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Raise the Rates says that the BC Government $2million grant for “food rescue” operations will not solve the problem of food insecurity in BC as the root cause is income poverty.  

They say, “Distributing surplus food has won out over raising welfare rates to enable the hungry and homeless to afford to feed themselves and their families. The year’s humiliating $50 monthly benefit increase keeps them with incomes 50 per cent below the poverty line.” Cash is needed to shop for food in normal and customary ways: a living wage, adequate income benefits, real rent control.

Click here to read the article as it appeared in the Tyee.

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My book, The Co-op Revolution (Caitlin Press), talks about Roger Inman, CCEC and 1970's co-ops.  It is an account of my time with the co-op movement in Vancouver’s activist years of the 1970s. I was a founder and member of CRS Workers’ Co-op, an organization that was owned and managed by us. We started four projects in Vancouver, all to do with food production and distribution: a cannery that preserved BC fruit in honey, a beekeeping co-op, a bakery and a food wholesaler. As well, we helped other small food co-ops get started.

Sometime in the autumn of 1975 Michael Goldstein showed up at the Pandora Street office of CRS Workers’ Co-op with a sheaf of documents in hand. We knew that the co-op movement possessed its own form of financial institution founded by the people, for the people’s well-being. So when Michael told our group that he and others were trying to organize just such a credit union to be called CCEC, we were happy to sign up. Several of us signed on a charter document that night and some of us expressed interest on serving on the new credit union’s committees when it received its charter in 1976. Right on!—as we said in those days. This was what co-operatives needed—access to funds that were not governed by the big business of Canada's banks or subject to the day’s political whims. The credit union movement would be a big boon to women in business as well, recognizing their abilities to manage a loan without requiring a man at the helm.

From The Co-op Revolution: “Most of us opened our personal share/saving accounts at CCEC when it moved to its first real office at 205 E. 6th Avenue. I was member number 32 and my deposit card reports that on March 4, 1976, I deposited $4 to open my account, after which the deposits and withdrawals continued sporadically until 1981. That first transaction was initialed by K, which probably stood for Katherine Ruffen, the first manager.

The best thing about this credit union was its personal service in the days before ATM machines. If I had neglected to withdraw cash on a Friday for the weekend’s activities, I could call Katherine at work and tell her I was on my way. “Please don’t leave until I get there,” I would say, and I would arrive minutes before closing time.  It’s doubtful whether any bank or credit union today would be concerned about my lack of cash for the weekend.” 

One member of our co-op, Roger Inman, served CCEC Credit Union loyally and after his death in 1989 a memorial award commemorated his work. The award is given by CCEC annually in recognition of a project that has made a significant contribution to the economic development of the community. And that’s how Roger would have wanted it.  

I first met Roger in 1975 when I moved to Vancouver from Ontario. He had moved from Winnipeg around the same time with his tent in his backpack and had heard about CRS starting the Tunnel Canary cannery. He didn’t know much about co-ops or canning at the time but he was most enthusiastic about the project and his sense of humour helped us to get through some of the hot, labour intensive work of processing fruit and jam. Roger continued to work with the cannery collective until its demise when he turned to another CRS project, Uprising Breads Bakery.

There’s more about Roger and other CRS workers in my book, The Co-op Revolution. I’ll be reading from it at the Vancouver Public Library main branch on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend and books will be for sale. (For more, see: jandegrass.com).

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Read about the history of the co-op movement in the '70's including CCEC!  Jan DeGrass is one of the first 25 members of CCEC.

From Jan on her new book: 
I’m excited to tell you that The Co-op Revolution has just been published by Caitlin Press. My latest book gives an account of my time with CRS Workers’ Co-op in Vancouver during the heady, activist years of the 1970s. Hope you can make it to my book launch in Vancouver. 
Visit the publisher or Jan's website for more information. 
Vancouver Book Launch: VPL Main Branch Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m

Excerpt from the book: “We were undercapitalized, inexperienced, practiced democratic decision-making and some of us smoked dope occasionally. All elements that would make us grow as human beings and as business people. We ran a helluva show.”

In the spring of 1975, a free-spirited Jan DeGrass backpacked across Canada in search of adventure and greater meaning in life. When she arrived in Vancouver, she met a group of people committed to social change; together they reimagined the food industry in BC.

In The Co-op Revolution: Vancouver’s Search for Food Alternatives, author and journalist DeGrass writes about her journey as a founding member of the Collective Resource and Services Workers’ Co-op. Bounding to life during the heady, activist, grant-funded years of 1974–1980, the CRS Co-op became one of the most successful co-ops in BC and was committed to co-operation and worker ownership. While the decade of the seventies is remembered for its new wave of co-ops—usually organized by a “free-flowing” collection of women and men in their twenties—CRS was unique in its success. Among its many accolades, it created the Tunnel Canary cannery, the Queenright Co-operative Beekeepers, Vancouver’s popular Uprising Breads Bakery and a food wholesaler, which later became Horizon Distributors. The economic, political and social skyline of Vancouver was changing. For some, the co-op movement was about crushing capitalism; for others it was simply about buying cheap, wholesome food from people they trusted, and living in communal camaraderie. No matter the pursuit, co-operation was the answer.

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Wild Salmon Caravan (WSC) is a project led by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty (WGIFS) in collaboration with the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance. The project engages multiple Indigenous and non-Indigenous Elders, activists, researchers and lawyers.  2019 will be the 5th annual WSC.  Dawn Morrison, Co-Founder/Chair of the WGIFS says, “The strength of our work lies in our networks and our ability to link with over 100+ organizations to leverage support, access funding, and co-develop programs, promotion, and public education materials, as well as plan logistics, and host community arts build workshops, feasts, ceremonies and visual and performing arts events.”  

The WSC, with guidance and direction from the Salish Council of Matriarchs, raises awareness of the issues surrounding the declining health and abundance of our most important Indigenous food, wild salmon. They organize community arts and cultural engagement activities that brings together Rainbow Peoples (peoples of all creeds and cultures) in their public education campaign and celebrations of the spirit of wild salmon.

The WSC mobilizes traditional ecological knowledge, values, strategies, practices and protocols that have persisted throughout the process of colonization. The WSC media highlights  teachings on sustainability of wild salmon fisheries and how it can be applied in the present day reality.  Sustainability of our efforts ultimately lies in the extended networks where Indigenous food, social and ceremonial fisheries knowledge lives, and the large volunteer basis on which the WGIFS and WSC planning teams work. We activate sharing and trading of knowledge and food and revitalize inter-tribal networks, and we promote and generate awareness of how to increase the communities’ ability to respond to their own needs for food in a way that affirms the regenerative paradigm that underlies Indigenous cosmologies and worldviews. 

In 2018, the eight-day caravan started in Vancouver with a parade on September 22 and finished in Chase at Adams Lake on September 29.  For more information and to get involved in the 2019 WSC visit their website  Like and Follow them on Facebook 
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Did you know that:

·         In BC, 50% of all seniors live on an income of less than $26,000/year?

·         The 2018 Homeless Count found that 23% were over the age of 55?

·         It is estimated that by 2038, about one in four people living in B.C. will be a senior?

Seniors face many issues and challenges that include social isolation, loneliness and poverty.  The Seniors 411 Society offers programs that reduce social isolation, increase social inclusion, and are a critical component of any anti-poverty strategy.  The Society’s submission on a Poverty Reduction Strategy for Seniors (Feb. 2018) states that the BC plan must address both increasing income and helping reduce or manage costs.  They also provided recommendations in seven areas that include housing, transportation, food insecurity and community based programs.  BC is still the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan.

In the 411 Seniors Centre Society submission, they emphasize the importance of community and social connections for seniors.  Seniors have told staff at the Society that they feel a loss of community if they move to a different and unfamiliar neighbourhood.  However, aging in place and finding quality, affordable rental homes in Vancouver, is a challenge for seniors on low and fixed incomes.  The new 411 Seniors Centre (anticipate ground breaking in Spring 2019) is a step to providing more seniors social housing.  It will have approximately 50 units of social housing, a multi-purpose centre and be located close to other amenities and services they need.

Leslie Remund, Executive Director for the 411 Seniors Centre Society, says, “We are a peer led membership organization that aims to cushion the impact of poverty by providing information, referral and advocacy services, a drop in for socialization & connection& daily activities that promote aging with pride and curiosity.”   The Centre strives to enhance the quality of life of seniors by adding a collective voice on seniors’ issues such as affordable housing, income, and health services.   Join us!”

Find out more about the 411 Seniors Centre Society.  Support their capital campaign for their new building.

(This year, CCEC was pleased to support a fundraiser for the 411 Seniors Centre Society.)

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"Gold Medal Winner for Recycling," says, Mike McCardell on The Last Word segment featuring CCEC Member Randi-Lee Taylor and her Simply Barefoot Garden business.  Watch the video: 

 

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Interested in increasing your awareness about the scams that target Canadians? The Competition Bureau Canada has put together information about some of the top scams in the country. Check out The Little Black Book of Scams (2nd edition) and learn tips, red flags, and detailed information about different scams.

Here are three of some of the general red flags to watch out for, according to the Competition Bureau.

  1. Spelling mistakes: Be skeptical of emails, messages or websites that contain misspelled common words; grammar errors that make it difficult to read or expressions that are used incorrectly. Email and web addresses should also be examined closely to see if there are subtle mistakes or differences.
  2. Personal information request: Fraudsters may ask potential victims to provide more personal or financial information than is required for the transaction or discussion. Be suspicious if someone asks for copies of your passport, driver’s licence and social insurance number, or birth date, especially if you don’t know the requestor.
  3. Unsolicited calls: You might get a call from someone claiming that you have a virus on your computer, you owe taxes or there has been fraudulent activity in your bank accounts. Know that legitimate organizations will not call you directly. Hang up and call the organization yourself using the number from a trustworthy source, such as the phone book, their website, or even invoices and account statements.

Every year, Canadians lose millions of dollars to scammers. To find out more about scams in Canada and how you can protect yourself, visit The Little Black Book of Scams. A PDF version is also available.

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Get out and VOTE in the upcoming municipal elections.  Voting day is October 20th.  Advance Polls are now open. 

Read the Vancouver Voter's Guide to learn more about the candidates and their positions on issues that are important to you, like housing.  Attend candidate meetings.  

Learn more at the City of Vancouver website. 

 

 

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Which welfare model should we trial or adopt in BC? How are other countries addressing the welfare needs of their citizens? Here are a few recent announcements:   

  • Finland announced that it is stopping their trial of the Universal Basic Income (UBI) program at the end of 2018.  They are looking into alternative welfare schemes including the Universal Credit model.  
  • Read how the current Universal Basic Income trials are falling short of holding society-changing potential. Is Basic Income being setup to fail? 
  • The United Kingdom introduced a Universal Credit program in 2013,  However, a recent article in the Economist suggests that the roll-out is not going well.  

  What do you think we should be doing in BC?  Add Your Comments...

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Make good on housing commitment!   

The federal Liberal government needs to make good on its promise to declare housing a "fundamental human right" under Canadian law as part of its forthcoming national housing strategy.  Sign the open letter to the Prime Minister calling for a legislated right to housing in Canada.  

Today, over 1.7 million Canadian households are living in unsafe, unsuitable or unaffordable housing without better options available to them.   Widespread homelessness and lack of access to adequate housing, in so affluent a country as Canada is a critical human rights issue facing all levels of government.  Did you know that  Canada made a commitment under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to eliminate homelessness by 2030?  Also, what we heard from the federal government's consultation process over the past few months indicates consensus that legislation must explicitly recognize the right to housing. Draft legislation has been developed by civil society and experts outlining key points for the legislation.  This is the first time that legislation implementing the right to housing has been contemplated in Canada and it is critical that it be done right.  Let us know what you think. Please comment.  Read more.

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