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November is Financial Literacy Month and the theme is “Understanding Your Finances”. Check the Government of Canada website for practical tips and tools on budgeting, savings, investing, fraud prevention, avoiding debt and building a strong credit history. Learn the 10 things you should know during times of financial uncertainty. 

They are also offering webinars: 

Financial Literacy Month is online in November. Follow them at @FCACan  and #FLM220.

If you have questions or concerns about your financial wellbeing, please give us a call. 

 

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“How can we create wealth, ensure social equity, and protect the environment?”  This question was posed in 2013, as CCEC hosted a Community Conversation on the BC Economy.  We were one of the 100 Community Conversations associated with the SFU Public Square project. Our blog  captured the feedback of ten CCEC members who participated in the conversation.  This blog highlights what we heard from our members as  seven years later, we are asking ourselves the same questions. 


The group first challenged the idea of a ‘BC Economy’, expressing the view that it was really an aggregation of several local and regional economies that were very distinct.  The consensus view was that the framing of the question was biased to mega-projects, large scale interventions and comparisons to global ‘norms’; a view that discounts small business and local exchange.   One voice noted that this abstraction was much removed from people’s everyday life.


Secondly, the conversation explored the term ‘create wealth’.  Harvesting natural ‘wealth’ is not creating wealth.  And GDP growth is a narrow indicator that certainly does not measure community well being.  Much discussion evolved around other more meaningful measures of community health in political-economic terms; suggestions included child poverty rates, street homelessness counts, and a happiness index.  It was observed that the ‘wealth created’ by the Exxon Valdez disaster, as an example, was not to be pursued as a ‘good thing’.

The group also wondered aloud about the waste created by industrial activity and a culture of consumption.  Why does conventional economics ignore, or downplay, the despoiled air, water and earth passed to future generations?  Why are there such inequalities with so many left in the margins?  Why do those in power deny and discount climate change?  

At CCEC, we want to encourage and foster conversations with members about our political-economy;  to foster individual agency and to explore the role of group action and projects.  

You may not know that "CCEC" was originally adopted by the credit union because the precursor organization that collected pledges to found the credit union was the Community Congress for Economic Change. 


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We’ve come to a fork in the road. We need to decide if we are an ‘oil country’ or a ‘country of nature?’ Do we want the previous status quo, with its now-obvious holes in our health and social well-being nets, and its trajectory towards climate catastrophe? Or do we want to “build back better” in ways that fight climate change, inequality & injustice?


We talk about  building a healthier, fairer, greener province based on a clean economy. We want to support strong climate and clean energy policies needed to build a resilient economy. We know the projects generated from a clean energy framework can put people to work in safe, healthy, well-paid jobs. We understand that a green recovery is a  just recovery and we don’t want anyone to be left behind. 


The Premier’s Economic Recovery Task Force is scheduled to release its findings from the 6 week public consultation process this month. The report aims to provide recommendations on how the $1.5 billion fund set aside for recovery spending will be deployed.  A member of the task force,  The BC Federation of Labour, submitted, “We must make up for lost time in addressing the climate crisis, with an accelerated and inclusive path to a green economy. The global collapse of oil prices is only the latest drastic swing in the fossil fuel economy — and one more sign that a sustainable future must rely on a swift transition to cleaner, renewable sources of energy.” They continue by saying, “We must look beyond economic indicators to human outcomes — our goal entails nothing less than the end of poverty, homelessness and other inequities. And it goes deeper: a meaningful connection to the communities they live and work in and with — even in times of crisis, with no exceptions.” Reading submissions like those of the BC Federation makes it sound hopeful that the BC Economic  Recovery Plan will support a Green New Deal. 

At the same time, however, we continue to invest in fossil fuel projects. The Trans Mountain Pipeline, owned by the Canadian Government, continues to be built despite knowing there is no longer a market in Asia or in the US to sell the gas; that we publicly committed  to climate action in the Paris Agreement; we have a flawed consultation process with Indigenous communities; a  failure to consider the risks posed by increased tanker traffic; ongoing protests and other concerns.  We know that the BC Recovery Plan Task Force is represented in favour of heavy industrial business and is  lobbying to have their projects be financially supported through the Plan.  

The Report
is scheduled to be released this month.  Let’s see how well the  recommendations reflect the importance of workplace safety, strong public services, and our collective responsibility to take care of each other. We have the chance to address those gaps, and to do much more. We can build back better than before.

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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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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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We all play a part to create an economy that's more just, equitable, and sustainable.


At CCEC, your funds allow us to support local, grassroots businesses and reinvest in our community. For over 45 years we have served member organizations and individuals who are underserved to meet their basic human needs and rights, for community enterprises and community action. 


At this time, it is even more important that we shop local and eat seasonal produce. Your independent owned or co-operative business contributes to your neighbourhoods’ arts, culture and sports. They build community, connect us to each other and form our economic activity.  


A member recently commented, “We appreciate the role CCEC plays in Community Economic Development and your roots from the Community Congress for Economic Change.”  


Community Economic Development (CED) is a core value for CCEC.  We know that CED empowers communities to shape how the local economy provides for them and how it impacts their lives.  We can ask ourselves, “What kind of community is created and sustained by the local economy, and how do we include the people who may be  left out.”  CCEC supports a Just Recovery and an economy where there is a shortening of the supply chain. 


Local businesses help our communities by:

  • Creating diverse, inclusive employment

  • Adapting to challenges

  • Being proactive, prepared, and resilient.


There is an additional economic benefit to an area when money is spent in the local economy.  Independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses (or locally-owned franchises*). In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.


CCEC has always kept your money in your community to support our local economic development. We encourage our members to shop or keep shopping local to support our arts, culture, sports, restaurants, greengrocers and other neighbourhood businesses. 


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“This is not a return to normal … we’re going to a new normal," said Premier John Horgan.


But what does “a new normal”  look like for you? 


Dogwood BC says, “It marks the beginning of our next big test. Will we seize this opportunity to rebuild a more resilient province — or rush back to business as usual?” They ask you to help shape this essential public conversation by sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or through their webpage.


Dogwood BC also says that in BC, “normal” was failing to meet our climate targets. “Normal” was Indigenous and rural communities with no economic opportunities. “Normal” was housing, homelessness and addiction crises in our cities. “Normal” was a wildly inequitable distribution of wealth and power in our province. Let’s not go back to “normal”. 

The province has set aside $1.5 billion to get our economy back on its feet again as we transition out of the pandemic. ‘There’s a huge opportunity for very important economic growth and economic benefits to be invested in greening our economy, in energy efficiency,’ says interim Green Leader Adam Olsen.

But, the Premier’s task force in charge includes big business and unions, but not green groups.

Our members say:  

Advocating for a "hard hat" or "shovel ready" recovery is grabbing the wrong end of the stick. We  need to see retraining and placement programs at an unprecedented scale, with gender equity outcomes far beyond anything anyone's achieved in any economic recovery I've heard about.

The recovery plan MUST include:

  • clean energy development - lots of new jobs there!

  • fossil fuel use reduction

  • remove subsidies to fossil fuels - stop investment in dying industries

  • develop local power grids like solar roofs and wind power (there are bird friendly windmills already developed)

  • invest in green transportation like public transit and safe bikeways

BC Transit needs to establish a province-wide public bus company that uses as much electric power as possible.  Many communities in BC cannot be reached by bus…forcing people to drive their cars, if they have them, are agile enough and can afford to drive.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to invest these precious public dollars into projects that build the kind of B.C. we all want to live in.  We need to be louder. Spark a conversation in your community about what our province should look like as the economy powers up again.  

Get involved. We need a Green New Deal, a CleanBC and a Way Forward. 

Like and follow groups including DogwoodBC, Wilderness Committee, and  STAND.earth


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At this time of year, we are encouraged to “Create Memories Not Garbage”.  We are reminded that we all should be doing our part to make less waste. Our awareness level  has increased about food waste, single use plastics and taking our own bags when we go shopping. However, we need to be doing much more.  

We need to adopt an economy that operates within planetary boundaries and focuses on keeping materials in circulation (and out of the landfill). We need to be designing products that can be 'made to be made again' and powering the system with renewable energy. This is the circular economy.  

A circular economy “offers a solution to the growing problem of waste, generates economic growth, increases the number of local green jobs, and encourages  innovation.” The BC Minister for the Environment and Climate Change at #COP25Madrid discussed the circular economy and how the way we use waste and resources impacts climate change. 

The circular economy is also about sharing, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. As we welcome 2020, let’s do our part to support a circular economy and community economic development.

So, if you could do just one thing differently to create memories and reduce waste, what would it be? Visit the Metro Vancouver website for ideas! 

Learn more about how to accelerate the transition to a circular economy with best practices, case studies and worksheets from these websites: 

https://ceaccelerator.zerowastescotland.org.uk/ - exists to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted; to influence and enable change. 

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept - works with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
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Helesia Luke, CCEC Board Member says, "A month ago I started a new job and with it embarked on a learning curve that has been a real eye opener. "  As the new Green Jobs BC Co-ordinator, my first observation is that there is no lack of global leadership on the topic. Labour, environmental and financial leaders are rallying for change and scalable solutions that provide good jobs and reduce carbon emissions. As recently as last week, former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney noted the transition to a green economy is a trillion dollar opportunity for businesses and national economies

In the absence of policy however, citizens in Canada are taking matters into their own hands with grassroots initiatives like Iron and Earth. [ttp://www.ironandearth.org/] I&E is a worker-led group formed by unemployed oil sands workers who recently signed an MOU to build six offshore wind farms in Atlantic Canada.

A new study from Berkeley  is reporting that 500,000 people are now employed in California’s renewable energy sector. The study credits state policy for the remarkable growth in good jobs that lower carbon emissions.  

Imagine what could be accomplished in Canada with effective policies and investment in a green economy. The Green Jobs BC Conference is November 24th and 25th. Come and join the discussion about how BC can transition to green and just economy.

Green Jobs BC is an alliance of labour and environmental groups with a shared vision of an inclusive, sustainable economy that provides good jobs, are socially just, protects the environment and reduces carbon emissions. 

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Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange says, “Cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, have turned upside down the way I think about the world.”  To understand Bitcoins and why they are popular, Yuri says that you need to look at things from a global perspective. 

Bitcoin came to be during the financial crisis of 2008 when, after losing their assets, people started questioning the existing monetary order.  The realization that all the money is controlled by a handful of moguls gave rise to a plethora of writers, bloggers and journalists who focused on exposing the unsustainable financial system we live in; and a group of programmers worked to create a new way to transmit value from one person to another.  Yuri says, “ Enter Bitcoin, a decentralized peer-to-peer value transmission protocol that doesn't depend on any central bank or government.”

Yuri learned about Bitcoins by reading the white paper published in 2012.  He started trading as a hobby and co-founded The Bitcoin Co-op, a non-profit organization whose main goal was to educate individuals and businesses about the benefits of using Bitcoin in their daily lives.  Today he runs Canada's first fee-free bitcoin exchange called Taurus.

Here is how it works:  if you want to exchange Canadian dollars for bitcoins, you place an order and wait for a match to occur.  You can also match your bid with an existing asking order for an instant trade.  He says that while bitcoin payments are automated and easy to set up, the main challenge is the ability to provide quick and reliable funding methods on the Canadian dollar side of the deal.  Thus, most customer requests have to do with money transfers, especially when it comes to fast payment processing and alternative options.

Bitcoin is still in its infancy and can be compared to the Internet as it was in 1994.  Yuri says that bitcoin transactions are not anonymous and there are complex issues, such as scalability and financial privacy, that need to be addressed.  While there are a growing number of financial institutions and venture capitalists interested in the advantages of the "blockchain technology" considered to be un-hackable, it doesn't always mean they are into Bitcoin itself.

He feels that financial institutions like CCEC can benefit from this new technology if used for transactions, record keeping, notarization services and smart self-executing financial contracts.  He says, “Imagine a credit union that is free of human error and whose cash flow is fully automated, transparent and incorruptible.”  As the industry develops new opportunities appear including remittance, instant global payments, point-of-sale systems and derivatives markets.  While admitting that another challenge may come from the financial regulators, his hope, however, is that no significant changes are made in the law and this segment of the market will remain truly free.

Why I belong to CCEC: “One of the most important moving parts in running a cryptocurrency exchange is solid banking relationship.  CCEC is one of the few financial institutions that recognize the potential of cryptocurrencies.  The credit union's board is open-minded  and forward-thinking.  CCEC is leading the Vancouver financial space when it comes to promoting and educating people about the peer-to-peer economy, decentralization and personal freedom.”  Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange

Contact Yuri at to yuri@taurusexchange.com or visit Taurus Exchange 

Read more about alternative currencies in a previous blog:  Digital Darwinism Bridges the Gap Between Community and Finance 

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