Bill C-585 is a federal private member’s bill that has serious implications for the income security of refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. If passed, the bill would allow provinces to restrict access to social assistance benefits for these groups by imposing minimum residency requirements for eligibility.
First Call maintains that the well-being of children in refugee claimant families is a major concern, given the stressful and even traumatic circumstances they often have experienced prior to arriving in Canada. Any moves to further restrict access to income security for these families, while they await a decision on their applications for asylum, can only add to their vulnerability.
Taking action now is critical because Bill C-585 is scheduled to be debated at second reading on September 16, 2014. Expressing opposition before this date could lead to the bill being defeated or withdrawn.
See this Information and Action Kit in English or French, to help you understand and respond to Bill C-585. It includes a backgrounder, a template letter to MPs and actions to oppose this bill.
One immediate action you can take is to circulate the Information and Action Kit as widely as possible.
Thanks to our friends at the Income Security Advocacy Centre for alerting us to this issue.
Ahead of the premier’s meeting in Charlottetown this week, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, drew attention to the violence facing aboriginal girls and women in a commentary in the Globe and Mail.
Turpel-Lafond quotes former judge Ted Hughes, who said in a speech in June: “It is my belief that the unacceptable risk of violence that aboriginal women and girls face is attributable to the same factors that … explain the disproportionality with respect to aboriginal representation in the child-welfare system.”
She adds: “Those factors include poverty, poor housing, intergenerational trauma, substance abuse and lack of educational and economic opportunities – all of which are linked to the fallout of colonization. In general, aboriginal children have poorer health status, lag significantly in educational outcomes, and are too often the victims of sexual exploitation and violence. Too many live in deep poverty. Too many drift through care with very few good services to directly support them.
“Mr. Hughes and child advocates across the country are pushing for a national strategy to address the factors behind this over-representation.”
Read the full article
On August 25, Protect Public Education Now, a new parent group, rallied at the BC Legislature and presented their petition – with its more than 11,000 signatures – urging the government to negotiate with teachers to protect public education.
The group’s cofounder, Marlene Rodgers, also sent an open letter to the premier on August 21. The letter explains:
“In BC, we have the second worst per student funding in Canada, and the worst ratio of educators to students. This is appalling. We have an excellent public education system, but for many years now, that quality has been maintained through the strenuous efforts of teachers, administrators and parents to compensate for chronically underfunded conditions. If BC is be a compassionate and democratic province, we need a robust public education system that meets the needs of children at all socio-economic levels, and gives them a shot at a prosperous and healthy future.”
Read the full letter
Read more about the group’s parent advocacy in this Tyee article
The BC Institute of Technology has joined a growing list of post-secondary institutions offering to waive tuition for former youth in care. Read the news article from the Vancouver Sun.
While this is a good step forward, BCIT has limited the offer to 11 specific trades training courses, mostly in construction. Young people interested in media, applied and natural sciences, health sciences, computing/IT, engineering or business programs at the institute are excluded from this offer. Other post-secondary institutions have not imposed this kind of restriction.
The last page of this document lists the eligible programs.
ACORN Canada members took action across the country for the National Day of Action on affordable internet access on August 21.
In Metro Vancouver members stood in mock line-ups outside public libraries. Members with children drew attention to the challenges of homework and accessing digital opportunities without affordable internet access at home.
Read more in the Now newspaper.
On August 19, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development announced the 12 community organizations selected to host new BC Early Years Centres that will help support families with children aged 0-6. The centres are expected to open this fall in the following communities:
- Comox Valley (Comox Valley Child Development Society)
- Delta (Reach Child and Youth Development Society)
- Golden (Golden Community Resource Society)
- Langley (Langley Children’s Society)
- Mission (Fraser Valley Child Development Centre)
- 100 Mile House (Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre Society)
- Penticton (Penticton and District Community Resources Society)
- Revelstoke (Revelstoke Child Care Society)
- Saanich Peninsula (Beacon Community Association)
- Sooke (Sooke Family Resource Society)
- Sunshine Coast (Halfmoon Bay-Chatelech Community School Association)
- Vanderhoof (Carrier Sekani Family Services)
Find more information
First Call is a partner in Campaign 2000, a national coalition that works to end child and family poverty in Canada. The Campaign 2000 e-bulletin (look for ECP Now, Summer 2014) contains updates on community and government efforts to reduce poverty in provinces across the country. First Call provided updates about our work in BC.