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CCEC is pleased to co-promote the Global Divestment Week, May 5-13,with the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, one of our member-owners.


Back in 2014, CCEC Credit Union was granted intervenor status in the National Energy Board hearings for the Kinder Morgan pipeline on behalf of our members, including Yarrow Ecovillage, whose homes and organic farm is on the pipeline route. The process was deeply flawed, and many intervenors pulled out of the hearings, citing them as ‘unfair’ and ‘biased’. Unfortunately, of course, the pipeline has been approved, without full consent of Indigenous Peoples and concerned community members.


Today we invite you to participate in the Global Divestment Week being led by 350.org, and encourage you to divest in Kinder Morgan, as well as other dirty fossil fuel companies. We have created a peer to peer podcast with Dawn Morrison, founder and chair of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, with Tammy Lea Meyer, co-chair of our board.

 

 This podcast explores some key points of entry into a journey of better understanding how Indigenous land and food systems intra-act in both complementary and contentious ways, and highlights some key issues, concerns and strategies that cross fertilize Indigenous food sovereignty, sustainable energy, and climate justice with the divestment campaigns and hopeful economics. The podcast is a beautiful expression of the ways in which we can work across cultures to prevent any further damage to the forests, fields and waterways that are the basis of the food system as a whole.

 

CCEC and the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty encourages divestment from fossil fuels, and supports investment in community economic development and sustainable energy plans. These are ways we can all personally take action and empower ourselves in creating a thriving future where the ancient ways of being in the world can inform how we can be in right relationship with the land, water and food that is the basis of the economic system that we all benefit from.


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Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks Work Towards a Poverty Free BC 

Lettuce Turnip the Beet on Poverty Reduction Campaign

Meet CCEC Member, Vancouver Neighbouhood Food Networks (VNFN) and Ian Marcuse, tong-time CCEC Member who is one of the sponsors for this group.  Ian works for the Grandview Woodland Food Connection, one of the 14 neighbourhoods across Vancouver who belong to this Food Network.

The VNFN’s are a grassroots network of people, organizations and agencies collaborating on food initiatives to ensure that all community members have access to healthy, culturally appropriate and sustainably produced food.  Ian says, “We know that food brings people together and help to build connections, but it also divides us as a community.  There are too many people that don’t have enough money to pay for food.”  Financial constraints have been identified as an underlying cause of food insecurity by groups including the Dieticians of Canada.

That is why Ian and the other Network Coordinators are working with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition to bring attention to the fact that British Columbia remains the only province in Canada without a formal plan to reduce poverty; and that having an effective and comprehensive poverty reduction plan is critical for achieving food security.  Ian says, “In our work, we engage with the most marginalized community members, witnessing first-hand the detrimental impact that barriers to accessing food and abject poverty can have on a persons’ health and well-being. It is often those with the greatest need for high quality nutritious food that face the most difficult barriers to accessing it.” 

He shares with us the story of one of the participants in the Bulk Buying Program.

"When I first met her just over one year ago, she said, “I am literally starving”, and now she says, “this program has saved my life".   I’ve worked 9 years in this job and no-one in Vancouver has said to me that they were starving.  I then learned that Anne is a pensioner, on a low fixed income, has multiple health and mobility related issues related to eating an unhealthy diet for many years.  She didn’t have money for healthy food.  Then her doctor told her she was malnourished and must eat more fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods.

Being in the program has given her the option to eat more veggies.  Anne now enjoys trying new foods she would not normally eat, such as kale.   She also describes the community connection that has helped her.  Anne told me she feels that the program is not just a food pick up, but an event to look forward to and a chance to connect with others and share health and cooking tips and what works for others."

Ian tells us that the Food Networks campaign, Lettuce Turnip the Heat on Poverty Reduction – Vote!  is designed to make the connection between poverty and food insecurity.  He says, “Poverty is an election issue. We are working to raise our voices together to show candidates in the provincial election that we’ll be voting for politicians that commit to a strong and thorough poverty reduction plan.”

For more information and to see the the infographics developed by the VNFN group that show the impacts on each pillar on alleviating hunger, visit http://vancouverfoodnetworks.com/vote/  
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Former CCEC GM Jill Kelly was honoured with the Gary Gillam Award at last week's Central 1 Annual General Meeting. The award goes to individuals who exhibit exceptional leadership, as volunteers and otherwise, in the pursuit of community economic development.  Jill was recognized for her achievements in the world of credit unions (especially as a pioneer at CCEC), childcare, co-op housing, LGBTQ rights, worker co-ops, and community healthcare. Jill currently sits on the board of the Reach Community Health Clinic. Hooray for Jill!  With humility, in her remarks she expressed her appreciation and noted that all the items listed were done jointly with others. She asked that the cash award be directed to Groundswell Education Society and the Cooperative Development Foundation.

The other award winner was another CCEC member.  Catherine Ludgate served on the CCEC board for nine years, during which time she went to work for Vancity.  There she carried two projects; the Living Wage campaign and Each One, Teach One Financial Literacy campaign. These initiatives lead to her being recognized under this awards program as well. Congrats to both Jill and Catherine!

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The big issue facing our province, and Canada, is inequality - of incomes and wealth.  The past three decades have been very good for BC's elites, but others have stagnated or drifted downwards. Averages and aggregate numbers disguise the truth.  

A feature in today's Globe and Mail provides a vivid overview of the precarious situations confronting many people.  Young families, renters, seniors and many others are being stressed.  It is clear that measures like an increased minimum wage, higher social assistance payments, housing subsidies, and more effective taxation of wealth are needed.  Even a local business economist has endorsed the latter. Jock Finlayson of the BC Business Council is quoted in the Globe.  “In the business community, we are worried about it, it’s forcing people to look at living elsewhere. It’s forcing people with children to live in accommodations that are not really designed for families,” he said. “Those who are established in the market have all enjoyed an unearned windfall in wealth. It’s also tax free. How equitable is that, from the perspective of the 30 per cent of renters, or those who bought at top-dollar prices?”

The Vanishing Middle Class is a big issue in BC and in the US.  A recently published book from MIT academic Peter Temin paints the graphic picture. There is a good review and summary available at Evonomics.  As Temin observes, and Lynn Parramore emphasizes, these diverging populations are at the heart of political discontent and will demand attention.

Recent analysis has also shown that job growth in BC (and Ontario) has been in positions where wages are mostly below the average level, essentially low-paid work.  This is in stark contrast to elsewhere in Canada.   

Indeed, the system is rigged to benefit those who are at the top of the pile currently. And as government policy has caused the problem, government policy is also the way to correct it.

 

 

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This recently completed poll of British Columbians provides insight into what is aggravating us. The Centre for Policy Alternatives commissioned the poll of more than 1000 residents and it confirms that affordability and inequality are troubling many of us. The poll also finds substantial support for carbon taxes and climate change mitigation, and overall support for fairer taxation. For more information click here.   
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Who Controls the Economy’s Money Supply?

www.positivemoney.org  

Submittted by CCEC member Joan Woodward

Most of us have been led to believe that the boom-bust cycle is inevitable.  We have been sold vague notions about “business confidence”, “herd psychology”, and best of all, “mysterious market forces”.  We are expected to have blind faith in the “crumbs from the table effect” (alternately know as the trickle-down effect) and to immediately genuflect in the presence of the banker priests of our economic destiny. 

While a great many of us intuitively feel that there is something wrong with the economic structures that direct our collective destiny, we find ourselves unable to define the precise changes needed.  This is the result of a great many oft repeated myths about who, or what, controls the money supply and how the money supply machine works. 

In an effort to clarify and debunk many of the commonly held beliefs about how the banking system works, a small group of people founded an organization in Britain with the ambitious objective of bringing about monetary reform.  This organization quickly blossomed into a group of 30,000 plus members and followers and now has affiliates all across Europe. 

To begin with, Positive Money surveyed the ways in which people typically view the role of banks. 

About a third of those surveyed believe that the bank is like a piggy bank which keeps money in a safe place on behalf of the saver.  In other words, no one is using the money while it is sitting the bank. 

The other two thirds had a slightly more sophisticated understanding of the banking industry.  They believe that banks are an intermediary between savers and borrowers.  Savers deposit money which can then be lent out to borrowers.  This implies that the amount of money available for loans is dependent on the amount of savings that have been deposited in the banks.  It also implies that reckless lending would cause the banks to run out of lending ability.  A third assumption is that governments control the amount of money circulating in a given country through institutions such as the Royal Mint, where coins are punched out of metal and bank notes are printed. 

Those who have studied a bit of economics in school typically understand the creation of money through classical economic theory.  This theory teaches that a bank won’t need to keep all its depositors’ money on hand at any given time.  Instead, the bank keeps back a small reserve, of say, 10%, and lends out the other 90%.  If a bank had a $1000 deposit and lent out $ 900 of that, the $ 900 would probably be deposited into a different bank, from which deposit, the bank could lend out 90%, or $810. Supposedly this cycle continues until almost all of the original money is lent out which would be about 200 cycles. The sum total of all these loans would add up to about $10,000 dollars.  This implies that the reserve ratio dictates how much money can be circulating in the economy at any given time.  If the 10% reserve ratio were increased, less money would be available for lending: if the reserve ratio were decreased, more money would be available for lending.  This also implies that the money supply is finite and has natural limits based on the reserve quota, or base money in the banking system. 

Unfortunately, the reserve ratio is an antiquated notion.   According to Chris Ferreira who writes for   http://www.economicreason.com , the reserve requirement for Canadian Banks is zero and has been for many years.  Unfortunately, many people who hold influential positions in the Canadian economy still cling to these outmoded economic theories. 

The money supply is therefore, not finite, and can be expanded or contracted at the will of the banks.  In order to better understand this, we need to have a look at the three forms of money circulating in the economy.   These are:  inter-bank settlement money (central bank reserves); cash; and electronic bank deposit money.  Interbank settlement money is an electronic system designed to cancel out payments that the banks owe to each other.  At the end of a business day, the amount of money not cancelled out by the debts individual banks owe to each other is infinitesimally small.  The term “fractional reserve banking’ come from a time before computers when banks were required to have a percentage of their holdings at the ready for inter-bank and other liabilities at the end of each business day.   Thus, there are only two forms of money that really matter in today’s world. They are the 97% of all money used by the public in the electronic (based on deposits) money and the 3% constituted in cash.    

If there were a reserve ratio, a fraction of the bank’s assets held back immediate payouts would constrict the amount of lending a bank could do.  A reserve ratio of 10% would mean that the same money could only be lent out again ten times over.  This would limit the extent to which the banks expand the amount of money present in the economy through the creation of loans.  In the modern era, the fractional reserve system has been partially replaced by the capital adequacy requirements.  This buffer of financial assets is meant to absorb unexpected financial losses by the bank.  This buffer is not intended to limit the amount of reckless lending the banks can engage in.  It only ensures that when a financial crisis hits and everyone else is going under, the banks will not.  The only thing that really reigns in the amount of capital created through loans is the willingness of the banks to lend.  This business confidence of the banks is bolstered when banks are not held responsible for reckless and immoral banking practices. 

Now there some who argue that banks create credit and not money.  Credit implies risk, so if a bank grants a customer a loan, it creates that loan in figures on the customer’s bank statement.  The amount of money in the customer’s account is then guaranteed by the government of Canada.  The customer’s bank account has now become risk free for the customer.  In this way, banks are creating money (no risk) not credit. 

When more businesses and individuals are borrowing money, more money is created by the banks.  More money is circulating, more people are employed, and the economy is said to be doing well.  When people choose not to borrow, or worse yet, to save, the amount of money in circulation is reduced.  Given that the banks’ ability to loan is in no way connected to the level of bank deposits, so is there any inherent social value in saving?  What is good for an individual does not seem to coincide with what is good for the economy as a whole.    What can we do as individuals to improve the amount of money in circulation for everyone?  

At present, the successes of the banks result in house price bubbles and gambling on financial markets.  What can we do to see that money comes into the real economy before it goes into gambling on real estate and financial markets?  In other words, can we take the power of money creation away from the banks?  Under a transparent and accountable form of democratic process, newly created money could be used to refurbish public infrastructure and raise the incomes of ordinary people.  Could this be done under a politically non-partisan government body at arm’s length from the government of the day?  These are question posed by Positive Money, a European group presently looking at a change in the economic paradigm.  For more information, please refer to www.positivemoney.org  

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The second largest credit union in BC is applying to become a bank.  Coast Capital Savings (@500k members at @$16B in assets) has made an application to the provincial regulator, FICOM, for permission to be continued under The Bank Act as a federally incorporated entity.  FICOM is requesting public input, so let's encourage people to write. [Added: CCEC submission Mar 28, 2017.]

The Bank Act was amended three years ago to allow for 'federal credit unions' as a type of bank. The federal government has taken other steps to induce or coerce larger credit unions to move to that jurisdiction. Coast is the first from BC to move down this path, a special resolution was put to that credit union membership in November, with very little supporting information and no real debate.  Now, FICOM has to review the proposal.

A more complete explanation may be found at www.cufutures.ca  A blog post there outlines many concerns.(other information is at www.governancewatch.ca )

But two big questions arise;

  1. Are credit unions not inherently local, self-help responses to a big national bank oligopoly?  This conversion abandons the model of a network of locally based, democratically controlled financial co-ops.  
  2. And will the departure of these large credit unions undermine the viability of the real credit unions that remain?  We must ensure the legacy of several generations, the credit unions of BC, are not undermined and placed at risk.

RG

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