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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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More than fifty members came out to the CCEC Annual General Meeting February 6th, to consider ordinary business and four special resolutions.  Special resolutions - which require 18 days notice and 2/3 majority support - are needed to alter the CCEC Rules (or 'bylaws').

The board proposed four Rule changes; texts and rationale had been circulated well in advance.  Director Shannon Daub presented these to the meeting, specifically saying that these changes were presented separately so that members would have the opportunity to consider each change on its own merits.  

In the end, three of the changes were carried by substantial majorities. These included (1) a prohibition of employees sitting as directors, (2) a charge to the nominating committee to inquire into candidates' potential conflicts of interest and report out on these to members, and (3) giving limited authority to the board to remove a director for misconduct, failure to attend to duties, or if they were obliged to resign by law and had not.  In the debate several particulars were highlighted, such as possible conflicts that may result in Rules texts, and the board will be looking into these more closely.   

Special resolution #4 failed. That change would have enabled the directors to introduce the use of electronic notices and voting, subject to statutory restrictions.  The principal concern expressed by those speaking against the motion related to electronic voting.  There was a view that CCEC should not proceed down such a path without much more careful planning and proposals. 

Within the context of these debates, but also receipt of other reports and elections, the meeting was lively and constructive.  All feedback on the meeting that has been offered subsequently has been positive and we thank all those attending for there contributions.

​The successful special resolutions have now been filed with the Superintendent, and the board will be reconsidering the various matters arising in the next few months. 

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Meet CCEC Member Tani Tupechka

Accessing good food during illness and the leg hold trap of poverty is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced.  In 2009, I was forced off work and onto disability because of a chronic muscle illness. Food took on a whole new meaning for me.

At the recent Vancouver Food Summit, a Coast Salish elder said, “food is life.” So true.  And food is also love and fueled by communities working together.

Each of us has an important role to play in food security - including community organizations like CCEC. I’ve done a good deal of food activism at the community level; in gardens, kitchens and educational initiatives.  I saw how access to good, affordable food is a huge barrier for many people – as it was for me.  NGOs and organizations need to receive the support to put even more energy and resources towards this key issue.

Accessing local food programs became key for my survival.  I had support from people in my community, but if it wasn’t for the financial help that CCEC provided, I would have gone hungry many times.  On top of that, in the spirit of community, the workers at CCEC always treated me with respect when I needed help, especially Atilio Alvarez.  He never once treated me like I was poor or untrustworthy, instead he was always kind, supportive and caring.  I am super grateful to him and the many people in our communities that helped me when I needed it most. 

Recently, I’ve been able to return to the community work I love and my own struggles have focused my energies on food justice.  Food security is at the heart of social and environmental justice. It ensures that people not only survive, but begin to thrive.  

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October 19th is International Credit Union Day, a day to celebrate the positive 'self-help' story of citizen based financial institutions. In many ways the story in BC is a very good one, but the consolidation trend of the last 25 years has a less optimistic face.

Ross Gentleman's OpEd piece in today's Vancouver Sun sets that out for all BC credit union members to consider. http://vancouversun.com/opinion/opinion-small-credit-unions-threatened-by-consolidation

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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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Smarter.  Brighter.  Better.

CCEC is converting to a new banking system on JUNE 1, 2016.  There will be service interruptions from Tuesday, May 31 at 3pm to Wednesday, June 1 in the late afternoon.  If you have further questions, please visit our website for more information or phone 604.254.4100.

BE PREPARED

During this conversion period, if you have any questions concerning your account we encourage you to contact the branch through email info@ccec.bc.ca or by phone to 604.254.4100.

After conversion, if you have specific problem with your card or online access, please provide us with as much detail as possible about the issue, to assist us in tracking down the source of the issue.  Details would include the date and time, location (ATM or retail outlet), exactly what you were trying to do, and the exact error message.

Nothing is perfect and we ask you to check on your Future Bill Payments to confirm that bills were paid if they were scheduled during the conversion period.  Bill payments scheduled for June 1 will not be processed at the beginning of the day as usual, but will be processed in the afternoon, after the conversion is complete.

Q:  Why are we converting the banking system?

A:  We are converting to a new banking system to provide you with increased reliability and to increase our capacity to provide you with new services.  During the conversion, we will be doing everything we can to minimize any member impact; however, there will be some changes that will be necessary and important to note.  For updates, visit our website at www.ccec.bc.ca .

Q: When is this happening?  And, can I get money from an ATM, do online banking, and make purchases?

A:  We are converting to this new banking system from Tuesday, May 31 at 3pm to Wednesday, June 1 in the late afternoon.  

 

BE AWARE:
You can deposit cheques or cash in an ATM.
BUT,
the funds
deposited at ATM’s during this period will not be available for withdrawals.

 

Q: Will my cheques and pre-authorized debits and credits be cleared?

A: On Tuesday, May 31, we will process the clearing files as usual.  We anticipate we will next process the clearing file on June 1 in the afternoon, after our upgraded banking system is up and running.

If you have important transactions or special requests from May 31 to June 1, please get in touch with us ASAP so that we can address your concerns.

Q:  So, what can and can’t I do during this time?

A: See our Service Interruption At A Glance chart:

 

Telephone Support

Branch Banking

ATM & POS

Online, Mobile & Telephone Banking

Monday, May 30

 

Closed as usual

Available

Available

Tuesday, May 31 before 3pm

Business as usual for account and transaction processing up to 3pm.

Open 10am-3pm

Available

Available

Tuesday, May 31 after 3pm

We are available to answer questions until 5pm.

Closed

Limited. We cannot process transactions after 3pm.

Not Available. Transactions cannot be processed after 3pm.

Wednesday, June 1

We are available to answer questions from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

Closed

Limited. We cannot process transactions until late afternoon.

Not Available. Transactions cannot be processed until late afternoon.

Thursday, June 2

Open 10am-5pm business as usual

Open 10am-5pm business as usual

Available

Available

 

Q: What changes will I notice in the new banking system?

A:  We’ve listened. The new system reflects a few of your requests.  You will see more features and easier navigation.  The system will provide greater reliability and give us the capacity to add new services.

  • NEW in Online Banking: You can download account activity to a PDF file; and we’ve added the Recurring Bill Payments feature to save you time to pay the same amount on regularly scheduled bills.
  • NEW in Telephone Banking: The phone numbers will be changing.  The new number for local calls is 778-588-6811 and toll-free is 1 844-588-6811.  Listen carefully as the order on the menu options has also changed and we do not have a Loan Payment option.  Navigation is easier.  Changes include:
  • Press * to go back to the previous option;
  • Use * key for decimal point when entering amount of the bill.
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Credit unions are consumer owned enterprises that represent a fundamental challenge to conventional capital corporations.  Credit unions do not exist to generate profits, but to provide services to member-shareholders.  Recent published documents raise some interesting questions about the future of our credit unions.  

Consolidation and amalgamation over the last thirty years has drastically reduced the number of credit unions in BC (and elsewhere).  In the mid-eighties there was 120, now there are 43.  And the two largest credit unions comprise @50% of the deposits and almost 50% of the memberships in BC. Two papers submitted to the provincial government review of credit union legislation were made public online and provide pointed criticism of the erosion of member democracy in large credit unions. Submissions are public and the papers from Bruce Bachelor and Mark Latham both argue for enhanced democratic practices. Also, governancewatch.ca  provides an excellent overview of difficulties at Coast Capital Credit Union. 

But beyond that, credit union members also own "second tier" enterprises, or are the beneficial owners of these; Central 1, Co-operators Insurance, CUMIS Insurance, etc.  Since credit unions control these businesses, consumer owners rarely consider their stake in them.  But a recent paper from Central 1 provides a great overview, and a discussion of a 'restructuring' of these entities - Future State. But this paper fails to recognize consumer ownership as the key 'uniqueness' of our credit unions.

Over time the radical idea of consumer control has been down played.  More emphasis has been placed upon marketing smarts and service. Indeed, co-operative democratic governance has been under-represented and eroded.  Members are no longer encouraged to take active interest in the affairs of the credit union, unless there is a merger proposal. This is unfortunate, as the price of democracy is vigilance.  Our credit unions not only manage our savings, but also control substantial accrued 'wealth'; retained earnings is an asset held/owned in common by all members. This is community property.  

Our organizations do not 'belong' to the managers and directors. When there are big choices to make members should be consulted. Members must not only think about their own accounts and transactions, we all have a stake in the community organizations that we have jointly created over time and organizations that ought to be looking out for us as we move forward. 

CCEC welcomes input from our members on the evolution of the credit union system and how we may play our part.  Feel free to listen into this podcast with Ross Gentleman and Tammy Lea Meyer. 

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On behalf of the board, we are pleased to announce that Tracey Kliesch will be joining CCEC Credit Union as our General Manager as of May 15, 2016. Tracey is coming to CCEC after more than 12 years at Vancity in both operations and community investment. 

“It’s an honour and pleasure to welcome such a strong advocate for co-ops and community organizations to CCEC,” remarked Tammy Lea Meyer, Co-chair of the Board of Directors. “As a champion of co-operative economics and an active leader in the community, we are extremely pleased to have her take on this leadership role at our credit union.”

Tracey has spent the last five years as a Community Investment Portfolio Manager, where she has focused on building meaningful partnerships with mission-based organizations, as well as managing the Youth Community Advisory Committee and online forum. Outside of her work with Vancity, Tracey teaches Cooperatives and Community Economic Development at BCIT, and has worked internationally to promote and strengthen the cooperative model and help build the cooperative movement.

Ms. Meyer continued, “CCEC stands for Community Congress for Economic Change, and as an agent of change, we promote social justice and economic democracy.  It is clear to us that Tracey shares this commitment.  Her proven managerial skills in the financial service industry and a broad understanding of the social profit sector give us confidence that she will represent the values of our members and member communities.  She is well prepared to take on this leadership role at CCEC.”

“I am very excited and deeply honoured to become CCEC’s next GM and I look forward to stewarding the credit union’s continued success,” said Ms. Kliesch. “I have had the pleasure of serving community members in Squamish, Vancouver, East Vancouver and Burnaby for over 12 years with Vancity and look forward to continuing that work in support of CCEC’s members and community organizations. I look forward to working with the Board, our managers, our union and staff to continue to build an organization that is sustainably successful and true to our founding values. I am proud to take the helm of this local, autonomous and independent credit union that so clearly lives and advocates for cooperative values.”

Ms. Kliesch will be replacing Ross Gentleman who is retiring after leading the credit union for three years, having been an active volunteer and contributor for over 35 years. Although he will be missed as GM, we expect he will continue to volunteer in some capacity.

CCEC Credit Union provides financial services to non-profits, co-ops, social enterprises and progressive small businesses, and to individuals affiliated with these community organizations.  As a community development credit union, CCEC has worked with many projects associated with housing, childcare, health, environmental stewardship, gender equality, and free expression.


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Medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada face a substantial hurdle doing business because the big banks have declined to provide services.  An excellent article in the Globe and Mail surveys the challenges, especially in light of the pending major changes to our federal laws.  

CCEC is highlighted in the article as an agent of change, because it has agreed to provide banking services. As noted in the Globe article, provincial governments, health authorities and even the Supreme Court of Canada have affirmed that access is essentially a health issue. CCEC has agreed.   

CCEC wants to build healthy and just communities, by empowering ordinary people. Political and social change is underway and there are roles for community groups and community-based financial institutions to play.  CCEC may be small, but we can have impact. 

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The Board at CCEC  Credit Union supports the $10 a Day Child Care Plan  proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC.

We share the belief that all young children should have the right to participate in quality early care and learning programs that meet their needs.  With this plan, child care would cost families $10 a day for full-time enrollment & there would be a sliding scale based on income and terms of enrollment..  

If you are a BC parent in the labour force and have a young child — chances are it’s been hard for you to find affordable, quality child care. And, if you have found a child care arrangement that works for you — chances are you feel ‘lucky’ even though you are all too aware of the high cost of care.

It’s important to remember that most BC families with young children are also experiencing a child care crisis. It's most likely not surprising to you that:
Canada ranks last among developed countries in supporting quality early care and learning programs?
BC has licensed child care spaces for only about 20 per cent of children.
Fees are high because — unlike libraries, parks and schools that receive public funds to cover some operating costs — child care is primarily a user fee service.
Even high fees paid by parents aren’t enough to pay early childhood educators a living wage

BC has a child care crisis that isn't improving. Check their website to learn more.  

  

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