23, putting final touches on meetings with decision-makers in Victoria, scheduling buses, coordinating media to join us, and organizing food. This month, we partnered with Insights West to arm us with public opinion research heading into fall’s advocacy cycle. Stay tuned here.



On Friday September 13 First Call hosted a discussion among interested members to inform requested feedback from the BC Human Rights Tribunal on a working paper about minors making complaints, the definition of age in the HR Code and the enforceability of agreements between minors and another person. The deadline for feedback to the Tribunal working group is October 11. Any member organization interested in adding their voice to this feedback, please contact Helesia Luke, Communications and Development Coordinator, at as soon as possible.



First Call staff participated in two campaigns this month. Many of our staff members joined the Global Climate Strike to advocate for urgent actions against the climate crisis, especially to address health challenges for BC children and youth.

We also participated in Orange Shirt Day, which was designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of truth and reconciliation. We recognize the historical and ongoing practices of colonization on Indigenous families across BC and join our voices in the fight for decolonization.

Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator, attended the second meeting of the Minister’s Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee, met with our new coalition member DIVERSEcity and with folks at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP).

Halena Seiferling tabled at the New Westminster and District Labour Council’s Labour Day Picnic in the beginning of September to educate and communicate about the Living Wage for Families Campaign and First Call’s other campaigns.

Fostering Change Campaign Organizers have been out connecting with youth leaders and organizations like Options, Strive, and Aunt Leah’s to help promote youth participation in Policy Solutions Day.



Letter to Ministers Katrine Conroy and Katrina Chen – Child Care Capital Funding in BC



CJSF: Speak Up!
Powell River Peak: Living wage calculations released for Powell River
The Kelowna Daily Courier: Beyond the Bell
The Tyee: BC Bans ‘Birth Alerts,’ Promises More Family Supports in Bid to End Apprehension of Newborns
CTV News: Former foster kids demand better supports
Vancouver Sun: Former youth in care call for improvements to support system
Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News: Cost of living drops for families in Tofino and Ucluelet