Vancouver city council presentation: A living wage essential to the Healthy City Strategy

October 29, Deanna Ogle of the Living Wage for Families Campaign, Deb Littman and Gail Berger of the Metro Vancouver Alliance and Catherine Ludgate of Vancity presented to the City of Vancouver’s Standing Committee of Council on Planning, Transportation and the Environment regarding the Healthy City Strategy. They spoke strongly in support of the living wage as one of the goals of the Making Ends Meet and Working Well target.

A living wage policy would allow the city to walk the talk and create an immediate change in economic well-being of people living in our community. Paired with strong advocacy for a province-wide poverty reduction plan it can demonstrate a real commitment to a healthy city.

After debate, Vancouver city council unanimously endorsed the Healthy City Strategy.

Watch the living wage presentation by clicking on the Part 1 video clip and going to 1:48 minutes.

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Living Wage for Families Campaign

CATCH Coalition election questions for Central Okanagan

The Community Action Toward Children’s Health Coalition, a First Call partner, has adopted the questions from our Municipal Election Toolkit and posted them for election candidates on their website

Kudos to CATCH for their advocacy and giving us this concrete example of how to use our tools.

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Resource

BC legislature speech: MLA calls for action to fight poverty

On October 9, Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston, spoke in the BC legislature about the action needed to eradicate poverty and highlighted the work of First Call, among other organizations. You can watch her statement here

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Economic Equality

Budget Bill C-43 targets refugees at their most vulnerable

On October 28, Canada without Poverty and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) expressed their deep dismay at provisions in Bill C-43 that could lead to newly arrived refugees being deprived of social assistance.

“I’m thinking of the pregnant women and the mothers with small children who arrive in Canada knowing no one, having fled persecution in their country of origin,” said Loly Rico, CCR president. “They will soon be accepted as refugees and become contributing members of society, but when they first arrive, they desperately need a helping hand. Denying that helping hand would be contrary to who we are as a country.”

Provisions in Bill C-43 would allow provinces to impose residency requirements for access to social assistance for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. Currently, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act prohibits any minimum period of residency requirement for access to social assistance benefits.

Newly arrived refugee claimants could therefore be left without any means to survive, at precisely the time when they are most vulnerable.

Read the full news release from Canada Without Poverty.

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Safe and Caring Communities

Raise welfare rates, say Welfare Food Challenge participants

The BC government should raise welfare rates and bring in a poverty reduction plan. That was the consensus of the people who took the Welfare Food Challenge, eating only what $21 would buy for a week (the amount left over for food for those receiving social assistance after they have paid for other necessities).

Among the more than 100 challenge takers across BC was the family of Derek Gent, First Call Coordinating Committee member and executive director of Vancity Community Foundation.

In this thought-provoking blog post, Derek Gent reveals his family’s struggles as food and money runs down halfway through the challenge. From the kids consuming sugar water while the parents were out, to dancing around discount apples, to brilliant sound bites from their daughter – their experience will inspire you to take action to Raise the Rates.

Take Action

Raise the Rates organizes the Welfare Food Challenge to push for a raise in welfare and a strong poverty reduction plan. Let’s continue to spread the word and pressure politicians to act.

  • Keep facebooking and tweeting #welfarefoodchallenge
  • Ask 10 friends or more to sign the petition
  • Invite a speaker to your organization: Raise the Rates would be happy to arrange a speaker on all the issues around welfare, poverty and the benefits of action.
  • Pass a resolution: Ask if your local organization can pass a resolution supporting raising welfare to send to your provincial organization or directly to the BC government.
  • Ask your organization to become part of the Raise the Rates
  • Next year, take the 2015 Challenge.

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Economic Equality

New UNICEF Report Card: What happened to children during the Great Recession?

UNICEF Report Card 12, Children of the Recession, looks at what happened to children during the financial downturn of 2008-2011. The report finds that Canadian government policies at all levels helped protect children from some of the worst ravages of the recent financial crisis. Fewer children in Canada are now living in poverty than at the start of the crisis.

However, the child poverty gap widened, pointing to the most vulnerable slipping further into poverty, according to the report. Children today remain poorer and more unemployed than older Canadians. They are poorer than children in many rich nations. The Great Recession also saw an increase in levels of family stress in Canada and a decrease in the percentage of Canadians who believe that children have sufficient opportunities to learn and grow.

Miles Corak, University of Ottawa economist, responds that Canada’s record is nothing to write home about and that Canada presented “no highly effective and targeted policies that would have contributed to a significant reduction in child poverty.”

Corak concludes, “The appropriate Statistics Canada numbers suggest that child poverty rates actually increased during the recession, and by implication that a commitment made 25 years ago continues to go unfulfilled. Hardly a passing grade.”

Read more, including the full UNICEF report, key findings, an infographic and news links.

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Filed under Economic Equality, Research

2014 Vital Signs report – Golden and Area A communities

This week we look at the Vital Signs 2014 report from Golden and District Community Foundation. Communities include the town of Golden and Area A, which encompasses the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Vital Signs is an annual checkup conducted by community foundations across Canada that looks at the quality of life in local communities.

Child and youth findings from the Golden report include:

12.5%  is the youth unemployment rate for 2013 in the Thompson-Okanagan (of which Golden is included); down slightly compared with the 14% in 2011.

37% of 2012-13 kindergarten students were vulnerable in at least one area of development, which is the same average since 2009-10 and higher than BC’s average of 30%.

86% of grade 12 Golden Secondary students graduated in 2014, which is a 9  percentage point decrease from 2013.

$1,227 is the average cost for a family of four per month (2014) in Golden to purchase the items in a Nutritional Food Basket. This is 47% more than the Interior Health Region and 41% over the BC average in 2011.

497 nights were spent at the Golden Safe Home by women and their children (accessed 765 times) from August 2013 to July 2014.

Download reports from BC communities (Abbotsford, Clayoquot Sound, Golden, Nanaimo, Phoenix (Grand Forks), Shuswap, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Surrey and Victoria) at vitalsignscanada.ca

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Filed under Research, Safe and Caring Communities