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The plastic pandemic is getting worse during COVID. The city of Vancouver’s and the local Farmers Market, as examples, have put on hold their initiatives on the phasing out of single use plastics. 


While single-use items have helped in our fight against COVID for safety especially for our front-line workers, helped us maintain our physical distancing, and supported society during COVID, will we see their increase in use and availability become more permanent?  Single-use items that have increased lately include masks, gloves, coffee cups, packaging for take-out food orders, and shopping bags -  even at the farmers markets. If we are not careful, our short-term thinking during the pandemic could lead to an even larger environmental and public-health calamity in the future.


There are a number of alternatives and plastic isn’t the solution to protect us from COVID. For example, let’s all wear reusable masks and swap latex gloves for more frequent hand washing. There are many ways to reduce our plastic waste that include: 

  • Use a reusable shopping bag. Ask us for a CCEC bag, you can make your own or buy one from a local business. Be sure to wash them often, even after each use. Keep one in your pockets, panniers and bags so you have one when you go out.

  • Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic. 

  • Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.

  • Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins.  As part of our Restart, the bulk-bins are available and fill a reusable bag or container. 

  • Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. 

  • Don't use plastic ware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.

  • Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It's healthier and better for the environment.

  • Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.

  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.

  • Use a razor with replaceable blades and biodegradable toothbrushes.  

At CCEC, we don’t use plastic and are limiting our handling of paper.  We encourage our members to switch to paperless statements and bank online.  We want to promote our members' activities and ask you to send us information we can post on our social media channels, monthly newsletter, website, banners, as a featured member and for our in branch bulletin boards.  Please do not leave literature on our counters. 

Be sure to ask us for a CCEC Shopping Bag. They fold into a small pouch and are easy to have with you. 

Let’s get in the habit of being ‘plastic-free’ every day.  Share with us your stories, challenges and successes in kicking the plastic habit.  

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Rooted in social justice values—like human dignity and freedom, fairness, equality, solidarity, environmental sustainability, and the public good—and a strong belief in the power of participatory democracy, CCPA released its’ 25th edition of the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) Recovery Plan. 


It is time to put human rights, labour, environmental protection, anti-poverty, arts and culture, social development, child development, international development, women, Indigenous peoples, the faith-based community, students, teachers, education, and health care workers at the forefront of policy planning and decision-making. 


2020 is  a critical turning point, a year in which the systems that sustain our societies failed. Greenhouse gas emissions dropped, highlighting the irrefutable link between how we live and climate change. Globally, billions of lives have been disrupted, more than half a million lives lost.


In Canada, we are guilty of racial, ethnic, and Indigenous injustices. The inequities that were baked into our systems have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19.  We need investments in a just, equitable and sustainable recovery and to fix many areas of public policy. 


The AFB Recovery Plan identifies the following immediate action items: implement universal public child care so people can get back to work, reform employment insurance, strengthen safeguards for public health, decarbonize the economy, and tackle the inequalities in gender, race and income. 

The Plan includes an analysis of key areas being impacted by COVID-19 including affordable housing and homelessness.  We know that when eviction bans are lifted, more households will be on the brink of homelessness.  Also, the closure of daytime services and public spaces offering washroom facilities and internet access created challenges for those who depend on these shared services.  

We need to increase our social housing stock and in Barcelona they are doing this by seizing empty apartments.  The city told the property owners to fill the vacant rental units with tenants or they would take over their properties. The landowners have one month to comply. Would or could our city government be willing to take such bold action? 

At CCEC, we work to reduce barriers to open a bank account and to provide equitable and just access to financial services. We know this is our chance to bend the curve of public policy toward justice, well-being, solidarity, equity, resilience, and sustainability.  Learn more and read the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget Report to build healthier communities where no one is left behind. 

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A sense of disconnectedness reached epidemic levels as we were socially isolated from our friends and social life. In the last three months, the increased stressors have impacted our mental health and well-being. People are being challenged like never before due to isolation, physical health and substance use concerns, financial and employment uncertainty, and the emotional dialogue around racial equality.


During lockdown, our routines were disrupted. Our perception of time altered and the question, “What day is it?” became common. People lost their jobs and while there is financial support from the government, those of BIPOC and women are being impacted disproportionately. 


We see the police inappropriately responding to wellness check calls. The years of underfunding mental health programs has created the situation where untrained police are the front-line for these calls.


One in five people - that’s 20% of the population - have a serious mental health issue. Kids especially have a tough time. The Kids Help Phone reported a 70% increase in phone calls and 51% increase in text messages, an “exponential increase” in discussions around body and eating issues, self-harm, emotional and sexual abuse, and grief; and a decrease in calls or texts on bullying, cyber-bullying or contemplating suicide.


Young people have been in a higher state of distress, of anxiety, and concern of the unknown.  At CCEC, we are pleased that our youth are being supported by services of The YES and Red Fox Society through outreach, engagement and connection activities. Chelsea Lake of The YES says, “We know that mental health is an extremely important topic during COVID times, and for teens especially it's important to stay connected, supported and continue to feel a strong sense of self-worth while we're more socially isolated than ever before.”  Over the years, we have  supported our youth to attend The YES Camps with funds our Members contribute to a Scholarship. We’ve been pleased that youth from Red Fox Society, who are also a Roger Inman Memorial Award recipient, have been able to attend The YES Camps. 


However, recently, there has also been an increased number of calls for help coming from adults and seniors. It is reported that upwards of 10% of workers in BC are on stress related leave. In acknowledgement, the federal government has initiated Wellness Together Canada and there are other help and support services available.


At this time, we all need to take care of our friends and family in a way that is balanced with care for ourselves.  Helping others cope with their stress, such as providing social support, can also make our communities stronger.  We also need to create a “system of care” where we have effective, community-based services for those at risk and their families. They should also be organized into a coordinated network, building meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and addressing their cultural and linguistic needs.


We have an opportunity to build back better. Let’s commit to a Just Recovery.

 

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There is a stark racial divide in our country. Our current system is tailored towards supporting and protecting white supremacy and catering to white fragility. We need to address how the institutions that govern our lives have internalized and implemented racism. 


“The system perpetuates racism, gender inequities, fragmentation of social and ecological systems, and weakens efforts of the many individuals, organizations and agencies to achieve deep and meaningful truth and reconciliation between IBPOC and settler society.” says  Dawn Morrison, Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty and CCEC Board Member. 


We hear about white privilege, class privilege, and institutional privilege. We need to acknowledge that racism can look like hate, and show up as apathy, silence, ignorance and in the refusal to learn. Most recently, we’ve seen an increase in the number of anti-Asian acts of hate and violence. Systemic racism is complex. It has evolved out of a set of deeply rooted systems in our country. 


One thing we can do is to learn more about systemic racism and how to confront it  when we see it. Being silent is not an option.  In the last three months, there has been an eight-fold increase in anti-Asian hate crimes that included punching, subtle words and dirty looks; and we’ve opened a conversation about systemic racism in policing systems. For example,  Anti-Racism training (A.R.T) is available that helps participants shift from being  frozen/silent bystanders to becoming active witnesses during racist encounters. 


In Canada, we have an  Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022 called, Building a Foundation for Change.  The strategies outlined intend to help address barriers to employment, justice and social participation among Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities and religious minorities. In BC, the Organizing Against Race and Hate program was recently replaced with ResilienceBC Anti-Racism Network 


We can all do our part. Learn more and get involved. 


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We have an opportunity to build back better. We need a recovery map that fixes the systemic inequalities that are embedded  in our communities. 

It is tempting to want to return to the status quo pre-Covid, but that cannot happen.  There were too many crises raging that will worsen if nothing is done.  For example, last month Vancouver recorded our highest number of opioid related deaths.  Income inequality, an inadequate social safety net and climate change are just three of the crises that must be addressed. 

We have an opportunity to redesign our economic programs, social infrastructure and public services to build an inclusive, fairer and more resilient economy. During Covid we learned that we need to invest in our workers, our shared prosperity and to have economic justice for historically marginalized groups. 

We can all agree that out of Covid, we are more aware of care and compassion.  Dr. Henry’s words, “Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Calm”  resonated with us. 

CCEC was formed in 1976 by groups who were unable to access financial services through banks and other credit unions. We continue working to reduce barriers to open a bank account and to provide equitable and just access to financial services.  

We encourage our members to get involved, speak up and be part of shaping our community economic development.  For example,  @JustRecovery and the #BuildBackBetter campaigns.  Share your stories with us.


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