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We need social housing and welfare rates enough to cover basic rent in the city. There are 2,223 homeless people in Vancouver, up only 2.2% but there are more seniors, women and those who had housing now in the homeless count. It takes political will and all levels of government to address the problem. Read more in the just released  The Vancouver Homeless Count 2019 


In 2015, Medicine Hat declared it had ended chronic homelessness. The program continues to be successful. "Our definition of ending homelessness never did include the idea that it would never exist again, and that people would never fall back into that state of homelessness," said Jaime Rogers, the manager of homeless and housing at the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society. ​"We still need emergency shelters and we absolutely have people in our community that still experience homelessness. However, anyone who experiences being homeless is for a period that is "brief and short-lived," she said. 


The Mayor of Medicine Hat calls on provinces and Ottawa to provide the funding, but then to allow municipalities to implement strategies that makes the most sense wherever they're at. He says that their homeless strategy is saving taxpayers money in  terms of declining costs of crime, health care and child welfare services. 


Housing is for community not developers. On November 30, a rally was held at what was the Little Mountain Housing site. Ten years ago the residents were removed and the buildings demolished on what was Vancouver’s first social housing site (built in 1954). The 15 acre site continues to be vacant. A rally spokesperson says, “It was a successful social housing community. Many, many thousands of people grew up and lived their lives there. The buildings could have been renovated.”  The spokesperson adds, “It’s clear that the redevelopment of Little Mountain has been a failure. We are calling on the government to #Take Back the Mountain,’ to take the Little Mountain site into public hands and to build the kind of housing that people need and deserve in Vancouver.”


Read the  Vancouver Homeless Count 2019 Report 

Learn more about the Homeless Action Strategy in Alberta 

 
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"Scotiabank Refuses to Honour Old GIC's Until CBC Steps In" reads the headline. Watch the CBC clip and Denis Flinn, General Manager CCEC is interviewed (at 1:33). 

 

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STILL FROM MENSAKAS YOUTUBE VIDEO FOR ITS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN. IMAGE: RIDERSXDERECHOS BCN/YOUTUBE

This recent article in VICE provides a great overview on how the digital economy can be re-oriented to promote worker co-ops, and other forms of social enterprise.  In particular, we have to consider people-based alternatives to the exploitative trends in the 'gig economy'. 

Worker co-ops are a model of worker ownership that can be a real alternative to transnational capitalism. Employee ownership, with one-member one-vote, emphasises the importance of the work, the worker, and the workplace; while it downplays the return to be paid to outside investors.  Growing tech companies now prosper by squeezing workers; Amazon, UBER, Facebook, and others create two classes - the very rich and the precarious poor. 

Many software and technology firms are worker owned at the start but 'sell out' as they grow.  However, some are committed to a co-op model long term. This is likely the future for co-ops in the Internet Age.  One in BC is Affinity Bridge.  In addition, one of the Affinity Bridge principals, Robin Puga, hosts Each For All on Vancouver Co-op Radio

In Montreal, an option to UBER has been created, called EVA; it is a novel hybrid of a worker and consumer co-op.  EVA now has over 18,000 members.  In BC MODO the car co-op is a great consumer co-op with a good core technology platform. 

Open-source software may give local projects the means to create their own apps and build their own successful co-op business, adapted to our device driven reality.  Such projects have a potential privacy side benefit if the user's personal data is not being aggregated and sold to the Big Data marketing machine.    

 

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What actions can we take to make poverty an issue in the next provincial election? How can we ensure there is coordination of the CleanBC Plan and the poverty reduction strategy? These, and other questions are being asked by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) of its’ members. CCEC and our members,  Raise the Rates and the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks are part of this discussion. 

After a decade of advocacy work by the BCPRC and other groups, the BC Government released TogetherBC, their first poverty reduction strategy. It addressed some needs for children and families in poverty through the Child Opportunity Benefit, and a continued commitment to building a quality, affordable child care system in BC.

However, there are still huge gaps. The BCPRC has identified priorities that are not addressed in TogetherBC. They include “better access to good food for families, enhanced investments in affordable transportation, and improved income security, including assistance rates.” The coalition is asking the government to address housing, child care, education, employment, health, transportation, access to justice and food security. Learn more and sign their open letter to the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. 

Another related initiative is the BC Governments’ Clean BC Plan.  There is a public consultation process underway through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to develop a clean growth strategy. The BCPRC is working to ensure there is coordination between the poverty reduction strategy and the clean growth strategy. There are three papers for consideration: clean transportation; clean, efficient buildings; and a clean growth program for industry. Unfortunately, BCPRC says that none of the proposed initiatives apply a “poverty/equity lens” to ensure accessibility to low income people. Read their submission for a Clean Growth Strategy where they outline recommendations for housing affordability, transportation, and education and training for good jobs. 

You can be involved and provide your feedback about the following topics:

Poverty is an election issue. We encourage our members to get involved. 

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) is an alliance of over 400 organizations in BC that have come together to raise awareness about poverty and inequality, and improve the health and well-being of all British Columbians.

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“Keystone pipeline shut after spilling 1.4 million litres of oil” reads a headline on October 31, 2019. Did you know that our pipeline, Coastal GasLink, is a project of the same corporation funding the Keystone XL and Energy East Pipeline projects?  All pipeline projects are wrong for many reasons and today, we are asking our members to support our members the Unist’ot’en Brigade Society, the Mountain Protectors, the Wilderness Committee and other groups saying, NO to all pipelines. 

How can you get involved?

The Unist’ot’en Brigade Society, wants your help to get the story out to the larger public.  They released, INVASION, an 18 minute powerful film that covers many of the events of the last year.  They want you to share with friends and host a screening in your community!  

Their press release says, “In this era of "reconciliation", Indigenous land is still being taken at gunpoint. INVASION is a new film about the Unist'ot'en Camp, Gidimt'en checkpoint, and the larger Wet'suwet'en Nation standing up to the Canadian government and corporations who continue colonial violence against indigenous people.”

Join a conversation and tea to learn more. 

November 13th from  7pm - 8:30pm at Kafka's,  2525 Main Street,

you can meet a couple of  Unist’ot’en Brigade Society supporters. They can also let you know more about volunteering  at the Unist'ot'en Camp. 

INVASION the film

Simply download the film here, make a Facebook event using this graphic, and download and print the poster designed by Gord Hill. You can host anywhere from a living room to a local theater.

Email robertages@telus.net for any help you need organizing an event or if you have any questions.  Their website has resources to help as well.

Join the “We Support the Unist’ot’en and the Wet’suwet’en Grassroots Movement” facebook grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/SupportWetsuweten/about/ 

The  hereditary chiefs have spoken, “NO to all pipelines.”  At CCEC, we stand in support and are asking our members to also support the Indigenous movements for self-determination.

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BC is the first province in Canada to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, mandating the government to bring its laws and policies into harmony with the principles of the declaration.

The Minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation said the bill “is about ending discrimination and conflict in our province, and instead ensuring more economic justice and fairness.”

The declaration requires governments to obtain “free and informed consent” from Indigenous groups before approving any project affecting their lands or resources, but Fraser said neither the legislation nor the declaration includes wording that grants a veto over resource development projects.

The province also said it does not create any new rights for Indigenous Peoples but rather upholds those established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by Canada in 1948.

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, of which CCEC is a member, says, “The BC government introduced a law to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This legislation makes sure Indigenous people in BC enjoy the same rights and protections as everyone else in the province! B.C. will be the first province to put implement the Declaration into a legislative framework.”

National Chief Perry Bellegarde said in a statement, “Implementing the UN Declaration through legislation is a positive step for peace, progress and prosperity. This will create greater economic stability and prosperity, because it’s clear that ignoring First Nations rights is the cause of instability and uncertainty.”

Click here to learn more about the UN Declaration.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples delineates and defines the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including their ownership rights to cultural and ceremonial expression, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

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October 21, 2019 is Election Day in Canada. On that day, eligible voters exercise their right to vote for one of the candidates in their riding to represent them in the federal House of Commons.

First Call, the child and youth advocate organization created a toolkit to support individuals and community groups in their advocacy for legislation, policy and practice that benefit children and youth and their families.

Click here to see the kit online and to download. 

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BC ACORN's new study: "Barriers to Digital Equality in Canada” shows how home internet is used for vital life activities and at the same time remains unaffordable.  Read the report then send a message to your MP, the Prime Minister, and the Minister responsible that all people in Canada need to access affordable internet.

High speed Internet access has become increasingly important for participation in essential facets of life, from job searching, homework to accessing government services and seeking information.  However, in Canada, thousands of low income families cannot afford high speed internet at home.  Cost is a major barrier to digital equity.  In a recent survey of ACORN members, over 35% of the 500 respondents had to make sacrifices such as food, clothing or transit, to afford the internet. Further, only 76% of respondents with household incomes below $10,000 have home internet access.

This "digital divide" excludes low-income individuals and families from what the United Nations now considers to be a human right, comparable with freedom of speech.

ACORN Canada is leading the fight for affordable home access to high speed internet for all residents of Canada!

Take Action Today.  Click here for more information and to Add Your Voice to support the campaign.

Click here to access the full report.     

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The Canadian Government is investing up to $184 million to construct affordable housing on city-owned sites. There are plans for up to 1,100 units across Vancouver to be funded through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The first funded projct, Pierview Homes, is a 140-unit co-operative housing development  in the River District of southeast Vancouver.  Learn more about this initiative in the full article  here.

Another recent announcement is the First Time Home Buyer Incentive which launches Sept. 2. This Incentive helps qualified first-time homebuyers reduce their monthly mortgage carrying costs without adding to their financial burdens. Learn more about the program here.

Be sure to call CCEC and talk with our mortgage experts about your options. 

The Federal Government says that every Canadian deserves to have a safe and affordable place to call home. With this in mind, in 2017 they launched the National Housing Strategy and aim to cut homelessness in half.

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Reports released by the B.C. government last week reveal that of the $7 billion money laundered in BC in 2018, $5.3B (or 72%) was in real estate.  Both revealed how criminals are using real estate to clean their money. As a result, the BC Government has called for a public enquiry into the problem.

The premier says, “The depth and the magnitude of money laundering in British Columbia was far worse than we imagined.”  Finance Minister Carole James says, "Housing should provide shelter, not a vehicle for proceeds of crime."  She continues, “Homes in BC are for people, not speculative investment or money laundering.”

However, is a public enquiry needed?  We have extensive material from two recently released reports.  Is there anything more we can learn?  Let’s do a quick review of what we do know.

The two recently released reports that have sparked the public enquiry are the  Combating Money Laundering in B.C. Real Estate report which puts forward 29 recommendations; and the aptly named, Dirty Money Part 2 which outlines some of the red flags that signal when illegal money is behind a real-estate purchase — including unfinanced purchases, private lending, unusual interest rates and purchases by homemakers and students.  Both documents identify numerous gaps in provincial and federal regulatory systems for keeping track of purchases and reporting suspicious transactions. 

There are many actions to be taken.  The BC Government has already taken some action that includes introducing proposed legislation called the "Land Owner Transparency Act.”  This Act would establish a public registry of beneficial owners of property in BC.  Corporations, trusts and partnerships that buy land would be required to disclose their beneficial owners in the registry hopefully ending the use of these vehicles to shield real estate purchases. Transparency International Canada highlighted Vancouver real estate in a 2016 report, concluding nearly one-third of the 100 most valuable residential properties in Greater Vancouver were owned by shell companies.

There is also the 30 Point Housing Plan – BC Document.   The main features of the plan are a speculation tax, a ramped-up foreign buyers’ tax, and a new property transfer tax:

  • The speculation tax is aimed at both the current 25,000 and future residences owned by local profiteers, out-of-province investors and “satellite families” who buy up housing stock and leave the homes empty, or vest nominal ownership in a “homemaker” or “student” who pays little if any taxes.  If it is found that the declared taxable household incomes are lower than the amount they pay in property taxes, utilities and mortgage payments; and equivalent incomes to those reported in the Downtown Eastside. CRA estimates that about $170 million in taxes went uncollected from BC real estate over the past three years. The speculation tax aims to fix this disconnect between declared income and housing wealth.

  • The existing (and largely ineffectual) 15 per cent Metro Vancouver foreign buyers’ tax will increase to 20 per cent; and

  • The new 5 per cent property transfer tax will target sales of homes worth $3 million and up.

These are the efforts underway to undo a decade of political indifference that turned Vancouver into an epicentre of fraud, scams and real estate mania.  Will this be enough?  The current picture of the Vancouver housing market is not pretty.  Here is more data.

A Globe investigation;"> published in February, 2018, uncovered how 17 underground lenders provided $47 million in drug-money mortgages and liens on 45 Metro Vancouver mansions. An RCMP intelligence report estimated that up to $1-billion from the proceeds of crime was used to purchase expensive Metro Vancouver homes.

Vancouver has become known as a free trade zone for gangland money launderers, absentee offshore real-estate speculators, Chinese princelings on the lam and globe-trotting tax frauds. Over the past decade, homelessness has doubled, at least 4,000 people are sleeping rough in the streets, and there are now 70 homeless camps across the region.

In January 2018, Vancouver showed up as the third most unaffordable city on Demographia’s list of 92 cities around the world. When it comes to cities undergoing a deterioration in housing affordability, Vancouver ends up the worst. 

At least we have a starting point and a current BC Government that has expressed their commitment to address the issues.  The Public Enquiry will release an interim report within 18 months and a final report by May 2021. The BC election is scheduled for October 2021.

We at CCEC plan to keep our members informed on developments in this area.

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