CCEC Blog
Search
 
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.   
Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Hunger in Canada is not about the lack of food.  People are food insecure because they can’t afford to eat.  Poverty is a multi-dimensional problem.  We know that the systemic causes of poverty cannot be addressed overnight.  But, we need to put in place a Government-wide integrated approach to addressing the systemic issues of poverty based on the principles of social inclusion and collaboration.  And that we need to start with income.

Meet CCEC Member, the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks and its’ member sponsors, Ian Marcuse and Joanne MacKinnon.  Ian says, “As the price of food escalates, increasing numbers of households are feeling the food affordability squeeze.  We are seeing more people coming to our programs that include community kitchens, community meals and food hampers (bulk buying and free baskets).  We are feeling under pressure as we need to expand our existing food programs and establish new food programs to serve those in need.  Ideally, rather than expanding existing food security programming, we would prefer to tackle the systems that result in food insecurity and end poverty."

So, who is going hungry?  We have a growing population of working poor in Canada whose wages do not cover basic necessities.  2/3 of food insecure people are working.  We know that inadequate wages, shrinking social assistance rates, meager pensions, illness and disability are at the heart of food insecurity.  More than 4 million people in Canada are unsure about where they’ll eat next or skip meals so their kids can eat.   1 in 8 people are food insecure but only 25% access the food bank.

The Neighbourhood Food Networks, with 12 part-time funded coordinators, are part of the Greenest City Action Plan to address food security and to increase all residents’ access to healthy, culturally appropriate food.  Joanne MacKinnon says, “We believe in the right-to-food, and social justice are at the forefront of our philosophy and how we approach our work.”  She continues, “We work with our program participants but are engaged and contribute their diverse skills and talents toward co-creating a just and sustainable neighbourhood food system.”

Part of the solution is for BC, who is the only province in Canada without a Poverty Reduction Strategy and Canada, who lacks a comprehensive policy to step up and put in place the strategies and policies around food justice.  According to CCEC Member, Raise the Rates, Canada has a Poverty Policy.  This needs to change.

But, Do Poverty Reduction Strategies work?  Let’s look at Newfoundland and Labrador's Poverty Reduction Strategy which is a government-wide (13 Ministries) approach to promoting self-reliance, opportunity, and access to key supports for persons vulnerable to poverty.  The strategy, introduced in 2006, includes more than 90 initiatives that were created based on an intensive public consultation process.  Their cross Ministerial approach developed strategies to address the linkages between poor health and low income, between low income employment and limited economic development, between poverty and violence and impacts on women’s equality, and the need to support persons with disabilities.  How do they know it is working?  Just one indicator shows that it is working: food insecurity has been reduced by 50%. 

The bottom line is that we should be supporting employees fighting for fair, livable wages.  It’s time that politicians, backed by citizen voices, talk about justice and equity.  It’s time to create real, long lasting solutions to poverty and hunger, policies that bring us together, rather than divide us as citizens.

In BC, we have 17 government ministries that work with vulnerable populations and, often-times, they seem to be working at cross purposes.  We know that the systemic causes of poverty cannot be addressed overnight.  But, we know we need to get started.  Next year, 2017, is a BC Provincial Government election.  Make your vote count.

The Neigbhourhood Food Network and its’ coordinators at the local level are unique and separate in that we respond to community needs with grassroots solutions. But, together, we represent the experiences of thousands of individuals across the city, giving us an important role to play in advocacy and systems change.

Learn more about the Neighbourhood Food Networks and support our work. 

And, sign on to end poverty in Canada:  http://www.dignityforall.ca/   

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

During WW2 in Britain, the government introduced rationing to make sure that people got an equal amount of food every week.  Rationing lasted 14 years, ‘Dig For Victory’ gardens were everywhere, and the health of all improved, infant mortality decreased, and life expectancy increased.  Before the Second World War started Britain imported about 55 million tons of food a year from other countries.  During the war as supply lines were impacted, they had to take measures to increase their food self-sufficiency. The government was worried that as food became scarcer, prices would rise and poorer people might not be able to afford to eat.

Compare the food basket during rationing with what a person on welfare can buy in BC today:

We need to raise the rate! Read our blog on Raise the Rate or visit their Website.

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Even Warren Buffet is saying, “Tax me!”  So why do we think that people living in Vancouver can survive on $610 per month?   In the most expensive City to live in North America (2013)  singles on welfare get only $610.

It is 10 years since Raise the Rates was established (and joined CCEC), but we would prefer that there was no need for them to exist. If only our politicians would buy-in to a living wage for all residents, and agree that it is not acceptable that BC has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada.   800,000 British Columbians are living in poverty, and that 1 in 8 people are food insecure.  Did you know that the poverty line in BC is around $1,500 a month?

Poverty is a political choice. We can afford to abolish poverty.  We are the only province that doesn’t have a Poverty Reduction Strategy.  Two recent polls showed that 78% of people in BC want a poverty reduction plan and the most important issue is poverty, housing, and homelessness.  More British Columbians are having difficulty dealing with the increasing cost of living, and are compromising on our food choices as our real incomes have stagnated.(BIV Insights West BC Gov’t Report Card, May 2016).  And, we know that hunger is a result of poverty.  Are you surprised that at least half of the new Canadians (Syrian refugees), are using the Food Bank? 

Basic welfare has been frozen at $610 a month since April 2007.  Bill Hopwood, Organizer and Activist with Raise the Rates says, “Nine years ago, you could rent a crummy SRO in the Downtown Eastside for $375 a month, now the average cheapest rent is $517.  Rents for the worst housing has increased $142 in 9 years, but no increase in welfare.  After rent and other necessities, a person on welfare has $93 left each month to pay for food, clothing, hygiene, a phone and transit which means $10 a week for food.  The cost of living index has gone up 15%.”  At the recent Vancouver Food Summit held at Gordon Neighbourhood House, the panel on Poverty: What can food policy do?  unanimously agreed that the Welfare Food Challenge, the annual event for Raise the Rates is impossible.  You simply cannot eat a healthy diet living on welfare.  In 2015, Kathy Romses, Dietician and Challenge Participant commented, “Social isolation was a challenge as meals with family and friends or meetings at the coffee shop were not an option.  Trying to guard limited food doesn’t help build or maintain relationships with friends and family.”

For people with disabilities the government announced the first increase in 9 years on the rate of $906 – up by $77.  That is not even half of what is needed to keep pace with inflation.  BUT, they stole most of it back.  They scrapped the free bus pass and now people have to pay $52 a month for the pass so the increase is only $25 a month.  Compare BC with Alberta’s rate at $1,588 a month.

Poverty is a political choice.The government makes it as difficult as possible to even claim welfare - watch the video -

,

while being extra generous to very rich.  Last year the government gave $227 million in tax cuts to the richest people in BC on top of the $billions they have already received in tax handouts. The minimum wage was increased by 20 cents an hour and no increase in welfare.  Bill says, “The government chooses to feed the rich by starving workers and the poor.” 

One of the biggest challenges facing Raise the Rates according to Bill is keeping their activists confident when they see the abject failure of politicians to take seriously raising welfare rates.  Everyone in BC should live above the poverty line – we can afford it, it would make BC a much healthier place and in the medium term save money. Read the report from Policy Alternatives on the Cost of Poverty.  How can politicians support policies that keep people in poverty?  Yet, Bill say, “Can you tell me a politician who is advocating for welfare of $1,500 a month?”

Movements make change and we have to build public support to push politicians to act.  Welfare Rates need to be Raised.  Raise the Rates will continue to campaign.

JUSTICE not CHARITY.  WE need a HAND UP not a HAND OUT.  Isn’t it time we took a stand?  2017 is a Provincial election year.  Get involved.  Make your vote count.  

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Did you know?  In Vancouver:

  •  65,000 people who are spending more than 50% of their income on housing are facing homelessness. 
  • BC Housing has 5 year wait list. One person was told he better be prepared to go to a shelter as there are an awful lot of people like him on fixed incomes and facing renovictions.
  • More than half of Vancouverites live in rental housing.  But more than 81 per cent of the current rental housing was built in the 50’s and needs upgrading.
  •  People most affected are too busy surviving and lack the capacity to fight. 

Meet CCEC Member and Inman Award Nominee, The Social Housing Alliance (SHA), who are changing their name to Alliance Against Displacement.  They feel this will better represent their movement's roots in displacement due to real estate, and Indigeneous displacement due to resource extraction.  Sign up for their newspaper, The Volcano, and learn how our low-income, working class & Indigenous communities are struggling for social justice in Vancouver & in BC. 


Why we belong to CCEC:  
CCEC reflects our movement’s values.


Housing, like food, is a basic human right.  We all need affordable, good, secure housing to live a healthy life, to enjoy our friends and families, and to contribute to our communities.  Vancouver and BC has a housing crisis.

Those at risk of being homeless are not only in the Downtown Eastside.  For example, SFU students are evicted from student housing; and renoviction is becoming too common in the Metrotown area.  It used to be that you were evicted for being a bad tenant. Today, you’re more likely to be evicted because you’re in the way of someone maximizing their profit.

Letizia Waddington, volunteer organizer says, “We see the need to organize on a daily basis, the challenge is that people most affected are too busy surviving, and the greater proportion of British Columbians believe that they will be fine with working hard.”

 

Their platform to end the housing crisis in BC is: 

·         BUILD 10,000 units of good quality social housing per year.

·         FUND and support community-based solutions to the housing crisis.

·         PRIORITIZE social housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and those most discriminated against.

·         SAVE existing low-rent housing.

·         PROTECT and empower tenants.

·         INCLUDE everyone who needs housing.

For more information:  http://thevolcano.org/  The website is being updated. 

 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Abolishing a pillar of colonization: the prison system

The acceptance speech for the Roger Inman Award with Joint Effort member Lora McElhinney

I’d first like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples: the Squamish, the Tsleil-waututh and the Musqueam. My name is Lora McElhinney and my people come from the traditional territories of the Irish, the Scottish and the English. I am grateful to be speaking tonight about the abolition of one of the pillars of colonization, the prison system and the role of Joint Effort in this fight.

Claire Culhane once said, “we have to fight while we still have time,” in response to the growing reaches of the police state in Canada and the fight for Prison Abolition. I was not part of Joint Effort when she was alive (I joined in 1999), but 25 years after she said this there is no less sense of urgency and “no better fight in town”, although unfortunately there are still prisons.

I went into BCCW with Joint Effort less than a month after I’d gone to Seattle to the WTO for the protests that brought activists and militants, academics and shit disturbers together for three days of theatre, popular education, candlelight gatherings, peace marches, parades, prayer, direct action, non-violent passive resistance, music, drumming, vandalism, arson and unarmed disruption of the police state and the trade talks it was protecting. Tuesday night, running from rubber bullets, tear gas and a monstrous army tank there was no turning back from having seen the show of force and the expressionless, choreographed uniformity of the thousands of police.

So it was with a healthy mistrust I went into BCCW for the first time. What I didn’t realize was what I would learn about freedom, about life, about being a woman, about Native traditions and teachings, spirituality and politics and history, about speaking your mind under surveillance, about never being manipulated into thinking you are changing the system, about those who have died in prison in protest, for prisoner rights and liberation, about creativity and self-expression as modes for liberation and emancipation, about the double-edged sword of education, about the bold faced lie of rehabilitation, about totalitarianism and who is being concentrated and warehoused in prisons sometimes in secret in Canada, about remaining idealistic and realistic after huge defeats such as the passing of the omnibus bills, about breaking isolation, about the capacity of the community to support each other with limited financial resources, none whatsoever taken from the state or church, with centuries of combined experience in community support and advocacy, resistance, art and writing, collective organizing and ally work and with the understanding that those most oppressed by the system are in the best position to know what is wrong with Canadian society.

It is timely that Joint Effort, with its roots in the Women’s Movement, Social Justice Movements and Alliances, Anarchist destruction of oppressive regimes, should win the Roger Inman Memorial Award, now that, to misquote Justin Trudeau, “it’s no longer 2015.” What becomes of the Broken Hearted, what becomes of a system fortified by unalterable totalitarianism, what becomes of hundreds of changes of laws and thousands of words of condemnation. This is a crucial time for the community inside and outside of prisons to push for prison abolition. Even if we could retract every law and policy the Harper government put in place, even if he was put in jail himself, as David Suzuki said he should be this week, this would only obscure the fact that prisons are punitive, obsolete and make even the freedom of those on the outside conditional. To quote a woman we met a few years ago at ACCW who was protesting the lice and foot fungus epidemic inside, “We’re shutting this place down! Call the health inspector. We’re shutting this place down!

Thanks so much to CCEC and to the billions of individuals and organizations and movements who have supported people’s freedom and self-determination anywhere all over the world at any time. It is important to understand how vast, how diverse and how rich we all are together when we admit we don’t want to be imprisoned.

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

The name CCEC comes from our early manifestation, the Community Congress for Economic Change, and the board has chosen to re-explore that 'economic change' dimension of who we are. Sometimes we can see ourselves as an innovator, an advocate, and a champion. Two terms that challenge us are economic democracy, and economic justice.  Over the coming few weeks we have a community organizer meeting with a number of community groups, members and non-members, to get a reading on how people see things in our contemporary world and where CCEC can take action.

Some members may receive invitations to meetings. The conversations are expected to generate good inputs into the Board planning work scheduled for later this year. At the same time, we invite input from all members. CCEC has the potential to seed change - by being vocal, by being innovative, and by being compassionate.  We'll provide updates!   

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

CCEC has asked the Minister responsible for Canada Post to reconsider the recent proposals from Canada Post to close out all urban home delivery of the mail over the next 5 years. Some 5 million households will be directly affected, with mail redirected to 'community mailboxes'. The letter to Minister Raitt notes that on social and environmental grounds, the proposals transfer costs to the public rather than truly reducing costs. Seniors and the disabled are likely to be the most affected, but so will anyone who relies heavily on paper-based communications (often required for financial business). Many are objecting to the announced Canada Post proposals, ranging from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to the National Association of Major Mail Users. 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

SFU Public Square - Summit

CCEC is collaborating with SFU Public Square and hosting one of 100 Community Conversations on the BC Economy, taking place over the coming few weeks. These conversations will feed into a Community Summit Sep 28-Oct 4 at the Centre for Dialog and subsequently the publication of a "Citizens' Agenda". 

The SFU Public Square is a unique community engagement project which tries to foster constructive open dialog on issues of substantial importance within the province. 

The challenging question is, "How can we create wealth, promote social equity, and protect our environment?"

Check out the other events and activities associated with this 2013 Community Summit. If you'd like to take part in our CCEC community conversation session, email Joanne. Last year's 'summit' considered the problem social isolation in urban environments and the report prompted policy re-considerations within governments and foundations.  

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Key players in the Occupy movement have announced innovative plans.  A small co-op is being formed to potentially offer low cost prepaid payment cards.  The potential credit union link is explored in this Credit Union Times article. The occupy movement still thinks in both national and local terms, and continues to encourage credit union membership and democratic control models. 

Notably, Canadian 'prepaid' payment cards are criticized in the Vancouver Sun today because of the excessive fees charged by many financial institutions. These kinds of cards are evolving into more than gift cards.  Social assistance payments and other transfers are being processed using these cards; particularly to those who do not have bank or credit union accounts.  As noted in the Vancouver Sun piece, the added costs are potentially borne by those who can least afford it.  CCEC is researching such a card offering but has no definite plans at this time.  

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Search

Recent Posts

Comments: 0
Rating: 0 / 0
Comments: 1
Rating: 0 / 0
Comments: 0
Rating: 0 / 0

Categories

Month List

home | memberdirectprivacy policy | contact | site map
© 2015 CCEC Credit Union. All Rights Reserved.